Monday, December 5, 2022

Nov 29-Dialing in the Long Layover

We made it back to Doha (Hamad International Airport), Qatar. This time we had an almost 14 hour overnight layover. But, I came prepared!

When we got off the plane, I pretty much went straight to the Quiet Room (women’s). I had packed my Z-rest pad, two yak wool blankets, my two pillows, and felted wool slippers in my backpack. My plan was to sleep. It was nearly midnight Kathmandu time. 

Neither Heather nor Makaela were ready to sleep yet. I, on the other hand, was quite tired (remember, we had been up early to go to Durbar Square). I prepared my “bed” on the floor between the wall and behind the row of lounges (while there are plenty of lounge chairs, a lot of people sleep on the floor. I layed out my Z-Rest, and covered it with both of my blankets, inflated my pillow, and stuck it in the sleeve of my down pillow. 

Makaela took this of me. 

I took off the calf compression sleeves, took my melatonin, magnesium, and probiotics. I pulled my buff over my eyes, and layed down to sleep. You wouldn’t think it would be easy to sleep with bright lights, and periodic announcements for flights, but I fell asleep pretty quickly. I did have to get up to pee (fortunately a restroom just across the terminal hallway) every couple hours (I always diurese after flying…that, and I had to chug my electrolytes to go through security), but I managed to go right back to sleep. At some point Makaela came in, but I don’t think she slept much. 

I finally got up a little after 5:00. Packed up my bed, did some yoga, and set out to find some breakfast. Makaela told me about a vegan place she had found in the C concourse. Our flight to Seattle leaves from Gate C5. Perfect! The place is called Evergreen Organics (somehow seems appropriate). I had a chocolate oat smoothie and possibly the best avocado toast I’ve ever had (Whole grain bread, olive oil, mashed avo, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, cashew cheese, and lemon vinaigrette).

We all met up at the gate. Funny thing, they checked out boarding passes and passports no less than 5 times between the gate and…well…the gate! Even though we were past security, we had to put our things through the X-ray again at the gate. Heather got detained the longest. She had a small knife that she forgot was in there. It caused quite a issue because that meant she had gotten through security at Kathmandu with it. They kept asking her where she had come from. Finally, they confiscated it and let her join us in the enclosed seating area. 

Nov 28-First Leg Home

We got lucky when we got to the airport. There was at least an hour long wait to get through the first part where the luggage has to go through the x-ray machine. Then they saw Jeff, and took us over to a now open lane. 

Waiting in the long line. 

We whipped through there quickly. Then we had to drop our bags and get our boarding passes. Again, there was a long line, but a guy came and took us to another lane. I think it’s because Jeff, being very tall, stands out (also looks like White Jesus). Regardless, it saved us a lot of time. 

Boarding passes in hand, we made our way to Passport Control. Passports stamped, we headed to security. Funny thing, you have to take your shoes off, but you can bring a bottle of water. Makaela forgot to take her small pocket knife out of her backpack. They confiscated it. They also took Jeff’s titanium spork. 

Now we are waiting at the gate for our flight to Doha. 

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Nov 28-Feed the Birds, Rupees a Bowl, Rupees Rupees, Rupees a Bowl…OR…

The Day in Nepal where I Got chased by a heifer

We met in the lobby this morning at 6:00am to go to the Durbar Square Market. This is also the palace of the Kumari (the young girl chosen to be the vessel for a goddess until the child reaches puberty). It is said to be very good luck if you see her. 

We traveled by rickshaw again. 

Notice the dishwashing soap bottle? That’s the horn…sounds like a duck! We saw numerous rickshaws with bottle horns. Clever hack!

It was about a mile to Durbar Square. We got bindis on our foreheads. Durbar Square has many small temples. The reason we went so early was to see the people praying, and the market vendors. 


There was a vendor making fresh deep fried saucer shaped rounds of deliciousness. Bhola got us all one. Soooo good!

Heather enjoying.

We wandered around for awhile. 

Bowls made from leaves. 

This guy was grooming this dog with what looked like a key. The dog was in heaven!

The Kumari’s palace. 

Reconstruction from the earthquake 

So many birds! You could buy a bowl of corn to feed the birds. Immediately started singing the “Feed the Birds”song from Mary Poppins. 

Heather called me over to where she was standing. I went over and saw this. 

Random calf. After I took this photo, he decided I looked like a good scratching post. I kept pushing him away, but he kept pushing up against me. Finally, Bhola stepped in to distract it while I ran and hid behind Sean. 

Instead of taking rickshaws back, we walked (it wasn’t that far). It was cool walking past all the vendors. 

Spices (Makaela bought a bunch)


Need any shoes? On sale…500 rupees (about $4)

I really love all the color. 

Another little temple. 

This was a bit of a rough road. 

We made it back in time for breakfast. No banana fritters like yesterday, but vanilla waffles. Now we had until 2:30 before we leave for the airport. I went out to spend my final 4000 rupees (walking back from Durbar Square I had bought  a yak wool blanket for 1000 rupees, and two little locks that a Napali man finally convinced me to buy. Actually, I really wanted them for my grandkids. They were 500 rupees each. I’m sure he thinks he wore me down, but I really wanted them from the beginning).

I wanted another yak blanket. I found a big one, and also a pretty blue shawl for 1500. I had 1500 left. I had seen felted wool slippers. Now I just needed to find them again…

When I leave the hotel by myself, I make sure I remember which way I’ve come from. Usually, I go left, and make only left turns (then only right turns to come back). I went left, but wasn’t finding the shop where I had seen the slippers. I can back, and went right from the hotel. So now, only right turns. Eventually I did a loop, still not seeing any. I broke my rule, and went left down another street. Finally, I saw a shop with the slippers. Got a pair of red ones that fit, spending my last 1500 rupees. 

