I finally came across a relatively fast internet in China and since it’s been raining continuously for the past week I decided to spend a little time at the computer. I don’t feel quite up to typing the whole thing, it’s getting long, but here’s some of the logistics. This should help with identifying some of the pictures you come across on the web site or just let some of you know what I’ve been up to for the last year or so.
You can find the exchange rates for the time I was traveling a money. And by the way, I’ve since finished typing this all up. As you read through feel free to click on a country link to view some details, like pictures, on a particular place.
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
7/5/2000: Left Boston for Japan
Skip to my second pass through Japan here, Japan revisited.
10/20: Off to the Maldives for a short break from work and get the visa extended.
10/25: Back to work in Japan.
12/24: California for the holiday break.
1/4: Trip to Boston.
1/8: Back to Japan from Boston…getting used to this business class thing.
2/26: Done with work, got the backpack and ready to start traveling. Checked into Causway Bay guest house, Hong Kong. (330 HKD/night) Spending most of my time writing the manuals for the equipment in Japan. Talked the guesthouse down to 250 HKD/nt.
3/3: Left Causeway Bay for YHA on Mt. Davi’s. Needed a break fromt he noise and pollution. Beautiful views or the city here…and only 65 HKD/nt.
3/10: Met Kumiko at the airport. Headed to a hotel on Silver Bay at Lantau Island. Comfortable place right on the beach. Raining so decided to head into the city. Good being with her again.(450 HKD/nt)
3/13: Kumiko on her way to Japan. Sad goodbye…..
3/15: Bus to mainland China. 7hrs. 230 HKD to Wuzhou, Guangxi. City is very poor dirty, the real China. Got hotel w/ Chuck. 20 yuan/nt.
3/16: Bus to Yangshuo. Checked into Happy Hotel (20 yuan/nt). Town is very western, heavily touristed, wealthy.
3/17: Hired local farmer as guide for a bike trip through local villages, Ri Pheng. Lunch in her home, climbed moon hill….good day. (guide 70 yuan/day)
3/18: Hired guide for second day. Bought food at Xing-ping market then hiked along Li Jiang (river). Got a boat with local people returning from market to Yandi. Found out it was illegal for boat owner to pickup a tourist…could have been fined if caught. Had to sneak off boat. Mini van/taxi back to Yangshuo. Dinner with Chuck & English couple, Beer Fish.
3/19: Another bike tour through more farm villages (Baisha town).
3/20: Left for Longi via Guillin w/ guide and couple from Belgium. Rough roads, hard 8 hrs. 20 yuan entrance fee to town. Stayed in minority village in terraced rice fields. 20 yuan/nt.
3/21: Left minority village (Longi) and stayed in nearby village. Only western person in town. No English.
3/22: Back to Guillin and then bus to Kunmin, Yunnan. Supposed to be 20 hrs ended up being 30! Traveled w/ Isreali, Roi, that I had met in HK.
3/23: Checked into YHA, Kunming. Shared double room w/Roi. 30 yuan/nt.
3/25: Hiked West Hills. Diahrea started. dehydrated. slight fever…Must have eaten something bad on bus trip.
3/26: Stayed close to hotel. Drank rehydration mix. Feeling a little better.
3/27: Left Kunming for Dali. Good roads, 7 hrs, 50 yuan. Dali is touristed, but still good. Town is anciant Dai minority, but stuff for sale looks more 60/hippy…ganga for sale everywhere. Stomach still not right.
3/29: two days of hanging out in Cafe’s eating western food seams to have helped stomach.
3/30: Boat trip across lake to Wasa market. Hanging out w/ swedes.
3/31: Hiking on nearby mountain. Hanging out at Sunshine Cafe.
4/2: Off to Lijian w/ Roi. Good road 4 hrs, 40 yuan. Checked into Yi Can hotel (. Another tourist town. Met up w/ swedes (Louise & Johan) from Dali.
4/4: Left for Tiger Leaping Gorge w/Louise, Johan & Roi. Planning two days hiking through gorge. Stayed at Tina’s on trek.
4/5: finished hiking and bus to Zhongdian w/ Louise & Johan. Stayed w/ Tibetan family (Milk River Guesthouse).
4/6: Trip to Songsanlin monastery…600 Tibetan Monks.
4/7: Bus station wouldn’t sell me ticket to head north so back to Lijiang.
4/8: Bought souvenirs.
4/9: Headed to Sichuan to hike Emei-Shan, toaist holy mountain. 10 hrs by bus + 8 hrs on train (hard sleeper) Train was comfortable.
4/10: Stored bags at Teddy Bear Cafe and started climbing Emei-Shan (Emei mountain, 3099m). Spent night at Toaist monastary (Hongshun-ping).
4/11: Stopped at monastery near top and spent night, Taizi-ping. Summited in the evening.
4/12: Very touristed at the top…road and chearlift…lots of Chinese tourists there in the morning. Walked down for an hour then took bus to Teddy Bear Cafe. Spent night.
4/14: 2hr train ride to Chengdu
4/15: flight to Guangzhou then bus to Hong Kong and spent night at Mt. Davis YHA.
Skip to my second pass through China here, China revisited.
4/16; Flight to Singapore. good airlines, sing-air. Missing business class though. cashed in some Hilton Honors miles (from Japan) for flight to Australia from Kuala Lumpur.
4/19: Left Singapore for Mersing, Malaysia. 2 busses, 6 hrs. Then 2 hr boat to Palau Tioman (Island). Bungaloo w/bath on the beach, Dilah’s Shalet, 30 RMB/nt.
4/21: Hiked through jungle to other side of island.
4/23: Great snorkling!
4/25: Left Tioman for Melaka, ferry then 2 busses.
