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travel ramblings from Dave

Hi, this is Dave. We're now in Bangkok Thailand. Over the next few days we'll be seeing a lot of sights and I'm sure I'll be taking tons of photos to share, but in the meantime I thought I'd just post a few thoughts I've had about/during our travels.

Several days ago in Nepal we had an interesting experience. We actually rode ON TOP of a bus. We met a girl in town that was going to the same temple we were so we all hiked about 30 minutes through town to the bus stop. After finally figuring out where exactly the bus stop was, with no signs to help us, the bus arrived. It was full so our new friend who was a much more seasoned traveler than us immediately started climbing the ladder on the back of the bus saying "I'll ride on top." Well we didn't want to be outdone, let alone miss the bus so we climbed up as well. There were about 4 young Nepali people already sitting up there on the small luggage rack including a few small school children. We found some room and wedged our butts down into the uncomfortable rails. During the trip people came and went and each time everyone adjusted for space and a fresh cheek position. At one point my sunglasses were knocked off by a tree branch that smacked the back of my head, and another time Lynette and I had to play limbo with a power line to avoid being decapitated or possibly just electricuted. As we got higher on the hill and closer to the temple, the roads became narrower and we found ourselves perched over steep hills overlooking the farms below and city in the distance. I imagined all the stories I've read in the past of busses overturning down cliffs in India and I had to lay back and close my eyes to control my fear of heights. The local people all of course laughing behind me while not even holding on to anything. We made it to the temple unscathed and had a lovely time. But its a ride we will never forget.

There were two nights back in Bhaktapur Nepal that were quite memorable. We actually got to sit down and watch a full American movie each night on the hotel lobby TV. And even without commercial interruption as they were on HBO. This is not a common occurance for us because of the foreign television programs and power outages each night but this was a pretty nice place and it had cable and a generator backup. There was no one else in the room so we kicked back on the couches and selected the first thing that we came across that was in English. It was so nice. The movies were not actually that great. But it was so nice to be able to just relax, zone out in front of the tube and understand what they were saying. The first night was Sky High, the high school super hero movie with Kurt Russell. Not very good. But I got so entranced in it that when someone came through the front door of the hotel, I was startled and thought, "hey, who's breaking into my house!?" It took me a second to realize we weren't back home in our own place. The second night was American Dreams, the American Idol type story with Hugh Grant. An even worse film, but I was comfortable enough in the place that I fell asleep on the couch towards the end and Lynette had to wake me to go to bed. I've found myself online many times watching movie trailers as a way to indulge in my love of American cinema. I'm sad that I'll miss so many great movies coming out this summer. I wonder where we'll be when Indiana Jones comes out internationally and if I'll be able to bare the subtitles they'll probably have on the bottom of the screen in these foreign theaters.

All through India and Nepal there are these street touts trying to sell these very small round chess sets with pieces that have pegs on the bottom that fit into holes on the board so they don't fall out. We first saw them in India and they seemed to be everywhere. We wondered how these guys could stay in business. Are there that many chess enthusiasts out there traveling that they can make enough money selling these things? Well it took a while, until Nepal, and many boring flights, train rides, and meals with nothing left to say before we thought "Hey, why don't we buy one of those chess sets?" Now we know how they stay in business. Its a great thing to do when you're on the road for a long time and get bored. I hated the thought of supporting this army of annoying guys that have been pestering us for months, but it turned out to be a non issue because as the saying goes, "There's never one around when you want one." So we ended up going to a local Kathmandu shop to buy one. After closer inspection we decided the peg version wasn't the best way to go because the tiny pegs could easily break off in the holes and then its worthless in a travel situation. So we opted for a magnetic version instead. After small talk with the shopkeeper for awhile I tried talking him down by saying, "Can you give me a better price since we get along so well?" I've come to enjoy bargaining much more because you can say crazy things like this. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't but I get a kick out of it either way. Once I told a tout on the street trying to push tiger balm on us, "No thanks, I've already got a year's supply that I won on a game show." He probably didn't understand what that meant, but Lynette and I had a laugh. I got the chess set salesman to go down from 1000 rupees to 700. I was happy with the price and it seemed so was he, which is really the ultimate goal. So we've been playing chess ever since.

