Unfortunately, although we were ready for Everest, it was not ready for us. Sadly there had been a plane crash while we were between Pokhara and Kathmandu so all flights to Lukla at the start of the trek were grounded we hung out a few days in Kathmandu waiting for them to resume however after 6 days we were Kathmandu'd out and had to make another plan.
Kathmandu itself is crazy. It's hectic, dusty, loud, and generally bloody brilliant. It was weird (in a good way) to be in a real city again. We met some great people at our hotel who we spent our days and evenings eating and drinking with, went to the beautiful Tibetan stupa at Bodinath, to the cremation temples at Pashputinath, saw a MONKEY knock a woman over (which was pretty scary?!) watched a festival with a living goddess (which was actually a bit bizarre?). We had a fantastic time though it was VERY touristy so 6 days was more than enough.
We'd read about rafting in Nepal before and both Lauren and I were quite keen to do a bit, however we then found out about a 10 day trip leading us down the Sun Kosi almost to the Indian border. At first 10 days seemed a bit epic but it made sense as it was that or a 17 hour overnight bus journey from KTM back to India on some of the worst roads in the world! So we weighed it up - a few rapids and sleeping on the beach or shattered bones from the longest drive there would ever be. Needless to say beach camping won. Also, how many people can say they rafted from Nepal to India?! Who needs a bus or a plane?!
And we were so glad to have chosen it as it was SUCH a fun trip! The guides were fantastic at their jobs - the big chief Arun was hilarious, and the six other tourists with us were all really nice too. There were two girls from Denmark, two girls from Holland, and a girl and guy from Belgium. Jeroen, the Belgian guy, had me and Lauren in hysterics every day just with the things he said, we were so lucky to be with such a great bunch of people.
The rapids weren't too too scary, we flipped once at a rapid called Jaws (after which Jeroen turned around and announced he would never call his son George as that's what he thought it was called...) which was the scariest bit, but other than that it was just so much fun. The camping and sleeping under the stars on the beach was fantastic too. I love camping!!
Getting to India from the drop off point was interesting as when we reached the border it was dark, the office was closed, there were lots of shady looking characters around, etc etc. BUT we managed to get the immigration officer to open up and stamp our passports for a small amount of money and we were back into India land! At one point - about 7.30pm - we weren't quite sure which country we'd be sleeping in, or whether we'd be trapped in no mans land between the two countries?! It was all very exciting.
We spent the night in Siliguri which was pretty gross, but then planned to get the toy train up to Darjeeling the following morning. However once again, as before in Shimla, it wasn't meant to be that we could get a pretty train as it wasn't running due to landslides on the track from the monsoon. Landslides, I have to say, are the bain of this trip. From getting stuck in one while crossing on the Annapurna, to Jaws the rapid flipping the raft due to new landslide stuff in the water, to not being able to get direct modes of transport. I tell you, they're bloody everywhere getting in the way! One thing we've learnt - if there's ever a delay of some kind it'll be due to a landslide or a festival.
Anyway, we managed to get a jeep up to Darjeeling where we've been for the past few days. It's beautiful up here, although pretty cold! We've drunk copious amounts of tea and eaten copious amounts of cake and street food. Basically what we do best! We did take a very early morning trip to Tiger Hill to watch the sunrise over the Himalayas but we both agreed we'd been spoilt with views in Nepal and it wasn't really worth the 3.30am start. But it was okay, as we then got a longer day to eat and drink
We also spent some time at the Tibetan refugee self help centre which was great to see. We met some lovely old ladies who were spinning wool and then making beautiful blankets and scarves etc on looms and doing weavings and things (okay so I'm not the best at actually listening to the details) and I accidentally bought some bits - but it's for a good cause so it was okay. My back may now turn into its own cause due to the weight of my backpack but it's okay as I'll have beautiful things!
We're currently in an extremely cramped jeep heading along the bumpy roads to the Kingdom of Sikkim! It's supposed to take 4 hours or so, it's 12.30 now so I'm guessing we'll be there about 7pm?! There are 15 of us in this vehicle and a babies head is on my arm. I'm sure most of you can imagine how happy I am about this.
AFTER NOTE: we arrived at 6.30 after an actual punch-up in the jeep between a drunk army guy in the seat in front of us and a very proper suit wearing guy next to me! The jeep of course didn't stop for a while even though the women were screaming, the men were shouting, the kids were cowering. It was all very dramatic! Also of course it was mentioned numerous times how there were foreigners in the vehicle because god forbid a bad image is then sent home! I even got passed the baby for about 20 minutes when the jeep finally did stop and all the men piled out to push and shove each other - this was the most worrying part for me! But, we made it!!