Saturday, August 13, 2011

The End

Of quite a few things today.

Firstly, I hope it is the end of the spread of my fungus. I have launched a full on anti-fungal assault on my fingers and toes and some progress has been seen. Getting out of Kathmandu should also do wonders.

Which brings me to the next end. End of Nepal AND end of 9 weeks vacation. It's weird to think 9 weeks ago we were leaving Korea for good. In 9 weeks we have ridden camels, seen wonders of the world, trekked through monsoons, paddled by dead people, yoga-ed our way to health (who am I kidding?), and a ton of other totally incredible things. And we managed to come out of it still liking each other. More than that, there's a renewed confidence in Paul and I's ability to pretty much get through anything. Have any of you ever survived hungry Lauren in 40 degree weather sans shower?? I pray you'll never have to.

It also marks the end of cave man Paul. Yesterday we hit the barbershop and Paul had his 5 month grown out do chopped, 3 month beard straight razored, and even got some massage action from the Nepali barber. It's been a full day and I still don't recognize this person whom claims to be my fiancée.

Before I get to the last END, let me tell you a bit about today. Because it's been awesome!!!! We had a good breakfast, Paul surprised me with a beautiful silver bracelet, had an amazing Middle Eastern (hummus and babaganoush!) snack, then head for the airport with surprisingly little difficulty. We've flown some shit airlines in the past couple years (CHINA EASTERN!!!) and expected nothing less of Kingfisher, also of Kingfisher-formaldehyde-beer fame. We go to board the lovely plane, in a not so lovely Kathmandu airport, after 4+ pat downs. OK, I know the Maoists were here causing trouble, but do you need to feel me up every 10 feet to the plane?? Anyway, get through the gropes, and the plane is spotless and new. TVs for everyone! Then we take off, and after serving everyone a bottle of water, what do they bring out? Kingfisher beer for all!!! This is service! Who cares if it has formaldehyde? What's next? FOOD!? I haven't been on an airline with in flight food, and good food at that, in ages! I had a lovely paneer curry, and Paul had the chicken tikka, all served with salad and asa brownie. One more beer, an episode of Friends later and we're in Dehli. Dehli airport is clean, there's shopping, McDonald's!, and lounges. We buy 3 hours for all you can eat, drink and Internet "Green Lounge." Did I mention there's red and white wines!?? Doesn't take much to impress us these days.

So now sadly, I am getting to the main point of this altogether long and drawn out post. This is the last ever post of The Thirty Eight Parable. It has been an amazing 2+ years with the TEP. I've shared my ups, downs, loves, losses, and most importantly I can reference this forever on and know exactly what I was up to at any moment throughout my AMAZING journey through Korean life.

6,401 views of the TEP toral from the US to Canada to Korea to England and Australia. Apparently my most popular post was Taipei Day 4 with 117 views, followed by none other than my big turkey soup fail. Again, sorry Dave and Emily.

But don't shed any tears yet. The fun is not over. It's just time to put my Korea blog to rest and to bear a new blog. A hopefully more career fortuitous blog about not just me, but about Paul and I's journey into the unknown. Again and together this time. So please follow us and read along about the stupid crap we get into in HK.

Thank you for reading and we'll see you in Hong Kong!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vacation Is Trying To Kill Me

But, I shall win. A month or so ago I noticed my index fingers were both red and irritated, but it wasn't a big bother and I figured it was probably just the sun. My nose was also quite red. It kind of continued to bug me, but what can you do, just try to keep out of the sun. Not so easy in India. But at least it was dry, well when it wasn't raining ha. Flash forward to Nepal where it's moist and not deserty. We go trekking. Lots of water. No lotion. By the end my hands were raw. So I assume hurty, peely hands is from lack of moisture and care. When we get to town I buy the most concentrated aloe cream I can find. They start to get a bit better, but then just sort of start to peel off. Attractive, let me tell you, and still quite painful. This has been going on for weeks....After visiting numerous pharmacies, taking anti (sun) allergy pills, anti fungal cream, wrapping my hands in gauze when out in sunlight (I looked like I put both hands in a blender), my hands are still red, peeling and in pain. And now my toes are spotty and a bit sore. I have a renewed suspicion that it is a fungus (thanks webmd) so I am going to start putting the cream back on. Fingers crossed. Oh, if only I could....

Also, pretty sure the cheap booze we've been buying is slowly killing Paul and I. The past 2 days have been spent laying in our hotel watching TV because our tummys and heads hurt. I partly blame the booze and partly blame our new friends Ida and Karl. They're our Swiss/Norwegian friends who like to booze it as much as we do. We met them over raksi and beers 2 nights ago and then took them out to Korean last night. Well, you know how Koreans do, and the evening ended pretty tipsy. Today we left the room twice. Once for breakfast. Once for lunch. It's raining, and it's raining and we're having fun googling things to do in HK!!! Now that it's 4pm we're going to mix some sprite/clear un-named liquid booze and prepare to meet the Scandanavians! Skul!!

