Nepal June 2014

Gap Year Programs

Over an iced lemon tea, I realized it’s difficult to distinguish a human skull from a piece of bamboo.

After 29 hours of terminals and tarmac, the captain announced touchdown in Kathmandu. I had left Portland, Ore. USA on May 31 and crossed the International Dateline somewhere between western Alaska and eastern Siberia; for me, June 1 arrived after only 12 hours of its predecessor. After a brief stop in Guanhzhou, China, I boarded a plane bound for Nepal and — five hours later — met my leader, Dan, at the airport. We hopped in a van and made our way through empty Kathmandu sidestreets in the direction of Arjun’s hostel and — moments later — I found myself face down in a pillow, too exhausted to move; it was nearing midnight.

From the following morning forward, the week was a blur of Hindu temples, milkshakes and pharmaceuticals. Each day we (let me introduce to you  Vincent, my company in this wacky adventure) awoke for breakfast at 8:00 AM and began language instruction with Bikram, an employee of Arjun’s. Until noon we familiarized ourselves with Nepali dialect and customs and when we had sufficiently exhausted the subject matter, we took to the streets. Dan had planned a specific sightseeing activity each day as a means by which to familiarize Vincent and I with Kathmandu and the people of Nepal. At one point he even left us in a crowd with the sole instruction that we use our language skills to locate him, miles away, at Kathmandu Durbar Square. We found him. He was in a cafe.

Due to the fickle nature of the wifi here in Nepal, Dan visits cafés regularly to send emails to GapForce.

Across from a dilapidated structure that I’m sure once resembled the Hindu temples in the area is stands one of these frequented cafés (I ordered a milkshake there; pretty tasty after a number of days eating unfamiliar cuisine). This is primo locale for keeping in contact with the folks back home all while slurpin’ some java and chompin’ cheesecake. I’m sure most patrons don’t even notice the human remains; I simply thought it was bamboo.

The dilapidated structure I mentioned is curiously capped with a cranium. I noticed this while sipping on a lemon iced tea. Isn’t that cool? Or unsettling? Or creepy? I can’t make up my mind. There are myriad things such as this to be witnessed in Kathmandu, and I’d be writing all night were I to attempt to include all Dan’s shown me so far.

Suffice it to say that the first week of the journey is a shock to the system on multiple fronts; it’ll kinda blow your mind. I now find myself in Chitwan National Park — it’s late at night and I’m enjoying some good old fashioned air conditioning. Gotta rest up; I need to be alert if I’m to successfully ride elephants in the coming days.

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