Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kathmandu, Nepal

When we were putting this trip together, Doug asked me if there were any places on my "bucket list" that I wanted to visit. Obviously Antarctica was one and Easter Island was another, but one that I mentioned that day was Kathmandu. It was a place that had been in my mind for a long time, and I had images of colorful flags, snow-capped mountains, yaks, and Sherpas. I had no idea what to expect or if my expectations were even realistic, but it was one of those exotic-sounding places that I really wanted to see.

For the most part, Kathmandu just looks like a city. Considering that it borders India and most of its people are Hindu, one might expect it to be similar to India, but it really isn't. The architecture, the culture, and the general feeling of being a tourist there are all completely different.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Agra, India

If I had to describe India in a single phrase, I think it would be "functional chaos." Everywhere I look, everything appears to be in a state of utter chaos, and yet, it works. I have no idea how.

Every mode of transport conceivable is used in India, everything from bicycles to pushcarts to motorbikes to motorbike taxis to bicycle rickshaws to trucks, cars, buses, ox-drawn carts, horse-drawn carts, elephants, and so on. All of these could be present on a single road at any time. Lanes are optional, and generally ignored. Horn honking is an art. Cows randomly block the road. I have no idea how people ever learn to drive here, because it looks pretty damn intimidating.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Goa, India

One of the things we decided to do this year was visit a handful of beach resort areas. Doug is not a beach person, and despite the fact that we've done so much traveling together, we've never been to a resort. When we were choosing our itinerary for this trip, there were several places that we wanted to go that are clearly beach destinations, and so we decided that we would visit some beach resorts. In all, we're spending a little more than five weeks on the beach this year. Carter and I are very excited!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mumbai, India

The last time I was in India was 1999, and it was a trip that changed my attitude about travel. Prior to that trip, I enjoyed doing things the "hard way" when we traveled - taking public transportation, staying in local hotels, and trying all the foods I came across. In 1999, I learned that there are many places in the world where you just can't doing that without being prepared to experience some really bad things: food poisoning and robbery, among them. I have a photo of myself from that trip standing in front of the Taj Mahal, and right after that photo was taken, I threw up. In a trash can. And it only got worse from there. By the end of that trip, I'd learned that you just can't approach travel so naively.

So you can imagine that it was with a bit of trepidation that I headed into this part of the trip. Doug has spent quite a lot of time in India for business, and he's had much better luck than we had then -- but he's done it by staying in very nice hotels, arranging private transportation, and being extremely picky about what he eats. So obviously, this part of the trip would fall under the "spare no expense" category.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hong Kong and Disneyland #3

From Beijing we headed to Hong Kong, one of the world's great cities. It's been a decade since I was last in Hong Kong, but the central part of the city looked exactly the same with its lush green mountains and skyscrapers nestled against the edge of a spectacular bay. It felt astonishingly western after Japan and Beijing.