Thursday, October 27, 2005


How cool is it to be able to ride bareback on a horse?? Very cool! The question is how many of you have actually done that?
Now tell me how cool it is to ride bareback on an elephant. Let me explain. Just the idea of it is thrilling enough but the experience is exceptional.....
Now let's go see some elephants up close and I mean REAL......CLOSE!!!
Our first encounter with an elephant was quite funny because it was walking down the main road in town when Britt called out " Oh my gosh, it's an ELEPHANT!!!" Clearly her first, hahha. Anyways, when we got to the Elephant Breeding Centre we discovered a few interesting things about elephants. I 'll just tell you now to never underestimate them for their size. The little babies, the size of a large dog, could knock you over so easily it's ridiculous. Also they have a big appetite for cookies and they can BARK!! Yes bark, it was crazy.
The elephant ride was beautiful. To get onto the elephant you climb a flight of stairs that is randomly in the middle of nowhere then hop onto its bum then into the box. On the other hand the trainer holds onto the ears and climbs right up the trunk and hops onto the head. I loved every minute of our 2 hour ride. A combination of being on an elephant, seeing rhinos, boars, deer etc and being surrounded by greenery that was so thick with ivy, grass, trees, moss and more made it even more fantastic. The elephants are surprisingly well trained. I can't believe how such a large and powerful animal can be so well tamed! For example, they can get them to roll over, lie down, speak and even tell them to rip off a branch, with their trunk, that is blocking the path. Unbelievable!
Later on that day we got to bathe with the elephants but first we had to climb on the same way the owner did.....Aaaah, scary. I have to admit that I was terrified. Hahah, I held onto its ears for dear life while I climbed up the trunk, over its face then onto its back. It's scarier than you'd think. Its head is massive!! From there we barebacked , holding on tight while it crawled into the water. I was in the front so I got to hold onto the collar. We got sprayed by its trunk " Eew, snot" hahah, tossed around, flipped etc. Quite a wild ride!! Sometimes you come up from under the water and see its giant head RIGHT there or once I came up and my head was practically in its mouth. No joke! We were there for an hour and we asked how much it would be to do it again and he said 50 rupees which is under a dollar. Let's think about that one for a minute. It costs more than $5.00 to ride a pony around in a circle for 15 mins at home...... now how does this figure?? Oh well, I'll take the elephant!!
Oh yes, and I did have a leech on my foot for the entertainment of Britt and Bre. They had fun poking at it, lighting it on fire and disecting it. What a waste of my blood, lol.
The resort was spectacular and I loved it! The sunsets were soothing and peaceful and the stars were glamerous. It was amazing, a blast.....INDESCRIBABLE. How else can I put it?
Now we're in India...Touch down!! It's quite busy and loud but apparently one of the quietest places in India so I'm a bit shocked! I can't imagine what a busy town will be like. I guess we'll have to venture out some more and see what happens.
Still alive and kicking.....
'Til next time

Prayer Flags

With monks graceful pace
Prayers are delivered
Through earth and sky
Body and soul
Send them soaring
Let the prayer flags fly
Each scripture floats
To the heavens above
Red green or blue
Orange, pink or white
High over mountains
Glory from the top