4/27: Left for Kuala Lumpur. Spent night at Kameleon’s Travelers Lodge. picked up tickets to Oz.
Skip to my second pass through Malaysia here, Malaysia revisited.
4/28-29: Overnight flight to Sydney. Met cousin, Donna, at Airport.
5/3: Flew Sydney to Brisbane. Then bus to Surfers Paradise.
5/4: Bus to Tweeds.
5/5: bus to Byron Bay.
5/7: Birthday, celebrated with bunch of Irish guys.
Skip to my second pass through Australia here, Australia revisited.
5/8-9: Overnight bus to Sydney. Flight to Wellington, NZ. Stayed at YHA. Favorite city so far.
5/13: Ferry to Picton then hitch hike to Abel Tasman trail. 2 rides. 2nd man took me grocery shopping on the way and dropped me off at trail head. Spent the night at The Barn.
5/14: Started hiking Abel Tasman trail, along N. south island coast. Camped on beach w/Megan, Canadian.
5/15: Hike to next beach. 25km ea. day. camped. Cold at night, but great sunset. Lots of seals on rocks nearby.
5/16: Great sunrise right outside tent door. Finished trail and bus to Nelson. Stayed at Paradiso, free dinner+breakfast. night at the movies, pizza..recovery from hiking….
5/18: Pouring rain, but decided to hitch hike anyways. Got ride from local Maori guy in classic 48′ Ford all the way to Christchurch, 5 hrs. Very English town.
5/19: didn’t want to hitch from big city so took Intercity bus to Dunedin. Taxi to beach to watch penguins, heavy rains came, never saw penguins.
5/20: Hitch hike to Queenstown. took 4 rides total, little waiting. First ride from guy that was originally from Needham, MA. Town reminds me of Aspen. Stayed at Thomas’s backpackers, met up w/Megan.
5/21: Bus to Glenorchy, $15 nz. Only one on the bus. Very small town, pop 212. Stayed in cabin a campground.
5/22: Taxi/bus to Greenstone track trail head. Lots of snow, 1-2ft.! Mostly a valley walk. Spent night a forestry services cabin. Isreali guy there. Looked like he had had a rough time on the mountain…he had never seen snow before!
5/23: Hike out to Milford road. Met German couple that gave me a ride to Milford Sound. Road was closed in the morning from snow. Lots of rain. Water everywhere. supposedly wetest place on earth. ran into Megan again and some other familiar faces. Good fire place to dry out. Around freezing at night.
5/24: Did some day hikes with English people (had car:)) Great water falls everywhere. Too wet to ge camera out though. Hail storm during hiking, 1/2″ stones…wind, rain, snow, hail…intense! Drove to Te Anu. Stayed on deer ranch.
5/25: Hitched ride back to Queenstown. Picked up gear at Thomas’s and rested for a couple of days.
5/26: Bus to Wanaka. Only me and one other on bus. Other person had met while climbing Moon Hill, Yangshuo, China! small world. Bus went over Cadrona pass. Checked into Matahorn S. backpackers. Went to Movies, Best theater ever been to!…casual, couches everywhere, homemade brownies…
5/27: Hiking on Mt. Iron. Good warmup for next trip to forestry cabin.
5/28: Started trek to Aspiring Hut. Side trip to Rob Roy Glacier, first glacier. Only person a hut besides ranger.
5/29: Day hikes from hut. Hung out w/ ranger…she cooked:)
5/30: Hike out, bus back to Matahorn S.
6/1: Hitched towards West Coast. Easy getting rides through Haast pass, then nothing. Waited 4 hrs. and barely saw any cars. Checked into hotel. good weather, though.
6/2: Bus to Fox Glacier. Spent night at Ivory Towers. No banks or ATM’s anywhere. Traded a good dinner on my credit card for cash with other backpacker. Bike to lake.
6/3: Day hike on Glacier…crampons, etc.
6/4: Started Copeland Trek. 5.5hrs to hut. Snow capped peaks everywhere. Icy trail. Spent nigh at Welcome Flats Hut (like most NZ huts, $10/nt). Great completely natural Hot spring nearby. Full moon at night, perfect.
6/5: Day lounging in Hot spring.
6/6: Hike out, 4.5hrs. Hitch hike back to Fox. Picked up stored bag and got bus to Greymouth. Stayed at Global Village backpackers. Town is more of a summer place…very cold and windy. Near ocean.
6/7: Bus to Nelson. Checked back into Paradiso.
6/8: Bus to Ferry to Wellington. Checked into YHA.
6/10: Flight to Sydney. Couldn’t get a hold of Donna. Checked into Hostel.
6/12: stayed with Donna & family.
6/13: Flight to Kuala Lumpur. Stayed at place next to Kameleons (full). Place was a dump. realy feeling the heat after OZ/NZ.
6/14: checked into Kameleons. started taking Larium (maleria pills).
6/15: Bus to Ferry to Palau Pangkor (Pangkor island). Tioman was much better. Still nice to be back in a bungalo on the beach.
6/17: Bus to Cameron Highlands (1500m altitude.) Checked into Highlands Villa guesthouse. Good place , 6 RMB/nt, free guided hike every morning…very comfortable.
6/18: Hiking, etc.
6/19: Hiking. Met German girl traveling alone, 23 yrs old and deaf…and I thought I had it hard buying tickets, etc… impressive.
6/20: bus to Tamara Nagara national park. Rough day of travel. took 3 buses, missed the 4th, 1.5 hrs. in taxi, bus to train to taxi to hotel…bed at 2AM.
6/21: up early to catch taxi, shared w/English girls, to ferry. 2hrs on boat up river into park…first real jungle experience. Checked into hotel in park, 10 RMB/nt. Hiking through jungle, canopy walk, etc.
