Whew! I can not begin to estimate how much time I have spent planning (and obsessing) for this trip. Although I have done A LOT of research, and A LOT of preparing, I have left plenty of room for exploring and there are many uncertainties about my summer- which is just how I like it.
However, for those of you (cough, cough, family) who would feel much more comfortable having a general outline of where I will be when here it is:
I will be leaving Nashville Wednesday, May 21st and arriving in Washington that night. From there I will go to Istanbul, and then finally arrive in Kathmandu on Friday, May 23rd.
^^ That was as accurate as my “itinerary” was. Everything else changed drastically, so here is the updated version in short:
I arrived in Kathmandu early morning. Picked up permits, met a boy named Robie who said he would come trekking with me. Drove that same day to Besi Sahar.
Stayed in hostel and started the Annapurna Circuit the next morning.
Trekked on the most unbelievably stunning trail you could ever imagine starting around 7am, would stop for tea at a tea house around noon, then trek thru even more sensational vistas until getting to a hotel or hostel for the night.
Met many really neat people along the trail- locals and tourist alike- and in the evenings we would eat dinner and play cards while talking about everything imaginable.
Spent an extra day in a cute village due to a boulder that blocked the trail where I met local boys, swam, and explored
Each day of hiking was very different due to the contrasting landscapes that run thru Nepal. Saw rich farming country, forrest of bamboo, tranquil lakes, cool rainforest, rugged mountains, mountain deserts, and jungles. I can’t type words to describe how stunning this trail is- please just let me explain in person.
Started feeling sick while spending an extra day in Manag to acclimate. While in Manag, I was blessed by a Lama (a Buddhist not an animal) that lived in the side of a mountain, hiked to a beautiful lake, and just enjoyed good company.
Hiked the most difficult few hours of my life up to High Camp thanks to altitude sickness. Beautiful scenery but miserable Laura.
Woke up at 4am to hike to the Thorong- La Pass (5,416 meters – a little less than 18,000ft) which is the highest mountain pass in the world. Altitude sickness at it’s finest. Took about 5hrs because I stopped every two steps thanks to nausea. but… I MADE IT. took about two photos then started running down. 3hrs of climbing (and sliding) straight down and started feeling much better.
Hiked about a week more- every day more stunning than the next. Met more neat people, visited natural hot springs, hiked up to Poonhill, then ended in Naya Pul! Took bus to Pokkhara
Stayed with a girl I met who lived in Pokkhara. Rested, walked, did yoga, saw touristy sites, met interesting people, ate delicious food, boated on a stunning lake, then took a bus to Kathmandu.
Spent two days in the old city of Bhaktapur with another sweet Nepali girl I had met. Met her family, saw a paper factory, learned about the history of Bhaktapur then returned to the main center of Kathmandu where I met up with some hikers I had met on the trail.
Then began volunteering June 15th.
Had two days of training with some great people, saw great things, learned lots, then went to Chitwan where I expected to volunteer at an elephant dung paper factory, play with kids at an orphanage, and help take care of my host family’s elephant.
My experience in Chitwan would take days to write, so once again just ask me in person.
Only about a week in, I got terribly painful blisters all over my body due to the heat. Went to doctor, stayed in bed a few days, only got worse, so decided to return to Kathmandu where it is not quite as hot (Read Journal Thoughts).
Felt much better only after two days and all my skin peeled off like a snake. Went to an orphanage called Gonkyap on the outer edge of Kathmandu where I lived with 14 kids and a teenager who took care of them. (Read Journal thoughts).
Had a truly life changing experience at Gonkyap. Miss them all terribly.
Had to say goodbye to my Gonkyap family way sooner than I would have liked (could have easily stayed another month), then I returned to Kathmandu where I had lunch with a friend’s friend and her daughter, said a final goodbye to my dear friends Robie and Ranjit, then left my wonderful new friends from Quest Volunteers and flew to Istanbul.
Had an incredible time during my Istanbul layover where I explored and was taught so much from my new Turkish friend Ali. Will have to return to finish my Turkey experience in the near future.
Spent a very dull an uneventful 16 hours in Houston Texas where I mostly just laid in bed in complete culture shock and hatred for “everything’s bigger in Texas” then made my way to Nashville!
This post doesn’t even skim the surface of my journey, but I hope it gives you a simple idea of what my summer was like. I am already looking forward to when I can return, and I seriously can not thank everyone who helped make this life changing trip a reality enough. It truly has been an experience like non other. 🙂