Sometime difficult roads lead to beautiful places
#nomadicterra OCT 2017
I was returning to the United States after living in Germany for four years.
When normal people travel from Europe to the U.S. or vice versa, they typically catch a flight that follows a track line across the Atlantic Ocean. That is exactly what I intended to do until I had a rather abnormal Idea cross my mind one day when I sat down to search for airfare. I quickly realized that an airline ticket traveling across Asia and the Pacific with several long layovers was only a few hundred dollars more than your standard straight flight from Frankfurt to Phoenix. After a few more minutes of scrolling and playing with settings on an airfare aggregator website, I purchased a ticket that included six layovers throughout Asia and the Pacific for $1500 of my very hard-earned cash.
Two months later, I found myself boarding an Asia Airlines flight bound for Kathmandu. I had already visited Istanbul and Dubai. After what seemed like forever, the plane finally touched down in the Napoli capital. I was herded off the aircraft along with the other passengers and into a medium-sized wood-framed building which functions as the Kathmandu International Airport. I filled out a few documents and paid for a tourist visa then I got a really cool stamp in my passport! Then the next morning I woke up to the sound of a frail voice yelling in Nepalese. I looked out the window of my hostel to see an elderly lady straining her voice as she walked through the streets to sell newspapers. I decided that it was time to get up and get ready for the day. I was anxious to take to the streets myself and see this intriguing city with a population of over 1 million people and 1 thousand monkeys. I quickly rummaged through my backpack and pulled out my wash kit. I jumped in the shower and twisted the fossette only to get drenched with stinky brown slush of what I guess was supposed to be water. I decided to leave the hostel without brushing my teeth. A few minutes into my walk down the dirt streets of Kathmandu, I saw my first monkey of the trip. Since I sometimes tend to be your typical tourist, I thought it would be a great idea to walk up to her and snap a picture. She leaped off of the wall she was standing on and tried to attack me, which led me to believe she didn’t like getting her photo taken after all.
A few days later, I found myself in a jeep several hours away from the busy streets of Kathmandu. I was now at 2,649m (3,694ft) and heading north towards the Tibetan border and the 3rd highest Mt in the world (Annapurna). The jeep ride was rough, I was standing in the truck bed with 6 other full-grown men who were smoking massive amounts of weed. We had all been riding in the back of this truck for over 11 hours, on what I believe to be ‘the world’s worst roads. At around midnight the jeep finally came to a stop in a small Sherpa village called “Chame” When I asked where I could stay that night, one of the guys in the back of the truck who was high as a kite, motioned towards a group of stone framed houses. I walked for a few laps through the small village until I worked up the courage to knock one of the doors. A Sherpa lady answered the door, I used hand gestures to communicate that I was looking for a place to sleep. She told me that she had an empty room that I could stay in and when I asked how much it would cost, she told me that it would be free as long as I paid for the food that I would eat at their house. Each meal averaged around 230 rupees or 2 USD. I would stay in a different village each night with similar lodging fees and anywhere from 15 to 20 km from the last village. One day I left the Annapurna circuit trail and began hiking up towards Tilicho Lake. This is the world’s highest big lake. The trail took me to over 5,100m (16,732ft) where it is tough to breathe, much less hike. None of this mattered to me though because as soon as I summited the last ridge of the hike, I had a commanding view of some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. Because of the high altitude, no aquatic organisms live in the water. The lake was a vibrant turquoise blue with a stark contrast in color to the dull gray mountain slopes and the white snow-capped peaks surrounding it. I’m genuinely not sure that I’ve ever seen something quite that blue before or since.
For a few rupees, I purchased a cup of hot lemon tea from a boy who had made the hike early in the morning to sell tea and coffee to hikers. I sat on a cold rock with my thick down parka and my hot lemon tea, pondering for over an hour as I took in the bluest sight I had ever seen.
A few weeks later, I boarded a flight in Kula Lumpur Malaysia, that was bound for Sydney Australia. On the evening of 17 Oct 2017, I flew across the International Date Line to Honolulu, where I landed on the morning of 17 Oct to start the day all over again. After a quick layover, I was off to Phoenix, Arizona. My first circumnavigation of the world had been completed as this was not my first time in Phoenix.