Monday, August 8, 2011


We have an address!!!!

Tower 8 Flat D, 19/F
The Latitude
No. 638 Prince Edward Road East
San Po Kong,

Paul seems to think 19th floor means we'll have an ocean view. I'm a bit skeptical. But look what we do have...

2 pools!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna

Yoga. "Yay," is the resounding response. We arrived, via taxi, to the Ananda Resident Yoga facility at 3:00pm. It was pretty desserted, quiet, and a little rough around the edges. Not quite what we had pictures. We "sign" in, fill out names and yoga experience (me: once and a while a few years ago; paul=0) and are told to help ourselves to tea and water and are shown our room/cell. 2 beds in a room, we've seen this before. Then the tour; a larg yoga room, the roof (which would have views of the Himalayas if it weren't so cloudy), kitchen, a squatter, 2 western style toilets with showers. Cold, cold, cold mountain water showers. Needless to say, we're a bit apprehensive at first.

4:30 rolls around, post milk tea (LOVE chai), and we have our first yoga session with Rajindra (King of Kings). He's this 30 year old, fit, cute, Nepali man who leads our 1 1/2+ hour first lesson. I'm nervous Paul's going to hate this and dread every moment of the next 2 days, and nervous as well because I haven't practiced yoga since my running days in DC. The class is awesome! We're rolling around, stretching, doing the moon salutations and the whole time Rajindra is really focusing on Paul and I because we're new and he knows we have limited experience. The other people in our class/residence include; a Californian, a Dutch woman, a French woman, a Spanish woman and Nepali dude who's been there a month (apparently detoxing or something). After the class Paul and I chat....he LOVES yoga. Yey!! And I have a renewed love of yoga, too! It was wonderful, until we went to try to take our first shower. Again, cold mountain water. I think I managed to wash my face.

Then it's dinner time. Yummy veg dinner in which we all sit around on the floor together sharing our travel, yoga, life experiences. There's definitely a yoga bond going on. 7:30 and it's chanting time. We all go up to the yoga room with our intructor and his family (it's a family run joint- there's like 20 of them), and the leader (forget his name now- Raj's dad) starts chanting, while someone plays the drums, and some others chime. Ganga, Raj's wife, has an amazing voice and we all sit trying to repeate the Nepali words of Hindi chants. "Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna, Hari, Hari, Krishna, Krishna." No joke most of the songs include 2-5 words and are repeated at different intervals for ~10 minute period. It's like hippies chanting...sans campfire and in Nepali. 9:00 rolls around and we're left to our own devices/time for bed. We stay up with the Californian and finally manage to get SOME sleep by 12.

5 am wake up for more chanting!! Followed by tea and a morning yoga session. Ganga approaches, "You're lucky you're here on Saturday. It's abdominal cleanse day." Sounds nice, I could use a good cleanse. Oh no, that's right, all of Nepal has been a "cleanse!" The cleanse includes:

Chug 2 glasses warm salt water
do 5 yoga poses 8x each
repeate 2 more times

At the end, well, you can probably guess, the bathrooms were full and your abdomen is empty. ha- can I have the opposite rememdy!? Then they bust out the neti pots where you pour water into one nostril (think tea pot for your nose) and it comes out the other. It's pretty cool and apparently all of these things are essential for a healthy life.

Breakfast- the food is awesome and all veg! Karma yoga (sweeping the common area), lots of free time to walk (or in our case nap), yogindra (lay on the floor, listen to a man telling you to relax your entire body and try not to sleep), lunch, meditation, more yoga, dinner, chanting...PS yoga with Ganga was WAY more strenuous than with her husband!! Ouchy- we're sore. Oh, speaking of Ganga, there were definitely pot plants all around the compound and apparently they will reach maturity in the next 2 months. haha Yoga potheads.

We had so much fun and I would have loved to stay longer had there been hot showers. But 3 days sans shower is a bit much for me, and the rest of camp was bailing on Sunday anyway. Paul and I definitely walked out of here, perhaps not with a new understading of life and peace, but certainly with a new shared hobby. We've even been practicing in our hotel in Kathmandu!!

