Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Kathmandu- My Fourth and Final Tour... For Now...

I would like to thank all of my friends (local and tourists) that I met in all of my tours for enhancing my wonderful experience in Kathmandu. I cannot thank you enough for all of the spectacular memories that I have formed inside of me because of you, and I look forward to seeing you again soon-- either in Kathmandu or elsewhere!

After spending a month in the majestic Annapurnas, a week in lovely Pokhara, and a few peaceful days in Bandipur, it was time for me to make my final return to Kathmandu before pushing off toward India and Varanasi.

Originally, I had only planned on staying a few days in Kathmandu in order to say goodbye to my good friends there, as well as to take some time to update my blog.

A few days turned into nearly three weeks, as I found myself enjoying the many friendships that I had developed from before my trip, as well as those that I had made since I returned. The hustle and bustle of the big city was beckoning me, and I found myself relaxing into a splendid Thamel lifestyle.

I befriended Ron, a great guy from San Francisco, after recognizing an immediate connection with him and, together, we spent the next few weeks hanging out nearly everyday on "Z" street, eating out, and going clubbing (jazz, trance, etc.). We were a dynamic duo of sorts and formed a fantastic friendship.

Below are some photos from my finals days in Kathmandu. I hope to include a more detailed description of my experience in the near future...

Pashupatinath Temple, the most sacred temple of Shiva in the world.

Pyres burn on the the holy Bagmati River, located next to Pashupatinath Temple.

Sadhus (holy men) come to Pashupatinath and house themselves in small caves located on the bank of the Bagmati.

Looking out toward the main square surrounding the Bouddhanath Temple, the largest Buddhist stupa in the world.

Bouddhanath Temple.

Bouddhanath Temple with prayer wheels in the foreground.

I met a real Gurkha that I met at the post office.

(This one was a mechanic not a warrior, though...)

My friend, Sher, his nephew, and his friend at his apartment.

Sher invited to me to his apartment for dinner after learning that I would be leaving Kathmandu soon. I had a wonderful time meeting his family and friends. They made me feel like family. I was grateful to have befriended him while I Chitwan and to have started what I hope will be a long friendship.

Me and Jaggot, Sher's friend and business partner, during dinner.

Me eating dinner, dal baat with chicken.

Sher and Jaggot, co-owners of Lost Paddle Adventure, had organized a rafting expedition down Trisuli River the next day and invited me to come along.

Hundreds of people, mainly students, but also famous singers and actors, showed up for the event, which was sponsored by KTM Card

Here is a photo of all of the boats before departure.

My boat on departure.

Coming home after a successful and very fun journey.

One last "high five!"

Our crew goofing around.

Other boats come into port.

Bringing our boat in.

Everyone (but me) trying to look cool while coming ashore.

Sher and I with a few people from our crew.

More people from our crew.

A view of the setup for the party.

In the foreground is the food tent and behind it the "dance floor".

Afterward, KTM Card hosted a huge beach party with food, beer, and music along the bank of Trisuli.

A wind storm greeted us just as the party was about to get into full swing. Luckily, not too major happened-- the food tent was the only casualty.

Here you can see it lying on the beach, as people still attempt to collect their meal.

A famous singer being interviewed regarding the event.

Taking it easy after a hard day of paddling.

A group of girls enjoying the waterfront.

Strike a pose!

My friends, Anil and Pradeep, and I enjoying ourselves on the beach.

Girls dance to Hips Don't Lie by Shakira and Wyclef Jean, while another checks out her appearance after a rafting...

... While an actor (2nd row center) checks out the scene.

Dancing and having a good time!

This girl was in my boat on the tour and was quite the entire time on the river. Then the music started, and a different face came out.

Jaggot and Sher resting after a long day.

Me getting my groove on to London Bridge by Fergie.

Some children arrive on the scene...

... and check out Sher and Jaggot's company sign.

Checking out the party scene.


Our group riding on top of the bus on the way home.

Anil enjoying the magnificent scenery.

Me and my friends enjoying fish (and whiskey) at our dinner stop.

I had to be convinced to try the famous deep fried fish at this local restaurant... After my first bite, though, it was down the hatch!