6/22: Hiked into hide in jungle, 6 hrs., w/English girls (Kaff, Amy, Angie). Didn’t see much for animals, big lizard & some monkeys, but still a good experience. Jungle sounds were incredible.
6/23: Hike back to river, then boat back to village where hotel was. Took overnight train to Jerantut. rough nites sleep…very tired.
6/24: got off train and took bus to ferry to Perhentian Islands. Stayed on Kecil, Long Beach. Nices island so far, crystal clear water, good food. downside: lots of little animals running around bungalo!
6/26: Early boat off island. taxi-bus-bus-bus to Thailand border then 1 mi walk-8hr train- taxi and finally at hotel (1AM). Hotel is expensive, 310 baht/nt, but need the sleep.
6/27: up early, 6AM to catch ferry to Koh-phangan. Checked into Munchies, bungalo w/bath on beach 100 baht/nt. really need a break from these travel days.
6/28: Turns out beach isn’t that great. Low tide during the day this time of year and impossible to swim because of coral reef.
6/29: Heading to Had Rin (“full moon” party beach). Stayed at Sunrise beach, 150 baht/nt. Bars go all nigh music stops around 8/9AM. Pounding techno…not my style.
7/2: Rented dirt bike to really explore island. ended day w/trip to “hospital???”, 5 stitches. Still my favorite day in a while.
7/3: returned bike in the morning then caught taxi boat to Bottle Beach, 150 baht. Bungalo on the sand, 200 baht.
7/5: my one year aniversary from leaving the US and just happens to fall on the Full Moon party. Crazy night. never seen anything like it. Party went well into the next day. somewhere around 5-10 thousand people showed up for the rave. Red Bull, Rum, Coke………
7/6: recovery day.
7/7: Walk over mountain (great views) then taxi to Thong Sala to get stitches out. Nurse said to wait a little longer. Then loaded up pack and hiked to Thong nai pan beach, very remote. Favorite place so far…going to stay for a while.
7/9: removed stitches myself.
7/10-14: lazy beach days. Bon fires at night. Good crowd around. Red Bull, Rum & Coke…… Definitely keeping the Bob Marley spirit alive at this beach.
7/15: Off to Bangkok. Crazy city and I can’t get that song out of my head, one night in…….HHAAAA
Skip to my second pass through Thailand here, Thailand revisited.
7/18: Left for Cambodia.
7/19-21: days exploring, climbing in & around temples. can’t say enough. even the pics will never do this place justice but check them out anyways….
7/22: ride out of Siem Reap in back of pickup. Then train to Bangkok.
7/24: Bus to Kanchanaburi. Bungalo on river, 50 baht/nt. Good place to relax. Met Andi.
7/25: checked out bridge from “bridge over river Kwaii” and museum. Dinner w/Andi
7/26: Bus to Erawan water falls.
7/28: back for another night in Bangkok. Liking this place less and less. It has everything that could ever be wrong with a city.
7/31: walking around city, doing errands. interesting eye appointment for new glasses.
8/1: Train to Knong Khai (sleeper, 338 Baht) not bad.
8/2: tuk-tuk ride to Vientiane, Laos. Split room with Ross, Scott. $3 us/ea. Exchanged money. 100 bucks gave me enough kip to bury myself alive in, 184 or there largest notes.
8/3: bus to Luang Prabang. 11 rough hrs. 50,000.00 kip. Nice French town. Even has a lot of French people. Checked into Veradesa guest house, 8000/nt.
8/4: Interesting night. fire at 3am. Japanese guy in shared room dropped his blanket on his mosquito coil and it caught on fire. Lots of smoke, but no real problems.
8/5: up for early jog along river. then museum and walking around.
8/6: boat up Mekong to Pak Beng, 10.5 hrs, 62000 kip. traveling with guy from Colorado, Ryan.
8/7: pickup truck/taxi (songthaew) up rte 2 to Muang Xia, 22000 kip, all dirt, rough. Perfect night. View from hill in middle of valley is most amazing so far on trip, rainbow over stupa, lots of monks around, storm clouds to east, green hills, rice padies…….to bad I got tired of carrying camera so not so may pics of Laos, have to remember this one.
8/8: Bus to Boten, 2hrs. Crossed border into China. Bus to Mengla, 2 flat tires on way. Traveling w/ couple from New Zealand, guy from NY, and Ryan.
8/9: Bus to Jinghong. Broke down about half way in middle of no where. Big oil leak. Checked into Dai Hotel.
8/11-12: Rented bicycle, 10 yuan. 30km to Dai minority village of Galanba. Too touristy. Like chines turned minority village into Disney land. Biked back and caught bus to Kunming, 152.50 yuan, 17 hrs. After a few hours in Kunming got bus to Dali…feeling tired. Checked into Korean guest house, 10 yuan/nt. Glad to be back in Dali
8/13: back to hang’n out at Sunshine cafe. Town has changed a lot since I was here five months ago.
8/14: Met canadians, Christian, Michelle and Shana. Went to Dai minority fire festival, crazy celebration …fire everywhere.
8/15: Regretting eating a sausage off a street vendor the night before. Slight fever and naucious.
8/16: feeling better.
8/17: Left for Lijiang w/Canadians, 4.5 hrs, 40 yuan. Lots of rain. Shared room w/Shana at New Old town Guesthouse. Many more Chinese tourists than last visit here.
8/18: Rented bike and headed to Baisha. Little touristy at first, but nice villages further on.
8/19: Trip to Black Dragon pool park, climbed mountain/hill.
8/20: Got Visa extension, 30 days, 100 yuan. Ryan left for Tiger Leaping Gorge.
(at least where I think the border should be, N.W. Yunan)
8/21: Bus to Zhongdian. New road from last visit…much better, 5 hrs. 28 yuan. Canadians lef for tiger Leaping gorge. Checked into Milk River Guesthouse…back w/Tibetan family.
