Christmas in the Himalaya
Bareilly (India) to Nagthali (Nepal), Dec-08-07 / Dec-26-07
It is Boxing Day 2007. We are high in the Nepalese Himalaya for a 12-day trek over the Tamang Heritage Trail (see also the article and photo impression about the Tamang Heritage Trail). Today is a resting day. It is a perfect day to write a new web log. The view is fantastic and the weather is really nice. From people who are familiar with the Nepalese Himalaya, we heard that this view is one of the best views in Nepal. We are almost completely surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The biggest one is the impressive 7225-metres high Lantang Lirung that looks down contemptuously on us. In the distance we see the snow-capped mountains of Tibet. It is truly a fantastic place.
Kids of the primary school in Thuman
Also when we were still living in The Netherlands, we used the Christmas days to look back to the past year and made new plans for the future. Christmas is a great time to look in the mirror and to determine if everything is still in conformance to your wishes. New plans are not necessary this year because we are still very happy with the decision we made to go and travel. The year 2007 is a special year because it is the year in which we started with our dream. It is really fantastic to see the world without any time pressure and to travel to the places we want. The ultimate freedom is a great feeling. Of course, it is not only sunshine. Sometimes there are also bad moments while travelling, but for us the bad moments are rare so far. Knock on wood! One of the worst things that can happen while travelling is that something bad happens to our health. For that reason, we are very cautious with our health. But that is not as easy as it would be in for example Europe, because the facilities are not present in development countries. The air quality in most big cities is really bad. When you arrive for example in cities like Tehran, Delhi or Kathmandu, you will get irritated eyes, a sore throat and a stuffed-up nose, within a couple of hours. Also the quality of the tap-water is often poor. That means that you must be very careful with what you eat. Vegetables must be cooked well, what means that most of the vitamins are gone. We are still taking vitamins tablets in areas where we can not eat fresh vegetables. Finally, even when the quality of the food is fine, you are still not safe because the hygienic circumstances are bad. People are not really used to wash their hands before they prepare food. Besides that there are often no refrigerators, and cleaning the kitchen is often never heard off. Most of the time it is better not to know what happens behind the kitchen doors of the restaurants. So far, we are lucky. We had several times diarrhoea, but only one time we had to go to the doctor for it.

After more than six months of travelling we are not bored with each other yet. Some people warned us before we left, that it could be difficult to be with each other for 24 hours a day. For us, it is absolutely not true. We love to travel together and have a great time. Every day is a new adventure that we experiencing together. The fact that we are not bored yet is that we both have the same interests. In contrast to many other couples who are travelling together, we seldom have arguments about the places to see or the things to do. Everyday is a new feast for us. We also have no problems with boredom. There are so many things that we want to see and do, that there is no time for boredom. Besides that, we use a lot of time making new content for this website. Sometimes we need days to write new articles/columns and edit the picture we made. We really like ‘working’ for our website. Especially the positive responses about the website we get from people around the globe, really gives us a lot of energy. Some people even mentioned that our website is addictive!

Edwin & Ivonne in the tent on freezing High Camp

There is not really something that we miss from The Netherlands so far, besides our family and close friends of course. But the internet has so many possibilities these days, that it is easy to keep close contact. We also follow the news via the internet. We are mainly interested in the world news and especially the news in the countries we are planning to visit in the near future. Sometimes we also take a look at the news in The Netherlands. We often have to chuckle when we read about the “small” things people are fussed about. In the countries we visited so far, people are not in the luxury situation to fuss about the small things. They are often very poor and their only concern is to “earn” enough money to survive the day. The biggest poverty we saw so far was in India. Especially the situation in the big cities is really bad. It is disgraceful to see in what situation people live. Here in Nepal the situation looks better. Still, many people are poor but we didn’t see a lot of people who have not enough to eat. People in Nepal seem to be better-tempered than for example in India. Also the environment in where people live is much better. There is less pollution on the streets and because of the lower population density, the country feels much more pleasant.

After travelling for several months through poor developing countries, you develop some kind of an “elephant skin”. During the first months you feel quite uncomfortable when you see the extreme poverty, are bothered by beggars with leprosy, and see families pining away in the gutters of the big cities. After a coupe of months you are becoming used to it and acquiesce in the situation as it is. There isn’t really a lot of hope for these people. Of course, countries like India have a huge economic growth, but the advantage of the growth is only going to 0.5% of the population. The reason is that India mainly invests in capital-intensive and IT-related industries. In other words, they only invest in the industries that do not generate a lot of jobs. That is bad news for 99.5% of the people that also want to benefit from the economical progress India is making. Unfortunately, poverty is still a huge problem, also in the economical powers of the future.

For us, a couple of weeks remain in Nepal. First of all we need to finish the trekking and to travel back to Kathmandu. Besides that we need some days in Kathmandu to see some highlights, to make new content for the website and to hunt for a visa for Myanmar (Burma). Despite of the uprising last year in Myanmar, we still want to visit Myanmar as long as we have the idea that that it is safe to go. Some people argue that it is better to boycott Myanmar, but we think that you will not change the situation in Myanmar by staying away as visitor. When we visited Myanmar back in 2002, we even got the feeling that people liked the fact that foreigners were still coming. It gave them the feeling that they were not forgotten yet. Of course, we spend our money in Myanmar as much as possible at the ‘normal’ people and not at the government-run businesses. Our last real stop in Nepal will be Chitwan National Park. Here we hope to see the wild elephants and the one-horned rhinos again. We also heard that there are possibilities to wash an elephant. That is something we certainly do not want to miss!


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