Only the full-moon light guides the way home.

Riding rooftop with a full moon and a crystal clear sky was an absolutely amazing experience! Highly recommended!

My good friend, Ron (from San Francisco), getting a close shave in Kathmandu.

Don't slip!

A group of traditional musicians (from the musician caste) hijacked me on the streets of Thamel and brought me to their organization headquarters for a demonstration of their musical talents. The experience was actually quite magical, even though I didn't wind up buying their music. Life is not always about business, as the Nepalese might say...

My crazy bartender/DJ friend in my favorite hangout, Full Moon, in Thamel.

I spent nearly every night at the Full Moon, as it has an amazing atmosphere. It is a quaint locale, that has low tables, thus everyone normally sits on the floor. But later in the evening/morning, the bar tends to play trance music, which almost always leads to most everyone dancing. The bartender in this photo mixes the music.

A few nights a week Full Moon also has a jazz night, which brings out the magic of the bar's setting.

Let's get nuts!

On this night, I bumped into a girl that I had met briefly a week prior in the casino. We instantly recognized each other and began to talk/dance. She had made an immediate impression on me at the casino and this night would be no different.

After talking, joking, and enjoying the music scene, I discovered that Clare, from England, plans to travel indefinitely with her sister and best friend-- living the dream of anyone with Wanderlust.

My crazy friend and I.

My friend Krishna, who works at the Full Moon, and I.

Graham, a terrific trumpet player from Goa and Full Moon regular, and I at the Full Moon.

The beautiful Clare and I.

"Om", my crazy Denmark friend, and I at the Full Moon. I discovered on this night that "Om" had swam in the Ganges in Varanasi-- something that I thought was absolutely insane until I actually arrived in Varanasi.

My favorite rickshaw driver.

Thamel heading north toward Thamel Chowk (intersection) from the Om Tara Guest House.

Moving closer toward the chowk.

Thamel Chowk.

Heading west toward the Kathmandu Guest House (KGH) from Thamel Chowk.

Looking back toward the chowk .

Looking south from the corner nearest the KGH.

And north.

The entrance to the famous Kathmandu Guest House, where I stayed during my first tour in Kathmandu.

People relaxing in the restaurant in the KGH entrance.

The courtyard, an oasis in an urban sprawl, of the KGH.

My good friend, Janita, hard at work. Her family and a few partners own the Himalayan Trail Finder travel agency in the heart of Thamel-- the best travel agency in town.

Please see my link to my travel recommendations for more information on Himalayan Trail Finder.

Being accosted by my musician friends in Thamel.

A lovely store owner looks on at me being accosted by my friends.

I turned the attention to her by serenading her with my musical talents.

My good friend, Glenn from England, and I in Thamel. Glenn helped to rescue me from my musician friends on this, my final, night in Kathmandu.

My beautiful friend, Julie, who works at jewelry store, close to OR2K, in Thamel.

My shirt salesman friend, on the right, in Thamel.

On this, again my final, night in Kathmandu, my friend saved a lot of hassle on my trip to Varanasi by selling me two shirts (for a lovely 115 rps/each or $1.50/each-- the best tourist deal in town!). My second, and only other decent shirt, was lost by the cleaners on this day. To my amazement, the cleaners paid close to what I actually paid for my shirt in the States ($20), a HUGE some of money by Nepali standards.

On my final night in Kathmandu, I ran into Clare and her friends randomly at an internet cafe. They were checking out places for any full moon parties in Kathmandu, and I was sending out an e-mail to my Mom telling her that I was leaving for Varanasi early the next morning.

Clare and her friends invited me to their guest house for a beer. The invitation turned out to be one of my most lasting memories in Kathmandu with the night ending by us singing songs acapella by candlelight until the wee hours of the morning.

Here Clare is singing a song solo by Helen Carr, one of her favorite jazz artists.

Clare's sister giving a henna tattoo by candlelight.

My friend, Krishna, and I. Krishna runs the Om Tara Guest House in Kathmandu.

My friend Ram (just woken up) and I right before leaving for the bus station. Ram also works at the Om Tara Guest House.