In The Jungle The Mighty Jungle - Breanna

I can officially say that I've seen the jungle first hand while riding an elephant. The safari was the sweetest deal ever. It was so beautiful. Elephantbackriding, hahah that's funny. It was so much fun riding through the jungle on the biggest male elephant they had, 10 feet tall. Even though it was raining I still had a blast. We sat on top in a boxcart while the driver sat on its bare neck and steered with his feet and had a stick to whap it on the head if it misbehaved. At the time I was thinking "I wish I got to sit on its bare skin and get out of this box". (Not knowing that I would be able to.) I went crazy when we got to swim with the elephants because there were no rules! We climbed all over it. The skin is kinda rough and has prickly hairs which was kinda surprising. The elephant did tricks in the water, tossing, turning and shaking around, dunking its head, rolling around, spraying water and flipping us off. Hard to keep balanced when all of that is happening. It was so much fun. One of the most fun things I've ever done, believe it or not. I fell on it's face a few times and got tossed into the air by its trunk. I laughed so hard. Of course we had a crowd of people watching us. The baby elephants were the darndest things, so cute. I was teaching one to climb a fence. Yup we fed them cookies, they went crazy for them, always looking around with their trunks for more. I loved how there were no fences and how we could actually play with them, compared to looking at them from behind glass.
The water was nice and warm which made everything 10 times better and it's nice when the sun is so hot that it dries you almost instantly. I cant believe we were actually swimming in crocodile infested waters. Risky dare devils I'll say.
I was getting a kick out of riding on top of the jeep. Our guide was awsome, he let us do whatever we wanted. One night was hilarious because Ammon spent an hour trying to kill a huge spider that looked like one of the egg laying aliens (from the movie Aliens) . So scary but so funny at the same time because Ammon was jumping on his bed and bouncing around the room like some kind of possessed person attacking a spider with mom's walking stick. I couldn't believe it. We also came in contact with many other huge creepy bugs that didn't survive long when they entered the room. I actually had a leech suck my blood. I didn't even notice until it let go. I was changing my pants when I realized that I had blood all over my leg.
"What is all this from?" I was so confused. Then I found the little gushing mark on the side of my knee that solved all confusion. Then Savannah had one on her foot. It was funny and weird at the same time. The lizards and frogs were cute, we had fun catching those. I hate moquitos, I have too many bites. Being in the wild is great fun but it's kinda like living in the discovery channel because we see all the animals in live action, if you know what I mean. I don't like taking the buses for hours because I always have to go to the bathroom and the bus never seems to stop. It's crazy because I wake up so early naturally compared to how late I used to sleep in at home. It get's dark here at 5 pm.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Chitwan Safari, Darjeeling

From Kathmandu we took off to Chitwan National Park area (we were actually just outside of it as very few tours and activities actually take place in the park) where we had a very exciting and somehow relaxing time. We booked a 3 day/2 night deal from Kathmandu that included everything but we liked the place so much that we ended up staying an extra day. Beautiful riverside resort with the restaurant right on the water, sunset views, no noise, etc. Excellent. We went to the Elephant Breeding Centre, where they have a bunch of babies including one that was less than 3 weeks old! Did you know that elephants like to eat cookies!?!?
We also went on an elephant safari through the park area. We saw a pair of one-horned rhinos and some other wildlife. Cool. The best part was the elephant bathing that came after. I'll let the girls elaborate on this ultra-strange but very amusing activity. They had so much fun that it was a major factor in our staying an extra day. The girls were actually swimming in the river with a crocodile lazing on the shore around the corner only 100m away! We also went to see a minority village nearby and a culture dance that had a crazy peacock dance too.
As Chitwan is totally tropical it was much warmer. This is a good thing but also means disturbingly large spiders and leeches running around trying to eat us. Literally.
Mom managed to toast her camera so hopefully it'll work again but as of yet, no luck.
From Chitwan we took off to the Nepal border, stayed the night and crossed the following morning (yesterday). We are now in Darjeeling. Nice place. It's up at 7000ft so it is cold and we are surrounded by clouds so it is damp too. It's a really nice British hill station so layed back by Indian standards and lots of British architecture around. India seems much more commercialized than Nepal or something. There are definately more ads and signs and TV's with english channels. Seems weird rather than familiar after so long without....
We have just come from the Zoo and Himalayan Mountaineering Museum. The zoo is really small and specializes in breeding and protecting himalayan animals like snow leopards, Siberian tigers, Tibetan wolves and red pandas. The museum was cool. Lots of info on the various expeditions to Everest and surrounding mountains. It is also the location of the "remains" of Tenzing Norgay (the sherpa that summitted Everest first with Sir Edmund Hillary). Apparently the world's 3rd tallest mountain is within site here but it is so cloudy that we haven't seen it yet. Don't know how long we'll be in Darjeeling before heading into Sikkim but it'll probably be a few days.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Laziness in Kathmandu

Well, I must admit that I am glad to be finally leaving Kathmandu. We've been doing a lot of reading and sitting around as we'd seen what we wanted to of Kathmandu before we went trekking. A week is too long to be sitting around being lazy and trying to get fat. I think the latter is working a little though as Savannah, Brittany and I have taken to raiding the bakery in the evenings when the cakes and strudels are half price. Mmmmm...... bakery goodies.....
The weather, apart from the last 2 days has been quite agreeable though I could wish for less pollution and noise on the streets. Ah, the joys of city life..... Finally we got our Indian visa so we will leave first thing tomorrow morning to start up the adventures once again. We have a 3 day, 2 night "safari" planned in Chitwan National Park. Elephant riding and such looking for Rhinos. Should be good. From there we will head to India via the eastern border of Nepal heading toward Darjeeling and Sikkim (a semiautonomous state in India located between Nepal and Bhutan). Thus we will start in the east (farther from Pakistan and earthquakes) and will make our way toward Bangladesh (currently rated the worst country on the recently released Corruptions Index, don't worry Nepal and India don't rank much better) via Calcutta.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Breanna's Hike