8/22: feeling the altitude w/my morning jog, 3400 meters. Getting into the Tibetan Plateau.
8/23: Bus to Xiangcheng, 53 yuan, 8 hrs. Incredible views. Very rough road. Stayed w/another Tibetan family, 10 yuan/nt for shared rm w/ 5 other travelers.
8/24: Tryed to get bus to Litang, but not running for some reason. Hitched/paid 50yuan for ride in back of truck. Hardest 6 hrs I’ve ever had in on a road. Dirt road going over 4500meter passes. spent more time in the air than on the floor of truck bed. Everything’s very Tibetan. Birth place of 7th Dali Lama here. Rain every day. Stayed in Chinese style business hotel, type I most dislike, 20 yuan/nt.
8/25: Got up at 5am to catch bus. Busses not running for some reason. Got ride in packed minivan to Kangding. Half way road was flooded out from a river that blew its banks. Had to hike around then caught bus the rest of the way. Very remote, but beutiful country. All at high altitude. Checked into another Chinese style hotel, 40 yuan/nt. Couldn’t stay in other hotels in town…places need a special permit to take in foreigners in most of China.
8/26: Sleeper bus to Chengdu. Arrived 2AM. Slept on bus in parking lot until 6AM. Checked into Traffic Hotel, 25 yuan. Big place, many backpackers, lots of familiar faces.
8/27: Spent most of the day trying to get a Hepatitus A booster shot, unsuccessfully…thought it migh be a good idea to keep the vaccines up to date while heading through China to India. Ran into couple from Amsterdam – Italian for dinner.
8/28: More searching for hospitals…language problems! Managed to make appointement for tomorrow. Spent rest of day checking out the food markets.
8/29: Finally got that shot, 20 yuan. Think it was actually the right one too.
8/30: Been raining everyday since I got here. Saw the Sichuan Opera – not bad, but definitely put together for the tourists. not a local in the crowd – mostly Chinese tourists.
9/1: Bus to Song Pan (49 yuan, 9 1/2 hrs.) Checked into Traffic Hotel, popular name I guess.
9/2: Met up w/Ryan & other travelers to do some horse treking. Other travelers had raved about this. Went for a jog – lots of looks from the locals. Booked a horse trip through Happy Trails – 4 day trek up Ice Mountain (alt. 5588m). Went out dinner w/ the group. Sampled beers to decide on which to take along on horses – went w/Blue Sword.
9/3: Kicked off the trek, 8:30AM. 1st time on a horse. 5 total in our group, 3 from U.S., 1 from Isreal and 1 from Belgium and 3 local guides. (cost 80yuan/day incl. everything; camping, food, horses, etc.). Joined a group of 4 from Prague halfway into day 1. Setup camp by a river at 3800m.
9/4: Left camp around 9:30am. Days are easy, guides do everything. Only two hours on the horses today. Passed a couple of Tibetan villages along the way. Camped at 4000m. Guides wanted to give everyone an easy day to acclimatize. Bought a goat from some villagers along the way…dinner. Beer and fresh goat over an open fire – camping at its best. Swam in a very cold river. Hiked up to waterfall. One hiker got sick, probabaly altitude.
9/5: Up at 7:30 for the final assent. Took horses 1/2 way then had to walk…too steep. Only me and two of the people from Prague made the attempt to the top- passed lakes at 4400m then turned back at about 4700m…weather, time and trail conditions too dangerous to continue. Guides had stayed behind.
9/6: Ride back to Songpan. Feeling dirty and tired, checked into hotel. Like usual shower was cold water only, but still felt good. Lucked out – no rain entire trip!
9/7: 6AM bus to Wenchuan. Others headed back to Chengdu. Set up a plan to meet up with Ryan again in a couple of days in Gansi for the trip through the closed section of Tibet to Lhasa. He had to take care of some visa problems. Bus was supposed to take me through to Barkham, but didn’t run for some reason, waited 3 hrs. Checked into hotel. No other westerners in town.
9/8: 7AM bus to Barkham (37.5 yuan + 1yuan for 10,000yuan in insurance – dangerous roads) 4hrs into trip hit major landslide, this is why busses weren’t running day before. Took a while to figure out exactly what was going on and how to get around it – no english speakers around. Hiked down river to cross foot bridge and catch bus on other side of slide. arrived Barkham 3pm. Checked into Barkham hotel. 15 yuan/nt in triple room. Up scale hotel – not sure why so cheap???
9/9: Raining every day again. Waiting for washed clothes to dry – nice hotel, but still no clothes dryers. Everything very nasty from horse trek. Spent day around town. Haven’t seen anyone who could speek english in days.
9/10: Clothes still not dry. Met local lawyer, prosecuter, who gave me a tour of the town and surrounding hills. Impressive Tibetan monastery – was locked up, but he got me in. Also met a couple of western people who mentioned some problems that were going on in Sertar. I guess Chinese didn’t like the number of monks in the town, ~8000, so they were tossing them out. Migh explain why I was having trouble buying a ticket.
9/11: Up at 4am to try and get on the 5am bus to Sertar. No bus running, not sure why. Met two local guys, one a monk. No english, but seemed to enjoy showing me around town. Wouldn’t let me pay for a thing. Tried helping me out with buying a bus ticket, still no luck.
