Jody's Adventures

Thursday, April 26, 2007


So I've been walking 8 days thru tiny little Napali villages without running water, and most without electricity. Then I arrived in Chame and they have broadband internet! But still no road. This place is changing fast. The Annapurna circuit is amazing, I think I will be out here for a while. Thinking of you all!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The wait is over

Well I've been waiting in Pokhara for many days for word from my college on whether they will accept the courses I have chosen to fulfill my prerequisite requirements... Still nothing and it is driving me crazy that I am sitting here bored, and the mountains are so close. So I've decided to head out. I will be doing the Annapurna Circuit Trek, and hopefully the Annapurna Sactuary trek as well. The first walks around one of the tallest and most spectacular mountain ranges in Nepal and takes a minimum of 16days, the second goes right to the base of them and takes another 12 days. I plan to take my time and give myself up to 35 days to really enjoy it. I will be "tea house trekking" Which means that you stop in little restaurant/guesthouses along the trail for meals and to sleep. Makes it a bit more cushy, no tent or stove required. Also makes it a much more heavily travelled route. At any rate the Circuit trek at least is more an experience of the culture and scenery than of wilderness as you are walking the main route "highway" between dozens of villages, only there are no cars...yet. There are plans to push a road through over almost half this trek in the next few years, so it's a god time to go see it!
So no worrying about me until May 22, by which time I should be back and there should be loads of pictures up here for you to see!


Quote of the day

On the T shirt of a Nepali Internet cafe worker; "If the world didn't suck... We'ed all fall off"

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pokhara Nepal

One step closer to starting the Annapurna Circuit trek.. I hope. I am in the 2nd largest city in Nepal and it ain't that big. Had an amazing evening at the New Years Fair/festival. Basically the equivalent of a very tiny local carnival. 3 big rides, and some man powered kid ones (picture 2 small cars on a circular track being pushed by a man running behind) Welcome to the Nepali New Year festival!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

One more thing about the Chinese

If you have been reading my posts at all you might have noticed that I have a few issues with how the Chinese do things. I know many Chinese people, and they are wonderful, but the governement and many things about the culture do not impress me. The most outstanding issue politically may be Tibet. You have likely all seen a free tibet sticker, or heard about the issues, and I have mentioned bits about it. This poster which was hanging outside a Tibbetan Buddist Stupa in Kathmandu brings the point home. The Chinese (with the help of the new train) are being brought in by the thousands with special incentives to move there amd set up buisnesses and completely wipe out the tibetan culture. The number of monks in the monesteries is strictly limited, there are cameras in front of all the big temples where demonstrations might take place. As we drove thru Tibet in the absolute boonies you could see that every single monastery had been destroyed, most by TNT, many have since been rebuilt but they are much smaller, and very strictly watched and regulated. They are still arresting and impriosoning anyone who voices an opinion in China that Tibet should be left to the Tibetans. Chinese military are even posing as monks trying to find anyone who might speak badly of this Chinese invasion and toss them into jail- even tourists. If you can't see it this poster reads: China's record in tibet. More than a million killed! More than 6000 monasteries destroyed! Thousands in prison! Hundreds still missing!


Well I have been in Kathmandu for 12 days now and what have I accomplished? Seen a few temples, bough lots of presents, and have done my TAXES!!!!! Yes I have spent hours, and days actually a solid week getting my taxes done with lousy internet connections, problems with opening files, power cuts blah blah blah. It really did suck so be thankful when you do your taxes (which you should have done by now, but I know a few of you haven't). Anyhow with the help of Mom, Merle, and turbo tax they are done. Now what? Well I've been on the computer some more trying to find a chemistry and physics course I can take to fulfill my prerequisites for school. As soon as I get that sorted I will know when I have to go home, Hopefully I'll get it sorted soon because I'm in Nepal and I want to go trekking gosh darn it!


This is Everest Base camp! And oh yeah thats me AT Everest base camp! 5220 meters (17,126ft). It's pretty high, pretty cold, and pretty amazing. There weren't any climbers in base camp, they were all up on the mountain because the weather was good, only the base camp crews were there. Way cool. Slept in a tent with a yak dung burning stove and 4 blankets. Had pretty severe altitude sickness which isn't much fun but it passed, and sleeping at Everest base camp this close to the biggest mountain in the world was pretty darn cool.