I've seen Mt Everest with my own eyes!! I wrote a poem at the top of Kala Pathar!
"Roses are red. Violets are blue. I'll never climb these mountains again. How about you?". haahh, kinda lame! That was what I was thinking at the time. It was a pretty insane hike considering that it was pitch black and freezing at four thirty in the morning when we started to hike to the very top. It wasn't the easiest to breathe. There's no way I could eat a snickers bar and walk at the same time. The view was fabulous! I'm surprized that my legs never hurt. I usually brushed my teeth on the go to waste time and music really helps the hours pass by faster. I was shocked when we came across sand. Lots of sand. It was weird to be walking in sand while it was lighly snowing in the mountains.

I did get a headache a few times and my toe still hurts but I can't really complain too much because I was only carrying a day pack while the porters had our huge packs that were so heavy. It's amazing to watch one of them hauling up such huge amounts of weight. Very tough and strong! We had a blast the night we got a bunch of locals and porters to dance for us! We took lots of funny pictures. I laughed myself to tears. They are all full of character, some of them even ate with their hands, so sloppy. We showed each other different dances, silly tricks and sang songs. I had one of the songs stuck in my head for the longest time. The porters were great!

My retainer was stepped on, crushed into pieces, I hope super glue will do the trick.

The lodges were small. One wasn't even finished being built so we ended up waiting for our room to be topped off before we could go in. Yeah, the blankets smelled so the owners sprayed freshener all over them. This only made our headaches worse. We had to use a lot of candles at night. At one point Savannah, Britt and I took a shower. Getting out was terrible because we only had one towel and none of those places were heated. I hate it when the toilets are outside because at night the water used for flushing freezes over. The nights weren't the best at all. Savannah, Britt and I always shared a double bed bedroom. This is how a usual conversation in the night went.

"I'm so cold, come cuddle me."
"I'm squished, I can't breath."
"I'm crammed against the wall, move over."
"I can't move over, I'm falling off the bed."
"These blankets stink."
"My stomach hurts."
"Pass the water, my throat's so dry."
"Stop kicking."
"Who's snoring? Shut up."
"You shut up."
"I'm falling through the beds, we need to push them back together."

One time Britt made go to the bathroom with her because she said it was so scary outside and she needed protection. She claimed that it was "Blair Witch Project x 4 ."
As you can tell we never got a good night's sleep.

It's awesome having Britt here! Yay, someone from home!! I was really happy to see all the candy and special treats she brought for us!! We actually had to split it all evenly to avoid any fighting, all the way down to the half gummy bear. I couldn't help myself, I gobbled up my bag of candies in 3 days. How could I possibly save them when they smell so good, and are calling my name!?!? ahah Heavenly!! Then of course Ammon has to wave his full bag in front of me. Teasing me for the longest time. What a jerk.

It was so weird to watch people gather yak crap into huge piles, make them into pancake shapes and stick them on rocks to dry. All of this was done with their bare hands. Once they were finished they would come make us dinner, how lovely. Let's not think of that anymore.... We call them Poo Poo Paties! Too funny. After they dry they use them for firewood. Yuck!

I was getting sick of the food. I survived off of mushroom soup! Totally sucks when all the prices of the good stuff sky rockets off the charts the higher you go. Not fair. We actually ran into some fellow Canadians!! We ended up talking about tape worms. Ewww. This conversation took place in the dinning room while everyone was eating their dinner. Of course we are always the loudest ones in the whole joint. It was cool to be one of the youngest ones there!

In the airport we had to be frisked twice. I couldn't help it when I burst out laughing, Britt's face was priceless! But the airplane was fun! Not nearly as cool as the helicoper! That was freakin' rad man. First of all, I hadn't ever been in a helicopter and it wasn't some stupid arranged tour or anything. They simply said "Load them up" like cargo or something. We didn't even have seat belts or head sets. We're luckey we even got seats. We got to do whatever we wanted including dancing around, switching seats (never keeping still by any means) and taking pictures like crazy. I loved it. That was definately something to tick off the "To do list". Amazingly cool. I only wish it could have lasted longer.

