Bea goes to India 2006

A place to house periodic comments from Bea while she backpacks her way through India and Nepal.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

can it be that a year has passed?

well, not quite, but almost!!!

have a mini-trip planned to the UK, in part to visit some of the "Team Unit" friends I have there...

I never dreamed how much I would miss them. so blessed to have a chance to reconnect w/ some.

back in the rut of working and saving for the next adventure -- destination as yet unknown [but if I had time and funds to go tomorrow, Peru and New Zealand would be in the top 5 options]

hope you are all well
:) b

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Photos, slowly

I am working on putting pictures out -- they are going to be in a second blog, since they continue to fail to post to this one! Access with the link on the sidebar called "Photo Gallery" or at

Please bear with me as I do this, it seems to be a random and rather fragile process.

grins, b

Monday, June 05, 2006

somewhere in space-time

I know this much is true -- my body is in Utah... my head, now that seems to be a different matter! :) my biological clock isn't set to here yet, so sleep is strange, but improving...

I'm also culturally not fully here either -- some things surprise me, other things seem familiar and natural. I still hand money to sales-clerks in the respectful way -- in my right hand and the left touching my right forearm -- so far it hasn't been commented on by anyone, but I notice that I'm out of step w/ THIS culture, even though I think I wasn't in the Indian or Nepalese world long enough to be fully immersed in their world either.

mostly unpacked and relaundered everything, even those items that were "clean" since that is relative! planning to scrub my backpack in the bathtub [the euphemism my British friends used for the stink was "it hums" -- actually an apt way of announcing it was well-used I guess!]

miss my traveling companions, and the easy familiarity of a conversation over a meal or a game of cards in the afternoon -- keenly feel that 8 of the 11 on the trip could be life-long friends, but also realize that the river of time diverges us quickly and it is likely that I will not see one or more of them again... even though we talk about getting back together... 7 of them in the UK are more likely to maintain the relationships. Andy in Nepal will rarely visit the UK and declared he would never come to the US, so unless I journey back to his part of the world... some of us expect we could go back to India/Nepal in the future -- others are certain that they will have too many other locations to visit...

I'm sure that I will readjust to a solitary journey in time, and will likely value the connections I have more because I know that TV is a poor substitute for face-to-face chat.

Reinstalled my memory card adapter's driver and was able to upload my pictures and some that were given to us at the end of the service project. Knew I'd had difficulty with my camera, so wasn't expecting a lot of pictures, but found the ones I took to have focused on architecture and decoration of buildings... Dave and Alex have both promised to share their digital collection, so I'm hoping for more people-photos from those, as well as some location shots that I know they captured [so I didn't even try!]

I'll try to not bore with a mountain of shots, but will put a couple of subject-related posts up next.

cheers, b

Friday, May 26, 2006

Reflective mood as I become a short-timer

One more night in Kathmandu, one night in Delhi, traveling overnight to Heathrow, two nights in London, then will be in SLC by the end of the month. somehow you live in a bubble of timelessness, then the clock and the calendar slap you and you realize it's fast approaching "DONE" status! Interestingly, the conversations change...

when are we going to see each other again? what food do you want most on your return? what are you going to miss most about being here? do I have your e-mail? will you keep in touch? can I come visit? and money becomes a much more intense focus -- how much do I convert so that I can buy what I've planned but not have too much left over [of course saving enough to pay the departure tax!!! wouldn't that be embarrassing not to be able to leave???!!!!!]

Our group leader Andy is meeting his wife this afternoon [she is flying over from Dharan] -- we will say goodbye to him at the airport tomorrow afternoon. We have a bit of time in Delhi together, then say goodbye to the two that have additional traveling planned in southern India... and the rest of us will say our farewells in Heathrow before we queue for customs processing.

I know it is going to take me a while to sort through my memories and feelings and put this trip into perspective. People have asked me how it has changed me and the honest answer is "I don't know" -- I expect I will go through a period of adjustment back into the western world, but hope to take some of the best parts of my trip home with me -- if only a sense of how incredibly lucky we are to have readily available hot showers and toilet paper!!!!

I have relatively few pictures, and will be getting e-mails and cds from others who have traveled w/ me -- the good news is that means there will be more pictures of ME available in the site once I post it!! My camera has been tempermental for most of the trip -- sometimes the battery lasts a predictable amount of time, other times it quits in 1/4 the time it should... and sometimes the batteries that I KNOW I have charged don't think they are... I'm hoping it is either old rechargables or a faulty recharger.... but could be that the camera itself needs to be upgraded.

in some ways this feels like completing a work assignment -- it is clear that we are in wrap-up mode and also very clear the people matter so much more than the details of what remains to be done... addressing both people and tasks without becoming maudlin is a challenge for each of us... most of us don't like goodbye and know we can't avoid it. here's to our completing well.

grins, b

Monday, May 22, 2006

EBC [Everest Base Camp] checked off my list!