9/12: Up again at 4. It eventually showed up at about 5:30…pure mayhem. way too many people, but somehow we all fit. Loaded w/ monks and nomads. I grabbed a place on the floor, even there people sitting on my lap. Once again not an english speaker in the group. Lots of confusion. Pictures of the Dalai Lama on the walls, people looked like they were on some sort of a pilgrimage. Bus had engine trouble about 45 mins into trip, 1hr delay. Hit rockslide after a couple of more hours. Got together w/ others to clear it, took 2 hrs. People on bus hid me as we passed through a military road block. Arrived in Sertar just before dark. A monk and a guy from Shanghai started arguing over what they should do for me. It turns out that it was very much illegal for a foreigner to be there. The Shagnhai guy could speak a little, very little, english so I ended up w/him. No guesthouses would let us in, so we headed South abou 45 minutes to a Tibetan refugee village. Turned out that these were the people the Chinese were trying to kick out of there homes. After roaming through the village for an hour or so, couldn’t use a flashlight because of danger of getting caught. Turned out the guy from Shanghai had a past w/ the police for being a member of pha-long-gong…not good news. He was extremely nervous. Eventually some Tibetatans took us in, 10pm. paid 55yuan, 13hrs. for trip. by far most interesting day of entire trip, so far.
9/13: Up early, but no one would let me walk around the area. Got a good view of the damage the Chinese were causing. The entire hillside to the right from my hotel window had all the homes on it competely demolished and supposedly the hill I was on was scheduled to be eliminated next. A Tibetan nun showed us the way out around 10am. I was completely clueless the whole time of what are plan was. We ended up hiking overland for about 2 hrs to bypass the checkpoint out of town. They had me wrapped in monks robes. Hitched a ride out in the back of a truck w/ some other monks and nuns. Haven’t been able to get off any pictures due to the chaos. Very rough ride in the back of the truck, beutiful country though. Checked into a hotel in Drango (Ch. Luhou). Shanghai guy was turning out to be a help, but still frustrated w/him. He seemed as clueless as me as to what was going on most of the time, except he could speek the language. 1st time I was able to check into a Chinese only guesthouse, only 10 yuan/nt…far from clean.
9/14: Up early to see some sights before catching bus to Kandze. Even w/ the Chinese guy we couldn’t figure out the bus schedule. Ended up hitching a ride to Gansi. Only cost 20yuan for a ride in a new Pajero from some Tibetan guys. 1st time in a normal car in a long time. Ride went over some nice high passes. Great looking monasteries along the way. arrived Kandze (Ch. Gansi) around 2pm. Entire town is under construction. Looks like some weird frontier town…Tibetans on horseback or yak carrying swords w/chinese imigrants trying to “modernize” the place mixed in. Met up w/ Ryan…only a couple of days late. He had found us a great new guesthouse that had just opened. Met Dorje, an English teacher at the Tibetan middle school.
9/15: Visited Kandze Gonpa, must have been 1000monks there. Then Tibetan middle school. It was Saturday and the students were heading home for the Sunday day off. Dorje invited me back to stay w/his family in Rongpasta. Swam in hot springs and visited monastery near his home, another big one. House is classic mud style Tibetan home, very poor, but comfortable. Worked on trying to hook up ride to Lhasa.
9/16: Bus back to Kandze (7yuan, 1hr). Decided I needed more cash to fund the trip to Lhasa so started to backtrack. No banks in town would cash a travelers check. Headed to Drango w/ nothing, but my guide book and a tooth brush in hand. After a couple of hours of searching around town for a ride finally found a bus heading out, 20yuan.
9/17: No luck at the bank. No english, but they definitely weren’t cashing my checks. Met two monks while getting breadfast. They decided to help and led me back to the bank. On the way we passed through a market. They ended up buying up all the fish in the place. We headed down towards the monastery, stopped at a river, each took a pill of some herbal medicine, gave the rest to the fish, waded into the ice cold river and set each of them free…like usual I’m clueless the whole time of what is going on. Next, headed to the bank…still no luck. The monks checked me into a hotel, bought me dinner and gave me some cash (200yuan) to get me through to the next town.
9/18: When I got up there was a car waiting for me to take me to Chengdu. I had already bought a bus ticket so I passed up on it. Hotel owner looked dissapointed. 9hr bus to Dartsedo (Ch. Kangding). Tried all of the dozen or so banks in town, no luck. About to catch the last bus to Chengdu, but decided to try my luck at the nicest hotel in town. Bell boy wrote something on a piece of paper and stuck me in a cab. Thought I was going to a bank, but it turned out to be the PSB (police). They cashed $300 in travelers checks! Checked into a hotel. Met a monk and some travelers I had met previously. Invitation from the monk to hang out at his monaster, but couldn’t hold Ryan up any longer in Kandze.
9/19: Bus to Drango in a minivan w/ a driver I had met a couple of days before. stomach problems once again. Caught connecting but to Kandze. Back in hotel sharing room w/Ryan. To bed early. Woke up in middle of night sweating perfusly, ended up throwing up all night. Probably something I ate.
9/20: Hanging out in town trying to hook up a ride. Visited children at school. Dorje had found us a ride, but driver wanted 3000yuan up front, too much.
9/21: Owner of hotel, Lomda Guesthouse, found us a ride in a truck to Lhasa.
9/22: Ride fell through…not enough people to fill truck so not leaving for a few days. Found different truck leaving for Chamdo.
9/23: Departed 9AM in back of truck w/23 people, mostly monks and nuns. Traveling w/Ryan and 4 Japanese people, all trying to get to Lhasa the hard way. Arrived Derge (Ch. Dege) 9pm. Last town outside the TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region).
9/24. On the road at 5am. Passed through checkpoint before the guard was on duty. Flat tire just after crossing Tro La pass (alt.4900 m). Introduced the monks to frisbee while the tire was being changed…interesting. Arrived at hotel jsut after dark, 8:30pm (10 yuan/nt).