This is all too fun! Ready for the next adventure! I can handle it! Bring it on Baby!


Friday, October 14, 2005

Nepal Adventures

Quite an accomplishment if I might say so myself! The hike definitely wouldn't be considered anything less than difficult from my point of view and I'm sure Brittany will agree on that considering she was having the hardest time of us all. I don't blame her though. She came straight from sea level to over 18,000 feet in a week. That's a drastic change! I'll tell you, altitude is not an easy thing to overcome either! We walked an average of five hours a day up, down, over and around the mountains! The days were filled with nice scenery. I must say though, that it reminded me a lot of playing the video game "Final Fantasy". Each day is a new quest, reaching towns, staying at the "Inn", regaining health (in this case eating snicker bars), asking for information from the people in town and along the way, losing and meeting new characters that join the journey (aka Brittany) etc.
The trek was a blast and worth every ache in my body at the time. I got to see THE Mt. Everest with my own two, too curious, eyes! I'm not going to give all of the credit to Everest alone but to every single, snow topped
mountain in the Himalayan range! They are better than words and priceless. Kala Pathar was definitely something. Breath taking in fact......Pun intended. While I was hiking, in the dark at 4:30am with the glory of the stars overhead, I had trouble convincing myself that it was worth it. But as the morning brought new light into the air all hesitation was lost. I forced myself up that mountain and was returned with an unforgettable, 360 view of the highest and most spectacular mountains in the world! We climbed to the top of Kala Pathar in the equivalent of hiking the "Grouse Grind" in 1 1/2 hours at 18,000 feet plus!! It was rough. Snickers are a good source of calories but don't do much good when you can't breathe and eat at the same time. Altitude sure does get in the way of things, especially over the 17,000 feet mark. It's the weirdest thing to breathe in and out but still feel completely suffocated! You have to be there to feel the power. Pictures just can't say enough!

I am by far the youngest tourist here in the mountains. It is sometimes awkward to be in the lodge kitchen surrounded by much older people who are doing the same thing that I am. I mean, it took them all of their lives to actually get out to doing these things and here I am at the age of 15 having an experience of a life time, simple as that! The people are really nice. We met a couple of awesome Canadians and New Zealanders.
Kathmandu is a crazy place. Wild traffic, monkeys, snake charmers and even bats hanging in trees in the middle of the city, just to sum it up!! Yeah!! Fun town. There are also the Holy Men that walk around in their outfits. Face paint, robes and dread locks down to their knees. Never a limit to the entertainment! The snake charmers are my favorite!! It's exactly like from the movies with the cobra and flute etc. I love snakes so much. I even held the boa constrictor around my neck. I couldn't help myself especially when the guy acted as if I was afraid of it. Well, I showed them!
Let's see what else there is out there!!

Wow and wow

What an amazing sight!!! On my way up the mountains after several days of hiking higher and higher with less air to breathe I asked myself "What could possibly possess a human being to willingly do this to themselves?" Well a few days later I found my answer! Watching the sun rise over the Himalayas is only something that you can feel not describe, is all I can say!
After a lot of victory pictures and laughs we headed down or should I say the girls headed down running. Ammon and I couldn't bare to leave so soon. We had to feel the magnitute of what we were seeing (we could have stayed all day). We stayed and found our own private spot on the mountain for an unbelievably energizing and spiritual awakening shall I say. I had to listen to the music I had planned for this event and couldn't help but weap at the beauty before me! It was a wonderful once in a lifetime experience for Ammon and myself. If you ever get the chance to spend time at the top of the world you have to do it, it's priceless.
I was amazed at the age of the trekkers, I would say that the average age of them was 35+ and Savannah was definately the youngest. I am very proud of all of us! I'm so happy that we did this trek and at the same time I'm extremely please that it's behind me. On to India we will go!
Thanks Malcolm the GPS was fun to have with us and allowed us to keep track of our altitude. Bruce you would have been in Heaven too.
Lots of love,
Maggie the Mom

