Wednesday, November 8, 2000

Namaste from Kathmandu Nepal!!!!

Hi Everyone!
It's been ages since my last email - and when I left you then we were in Saigon having just returned from Can Tho.


Well, From there we bought the infamous Vietnamese "Open Ticket" to Dalat, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue, and Hanoi. On the bus to Dalat we met an insane American (I am ashamed to admit that he's from the USA!) who was just ejected from Cambodia for setting up a child Porn site and continually asked where he could find a 12 year old hooker!!! I hope he gets raped. I only mention him because every single person we met in Vietnam also ran into him at one time or another...
Well, first stop was Dalat where it rained, and generally was unpleasant, so we'll skip that and get onto the good stuff - Nha Trang - birth place of my friend Kimthu Doan. Nha Trang is a fantastic beach front town, famous for once having the busiest airport in the world (in 1971 - guess why...) and also for the (in)famous Mama Hahn - Mama Hahn is a 40 something lady who runs an "Island tour" around Nha Trang - and if you go on it you won't see any islands - because you will be too busy floating in a safety ring drinking beer. GREAT FUN.
From Nha Trang we eschewed our Open ticket bus because they wanted to cram 12 westerners into a non-aircon Toyota Lite Ace and instead flew to Da Nang. We spent exactly 10 minutes in Da Nang and caught a taxi to Hoi An. Hoi An is a town built by the French- and it still looks French. Lovely place especially for tailor made clothes. SGK went wild (and I must admit I had some clothes made too) we also took a day trip to My Son - which the Vietnamese tourist bureau claims "Is one of South East Asia's great Hindu era ruins along with Angkor Wat and Borobodur" and let me tell you it certainly wasn't...
From Hoi An we jumped back on the Open Ticket Bus because it was supposed to stop in Da Nang at the Cham Museum - but it didn't so 12 hours later we arrived in Hue. Hue could be a cool place, but we only spent 1 night there as we wanted to get back to Thailand in time to see SGK's brother Joe and his wife Cathy. So we tried to get a train ticket for the 18 hour trip to Hanoi, but no one would sell us one! so we ended up flying again. Hanoi is hell on earth. I have not been in a place I hated so much since San Salvador - the only good thing about it was the company (Hello Birthday girl, Visa stamper and Ozzie) and the Water Puppets - these are a unique art form to Vietnam where the puppet stage is a pool of water. Way cool and not to be missed. From Hanoi we went to Ha Long Bay - also not to be missed. Extraordinary rock formations that I first saw in National Geographicand are just as cool in person.

Back to Thailand

So, after Ha Long Bay we jetted back to Thailand to see Joe and Cathy. We went to the exclusive dive resort of Koh Nang Yuan - and guess what? I got sick!! Those of you who know me well will know that I don't get sick often and if I do it only lasts 12 hours or so, but this was an exception! I was sick for DAYS. Bummer. From Koh Nang Yuan we headed to Israeli infested Koh Phang Yang for the full moon party, but being old farts we couldn't stay up all night listening to Rave music, so after the party we cruised over to Lamai on Koh Samui for some relaxation - and guess what? you can buy chewing tobacco in Lamai! Lots of Swedish bars there sell it, so I was in heaven!
From Koh Samui we headed back to Bangkok to secure visas for Nepal and India - and in the process ran into one of SGK's old Delta Sigma Pi friends Brian T. He took us out to a fantastic steak dinner and we had a great time. We also wore out our welcome with Thai immigration and had to leave Thailand in order to renew our visa - so we went to Laos for a couple of days (By coincidence Bolton Bill Knowlton also was in Laos at that time although we missed each other)


Laos is everything I expected Thailand to be - land of smiles. Don't want to say much more about it other than it is a fantastic, laid back and cheap place.


Nepal - oh the Magical Hindu Kingdom in the Himalaya! This country has no shortage of Mountains or Gods - and is Our favorite place since South America. Kathmandu is busy, but not unbearable and the Mountains!!!! The Food!!! The Culture!!! We went on an 8 day trek up to the summit (close to it anyway) of Mardi Himal what an adventure in and of itself. We walked FOREVER surrounded by the tallest mountains on earth and all that goes with it. Great guides, 32 porters for 14 of us so we were in luxury! After the Trek we went on a 4 day rafting trip down the Kali Gandaki river (turned out to be 3 days and only 8 hours on the water, but hey! we had fun) and then to Royal Chitwan National park where we spotted Rhinos and Samba Deer while we were riding on the back of an Elephant! Also saw Gharials, Marsh Mugger Crocs, Mongoose and Civit cats as well as more birds than worth mentioning.
From Chitwan we headed back to Kathmandu where we are now.
Where do we go from here?
Well, tomorrow we take an early morning flight around Everest and Lohtse then we are off to India...

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