I had never been on an international flight before this trip so many of you may already know this, but one of the great things about them is the free alcohol. The first time we experienced this I was like, "What!?" I hadn't indulged however because I usually like to sleep on the flights and alcohol wires me, but on the three hour flight from Nepal to Thailand the other day I thought what the heck. I started with a rum and Pepsi. During the meal they offered free wine. I didn't want to offend so I had some red. Then before the meal was over they came back with the wheeled bar again, so I got another rum and Pepsi. After dinner they came by with Coniac! But I'd hit my limit. I didn't want to be stumbling through the aisles striking up incoherent conversations with strangers. I thought, "man, on longer flights they must have a bunch of drunks by the end of it." Like with one flight we were on these two young blokes were just getting beer after beer with a few breaks in between for mixed drinks. By the time we landed they must have been sloshed. But hey, whatever. They might have been big sissies about flying and needed something to calm the nerves.

Another great thing about the flights is the onboard movies. So far I've seen Michael Clayton, Water Horse, and Live Free or Die Hard. That combined with the great meals and comfortable seating, there have been flights that I didn't want to end. That's a far cry from the domestic flights I've been on back in the states.

For anyone headed to Kathmandu, and we recommend you do so, I have a few restaurant recommendations in the Thamel district. We found this great place that we ended up eating at every morning for breakfast. It was really cheap and they had the best banana pancakes that I've had on the whole trip, and believe me, I've had many. They were crepe style with the bananas wrapped inside, and there was some kind of spice added, like cinamon or nutmeg. They were fried in a pan so there were some golden brown crispy parts. It came with honey on the side to pour over. Nowhere in India or Nepal has had maple syrup. Must be hard to come by there. But to my surprise honey is a fantastic substitute for maple syrup. Don't know why it never occurred to me to try it before (probably because I always had maple syrup) but it was really good. I'll be using it regularly when we get back home. Lynette almost always got the set breakfast which included eggs, fried potatoes, toast, grilled banana, and grilled tomato. It was very cheap and filled her up for a good while. I also started drinking tea there, with milk in it. I was never a big tea drinker before but I've drunk so much Coke and Sprite on the trip, because that's all that's offered (or safe) besides water and coffee, that I needed a change. The place is Helena's. You can sit on the roof top for a fantastic view of the city, but its 8 flights up! After our mountain treks we have thighs of steel so that was no problem for us. :-)

Good Mexican or Tex Mex food has also been really hard to come by on the trip so far. Hadn't had it anywhere through the first 3 months. We were talking to someone in Kathmandu about this with a woman we met in Kathmandu and she recommended Northfield Cafe for Mexican which was right near our hotel. Everywhere else in Nepal uses Nepali Chipatti bread (like thick pitas) for their enchilada and chimichanga tortillas. But this place, which is owned by an American, uses authentic corn tortillas. The chicken enchiladas that Lynette and I both got were to-die-for.

And the New Orleans Cafe had incredible chicken burgers. There's a lot of good food to be found but sometimes you have to be lead to it by people you meet or you just stumble upon it.

We're in Thailand now, and my long search for a quality milkshake has finally come to an end. It's not called a milkshake though, but that's a minor detail. Its called a Frosty, but its basically a milkshake by American definition. It has the perfect consistency. The cool thing is all the flavors they offer. I had the banana almond yesterday. Who knows what I'll get next time. The suspense is killing me.

Well that's all for now. Remember if you are a newcomer to our blog you can register by clicking the button to the right of your screen and entering your info. This way you'll get an email notifying you everytime we add a new entry, and you won't have to keep checking back for something new.

Dave and Lynette

Posted by schuckley 06:22

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Thanks Dave for your stories. They make me feel like I was there with you....except for the bus ride thing! You two are crazy! I can NOT wait to hear what your next milkshake will be! :o) Safe travels. Love, Angie and Family

by aprochaz

Hi guys! Well....it's not like we're jealous sitting here at work. We're still glancing at our Aussie adventure, and want to travel as soon as possible. So actually now we are travelling through you:-)
After you'd broke the news of the pygmy koala, I have decided to spread the knowledge about it in Denmark. You haven't heard the story in Thailand yet?:-)

Take care and enjoy.

Jessica and Frank

by remme

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