Road to Kathmandu

Took a landcruiser from Lhasa to Kathmandu because that is the most reliable and fastest way to get there, and to be able to stop at the base of a really amazing mountain on the way. Saw lots of Tibetan villages, lots of mountains, and lots of Yak shit. That is the fuel out here for heating and yes cooking, but even better than that is how they dry it- by plastering it to the walls of their houses. Note the faint outling of the bare hand that applied it to the wall. Good stuff!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tibet- Ganden Monastery

One of the amazing Monasteries outside of Lhasa. The kora (path around a temple, or monastery which the pilgrims ritually walk) takes you around the back side of the mountain that the monastery is perched on for some amazing views. You also pass the sky burial sites where the dead are cut into pieces and spread out for the vultures to eat. In the last 2 pictures when you look closely you can see the sign for the police station, yeah no town here, the police are there only to watch the monastery, and in the second picture you can see what I thought was a boulder at the top of a hill covered with prayer flags but just kidding, it's a yak!

Tibet- Potala

There it is the Dali Llama's house until he was forced to flee before the cultural revolution in 59. The place is immense and amazing with enormous tombs for past Dali llamas covered in gold and jewels. You can even peer into the Dali LLama's own quarters and meditation area. The most amazing part was the pilgrims there. To see their passion and devotion, and know that there leader is being kept from them, and they are being persecuted daily, yet they carry on with such spirit. Really amazing people. I was brought to the verge of tears watching an old Monk prostrating himself repeatedly in front of one of the shrines, and being helped up each time as he was too frail to do it himnself. Sorry no pictures- the Chinese guards in each room will not allow it.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Prayer flags, Monks- on cell phones, and pilgrims. Thats what it's all about. An amazing city. Rich Tibetan culture with great passion for their Buddist religion. hundreds of pilgrims fill the city walking in circles around the temples, and prostrating themselves before them for hours at a time. The faces are amazing. The woman in the last picture holds a prayer wheel as all tibetan pilgrims do. It contains prayers inside it and everytime it is spun the prayers are sent out into the universe.

Tibet? Nope still in china

This was the scene outside the Lhasa train station trying to get a bus into town. In typical Chinese fashion everyone is cramming onto the buses as if their life depends on it despite the fact that there are a long line of buses there waiting. After the crush of people get on the bus it moves about 10 meters and stops again as a woman forces open the door and squeezes on between all the people and luggage to collect the fare. She shoves her way from the rear to the front climbing over luggage and people then gets off again. Because this make so much more sense than having people wait in line to get on the bus and pay then. I really don't understand this place. The only explanation I have for the Chinese total inability to wait in line is the one child policy which has created millions of only children!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Tibet- Train to Lhasa

So the shiny new train to Lhasa. This is the train line they said could not be built, but there is a whole region that China wants to exploit and populate, plus the Olympics are coming and lots of tourists will pay to go to Tibet, and so it was built. It does provide a very nice way to get there. You travel thru quite desolate plains and over several passes one of which is over 5200 meters (over 16,000 feet) the same height as Everest base camp. Saw endangered Tibetan antelope, eagles, yaks, marmots, a fox, and lots of sheep and Tibetan herders bundled up against the amazing cold. They have a special system to deal with the permafrost and keep the tracks from buckling. It's working.. so far. The train while shiny and new is still a Chinese train ridden by Chinese people, so it wasn't cleaned for the entire 26 hour trip, and Chinese people are not known for being neat, but it was really cool all the same and they smoked only slightly less on this train in total disregard for the constant flow of of pure oxygen pumped into the cars to prevent altitude sickness.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Xining Tibetan Village

Tibetan's in the small tibetan village outside Xining (China)
1/2 tibetan, 1/2 Han chinese boy- son of our "travel agent"
Tibetan kettle boiling, these things are awesome! with solar they can boil a gallon of water.

Visited a small Tibetan village outside of Xining China, a little taste of Tibet while waiting for the train to go to Lhasa. Bought train tickets with a "travel agent" who can purchase train tickets and supposedly pay off the officials to aviod the permit fee the government charges to go to Tibet (over $100). He brought me to his home to meet his family and son and see the temple and school.

Back in China

I'm remembering all those reasons I had for never wanting to return to china. People smoking in resturants. Disgusting squat toilets. People spitting everywhere. People smoking on trains. MSG in everything. People smoking on busses. Always being charged foreigner prices. People smoking in Internet bars. No soap and water to wash after using the disguting squat toilets. And did I mention the smoking?

Well I'm surviving somehow and I am benefitting from all the chinese language I learned the last time I was here. It was actually nice to come back to somewhere where I knew the currency, how much things should cost, how to buy a bus ticket, etc. and I was somewhat prepared for the cultural differences.

