Mt. Everest: The Roof of the World
A few years ago, I spent a summer in Nepal with some friends. Due to some political unrest (i.e. riots, public transport strikes, and burning tires in the streets), we didn’t get to do as much sightseeing as we would have liked. However, someone recommended a flight to Mt. Everest with Buddha Air, and a friend and I signed up together. You leave early in the morning from Katmandu airport, and fly through the majestic Himalayas and right up to Mt. Everest. It was an amazing sight. In the photo above, you can see Mt. Everest in the top middle – it looks like a pyramid. We were flying above the clouds and the mountains still looked gigantic! I could only imagine how enormous it would look if you could see the whole mountain with no clouds. You might not not know that half of Mt. Everest is in Nepal, while the north half is in Tibet (China).
The plane we were on was very small, maybe only 12 seats or so and everyone has a window seat. We also got to take turns going up into the cockpit for an even better view. (yes this was post 9-11!). The flight at the time was about $100 (US) and lasted about an hour and a half. I totally recommend it if you have the time and money – especially if you won’t be trekking up to base camp.
My only complaint? I got better photos through the cockpit windows than I did through my own, due to scratches on the windows. But hey, I got to see Mt. Everest, so I’m not too bummed that my pics aren’t gonna make the cover of National Geographic!*
Upon our safe landing back in Katmandu, we were proudly presented with certificates which were signed by the pilot and said, “I might not have climbed Mt. Everest, but I touched it with my heart.” Awww, now if that doesn’t make you feel all warm fuzzy, I don’t know what will!
Continuing Photo Thursdays with my Jaipur adventures…. (If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 it’s not too late to catch up!)
So for the next two days, we saw every square inch of Jaipur. I highly reccommend having access to your own car & driver 24/7. He was able to take us anywhere we wanted to go. In addition, I had an Indian friend who lived in Jaipur, so he met up with us for lunch one day and helped us map out where we wanted to go. One warning, sometimes the taxi drivers get a hefty tip or commission if they bring tourists to certain shops. The shopkeepers have a deal set up that if the tourists buy anything, the driver gets his cut. After our driver tried this once or twice we caught on and told him no thanks (unless we really did want to check out a place!). But my friend’s recommendations on some great local shopping were far better for our pocketbooks in the end! My favorite find in Jaipur was a star sapphire ring. When held up to the light it reflects a star pattern. Star sapphires and star rubies are pretty rare – but the most famous one is called the Star of India
Our favorite part of sight-seeing in Jaipur was the elephant ride up to the Amber Fort. It was lots of fun – and a totally tourist thing to do. We even had an elephant traffic jam
on the way up. And caught one elephant and driver napping
on the way down! The palaces, museums and forts are beautiful and the world of the Maharaja and Maharanis actually comes to life in front of your eyes.
My only other word to the wise…don’t go in May – one of the hottest months!
Last week, I started a new series of posts called Photo Thursdays.
I left off the story with myself and my two friends in a hired taxi on our way from Delhi to Jaipur. I ended up sitting in the front of our taxi because the backseat was very small – and I suppose I got elected because of the three of us, I had lived in India the longest and my Hindi was better than theirs…hmmm that wasn’t saying too much! So thankfully our driver was very honest and worked for a reputable travel agency so we were well taken care of. Three girls and a driver stuck in the middle of the desert in one of the hottest, driest months of the year is not my idea of fun!
We arrived at our hotel late that evening, and checked in. We noticed quite a commotion, but didn’t think much of it. Later we came to know that it was an auspicious day for weddings, and there was one taking place in our very own hotel. Somehow the hotel didn’t have our room ready when we arrived, so they temporarily put us in the HONEYMOON SUITE – before coming to rescue us and give us our normal room – I suppose they figured the bride and groom didn’t need it for several more hours!
We quickly headed out for a late dinner at Pizza Hut! We drove through some crazy traffic, only to find that everyone in Jaipur was either getting married that night or attending a wedding that night. There were groom’s parties all over the street, grooms on elephants, and horses, with huge entourages leading them to their weddings. And the noise? Wow, that was something…there were marching bands and music blaring and people everywhere! The traffic was a nightmare…so by the time we got back to our hotel it was very late, but the groom was just arriving for that wedding. They were dancing right in the entrance to the hotel and insisted that we join them, so they paraded us along with the grooms party. This was my first Hindu wedding, so it was quite something to watch. The scenery was spectacular, and the hotel was gorgeous. They had the wedding outdoors in the courtyard. We stayed for a while but quietly slipped out when we had a chance – it was getting very late and we had a busy day the next day!
The photo above is the Hawa Mahal – a gorgeous structure. Here’s some of what Wikipedia has to say about it – click here to read more.
…It forms part of the City Palace and extends the Zenana or women’s chambers, the chambers of the harem. Its original intention was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen….The side facing the street outside the palace complex has 953 small windows, and the breeze (hawa) which circulates through these windows gives the palace its name, and keeps it cool even in hot months…
Check back next week for part 3 of our Jaipur adventure!
“While Delhi offers a bewildering array of eating joints, there is a tendency in the media to focus on those which make commercial sense to the media mogul, but which regrettably often make little sense to those looking for value for money and plain good taste. Consequently, most of us don’t even get to hear about the many unpretentious places which thankfully, still abound in Delhi, and which — whether elegant hotels or simple streetside stalls — offer a truly rewarding experience to the foodie who is willing to venture away from the beaten path. Eating Out in Delhi is thus an attempt to discover and share the hidden gems of Delhi’s food scene…”
It makes me wish I were in Delhi! I think I’d try Sancho’s Mexican Restaurant first – I’ve tried local Mexican restaurants in both Hyderabad and Bangalore.
I’ll be the first to admit that they weren’t your typical Tex-Mex that I know and love, but after suffering Mexican food withdrawals while I lived in India – both places tasted pretty good to me! I did discover that I preferred the rice and beans to the Indian-ized enchiladas, etc.
But I hear India is coming up in the world of Mexican fast food. According to this report Taco Bell is opening its doors soon. It was only natural since it is a sister company of Pizza Hut and KFC – both of which are mega hits in India. I’ve always thought that Taco Bell would do well in India, it is similar enough to Indian food (think tortillas = chapattis) and can be easily adapted for vegetarians. I half way expect to be ordering a Maharaja Quesadilla by this time next year…