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Kathmandu - part 2

Alone again for a total of 1 minute...

sunny 32 °C

So just after I bid farewell to Lindsey, I started yapping to a tall Irish guy from Derry called Bren. We had a right good natter - the usual travelling questions - how long ya out for?, where've ya been?, where ya going? etc. Brendan took redundancy and was out for as long as he liked, the lucky git. He was only at the start of his travels and had just done a month volunteering at an orphanage. We agreed to meet up later on. Meanwhile, I got a text from Mario to say they would adopt me for the day if I was lonely and to come hang out at their fancy hotel. So I dragged Brendan along and we went to their Yak & Yeti hotel for drinks, nibbles and chit chats. They showed us their GO PRO video of them crossing the Khumbu Ice falls on Everest and it was HELLA COOL! I'd love to be able to do a bit of mountaineering and see some awesome sights, but I got altitude sickness at 3200 metres so it probably ain't for me. Plus I actually don't like going uphill for hours on end. Tis torturous! Later we had some pizza and I brought Bren to the Buddha Bar for his first Sheesha. :D

Next day we went to the Garden of Dreams and met up with another Irish guy, Steafan, from the same town as Brendan. Small World. We also met the infamous and mischievous young Dubliner named Damien that we'd heard so much about. (Everyone around town kept asking us if we knew him!) We'd great craic with the two lads and agreed to meet up later for the pub quiz in Maya Pub.

I went to investigate rafting/canyoning and met a nice chap called Craig checking in to the potato. We invited him along to the pub quiz later on. Craig is out travelling for as long as he likes too. He's a writer and works as he travels so can keep going as long as he does a few days work a week. Nice. He is perhaps thee funniest Englishman I have ever met, so I invited him canyoning/rafting too. I'd decided to book 1 day rafting on the Bhote Kosi river. This has class 4 + rapids and was NOT covered by my insurance! ;) I also wanted to do 1 day canyoning, which is basically abseiling, sliding and jumping down waterfalls on the side of mountains. SUPER CRAIC.
So after much cajoling, Bren and Craig agreed to come rafting/canyoning with me and we booked the 2 days 1 night at the Last Resort Lodge for Saturday morning. We decided not to do it tomorrow (Friday) as we were going to the Pub Quiz later and would probably be hungover. :D

So we met up at Maya Pub at 8 for the pub quiz. There was myself, Bren, Craig, Steafan, and Damien on one team and we named ourselves ''Crazy Joe's Sore Foot''. Crazy Joe was the US dude who had been looking for Damien a few nights before. He was apparently a mad yoke and constantly on the beer and has busted his foot open during one of his drinking sessions. Anywho, King Zamundo (Coming to America) seemed to be the Quizmaster, which was awesome, and he had an Irish dude giving him a hand, who gave us a few hints on the auld answers aswell.
Maya pub was good craic, it was an old skool style pub - dark, with candles and a crazy selection of chunes on the audio box. The questions in the quiz were feckin rediculous though - a load of questions about the SAARC countries, philosophical quotes and other mad stuff, but after a few rounds, we were doing well and were in joint 1st place. Yearrrrrrrh. Some mad Irish woman with a crazy accent came over to chat to us and confused us all with her US/Northern Ireland/Dublin accent. (I really don't understand how people lose their accent or muddle it up with someone else's after being out of their own country for a few weeks)!.

Suddenly there was a huge loud WHOOMPH of a bang outside. We could feel the sheer force of it under our chairs in the pub. Everyone rushed to the window to see what was going on, including me. People were pouring onto the streets to find out what had happened and there were lots of people running down the street towards the noise. As more and more people packed onto the road, we heard that a cooking gas canister had exploded a block or two down from where we were, and a huge fire had started. The fire was centred on the Pilgrim Book Store and was gathering in size and momentum very quickly. As people in the pub began to realise what was happening, they began to panic a bit and started to pay up and leave. After a few minutes, we thought it might be prudent to do the same. The road we were on was full of restaurants and bars and was chock full of gas canisters (due to the constant electricity shortages) and copious amounts of booze. We were expecting to hear many more booms at any moment and I half expected the whole street to go up in one big explosion. We flung money at the bar man and legged it back to the Hotel Potato, which was actually only about 50 m away from the flames. As we walked through the crowds, we could see the flames. The fire was HUGE. The flames were as high as the tallest building on the street and seemed to be getting bigger. There were hundreds of people on the road filming and watching the fire, and police had just arrived. They were trying to control the crowds and move them on. It took about 45 mins for the first fire engine to arrive on the scene.

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We returned to Hotel Potato quickly where we made a decision to grab our passports and wander out of the Thamel area and find a bar or hotel away from the madness. So the only place we really knew that was a bit away was the Yak & Yeti, so off we trotted. We got a very expensive beer each there and lounged around on the sofas in the lobby for a few hours. We periodically asked the hotel staff to check the status of the fire for us and each time we were told it was getting worse and not under control yet. At 2am, Bren did some negotiating with the hotel staff and got us 2 rooms for the night. We got some good kip and next morning checked to see if anything was in the news about the fire, but there was nada! We availed of the whopper breakfast buffet and bumped into the Everest gang again. I'm sure they must have thought we were obsessed with them or something, constantly turning up at their hotel! :D They were off sightseeing for the day so we said goodbye and returned back to Thamel. The streets were still busy with onlookers , police and fire engines. They had managed to get the fire under control after about 9 hours. The fire had destroyed a block of 3 or 4 buildings, and the Pilgrim book store which was full of rare and old books was gutted, but tbh I think they were lucky it wasn't more!