Just got back from Lukla -- a couple of days early because we asked for more sightseeing time before we had to return to Delhi... I'm waiting for a shower, so thought I would spend a few minutes on the net to distract me from my dirty self! :)

It was different than the trek in Sikkim -- more time at higher altitude, stayed in tea-houses rather than in tents, and I personally had more support [most of my stuff was carried by the porters, although I had my rucksack with what I needed during the day, which turned out to be quite a lot -- water, sunscreen, toiletries, waterproofs, warmer coats, gloves, ... and of course my trusty poles]

absolutely stunning scenery. started out in pine and rhododendrum forests, rose to levels where it seemed absolutely nothing grows, then returned [quickly enough that the sound of calling birds annoyed some of the group!] often quiet -- even a large amount of water might be suddenly heard, crossed, then just as quickly lost in the breeze. quick changes in weather -- completely different in 10-15 minutess -- was good and bad

the actual base camp was different than I expected -- clusters of tents on rocky soil with ice underneath... we spent about an hour there, then returned down to the nearest tea-house... the next morning we took a punishing slog up the hill to Kalapattar [you cannot actually SEE everest from the base camp, but the views from Kalapattar are stunning]

I started out on antibiotics for a throat infection so I couldn't talk well for the first 4-5 days. I also worried about the state of my knees quite a bit... but once I got over Cho La pass, I was confident I was going to make it through [especially if I didn't slip and fall ] My knees are sore, and the effort I put into using my poles has also made my back ache... but in much better shape than I expected to be.

this time we had a guide, two assistant guides, and two porters. A man from the office also went along, more for his own understanding of what the trip is like than to work.

most days we walked 4-7 hours, with a couple of long days thrown in. our rest places were mountain lodges, usually with a dining room heated by wood, yak dung, or kerosene -- for sleeping we had rooms although the staff sometimes was in a dormatory setting -- the toilet would shift from inside to out, and sometimes was not much more than a hole with some bark to throw over your business

prices escallated as you increased in elevation [a shower at the lower areas was 150Rs, where at highest it was 400Rs -- the kerosene to heat the water was hand-carried, so it showed!] the places that internet connections were available charged 20Rs a minute -- whereas here in Kathmandu the typical rate is 40Rs an hour!!!!!

think that is all for now, since I can't think of anything else to write... I'm sure there are more stories to tell, but right now they escape me.

hope you are all well and happy.
:) b

Saturday, May 06, 2006

at the last possible moment, things changed

so we were planning to meet the four who had just been to Amritsar as they had a layover in Delhi before going to the coast. and the warning changed, so we were able to enter Nepal... a bit of shock for us all, and a mad scramble -- canceled the train tickets, bought plane tickets to Kathmandu... tried in vain to contact our friend that was in Thailand, notified the two that were already in Nepal... one remained in the capital, the other was in a national park and will be joining us for the trek rather than doing it solo....

and we flew up here yesterday. SO excited to be doing the Everest Base Camp trek -- we will leave on the 8th... yes, that really is day after tomorrow!!!!!!! buying stuff and smiling and trying not to worry about the things I cannot change...

I'm in the midst of another upper respiratory infection -- perfect timing. will see a dr tonight if I'm not dramatically better. think some of it was the pervasive heat/dirt in Delhi that aggravated my sinuses... but flying didn't help.

I can see why Andy likes the Darjeeling area of India -- Nepal has some of the same feel -- greener and cleaner and generally a welcome change.

took a cash advance on my Visa and bought lots of things this morning -- a heavier sleeping bag, thicker fleece, treking trousers, aluminum water bottle... and have a down jacket on order... those rupees just flew out of my pockets!

off to meet everyone; think we will do some touristy things this afternoon -- they are all going white-water rafting tomorrow [I declined the priviledge -- not only do I need the time to physically/mentally prepare to trek, I just don't enjoy being scared and wet -- not my cup of tea I guess...]

grins, b

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

change and change... remaining flexible

Once again, the group is changing... this time in a more significant way.............