Tomorrow evening I get on the train to Lhasa- the train they said couldn't be built because it goes over permafrost and a 5204 m pass. The train has oxygen on it to help with the altitude. It will be wicked.


Travelling in Asia as a pale skinned blonde you stand out a little, not quite as much as if you are a 6 foot tall blonde, but even at 5ft 1inch and a little I tower over many people. This tends to make one something of a celebrity and folks like to take your picture, and have their picture taken with you. Here are the results of an impromptu photo shoot that Kristina and I submitted to at a popular tourist point in Myanmar called Mt Popa. The stuff on my face is a traditional sunscreen/makeup worn by Myanmar women and children made from the bark of a tree.

Myanmar Car Seat

Thursday, April 05, 2007

February 8th "protests"

Some of you may have heard that there were protests at the American Embassy in Myanmar after the US proposed some action on human rights in Myanmar at the United Nations. The word here is that those people were certainly paid by the government to "protest". The people of Myanmar are very anxious for freedom from the current military government, and desperately want our help.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Myanmar to Putao the flight

Curbside check in Illegal Airport Photo
British Built Airport
Checking in for the next day's flight- reviewing a list of the passengers posted outside the airline office.

So my guide for my Putao trip met me in Myitkyina to accompany me on my flight to Putao. Foreigners are not allowed to travel on the road up there and even if you are it takes 1 week to 4 months depending on road conditions, rain, snow, and landslides to travel the same distance that the 1/2 hour flight covers, so I flew. The "airports" and I use the term loosely were not much more than one building along a stretch of concrete which serves as the runway. We took a motorcycle taxi to the airport which is a motorcycle with a cart attached with just enough room for 2 people and bags. The moto taxi stopped in front a place which looks like a cross between a street market and a bus stop with several women sitting behind tables of water bottles, toilet paper, and assorted snacks. Gradually I notice the piles of plastic bags stuffed full, and cardboard boxes tied up with string (not likely containing my favorite things). Then I notice that many of the men milling about are wearing name tags which say Myitkyina airport, and someone takes our luggage into a wood and fence stall and I realize that this is curbside check in! We are at the airport! Our bags are brought around a green wooden partition and placed on tables for searching. A man in camo carefully inspects each of my pens as a friendly but somewhat scared German Shepard looks on. About 30 armed men later we arrive in a colonial era 3 room building- the original airport built by the colonial British. The waiting room had a high ceiling. The paint that hadn't chipped off the walls yet was a tired white. Lazy ceiling fans hung from it. The windows and doors had appropriate era wavy glass windows to let the light shine in on the red plastic chairs, and we waited. The plane was only 1 hour late- we were lucky. As I walked across the tarmac to the awaiting plane I was thankful we were not flying the government owned Fokker, but a more modern craft complete with a very well dressed stewardess with airbrushed designs on her toenails. Obviously a resident of the big city of Yangoon she looked very out of place in this town. The government Fokkers in addition to being antiquated and rattletrap are at the disposal of the government/military officials and flights are regularly cancelled if someone wants to go somewhere. The plane was already half full as it had come up from Yangoon so I did not get the view for the 1/2 hour flight. As I disembarked at the equally non modern Putao airport I was gently reminded that any and all pictures of the planes or airport facilities are not permitted, and strictly watched by the dozen military personnel armed with rifles at the airport. But I was here, and the famed snow capped mountains were in sight.

Putao Snowcapped Mountains

A child in one of the Putao villages and some views of the snowcapped mountains- glimpses of the himalaya.

Putao-My ride

When I arrived at the airport in Putao this was the vehicle which took me to my "hotel". A gentleman on my flight happened to work for the World Health Organization, and the local health officers put this vehicle at his disposal for the three days he was to be in Putao. I took special note of where this converted ambulance had come from. According to the local guys a native of Myanmar living in PA had donated it. It's original purpose, as indicated by the writing on the side "Mobile Dispensary" bears little resemblance to it's current use. Gasoline is particularly expensive in this region as are medical supplies. The people of Myanmar have so called "free" medical care in that they can consult with the doctor for free, but they must pay for transport to a medical facility or walk, and they must pay for all supplies used by the doctor including things like gauze, medications, and even tools like scalpels and scissors. The doctors are paid very poorly as well so many charge for the services as well or run private side practices to make ends meet. I ended up spending three days with this doctor from WHO travelling to rural health clinics and meeting midwives who will be participating in an upcoming mass measles inoculation program.