Mt. Everest

Well, we are back a little earlier than expected. The good news is that we made it to the top, the bad news is we made it to the bottom but only with a little bit of cheating.....
We had planned on flying to Lukla to start our trek and then head down much further and take the bus home from Jiri. Here's how it actually played out (all prices are in Canadian $ unless stated otherwise):
The flight to Lukla from Kathmandu takes only 35 minutes but cost us about $90US each for the one-way flight. We were well ahead of the main trekking rush (as planned) so it was never any problem for us to get accomodation and we easily picked up a pair of porters when we arrived in Lukla. I tried my best to hire the ugliest Sherpas I could find to minimize Bre's temptations but, well, there's no stopping that girl... In the end the best I could do is get 2 guys aged 18 and 20, one was dubbed "mountain Dendee" and the other called himself the "Dalai Lama". At $16/day for the pair of them (including everything) it was perhaps the best spent money of our whole trip. Dendee spoke english pretty well so he was like a guide too. We had packed our essential stuff into 2 bags that they carried while we just had our day packs with water, sweaters and a few other things.
There are tons of local people on the trail and you are constantly having to dodge Sherpas or yak trains along the way. Everything (and I do mean everything) gets carried up to the various villages after getting flown in to Lukla or Namche Bazar (a 2 day walk further up). These guys (or girls) are insanely strong. It was tough enough getting ourselves up but to get passed by old guys carrying everything from helicopter engine parts to beds, food and drinks, snooker tables and building material weighing upwards of 100kg was truly an amazing thing to see!!
A typical day went something like this: Get up (usually freezing cold) pre-7am have breakfast and start walking between 7:30-8am. Trek for 2 hrs or so, stop for lunch (this usually lasted an hour or so as all food takes forever to make. We had to wait anywhere from half to one and a half hours after ordering to get our food.), walk the rest of the way and finish by about 1-1:30pm. Sure, you could go farther but really by then you have gained enough altitude that you should stop to acclimatize and the clouds start to roll in and it gets cold and you can't see anything by about 3pm as the whole village is usually stuck in a cloud. We had rain at night quite often but it was always beautiful and sunny by morning again. During the afternoons we usually read and tried to stay warm while waiting for more food and went to bed sometime between 7:30-8:30pm (it was dark by 6:30pm and there was nothing to do anyway, many places didn't have anything more than candles for lighting). And we were usually the last ones to go to bed too. Maybe there weren't enough of us to justify it but they rarely, if ever, "turned the heat on". Our source of heat was burning yak pies that had been previously dried and then lit with the help of kerosine in a stove in the middle of the common room. Sometimes the cold was better than the smell, though after Mongolia we are used to the smell of burning crap....
There were usually a few villages between where we started and finished with alternate places to stay but most villages had only a dozen lodges and at the top there were only 2 or 3 in a few of the "villages" (they actually are only the lodges and only inhabited during the treking season, though still permanent fixtures, unlike base camp itself). By cold I mean close to freezing during the day in the shade. The sun is warm and you can often walk in a T-shirt but it gets cold fast when it goes behind a cloud and you have to whip out your sweater again. At the top we were wearing 4 layers and it was -10C to -15C at night.
As you progress upward, the prices climb. Not of the rooms but of the food. I'm not sure if it counts or not but we've got a new room record. 33 cents for a double room. Yeah, I'm not joking. We never paid more than $1.50 for a bed but the place where you stay is the place you are required to eat at so you end up checking the menu rather than the beds when choosing a place. If you don't eat at the lodge then they will charge you a ridiculously high amount for your bed so are stuck giving them lots of money either way. They do have a decent selection of food but I've been living off porridge and fried potatoes with yak cheese for the last 2 weeks as they were cheap. Good thing we had the water purifiers with us as it was funny to watch the drink prices go up faster than the food prices. At the very top, coke was $5 and a litre of water was over $3! Compared to $0.50 for coke and $0.16 for a litre of water in Kathmandu this is brutal. Meals were $2-$6 depending on what you ate so we kept it simple.
We still managed to keep our daily expenses to about $10/day each (including the porters) so the whole trip is quite cheap and you guys have got to go and do it. Organizing it as you go is easy. There were quite a few groups out there on organized tours staying in the same places as us with their own guides and stuff but they were paying anywhere from double what we were, to some rather ridiculous amounts. Go early though because it was really busy with people going up while we were going down.....