4 people are currently in Amritsar [I didn't go since two of us went a couple of months ago] -- they will come back through Delhi and spend 4 hours here before continuing on train to Mumbai/Goa coast... I will see two of them on the return flight to London, the other two will continue down the coast and return to the UK in mid-June]
one person left last night for Thailand; will return to Delhi in about 3 1/2 weeks and return to London with the group.
2 people just left for Nepal. One will do the Everest Base Camp [EBC] Trek on his own -- the other has tentatively planned a trek to the Annapurna base camp outside of Pokhara, along with other sightseeing in Nepal

and then there was me:
  • I am uncomfortably hot -- didn't fancy going to the coast to be hotter... and not that interested in the beach scene...
  • I didn't want to go to Thailand again [and besides wasn't invited! ]
  • I didn't believe that I was a good match for either of the Nepal itenaries [the person doing the EBC trek wants to do it as fast as possible; he is fit enough he can probably shave a couple of days off the trek -- the other one has said he is looking forward to being able to set his own schedule rather than being in a group... he probably would have been gracious if I had joined him, but given how he is talking, I think he would be happier solo...]
  • I didn't fancy traveling alone. been there, done that, have that t-shirt -- will probably do again, but not in the mood to do it now...
  • I didn't particularly want to home early. could have, but don't have anything pressing so leaving early seems like a waste of my effort to get here!

so I asked if could continue with just me; they said yes, so our leader Andy has the pleasure of my company for another 3 1/2 weeks. I've agreed to try to not be too high-maintenance! We watch the FCO web sight often, hoping the travel restriction is lifted [life in Nepal is dramatically more peaceful, and the hope of a new cabinet and assembly to rewrite the constitution has improved the mood of most everyone... the UK often waits a while to see if the change is just a lull or if it feels like it is more permanent ]

we are here in Delhi until the 5th -- will then travel back to the Darjeeling area, since it is so much cooler there -- may do an easy walk near the border area with Nepal... and then plan to enter Nepal and do a limited itenary based on the time available to us; I have a yen to see small village life, rhinos, some day hikes, the world heritage sites, and take a plane ride over Everest... I teased Dave before he left this morning that I would wave to him out of the plane.... I'm sure I will be far enough away he won't even notice, and depending on when I do it, he could already be off the mountain.

financially, those that signed off earlier were given too much money; the seven that signed off this week got a more realistic amount, but dramatically less than they expected. Most will be budgetting carefully or spending/borrowing additional funds to support their alternate plans. All of us are trying to let go -- the three people that signed off first annoyed us on several levels, so perhaps it was nice to have a break from their company for a couple of weeks before the group completely disbanded...

for the two of us, things will be different as well -- it will be less cost-effective to hire a jeep [since the cost split 9 ways often ended up being less than it would be for us all to catch a public bus!!!] I have more responsibilities and more say in what we do, but I respect Andy enough that I want to make sure he isn't climbing the walls either... because Nepal is his home, I think he will be happy to be there, and I'm sure that I can entertain myself for part of the time if he needs a break.

Did I write about Corbett? I don't think so, and so I'll end with a happier note -- pretty stories and such...

We traveled overland from Nainital to Corbett in a very crowded jeep -- and then contracted three jeeps on a by-day basis to support us while we were in the park. It was much less crowded than the last park we were in [Bandhavgarh], but less likely that we would see a tiger, so I think they couldn't swap the two in the official itenary. We stayed in a dormatory setting and ate at a canteen [reasonable food and very cost-effective] went out on jeep safari one morning, elephant ride in the evening, jeep safari the second morning, then traveled back to the city outside of the park for the train trip to Delhi.

the first jeep safari was much more successful than the second, but they were both nice. we saw a tiger that was properly wild [frightened by our presence] -- roared at us and ran... it was a wonderful addition to my memories of the big cats, and MUCH better for the gentleman who had only seen one lazily crossing the road in Bandhavgarh.

there were also wild elephants, crocidiles [two types -- the cool fishing crocks with skinny noses were my favorite -- the muggers look more like american species, but a little more compact], huge fish, otters, jackals, wild boar, deer [4 types], python [young adult just outside of the electric fence where we stayed, the track of a much larger one while we were on safari], monkeys, lots of birds

the elephant ride was two hours long -- had a fabulous time wandering through the cannibas patches looking for sleeping/hunting tigers and seeing the deer, elephants away from the road -- it was nice to be able to experience where the animals live without the artifical nature of the road and the sounds of our jeep and others that we passed...

we were aware that our plans involved separating, so there were also some very nice conversations among the group, reminiscing and making plans to get together later in the year [the UK group expects that since I was willing to go to the build-up weekend, I would surely do a rafting weekend in Wales... I keep telling them I need to have a proper job so I can afford that kind of play!!!! ]

time's up, on a power supply since electricity out [rolling blackouts throughout Delhi, and water shortages -- the record heat and lack of generating capacity have severely impacted the system...]

anyhow, off to buy some washing powder and do laundry, then shuffle some stuff to storage before our next segment.

hope you are all well and happy, and know that I keep you in mind... even though I'm very far away.
grins, b