Leaving Vietnam, two glorious days in Bangkok, and the beginning of our time in Nepal. We’re exhausted. Good thing we only have a trek through the Himalayas going on next week…
We’ve been to three different countries in the past week.
After some busy days of last-minute adventuring in Vietnam we bade a sad farewell to Hoi An and the friends we had made there. We have wonderful memories of our time there, but as soon as we entered the airport we felt the peace and excitement that comes from knowing we made the right decision to move on.
We arrived in Bangkok that afternoon and spent 2 wonderful days exploring that grand city. We snagged a 4 star hotel for a fraction of the price (thank you, demand vs. supply!) and treated ourselves to a luxurious few days of lounging around and enjoying this new place without forcing ourselves to stay busy every minute of the day. It’s amazing how much more you can enjoy a place when you aren’t planning and stressing over every maximizing every detail!
We sprang for a private boat ride down the Chao Phraya with stops at the Wat Arun and Wat Pho temples, had a an incredible pad thai and spicy papaya salad lunch at a fancy restaurant, and even stopped for some necessities and window shopping at a mall.
My favorite thing about Bangkok was visiting Wat Pho. Partly because I’d really wanted to see it but the location was listed wrong on Google Maps and we happened upon it accidentally. Yay! Wat Pho has a giant, reclining golden Buddha and sparkling golden pagoda roofs. It’s incredible. We opted for a traditional Thai massage while at the temple, which was one of the most unusual experiences we’ve had! We were shown to a room full of beds and masseurs giving full-body massages over clothes to weary travelers right in the open. Ok, then.
It was my first massage by a man. And my first fully dressed (and wearing a skirt). And my first where the masseur massaged my bum. And it was at a temple.
Ten years ago I spent 4 months living and working at an orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was mentally and spiritually exhausting work. I arranged to stay with the Bishop of Bangkok’s English LDS church for a visa run during my trip, and arrived in need of some serious R&R&R (rest and relaxation and rehabilitation). The Bishop’s family was so incredibly kind to me and nursed my spirits back to normal for my return to the orphanage.
This time I spent 2 days going to a lot of the same place in Bangkok but this time with the two people I love most and as a layover on our way to a place I’d been wanting to go to for years. It was wonderful. I’ve only ever had great memories of Bangkok, and, since I’ve heard you either immediately love or hate it, I think I always will.
We left on Friday for Nepal.
Today was only our first full day in the country, and I can already tell it’s not what I expected. Kathmandu is home to 5 million residents and the city feels bustling. You can easily tell there’s very little infrastructure and lots of chaos. Our 70’s van bumped along pot-holed streets as we passed dirty makeshift houses, but the bright marigold necklaces being sold on every street corner makes up for the overall dust and dreariness.
The main reason for the trip is a 3-day trek on the Poonhill Trail. We met three other families for the trip, one of whom made this exact trip two years ago. I’ve never been very athletic and am feeling more than a little nervous about the hike. The wife of the experienced family has tried to console and prepare me with stories from their trek 2 years ago.
“You spend two full days climbing uphill. You get hot while you hike, so you begin to sweat, but the weather is chilly so you arrive at your nightly tea house wet and cold. There’s only one fire to warm the building, and it becomes crowded with clothes everyone is trying to dry. You go to bed in wet clothes with just blankets to keep you warm. But the mountains are beautiful!
“You wake up at 3:00 am on the third day to reach the summit and begin the downhill trek back. It’s dark and cold, but the air is so crisp!
“You spend two days climbing uphill, then, just as your muscles get used to the work, you switch gears to use new muscles for the downhill hike. By the end of the three days your muscles are so confused and tired they begin to atrophy. But the view is amazing!
She finished by telling me that, on their first night back, her body was so sore and she was so mentally exhausted from the work that she ended up crying on the floor of her bathroom because she couldn’t step over the narrow ledge leading to their shower.
Well, at least the air is really crisp.
Do I really want to do this? Willingly? Isn’t there a nice spa I could stay in while Ben takes Whit up the mountain?
I mean, I do like a good view, I guess….