Was it hard? I think the whole thing is 95% mental attitude, 4% lungs and 1% muscle. Well, let's put it this way, Bre (aka little miss mountain goat) seems to have an immunity to altitude. She was running around in circles while the rest of us were huffing and puffing away. I don't think she was affected at all until the last day when we got to the top. Savannah (and almost all the Sherpas for that matter) did the trek in flip-flops except for the very last day. Both Bre and Savannah have totally trashed big toes though. Something wrong with their boots..... Mom and I were fine. Apart from the very first day when we had to break our bodies in and were still at low altitude (less than 10000 feet) I did not feel sore at all except for my chest as we were coming down. Too many days of very heavy breathing. Brittany was a different story. Coming straight from home she was not as used to walking as us and I think we are lucky we didn't have to carry her dead body back down the mountain. She was really tired but apart from headaches none of us had any problems with altitude sickness. We spent 2 days acclimatizing (climbing a little higher up then going back down to sleep) which helped a lot as well.
I must confess, we didn't actually go to Everest base camp (EBC). We got to Gorak Shep (the lodges at the highest point) and had the choice of Kala Pathar or EBC. As there are no groups right now on Mt Everest aka Sagarmatha (in Nepali) aka Chomolangma (in Tibetan) there is nothing to see and no view from it. Instead we did a climb to the top of Kala Pathar, a viewpoint nearby, to watch the sunrise over Everest. We had to get up at 4:30am for our ascent. Amazing! Absolutely amazing! I've been to few places of such power and beauty to bring you to tears without you even realizing it but this was definately one of them. We were at 18500ft (~5800m) on a little peak and completely surrounded by towering mountains covered with snow, with glaciers flowing down into the valleys below. You've got to see it for yourself, because no description or picture is enough. It really gets you when you think that there you are standing on top of a little "hill" that itself is higher than almost every mountain in North America dwarfed by some of the tallest mountains in the world.
This was such a cool experience that it was decided (by me in the face of mass mutiny) that we would have to try to get over to Gokyo peak, another viewpoint in a valley beside us. This involved going down a day and then over the Cho la pass (at 18000ft) and then back up a day to Gokyo. Fate was not with us though because as soon as we started down from Kala Pathar we had snow. We lined ourselves up for the pass but the day we were supposed to go over we woke to lots of snow on the ground and no visibility. With another group I'd've gone for it but we ended up aborting the idea and heading down. It would be very easy at this point to mention the parallels with the "Lord of the Rings" and their failure at the pass too. In all we must've relived 50 scenes from the movie with all the different scenery we got to see and walk through.
The only problem with the whole EBC trek compared to a lot of the other ones in Nepal is that the route down is the same as the route up so it's not very exciting and you end up trying to go as fast as you can to get the whole thing over with. We had planned originally on trekking all the way down to Jiri (a week further along from Lukla where we flew in) but we had heard along the trail that the Maoist rebels (they've had an insurgency for the last decade or so) had set up camp and were charging everyone to get through. This is not a big deal normally and they are supposed to be pretty nice about it and will even give you are receipt so you don't pay twice, but where they might charge you $10 at different places on another trek, they apparently were demanding 5000 Rupees (~$80) or turning people back. We didn't have enough money on us to risk the week trek and then getting turned around and having to fly, or being able to count on bargaining our way through for less so we just went back to Lukla. We also heard that some people were flying over the Maoists in helicopters because it was cheaper so we looked into it too. Turns out it would be cheaper for us to fly in a helicopter to Jiri (saving us the week walk) and then take the bus back to Kathmandu from there, than to just fly back from Jiri in the airplane.
As this would be the girls' first time flying in a helicopter we opted for this route. Um, yeah, talk about wild. They just threw us in the back of an empty cargo helicopter on it's way back to Jiri to pick up more stuff. I don't think many people know about this as a form of transportation but the locals do it every now and then too. For $60US each they just threw us in, tossed our bags on the floor, pulled down some seats on the side and took off. Have you ever danced in the back of a moving helicopter? We can say we have. The 20 minute ride got us to a little dirt patch 4km above Jiri, from which we walked down and stayed in town. Then next day we took a bus (we were actually scammed onto the super slow local bus) for 11hrs back to Kathmandu. It's only 180km but up and over and around so many mountains it's crazy. Shear unprotected dropoffs only inches from the edge of the road. Waterfalls and streams running over the road rather than under it, people (and sheep) on top of the bus as well as in it. All that fun stuff. It was a festival day too so everyone was all dressed up and had their foreheads covered with red coloured rice mix.
Kathmandu is quieter than last time we were here. I guess everyone is in the mountains now. We will be stuck here for the next week waiting for our Indian visa and getting organized/recovering.