So we went for lunch later on and for a few beers in the evening. This seems to be what we do most days in K. Although I knew we were going rafting and canyoning at 6am the next day, so I packed it in and hit the sack at midnight. I advised the two lads, Craig & Bren to do the same, but they waved me away with my stuffy parental advice and stayed up drinking on the roof of the Potato. Our hotel security guard - 5 beeya - had developed a routine of selling us '5 beeya' and after hours sandwiches on the rooftop every night. We reckon we put a few of his kids through college. ;) He's a mad yoke. I asked him for a vodka, he said ''ahh vodka..yes'' and came back with a lime. :D lolz. Gas man!

Posted by squeakylee 18:51 Archived in Nepal Tagged pub fire kathmandu yak thamel yeti quiz Comments (0)

Shangri La - The Tibetan Monastery

sunny 28 °C

When the girls and Chen returned back to the hostel, the gang of us trotted off to the bus stop to try and stay overnight in the big Tibetan Monastery nearby.

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The aim was to get in free, so we left at 6pm and were hoping the guards/ticket dudes would be off duty by then. Chen had chatted to some other Chinese young people at the bus stop who told him the way to get in free was to hitchhike in with the locals. So, when we got to the ticket entrance office, we pretended not to hear the ticket dude shouting at us and walked towards the monastery village area in search of a lift.
Another ticket dude came out and collared us though, and asked us for our (pretend) hotel booking details. He told us we couldn't stay AT the monastery itself, there were only expensive hotels near it - yadda yadda yadda.

The three girls and Chen went in to the ticket office to see what information the ticket dude had. I'd learnt ages ago to let those who want to handle things, handle them, so I sat outside with Frenchy. We saw 2 Chinese people who were at the bus stop flag down a local's car and hitch a lift into the village. So hitchhiker extraordinaire Stef decides we would do that too. He told the girls our sneaky plans and the four of us, Me, Frenchy, Joao and Stef jumped into a passing car and got a lift up to the monastery. :D Success!! BUT there was another ticket checking office at the entrance to the monastery. DAM! I snuck into the monastery via the toilet, but when all four of us tried to sneak in, we got caught 'rapid'.
However Frenchy and her magic trumpet saved the day! The lads at the ticket office asked her to play a tune for them and she did and they rewarded us with free entry! Meanwhile the girls and Chen were still back at the ticket office trying to hitch hike up.

We had a good 40 minutes wandering around the monastery - it was really cool. There didn't seem to be any place for us to stay the night there though. Frenchy got talking to one monk and he let us into see the Big Buddha and the monks chanting. It was all very cool and spiritual (dunno if that's the right word) and I felt a bit teary eyed and emotional. The monks looked like they were having a great time though, chatting and laughing away during chanting time.
The artwork on the walls was amazing - so detailed and extravagant. There were various incarnations of Gods getting jiggy with it, vultures eating the intestines of deadmen, nudey men and women, and lots of other cool weird stuff. It was pretty epic and the monastery itself had a great view of the surrounding village and lake.

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The girls and Chen finally arrived! They had agreed to stay at some local dude's gaff and have dinner there, in return for a lift up to the monastery. They went in for a look at the monastery and I went for a walk around the lake, which had cool viewing points of the monastery in the middle of it. I met some awesome locals on the way around the lake and had a right good mime/chat to them.

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Later the gang of us went to the local dude's house for a dinner of vegetables, slices of FAT (really!!), rice, Yak butter tea (ew), Yak Cheese (equally ew) and other stuff.

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I wouldn't be a big fan of the Yak dairy products now - they taste like you're just taking a bit chompy bite out of a rather stinky Yak.
The guy's house though was amazing.

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He had lovely wooden features and details everywhere, big copper pots for cooking in and fabulously big bedrooms that would accommodate all 8 of us. The weird thing was the toilet which seemed to be out the door and down the road - it was literally a shit hole. :D All the neighbours used it as well as Joao found out early the next morning.

We got up at stupid o Clock the next day to go and see the sunrise and walked around the lake to a viewing point so we'd have a good view of the sun rising up and shining on the monastery. We sat in the morning darkness and waited. And waited. And waited. There was no sunrise! There was however some duck-lovin' going on nearby that kept us amused for a while before we had to return to the gaff for a breakfast of delicious bread and spicy eggs.

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We returned to the moastery to explore a bit more in the morning sunshine (it appeared eventually) and after another hour or two decided to hit the road back to our hostel in Shangri La and get my backpack. Stef was hitchhiking to Lijiang for the craic and I thought it would be fun to try it out. I'd never hitchhiked before and Stef (who'd hitchhiked around the block a bit) seemed like a good person to go with. He was confident enough, he'd done loads of hitchhiking before, he was good fun and mega tall so could easily take on a few Chinese who might get a bit rowdy! ;)

We had to bid adieu to the US girls (We said we might see them in Lijiang if we were successful with the auld hitchhiking), and we had to say goodbye to Joao and Frenchy who were staying on in Shangri La. I was pretty sad to say goodbye to Joao who was an awesome travelling chum, great fun and a super nice guy - and also of course to Frenchy who was delightfully bonkers. Chen had decided to try and hitchhike to Daqin so we said goodbye to him too. But I had a feeling we'd not seen the last of Chen! :)

Posted by squeakylee 05:26 Archived in China Tagged sunrise la dinner for monastery duck yak tibetan fat shangri lovin Comments (0)

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