As we were leaving the Muktinath temple on our way back to the village of Kagbeni, my daughter reached the entrance gate and said, “We already are where we are.” Certainly, she meant that we had returned back to where we started but I was so charmed by this statement. It has become a mantra in a way. Each time we reached a place we had been before, I found myself saying it. We are where we are and we keep coming back. A metaphor of sorts.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I went on the Annapurna trek exactly 20 years ago. We did it in reverse this time, flying into Jomsom and walking back to Ghasa. It was my goal to make it up to Muktinath since we were unable to reach there the last time due to the all too common traveler’s sickness. It was wonderful to be back here with our children despite some of the challenges with the road. Development in the area has certainly had a negative impact for trekkers, but we were able to find alternative trails that avoided the dusty and often times dangerous road.
Rather than bore you dear readers, with a full trip report, I offer these visuals. I did spend some extra time to caption the images if you are so inclined.
S.T.A.L (short take off and landing) flight from Pokhara to Jomsom
Flying through the mountains you feel as if you could reach out and touch them.
Thumbs up from the pilot is what you want to see
Runway in sight
Starting out from Jomsom
Village of Thini
View from Thini
Shepherd on the Kaligundagi River Basin
On the road to Muktinath
Walking past abandoned barrels of tar used for paving the road.
It doesn’t take long to realize that your kids will be bored wherever you are. Yep, they are officially bored out of their minds. I can’t say I blame them, we have been holed up in this house for a good portion of the week. Kishore and I are feeling a bit restless ourselves. Our few attempts at outings have been lackluster at best and/or hindered by major traffic jams or our daughter’s complaints of stomach pain. I do believe her pain was legitimate, at least initially, but I am coming to realize it is now an attempt to avoid having to go on walks.
While there are a multitude of cultural activities and attractions in Kathmandu, getting to them is definitely a challenge where we are staying. Traffic jams can be mind numbing and walking in the city center (which we did one day) was a bit of a shit show. The kids (and I) were legitimately scared they were going to be hit by a truck or motorcycle. Luckily traffic moves at such a snail’s pace that any accident would likely not be life threatening.
So while we prepare for our trek, we are finding ways to combat the boredom, mostly by eating. On the bright side, the kids are keeping up with their school work, playing with the dogs and recently started making their own music videos. Helena has a bit of an affinity for Taylor Swift (lord help me) and sits in front of the vanity lip-syncing her favorite songs. Its a riot.
Less than a week into our stay in Nepal, we are all working through jet lag and various bodily ailments. Evanan, who has always had a high histamine response, is swollen with infected mosquito bites. Our resident thumb sucker, Helena has mild travelers diarrhea and I still can’t kick my chest congestion that started before we got on the plane and seems to be exacerbated by the poor air quality in Kathmandu. All said, we are laying low at my father-in-law’s place for a few more days.
In our downtime, we are making plans to go on the Jomsom trek in the Annapurna’s next week with our family friends from Seattle. The last time Kishore and I went on this trek was exactly 20 years ago. Regrettably, I became ill during the last few days of the trek and had to take a night donkey (something that can be arranged) to the nearest exit point in Jomsom where we were able to take a flight out the next morning. This time around we’ll be doing the trek in reverse, flying into Jomsom from Pokhara and then trekking back down, at least that is the plan for now. It may be a bit ambitious for the kids but we will take it slow and with all the tea houses along the route we should have options if things go awry. I do hope that a few of us will be able to make it to Muktinath which we missed the last time around.
So much has changed over the last 20 years. There is now a road all the way from Pokhara to Muktinath where there was once only trails. You can book accommodations at various teahouses prior to going on your trek, which is also new to us. There is a mandate that went into effect several years ago that all foreign tourist must have a guide while trekking. I’m not entirely sure how that will all work out, I guess we shall see.
Below are just a few snapshots of our surroundings in Chhauni during this downtime.
I originally started this blog as a platform to highlight my photography. While it will primarily remain a visual blog, I am dedicating the next 9 months to chronicling our family’s travels abroad, our “year off.” The decision to upend our lives came through unequal parts luck, strategy and good timing.
My husband lost his job in back in June, and while shocking at the time, it was ultimately the catalyst that set us in motion. No longer trapped in a unfulfilling 9-5 job and having recently sold our house in Seattle it was our golden ticket to travel.
After receiving the news, we initially considered taking our van on the road across the US. In July, we embarked on a 3 week van trip to Haida Gwaii, BC and then spent the remainder of the summer backpacking through our beautiful home state of Washington. After a taste of this new found freedom, it became increasing clear that we needed to think bigger. With encouragement from friends on a similar journey, we decided to take the plunge. We pulled our kids (age 9 and 6) out of school, packed up our home, found a temporary foster care for our dog, and bought our tickets to Kathmandu. None of this was easy but we were determined to see it through.
We have a skeleton of a travel plan for the next 9 months that will surely evolve over time. Our choice of destinations include places where we have friends and family as well as places we’ve always wanted to see. There will certainly be bumps and scrapes along the way but I’ll do my best to keep it interesting and keep it real. I hope you will follow us and perhaps be inspired to take your own “year off.”
The above images were taken from our first outing to Swayambhu, better known as The Monkey Temple. It is a short walk from my Father-in-law’s house and is always a visual delight of color and life.
Last weekend was our 3rd year in a row attending the Vashon Island Sheepdog Classic held at the exquisite Misty Isle Farm. It is hands down one of my favorite events on the island. It came as no surprise that this year’s trials held a record setting attendance. Between the trials and visiting our friends on Ridge, we are crazy about the sheep (and the dogs too of course).