I made it back to the hotel. Jeff came down and said he was going to do a little shopping. I asked if I could tag along just for something to do. He said sure, so we went in search of some clothes for his daughter and girlfriend. I think I was, maybe, helpful. 

We went to lunch at Jeff’s favorite restaurant, The Roadhouse Cafe. We had delicious mushroom and truffle oil pizzas. 

Now, I’m just waiting until we go to the airport. Earlier, I heard music outside. It was this band. 

It’s been quite the experience here in Nepal. I will miss my new friends, especially my shopping buddy, Heather. But, it’s not over yet. We still have to fly to Doha, Qatar, spend 13+ hours at the airport, then a 15 hour flight home. 

Nov 27-Part 2-The Final Dinner

At first I thought I would just add tonight to the first post for today, but tonight deserves its own post!

We met down in the lobby at 6:15. Bhola had arranged 4 rickshaws to take us to dinner. Oh my…that was wildly entertaining! 

Our driver wheeling us out to the street. 

Photo from Heather. 

Jenny and Heather

John and Sean

Dinner was at the Gokarna House. It was a full course meal starting with soup, then a little appetizer plate, followed by Dahl Bat. I’ve only had Dahl Bat one other time this entire trip. Most of it is too spicy for me. It was the same tonight, but I still had plenty to eat. 

It’s pretty. 

Our group. 

Periodically throughout the night, dancers would perform various regional cultural dances. 

The guy on the right was the best dancer. 

Then a yak comes out (2 people underneath).

It came around to the tables asking for tips. We put money in its mouth. 

Now Jeff’s turn…

At one point, after we were done with dinner, the dancers came out and asked us to join them. Everyone except John, Sean, and I went up. John and I took photos and video. 

Makaela dancing in her boots. 

We all had a great time! We opted to walk back, stopping at the restaurant from last night for dessert (complements of Makaela). 

I call this “Prayer Flag Alley”

John and Jenny changed their flights, and are leaving at 2:00am. They were going to be here an extra two days. Sean also changed his flight and will end up on the same flight as Heather, Jeff, Makaela, and I from Doha. 

We have an early morning tomorrow to get to Durbar Square  as it opens. Stay tuned for that adventure. 

Nov 27-“That Little Bit Impossible”

Today, Bhola (the guide that keeps on guiding) arranged a van to take us (me, Makaela, Heather, and Sean) to Bhaktapur. It’s a city separate from Kathmandu, about an hour away depending on the traffic. The main part of Bhaktapur is an ancient city which at one time was the capital of Nepal. There are numerous temples going back to the 14th century. It’s another place where we have to pay to enter…1500 rupees. 

Notice it is cheaper for “SAARC peoples”.

Bhola couldn’t go in “with” us because he doesn’t have a guide license. We didn’t want a guide, but we were asked many times if we wanted one. We walked around the temple part first. 

The poles holding up the building don’t inspire a lot of confidence in the soundness of it. 

There were quite a few school kids there. The schools are for the wealthier Nepalis. 

They waved to us. 

We climbed to the top. 

Those were some steep stairs!

One of the stone animals along the stairs. 

After the temple area, we started to see more shops. We spent quite a bit of time in a Thanka painting shop, learning about how students learn for numerous years to become master painters. The paintings were beautiful and expensive. 

This was a Thanka painting school. 

We did a little shopping. Heather and I wanted to buy these drums. She was looking at a bigger one. She got him to 2500 rupees. Since the one I was interested in was smaller, I asked him if he would take 2000 rupees. He said, “That little bit impossible.”  So I asked 2200 rupees. He said yes! So I got this cool drum for about $15. Heather and did some more bargaining together. She wanted four of these paper lanterns, and I wanted one. They were 300 rupees each. He gave us four for 1000. Heather is really good at this. She asks how much, and when they respond, she says, “Too expensive. What is your best price?” Then gets them to come down even more. I like shopping with her!

As we were walking along, we noticed a lot of little girls dressed up. I asked this one if I could take her photo. 

She is 6 years old. They were dressed up for a “marriage to small fruits”. Don’t really understand what that means, but they sure were beautiful! 

We were to meet Bhola back at the entrance at 1:00. We decided we’d better start heading back. Amazingly, we made it back without having to backtrack, or ask anyone! We didn’t need no stinkin’ guide! Here’s some more colorful photos along the way. 

Veg stand

Dried fish

Potter in Pottery Square

Pottery…lots of pottery. 

Bolts of fabric you could have made into custom clothing. 

Must have been a wedding. 

We still had time when we got back before meeting Bhola, so we went to find some food. We went into this garden courtyard. There were trees loaded with some kind of citrus fruit, poinsettia trees, and persimmons. We were satisfied with the menu choices, so we ate there. This was Makaela’s meal. 

Thale set

And mine, Sweet and sour vegetables. Heather and Sean had the same as me. 

After lunch, we met up with Bhola, and went back to the van. It’s Sunday here, but that doesn’t really mean anything. Kids go to school 6 days a week, only having Saturday off. It’s the same with jobs. So, Sunday is a pretty busy day. 

When we got back to the hotel, Makaela and I went in search of a bookstore. I wanted to get a Langtang Valley map. We found one! I came back to organize my stuff (we fly out tomorrow). Makaela went back out to do some more shopping. She came back with a couple of custard apples. They are a tropical fruit that looks like this. 

It has black seeds a little bigger than a watermelon seed. The flesh is creamy and has kind of a pear/mango/kiwi flavor. It’s really good. We shared two of them.