Yesterday was Paul's 26th birthday. Happy Birthday, Paul! We toured Durbar Square, which is a beautiful area with tons of old temples (my camera battery died!!!!!), lazed around Thamel, then went out to another awesome Korean dinner. While at the Korean restaurant, the Californian from our yoga retreat came in at our suggestion. We finished dinner with him and, gasp, stayed out until 10:30 pm. We hadn't done this here yet and apparenty everything is closed and locked, including our hotel. After a few minutes of banging, someone finally let us in. We learned our lesson; 9pm is totally an appropriate end time. Only 5 more days in Nepal, and not going to lie, I am really, really, really, looking forward to some first world action. The dirt is getting to me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Best Week Ever.

As the rain subsided, so did our enthusiasm about the Jeep safari. We had been lazing around all day and suspected the tour wouldn't be very exciting. We were wrong. We boarded our bright green open backed Jeep, me with rain coat, Paul in a t-shirt, and headed for the jungle. So, OK, we didn't really see too many animals. Some deer here, some peacocks there. And the deer and chipmunks here all look eerily similar to those in NJ. But it was amazing to stand up on the back of a Jeep and search left and right hoping for a tiger....or bear...or rhino. And we were the only ones out in the park in the rain; I love experiences where you don't feel a part of a packaged tour. Then our guide, never actually caught his name, suggested we go to a local village, ya know, see how the people do in the jungle. "Much better than the village tour [we were supposed to do day 1, but arrived too late], this is jungle life." And he went on to explain how at least once a year, tigers get hungry, wander into a home and eat an entire family. Jungle life is badass. Then he talks about how the locals right malaria, with, get this, rice wine. Man does this guy know his audience. We LOVE rice wine (raksi). We pull up to this cute little mud hut. Tons of people standing around chilling. It's after 4pm so the work for the day is done. We go inside said hut. There's electricity, TV, pictures all over the wall and then this boardlike bed with a straw mat. Wasn't expecting TV in the jungle! We drink 2 pitchers of Raksi with our guide and they bring out Buff (waterbuffalow), meat that had be spiced and cooked as an accutrament, and also raw garlic grown out back. Cool! We pry and ask about annoying tourists and he tells us some amazing stories. One Israeli dude was relentless on a 5 day trek to see a tiger, so he made the guide, against lots of warning, keep going when it was getting dark. Well, it did get dark and they started hearing wild elephants and tigers in the dark and had to post up in a tree all night and keep watch that they didn't die. Tough times. He also shared that during the Maoist rebel days the tourists obviously stopped coming. No tourists, no need for a tour guide. So he got a loan from the bank, a work permit and worked 600 hours a week in Qatar. Tough. Came home and was arranged to be married, and now has a darling 2 year old.

We finished our Raksis and got back into the Jeep with a deeper understanding of the culture we've been looking at from afar. This guy does whatever he can (learn English with no education, flee the country, fight off sloth bears....) so he can provide for his family. On the way we pass an army post. The guards had just been given a python by some towns people it was bugging, to be released back into the jungle. Of course they wanted us to look. It was pretty cool, so there's my one jungle snake sighting- finishey! As we head out the sun is going down. It's just Paul and I on the back of this jeep with the HUGE sky darkening above us. We both sat in awe and just thinking this is the coolest thing. People are packing it in for the night and we're driving through some of the most beautiful countryside either of us had seen. Definitely a favorite moment (well 45 minutes I guess) of the trip!

I suppose our guide took a liking to us, or perhaps felt bad all we saw were some deer and a bagged snake, so he invited us to his apartment for some more raksi, and so we could meet his son, Rowan. It was so much fun!!! His apt was tiny, like a dorm room, and we sat on the floor with him, his wife, neighbor who made the raksi, and the cutest little boy!! They brought plently o booze and even some potato curry to snack on with our drink. I feel so blessed that he and his family invited us into their house to share their world with us. You don't get that staying at a hotel. Whenever the TV played a song (some sort of American Idol kind of show was on) Rowan would break out in the awesomest dance moves I have ever seen. I swear Indian and Nepalese are born with moves. Then it was time to say goodbye, so our guide walked us to the hotel, we gave him a fat tip (Rowan's got to be a Dr. some day!), and enjoyed a drunken dinner at our hotel.

Our final morning and thankfully, NO rain!! Woo. We board our elephant, with 3 other people, at 7am, and head for the jungle. Elephant riding, especially on streets, is not so comfortable. It's just you being pummeled against a wooded box repeatedly. Once you're off the street and into the mud it's a little better. We'd be in the jungle no less than 10 minutes when we hear another guide yell, head towards it, and who's waiting for us?? Mom and baby rhino!! Our elephant, along with 2 others, walked right up to them eating their breakfast. They didn't bat an eye as we all ooh and awed and took pictures, of which I have approximately 200 too many. Then head back into the jungley jungle (out of the grassy jungle) and saw some deer, crossed deep rivers, saw frogs, held on for dear life, and tried not to think about the massive chest bruises that were being beaten into us with every step. It was really cool, but even with the rhinos, paled in comparison to hanging out in the jungle and with our guide at his home. And it wasn't just the booze :)

Alas, after breaky (ha so many English people everywhere) we sadly/hungovery boarded our "4 hour" bus to Kathmandu. It was actually a really nice bus, big seats, no AC obvi, except the fact we were in the last row. Which was bumpy. And the seats were raised above the windows. Awesome, so bumpy I may lose breakdfast, I can't read, write or see anything, and it took no less than 7 hours. Asa. LOVE buses! But guess what, IT'S THE LAST ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We may do a few short excursions from Kathmandu, but NO MORE 5+ hour rides.

