While we await Kishore’s South Africa visa, we have been biding our time taking walks in and around Kathmandu valley. It is still quite hazy, but it gets us out of the hustle of the city for a time. Please enjoy a few views from this past week.
The Fields outside the village of Khokana, Kathmandu Valley
Farmland outside of Khokana
Workers carrying bamboo poles to construct replica homes for an upcoming film shoot.
Fields outside of Khokana
Woman leading her buffalo through the fields – Khokana
Workers carrying bamboo poles to construct replica homes for an upcoming film shoot.
Views from Chobar and the Aadinath Temple
Mud house in Chobar
One of the many friendly dogs we encountered on the walk up to Aadinath Temple
Walk up to Aadinath Temple in Chobar
Village square outside the Aadinath temple
Helena in front of Hira’s Coffee Shop
Reconstructing the Aadinath Temple from the base with bricks made in Nepal
One of the women working on reconstruction after the 2015 earthquake
…keeping up with my blog while we were in Nepal. We are into week 3 of our month long tour in India. We have already toured the golden deserts, palace forts and temples of Rajasthan, walked and swam on the beaches of Mararikulum and boated the backwaters of Kerala. We’ve watched traditional Kathakali dance and martial arts performances in Fort Cochi and explored the tea and spice plantations outside of Thekkady. Not to mention, sampling the local delicacies along the way. Whew! Makes me tired just thinking of it all. It has been amazing and exhausting, chaotic and tranquil.
It is Christmas Eve as I write this from our shabby hotel room in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. It is the first day we are without activities and the kids are happily watching a English dubbed Jackie Chan movie, set in all places, India.
I am so overwhelmed with post processing, I’ll just share a smattering of images from our trip so far. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
Love from India!
Kerala Kathakali Cultural Center – Fort Cochin
Fisherman at Marari Beach
Sights along the Kerala Backwaters from a houseboat
Our family adopted a tradition from some dear friends a few years back entitled Roses and Thorns. Before tucking in for the night, we all join together to reflect on our favorite and least favorite events from the day. In all the chaos of daily life, it has become an enjoyable respite and a way for us to all connect and reflect as a family. Before we embarked on our big trip, it was also a means to tease out what the kids were up to while at school or other various activities. Now that we are together 24/7, it is a time to check in to see how we are all doing and reminisce about our adventures big or small. I started to log these roses and thorns in a notebook to keep a diary of our trip. Yesterday, was the first time, my daughter really couldn’t think of a thorn. Yes!
We have now been in Nepal for just over a month. Aside from our trek out of the valley, we have stayed entirely in Kathmandu. The hustle and bustle of the city can at times be over stimulating, with the pollution, traffic and constant noise, but I have to admit I love it. I think this is the first time that I have not let the negatives get to me and just embraced it all. We have been going on short excursions to temples, stupas, and walks into the old section of the city. In just a mere 15 minute jaunt across the Basmati foot bridge from my in-law’s house in Chhauni, we can be in Jhhonchen (Old Freak Street), Asan, Durbar Square or New Road. This old section of Kathmandu is so full of life and color and hustle it is a joy to take it all in. Below are a some images from the last few weeks. Thank you for following us on our journey!
Schools out and the local kids enjoy some street side pani puri
All the fish you can find in Asan
Hot roasted peanuts!
You never know when you might stumble upon a wedding procession in the middle of the day.
Wedding procession through Chhauni
He’s got the beat.
Bring it on home!
Young girl at Pashupati
Sadhu at Pashupati
Architecture museum in Patan
Views from old Newar building
Temple sights from Patan
Lighting the candles at the Bagalamukhi Temple in Patan
Mother and son making offerings to the deity of the temple, Patan
Let there be light
How much is that doggie in the doorway?
One of a few screen prints on old buildings in Patan
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.