9/25: Up at an ungodly early hour once again, 4AM. Skies were incredibly clear – saw many shooting stars from the ride in the back of the truck. Didn’t see the sun for another 3 1/2 hrs. Another flat tire along the way…more frisbee. About half the monks got out a couple of hours before Chamdo at a turn off for their monastery. The truck couldn’t drive us all the way into town so we walked the last half hour. Arrived Chamdo 1pm. Paid the 100yuan for the 3 day ride. A Tibetan man from the truck ride let the six of us; 4 Japanese, Ryan and myself, hide out in his apartment while he searched the town for a driver for us. Three hours later we were on the road in a Chinese imitation of a Wrangler Jeep. Scenery wasn’t too interesting outside Chamdo, but we were making good time and there weren’t any checkpoints. Hotel 10 yuan/nt. Negotiated a price of 450 yuan each for the remainder of the drive to Lhasa. Stayed at a hotel in a truck stop. Lots of military everywhere, but they didn’t seem to care about us being there…not there job I guess.
9/26: Started off around 6AM. Another long day of driving. Stayed in a small town.
9/27: Ready to leave at 5AM, but couldn’t find the driver. He finally showed up a little after 6am. Guess he had a good time with the money we had payed him. The scenery is getting much better. Altitude around 1700 meters, land is almost tropical. Water falls everywhere. Road is very muddy though. Probably the most dangerous I’ve been on so far. Narrow road cut into a cliff along the side of a deep gorge. Made a few stops along the way in small Tibetan towns. Arrived Lhasa at midnight. Checked into trucket hotel on outskirts of city. 20yuan/nt. Celebration beer w/the Japanese.
9/28: Walked to Barkhor square, 25 minutes. City is all Chinese, very few Tibetans. Modern typical Chinese city…boring. Checked into nice hotel in tourist section, 40y/nt.
9/29: Visited Potala palace. Musuem like, but still incredible architecture and artwork.
9/30: Walking around city.
10/1: Bus to Shigatse (30 yuan, 5 hrs.) on the new road. Land is now mostly flat and dessert like. More like what I pictured Tibet to be. City is at an alititude of 3900 meters. Checked into nice Tibetan style guesthouse in a section of the old city. Very poor area. Big difference in wealth between the old Tibetan section and the modern Chinese section.
10/2: Visited large monastery. This is the one where the Panchen Lama would reside if he wasn’t under house arrest from the Chinese. He’s only 12 yrs. old! Applied for permit to travel to the Nepal border, cost 50 yuan, took 30 minutes…no problems getting it, just said that I left my tour group in Lhasa to see some more sites. Worked on getting a ride to a border…found a group of travelers hiring a jeep, but too expensive (3000 yuan total, w/ no stops along the way). 10/3: Added Sakya to my travel permit. Tried to buy a bus ticket to get there, however station said foreigners weren’t allowed. Complained to police and they gave me permition to travel there by bus. Tickets were all sold out by then though.
10/4: Headed to the bus station early anyways. Met a Tibetan school teacher who gave me his seat on the bus and he stood up for the 6 hour drive. A foreigner would not have made it through the checkpoints standing. Arrived Sakya around 1pm. Shared hotel room w/school teacher. Many Tibetans on pilgrimages to Sakya. Visited monasteries.
10/5: More touring of the many monasteries in the area. Met doctor from Denmark working on picture book of Tibet. He gave me ride in his Jeep in exchange for helping out with his camera equipment. Tsampa lunch w/nuns from monastery. Headed to next town.
10/6: Left in the morning for Shelkar. Arrived around noon. Got permit to enter Everest Conservation area, 80 yuan. No ride out of Shelker so just started waling. Ended up walking the 10km to the turn off to the entrance of the Everest area. Got ride from truck to main gate, 1/2 hour. Getting late, no more rides out, gatekeeper let me stay in his home. Dinner w/him, his wife and a friend of theirs.
10/7: Woken up at 6AM buy first tourists passing through gate. Three Chinese from Shanghai w/driver offered me a ride to base camp. Stopped at top of first pass, Alt. 5000m, to see the sun rise. Excellent views of Himalay’s, inc. Everest. Chinese suffering from mild alt. sickness. Spent a few hours at the base camp then decided to head to lower altitude for the night.
10/8: Chinese Visa is up today, so must make it to the border. Up early for the 4 hour drive out to the base camp turnoff. They moved on to Lhasa and I tried hitching ride to Nepal border. They wouldn’t take any money from me for the travel. Waited about 30 minutes on side of road. First car to come through was a tourist Jeep carrying two the two Japanese guys that I had doned the trip from Gansi-Lhasa with! Reached border in 8 hours, cost 200 yuan. Lots of traffic at border, 2 hours. Got Nepal visa, $30 U.S. Hired private car w/the Japanese guys to Kathmandu, 3000 nepalese rupees. Drive is through deep gorge, lots of waterfalls everywhere. Scenery and weather changes dramatically as we come off the Tibetan plateu, getting humid and much warmer. Already starting to feel better, had been very congested from the 6 weeks of dust and dry air. Checked into Tashe Delek guesthouse. Totally exhausted.
10/9-16: Stayed Kathmandu 9 nights. slept first day. Applied for Indian visa, 6000 NPR. Visited temples, Potan Durbar Sq., etc. Prepared for hiking Anapurna’s.
10/17: Passport still not back from Indian Embassy, hotel screwed up. Left for Annapurna trek anyways. 5:45AM bicycle richshaw to bus station. Arrived Besi Sehar 2:30, cost 275 NPR. Met several other trekers doing same hike. Should take around 16 to 21 days. Checked into hotel, 30 NPR/nt.
10/18: Started hiking 7AM. No trouble folling trail so decided to continue alone. Moving quickly, time spent in Tibet is paying off. Arrived 2pm in Gharu. Shared rm w/Austrian guy (50 NPR), Alt. 823 m. Good view of 80 ft. waterfall out of window.