We got of the bus, got a free ride to a cheap, large hotel room (with TV and wifi!), and we LOVE Kathmandu. I wasn't expecting much, just another city, but there's flavor here. Shopping. Foreigners. Temples. People, people, people. Tos of restaurants and bars. My first tofu since Korea (that's over 2 months my friend). LOVE. Yoga will wait a day, we need to marinate in some Kathmandu tomorrow.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

Sadly, the day arrived that we had to leave Pokhara. We loved Pokhara. Beautiful, relaxed, and comfortable, but alas, there is more to Nepal!

After a 6am wake up, we took a 2+ hour bus ride, to somewhere on the Thusali River and boarded our raft. They said the rafting would be about 3 hours, and I guess if you count all of the waiting around, it was. The actual rafting was only an hour and a half, but the water was strong and fast and the scenery was unreal! It was so magical to float through these huge beautiful mountains, and luckily the weather was perfect. We had 4 others on our boat, 3 French people and 1 English woman. Oh and our guide, who wasn't so interested in us, but got us through without anyone falling out (accidentally). It was by far the best rafting I've seen so far, and apparently by Nepal standards, not overly impressive- woah!

Rafting was followed by a typical Nepalese lunch, Dahl Baaht. Rice, a papadad, dahl (lentil curry soup), and 2 veg curries. Good and the first non western food we'd had ina while. Then we waited, and waited, and waited, and finally a bus came to bring us all to Chitwan National Park. The supposed 45 min bus ride was actually closer to 2 hours; funny how the fun stuff is way over estimated and not so fun stuff way underestimated. And the bus couldnt have been more full...typical!

We arrive at beautiful Gorkha Hamlet "Resort." Its super cute and we have our own green bungalow!! Well actually we have the whole place to ourselves!! The Englishwoman from rafting is staying next door and she said her hotel is full of Chinese tourists...I prefer the solitude! We had a yummy dinner here then wandered down the street to a cultural show. Thing small town local Nepalese meets Stomp. It was awesome! The it was back for an early bed time.

This am- another 6am start, we had a yum breakfast then head to an elephant breeding center where there were tons of baby elephants!!! Even 1 that was 3 months old. SOooo cute!! Then we went on a jungle hike. Barefoot. It was so muddy you couldn't wear shoes, so we hiked through the rough jungle shoeless. Paul caught some leeches, but somehow I came out unscathed. Apparently during monsoon it's rare to see many animals; especially the sloth bears, rhinos and tigers which Chitwan is famous. Since there's water abound, the animals stay hidden. We did see monkeys, birds, a deer and rhino tracks. It was really cool to hike through the jungle with 2 guides and all our protection was their 2 sticks. The one guide had a group of Japanese tourists 5 years ago when a Sloth Bear attacked. they all ran leaving him defenseless against this bear, and he spent the next 15 days in the hospital recovering frm his head injury. Serious business here!!!

Now of course, it's raining, so no elephant bathe (they don't bathe in the muddy river). We're going on a jeep safari at 330 where hopefully we will spot some more wildlife! And so far so good, no SNAKES!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


We sure can't escape em. Miss you, Krissy!! So last night we met up with our brother sister friends, Steve and Bethanny. They're from Edmonton, Canada, somewhere in the West, I'm told. They had some other friends with them, but for whatever reason when we showed up they bailed...hmmm. :) But we went out, had happy hour pizzas and beer. Upon reflection, this is only the 3rd time in 7 weeks we've gone out with other people. 1. Carl in Mumbai 2. Jaan in Varanassi and now Steve and Bethanny. I'm excited to move to Hong Kong and meet some friends!!!

Oh also exciting yesterday, I found real stinky cow cheese!!! So obviously picked up a bottle of wine. There seems to be an inverse relationship between wine and cheese on this trip. India = good wine, bad cheese (well just not REAL cheese),Nepal = great cheese, horrible wine. Here's hoping for HK.

Today we may go for a walk up to the World Peace Pagoda with Steve and Bethanny, then it's packing because 7am tomorrow is white water rafting!! Wooooohooooo!!!