From Nepal to China....
05.06.2010 - 21.06.2010 35 °C
long time no news.
Can't say we've been very busy the last 3 weeks, so that's not really an excuse. Been quite lazy actually. After trekking in Pokhara, we stayed there for a couple of more days and then moved on to Kathmandu. An 8 hour busride in quite some high temperatures, a flat tyre, and some annoying travellers behind us in the bus made it quite an exhausting journey. But we shouldn't complain. Some people spend (over) 8 hours per day in the office these days. Guess we should praise ourselves lucky, and we do! Every day still!
Kathmandu! Relaxed a bit and prepared for the kick off of the World Cup (with capital letters indeed). I think I mentioned this before, but the Nepalese are crazy about football (so are the Chinese by the way, but I'll get back to that later). Walked around Thamel (tourist area) a lot, had some cocktails during the various happy hours and started a quick course in juggling. Don't get too excited about this, it basically came down to Tomas and I trying in the garden of our guest house until Tomas dropped one of the balls into a 10 meter deep well..... Guess someon needs a little more practice ;-) So, we got some extra balls and we're still trying.... Last day in Kathmadu we booked a taxi and did some sightseeing around the area. Sunset in Nagarkot, walk around in Bhaktapur and some (more) burning bodies at one of the local temples. It's still strange to see, I'll probably never get used to it, but somehow I got drawn to the ritual they performed. But then there's the smell, the smell of.... Well, it's the way the Buddhists honour their dead and I guess it's what you're used to.
After a lot of hassle with www.expedia.ie (don't use them, I actually wonder why we did, but at least take my advice, so the hassle wasn't for nothing ;-)) and Air China we got on the plane to China on the 12th of June. From Kathmandu to Lhasa (so we still saw Tibet a bit (and the Mount Everest from the plane)) and then on to Chengdu and Beijing. It was too much of a hassle to get from Nepal to Tibet, so we're gonna try again from China.
Beijing is a great city. The best metro network I've seen in my life, great food (even though my stomach again did not fully agree, might be because of the things they have on the menu here: the Ox penis is definitely one we still need to try), nice people (we can't really communicate in words, but that's not always necessary, far from), various touristic attractions, cheap living and lots of expats (we met a great bunch of friends of a friend that were more partying and watching the World Cup then studying Chinese). We were welcomed by Wieteke (friend of mine from Holland who works/studies there) and she was basically our tour guide for the 9 days we were there. We visited temples, enjoyed happy hours (again), did a 10 km hike at the Great Wall, visited the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City and walked around in the park around the impressive Summer Palace (I definitely wouldn't have mind to be an emperor in ancient China).
In the meantime the World Cup got on the way and we gathered an impressive army of expats (including Tomas and Alex (who joined us in Beijing)) that was prepared to wear Orange (indeed, a capital 'O') during the games. We watched the games at Paddy O'Shea's, and yes it is an Irish bar. Good atmosphere, lots of cheering for the right team and YES, we made it to the second round. Tip: if you do not yet own some orange piece of clothing in your wardrobe, get one, you won't regret it when the world colours Orange on the 11th of July. Anyway, we qualified and will probably be eliminated by New Zealand in the second round (go kiwis). Italy, Germany and especially France have made this World Cup already now to a great succes. A big thank you to all the Anelkas in this world. And to Jovanovic.
Yes, I do elaborate quite a lot on the WC, but it's just that you can't miss it in China. On the metro (that fabulous metro), in restaurants, on the street, everywhere you see the WC coming back in one way or another. Imagine what it would have been like if they would have qualified..... I'll come back here in 4 years time. In those 4 years I'd like to ask the Chinese government to install more 'western' toilets in the public toilets (every 300 meter in Beijning). As you might have wondered so far, is there nothing wrong with this country? Yep, it's the toilets! And also the sound the Chinese peolpe make before they think it's necessary to spit on the floor. I guess it's the fashion to actually try to scare the tourists by making a lot of noise at a very unexpected moment and then try to spit just next to them.... They're all very good at it, but I'm blending in.... One day it will backfire to them ;-)
Yesterday we left Beijing and started our journey south. Arrived in Xi'an today and did some cycling (in 35 degrees, yes it's still hot) on the city walls before we will visit the terracotta warriors tomorrow. Then on to Chengdu on Wednesday to visit a great National Park and see some Panda's (capital 'P').
Next time I'll tell you about the Ox, the warriors and the Panda. Until then, keep thinking of your next holidays!