November 17, 2017: Varanasi, India. Internet spotty, I cannot spend much time on posting because … I am in India … undoubtedly the most sensual picturesque excessive place on earth. Between walks and river time on the Ganges though I am going to try to get up-to-date before the Taj Mahal. I have more time here by the Ganges than any other place remaining—for which I am most grateful. It’s an out of time experience. But now, to return to my more normal life in Kathmandu…
November 12, 2017: Apsara Boutique Hotel, Kathmandu, Nepal. 4:30pm. Out all day to the highest viewing place in the Valley. Roads made it an almost five-hour journey…but worth every bumpy moment. This is a modestly priced hotel with super-service support…and I love it here. I’m drinking wine, about to have spinach soup and fried mushrooms for dinner. Internet is great in this leafy cool (Kathmandu is chilly) restaurant. I used a completely public toilet for the first time this afternoon…you just have to do it right? I’ve been in that gas station restroom in Kansas…you know, that one you’d drive 50 miles out of your way to avoid…turns out this one is sort of clean and, while squatting is still one of the things I must work on in abs class, I can do this.
The people at the next table just said uff da. If I weren’t an introvert I would do some sort of American thing of ‘golly gee, hi, I’m a Norwegian (in my heart) and you must be some of my people.’ Okay. So that’s not me. Now I’m hearing them talk. Yup. Scandinavian. A little part of me wants to talk to them. What would I say? Hi, I’m practically a full-blooded Norwegian. But my president is a world-class monster—for which I apologize—so you can see why I’m just going to enjoy their close proximity.
I consider myself the ultimate road trip planner (that rating will drop considerably when my road trip from Kathmandu to Varanasi is taken into account but for this post let it be so) to have booked places in the order I did, from the hectic modernity of Vietnam to the calm of Luang Prabang to the mix of big city/resort-like places in Myanmar to the messy beauty and kindness and Difference of Kathmandu…and then will come INDIA.
Kathmandu is scruffy and dusty and welcoming all over. Thamel, the tourist/backpackers area, only a little less so than the real people’s city. I am staying at the hotel you always dreamed you would check into. While it is perfectly pleasant and comfortable, it’s still the service isn’t it? Most people staying here are trekkers which gives me elbow-rubbing, eavesdropping time with who you really should be when in Nepal; it’s nice to feel included but not to have to climb high mountains to do so. The hotel manager has decided I’m his pet guest (little old ladies are so damn appreciative of any attention we get) and has become my fixer (more about that in the road trip post), son, host, and best buddy embodied all in one (top that Scott and Steve…).
Went out of town to the highest mountain look-out by Kathmandu today. My driver is grandson Steven’s age and he’s funny and sweet and interesting just like Steven. We now call him my second grandson around the hotel. A nice interlude except for the roads. Kathmandu (and most of Nepal) probably has the worst roads left on the planet…but then I didn’t come here for the roads did I? Didn’t really roam around much in the neighborhood after returning because there’s mostly just mountain-gear and wool souvenir shopping and my home here at the Apsara is way too comfortable and accommodating—a dangerous combination if one is the least bit slothful.
Everest is coming up. Next post.
Some photos now—of Day One in Kathmandu via Varanasi internet. With any luck a post will actually go through in the next few hours. Should it bother us that the main source of our tech support needs is in a country with really really bad internet service? Nah…who cares…the Ganges flows just below my window.