10/19: Walking at 7AM. Arrived 1:30 Gagerchap. Feet feeling tired today. Others on trek starting to look familiar. Many others on similiar treking schedule. Still not crowded.
10/20: Easier day. Started 8AM and arrived Chame around noon. Towns getting better everyday. Altitude 2715 meters.
10/21: Took my time w/breakfast. Started walking 9:30am. Another short day, reached Upper Pissang 1:30. Stayed at Shanti Guesthouse, classic Tibetan clay house, 10 NPR/nt. Good dinner w/8 other trekers.
10/22: Took the high road through Gharu (alt. 3680m) to Manang (alt. 3351m). 6 1/2 hours total. Landscape is getting much drying and colder. Tibetan monasteries all around.
10/23: rest day. saw some movies in the guesthouse. Familiar w/most of the 100 or so trekers in town.
10/24: No problems w/ altitude. Most other trekers hurting. Day hike to Ice Lake (alt. 4800 m.). Hiked a bit above the lake. Good pictures of glaciers and surrounding mountains, some peaks over 8000 meters!
10/25: Started walking 9AM. Feeling good so decided to hike all the way to the Thorong Phedi base camp (alt. 4700m). Arrived 2:30. Temp. dropped below freezing. Most other hikers off to bed around 7pm and planning on starting the trip over the pass between 3 and 5am. I don’t qui see the need. Bed at 9pm.
10/26: Started treking 6:45am. Myself and two others are the last out of camp of the 100 or so trekers. Reached high camp 7:25am and Thorong La, the pass, (alt. 4600m) at 9:25. Passed just about everyone. It’s amazing what all that time in Tibet did for my aclimitization. Arrived Muktinath (alt. 3798m) 2pm.
10/27: Made it over the pass so going to take it easy for a few days. Visited monastery after a good breakfast. Nice walk to Kagbeni, 3 hrs. Checked into Dhoulagiri guesthouse, 250 NPR for a double.
10/28: Another easy walk to Marpha (alt. 2667m). Stayed in nice guesthouse, 350 NPR for double. Been traveling w/Charolette.
10/29: Walk to Kalopani (alt. 2530m). Very peaceful. Haven’t seen a car or heard a phone ring in 11 days. Traveling w/ a good group of abou 8. Mostly doctors from U.S.
10/30: Long walk to Tatopani (alt. . Place is known for its hot springs. This town is different from others in that it has a lot of people that either flew into the small airport in Johmson or did the relatively short walk in from the other direction.
10/31: rest day. Celebrated Charolette’s birthday.
11/1: Started the long uphill walk to Ghorepani (alt. 2853.), 6hrs. total.
11/2: Up early, 4:45am to catch sunrise from Poon Hill. Great views. Back to hotel for breakfast then onto the trail. Trail was a long succession of stairs, total descent 1800 meters. Arrived in Nyapul 4pm. 2 hr. taxi to Pokhara. Very strange seeing cars again.
11/3-4: Just relaxing and recovering from the 16 days, ~130 miles, of treking. Laundry, etc.
11/5-7: 6:30am bus to Kathmandu. Checked into New Tibetan Resthouse (250npr/nt). Lots of time arguing w/ old hotel trying to recover lost passport. Eventually got it. Donated hiking gear to KEEP and shipped some stuff home. Going to travel light into India. Best part of Nepal was definitely the places on the trail.
11/8: Left hotel at 5:45am to catch gus to Janakpur (11hrs, 375 NPR). Very poor town. No good accomodation. City is known for its rold in the Hindu classic the Ramayana. Checked into welcome hotel, 100 NPR/nt, very dirty and no windows in room. Lots of mosquitos.
11/9: Day touring temples, nothing special. Train ride to next town. Rode on rough because it was full. Nice walk through local villages back to Janakpur. Caught 6pm overnight bus to Indian border (12 hrs, 208 NPR).
11/10: Crossed border at 5:30am. 15min walk to Indian border checkpoint. Got local bus to Siliguri, 1hr. Hired shared jeep (60 indian rupees, 4 hours). Ten people in Jeep! Arrived at the hill station of Darjeeling in the late afternoon. Walked all over the place until checking into Aliment Hotel (80 IRP/nt), worth the effort.
11/11: Spent most of day reading and easy walks around town. comfortable place.
11/12: Up early to catch sunrise at the top of nearby hill. Left hotel at 4AM. Not as spectacular as the morning views from Poon Hill in Nepal, but still not bad. Good view of Kanchen Junga (8856m, 3rd highest mtn in the world) and could also make out Everest in the far distance.
11/13: Easy day. Visited Himalayan museum and zoo. Zoo was nothing special.
11/14: Left hotel 7AM to take “Toy Train” (8 hrs, 220 IRP for first class) to New Jaipulgiri. Got 8pm night train to Calcutta (260 IRp for 2nd class sleeper, 13 hrs).
11/15: Arrived Calcutta 9AM. 45min walk to Sudder St. Checked into Paragon hotel, 120 IRP, nothing special.
11/16-20: Most of time roaming around city. Visited Indian Museum and Victoria memorial (150 IRP each, nice places, but overpriced for India). Night train to Varanasi (12 hrs, 720 IRP for AC sleeper).
11/21: Arrived 7AM. Cycle rickshaw to Ganges. Checked into Alko hotel, one of nicest places in city (500 IRP/nt). Spent day roaming Ghats and back alleys of city. Lots of shocking scenes, bodies being burnt and thrown into river, lot of people making pilgrimage.
11/22: Up at 5AM to hire boat to view ghats (stairways leading into river) from Ganges, 50 IRP/hr, went for 2. The Diwali festival was going on and there were thousands of people lined up along the riversied waiting for sunrise. Lots of fireworks. Very surprised to see dolphins breaching. The burning ghat was cremating bodies over open wood fires 24/7. Next to it there were people doing laundry, washing vegitables, etc. After breakfast went shopping for Christmas gifts, looked at many many silks. Spent way too much at Ali Handicrafts.
11/23: Up insanely early yet again, 3AM, to catch train to Delhi, 295 IRP for 2nd class sleeper. Train left 2hrs late. Sat nex to Hindustan Times reporter for most of trip, interesting conversation on religion & sex. Arrived New Delhi 8PM. 50 IRP for bed at YHA. Met Martin, English guy, and a bunch of Christians out for some convention.
11/24: Spent most of day doing errands around Conaught Place; internet, shopping for plane ticket home, train tickets to Dharamsala (home of Dali Lama and Tibetan gov’t in exilt).
11/25: Checked out of YHA for a better deal at a hotel in town. Actually paying more, but a much nicer place. Easy to bargain because of the slump in tourism. Negotiated deal with moto-rickshaw driver to drive me around all day for 200 IRP incredible deal – I needed to do more shopping and I know that the drivers get kickbacks from store owners, so I took advantage of this. Finally, done w/the shopping! Ate dinner at McDonalds, Maharaja-mac (the all chicken version of a Big Mac), and got extremely ill a couple of hours later, temp of 103 degF – Miserable night. Up until then I had been sticking to the Indian food and doing fine.
11/26: Still not feeling well – glad I had already upgraded to a nicer hotel. Unfortunately, I had to finalize my itinerary home and purchase the plane tickets. Went w/ Emirates through Dubai – London and from there on United to Boston. Caught 10pm train towards Dharamsals, traveling w/Martin.
11/27: Feeling better, but not great. Arrived Pathankot 9:30AM (could here a fighter planes passing overhead) to catch 10:30 bus to McCloud Ganj, arrived 5pm. Checked into upscale room in Himalayan Queen Annex. Negotiated 350 IRP/nt for double room. Really low on tourists, primarily due to proximity to Pakistan, about 40mi.
11/28-12/7: Mostly just killing time waiting for flight out. Nice relaxing place. Tibetan monks everywhere, got to know a few. Toured museum, hiked in mountains, lots of time for reading. The monasteries were much better in Tibet, many of these are 70’s concrete style buildings. Many Tibetans speaking English, interesting conversations.
12/8: 7pm overnight bus directly to Delhi. Got a nice farewell gift from nun and Tibetan guy that Martin had been tutoring.
12/9: Day around New Delhi. Headed to airport where Martin was meeting a friend arriving from the UK and I was off to Dubai.
12/10: Had headed to the New Delhi airport at 1AM and arrived Dubai 8AM…good flight, definitely would fly Emirates again. Dubai ad Delhi are complete opposites. Dubai clean and modern w/polite people. It was Ramadan so no eating during the day. I managed to sneak some snacks up to my room. It’s funny seeing a modern city w/ no open restaurants during the day. Went to museum and lots of walking around the city…very hot. A bit of shock to my system after spending the last ten days in the cool mountains near Kashmire. Staying in nice, modern hotel $30US/nt.
12/11: Shuttle to Jumeria beach. Nice relaxing day at the beach. 5PM flight to London. Plane was empty, had 3 rows to myself. Arrived London Heathrow 9PM and took underground to Hilton Hotel at Kensington Gardens – cashed in some of those Hilton Honors points from my 7 month stay in Japan. Nice room w/VIP treatment overlooking the gardens. Room would have cost me around $1,000 US for the 3 nights. Not sure what the temp is, but it feels extremely cold after Dubai. Feeling tired, right to bed.
12/11 (cont’d): 5PM flight to London. Plane was empty, had 3 rows to myself. Arrived London Heathrow 9PM and took underground to Hilton Hotel at Kensington Gardens – cashed in some of those Hilton Honors points from my 7 month stay in Japan. Nice room w/VIP treatmen overlooking the gardens. Room would have cost me around $1,000 US for the 3 nights. Not sure what the temp is, but it feels extremely cold after Dubai. Feeling tired, right to bed.
12/12: Could only sleep in until 6AM…body is still on Indian time. There is a nice view of Kensington gardens out my window. Had the classic all English breakfast, all part of the VIP thing. After mailing Martin’s package to his sister, met in India, I hit the sites; Albert Memorial, Wellington Arch, Royal Acadamy of Arts (special exhibits on Rembrandts woman, he obviously wasn’ into that healthy look, and Frank Aurbach photos), Picadilly Circus, saw all the tourists gawking at Buckingham Palace, Queens Gallery and the Royal Mews.
12/13: Up at 5am today. figure why fight this jet lag thing. I can get a nap in later – it’s not like I have to work. Spent a good bit of time recapping my trip in the Asia Exhibit at the British Museum. Walked through Soho, Pic Circus, Whithall, Westminster Abbey, House of Parliament, Big Ben….
12/14: Checked out of my spoiled life at the Hilton. Train to Trorquay where I was visiting Vicky (old friend from California). pints of Worthingtons with her boyfriend Paul…..
12/15: Nice town touristy…lots of walking….
12/16: drove around saw the country side. It actually snowed at one of the places we went to.
12/18: Train back to London. No Hilton, YHA this time. 18L/nt.
12/19: More roaming Londons touristy steets….spent a bit of time in the Tower of London (crown jewels, etc.)
12/20: Iceland Air flight to Boston. Back at my Moms in my home town of Norton, Massachusetts, USA.
12/23: Big Party…lots of friends…great to be back………
1/6: Plane to Los Angeles (got drunk)….this finishes off the round-the-world. Now to see how my stuff has survived my year and a half on the road……..now to see if my uncle sold my stuff (I only told him I was leaving for a few months)…as long as the car starts I’ll be happy………..