Janet Taylor

I am a woman of a certain age who loves a good adventure!
  • Day30

    Final Thoughts

    May 10, 2017 in Canada

    If you look at the map of the places we've been on this trip you'll notice that we completely circumnavigated the planet. It's been a wonderful experience and I'm so glad to have shared it with Jon. And having our very good friends, Reig and Elizabeth, with us made it even better.

    When you come home after being away for a while, home seems slightly different. I think its because you see it from a traveler's point of view. And home is beautiful. Canada isn't perfect but I think it's one of the best places on earth to live. I'm so lucky to have been born here and I am always proud to say I am a Canadian.

    I will never again take basic sanitation for granted. A clean toilet is worth it's weight in gold!

    People around the world are mostly awesome. You hear about the bad things people do from the media but I believe there are way more good people than bad.

    No matter whether two human beings speak the same language it's always possible to communicate. Just smile.

    I'm tired and rambling so I'm going to my very comfy bed to fall asleep to the sounds of coyotes howling. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and for sharing this journey with us.

    And so ends the "Epic Trip to Nepal"!
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  • Day30

    Vancouver

    May 10, 2017 in Canada

    We are looking much worse for the wear but it feels good to finally be back in Canada. I'm so looking forward to a shower and my very comfy bed when we finally get home. My poor body is completely messed up and has no idea whether it's day or night.

  • Day30

    Heading Home

    May 10, 2017 in Japan

    Our journey home takes us from Tokyo to Vancouver at 5:00 pm. After a few hours of waiting our final flight to Saskatoon will get us home at 5:30 pm local time.

    We arranged to take a bus to the airport but had a couple of hours to kill till it was time to leave. It was a cloudy, drizzly day but we decided to visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings before we had to leave. These are tall, twin towers that you can go to the top of for a great view of the city. There were some great views from up there and it would have been spectacular on a clear day.

    On our way to the government buildings we walked under an and overpass. The sidewalk was quite wide and there was a railing at the edge of the sidewalk. Along this railing were about 6 to 8 cardboard shelters that people were clearly living in. What struck me right away was how clean and tidy these things were. There was no garbage lying around, nothing smelled, and I noticed that at one shelter the owner had taken off his shoes and place them neatly outside on a piece of cardboard. Owners of several of these shelters had bicycles propped up outside. I marvelled that even the homeless in Japan are clean and tidy!

    The bus to the airport took us by the waterfront and through some agricultural areas, all clean and well maintained. Japan is a beautiful country and I would definitely love to come back to this place.
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  • Day29

    Tokyo - May 9

    May 9, 2017 in Japan

    Yep, this is the cleanest place I've ever been! And after the sanitation, or lack thereof, in Nepal, this is a very pleasant surprise. The Japanese have taken visiting the toilet to a level of comfort and cleanliness unparalleled in any other country I've been to. Some of the features include heated seats, toilet seat sanitizer, choice of bidet options and you can even listen to music while you do your business. I'm wondering where I can get one of these things for my home!!!

    We took a cab to the Imperial Palace and wandered around the grounds for a bit. We struck up a conversation with Amanda and Adam, two travellers from the US and they invited us to go with them to check out the Kabukiza theatre. We bought a standing ticket and watched for a bit. We didn't understand anything, of course, but I'm glad I saw it. After we finished at the theatre, Amanda and Adam left us to go check into their hotel at Tokyo Disney. We took a cab back to Shinjuku, the area in which we are staying, and had coffee at a nearby Starbucks.

    We wandered around the area some more because it's a happenin' place, did some people watching and then made our way to the "Tappen Baby" restaurant. This restaurant was highly rated on Trip Advisor but very difficult to find. The Japanese don't really cater to English tourists so most of the signs are in Japanese. We eventually found the place tucked away in a basement and settled ourselves on chairs in front of the cooking surface. (See the pictures below.) It was probably the best meal we have eaten on this trip and it was so much fun to watch them prepare everything in front of us. Each dish they prepare was a work of art.

    After supper we wandered back to our hotel. Jon seemed to be sleeping well but I am a bit messed up and couldn't get to sleep for a long time.
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  • Day28

    Tokyo - May 8

    May 8, 2017 in Japan

    It's like a weird time warp has occurred! We left a very poor, dirty, dusty, 3rd world country and have woken up in, well, the exact opposite!

    We left Kathmandu yesterday at about 2:00 pm and stopped in Bangkok for a 5 hour layover. We boarded another Thai Air plane for an overnight flight to Tokyo and found ourselves in a very clean, tidy, lush place.

    I feel guilty admitting that it was a relief to be in such a clean place. It took a while to get through the entry process but our bags were waiting for us once we were done.

    We were a bit worried about negotiating our way through the Tokyo train system but we easily found the train we needed and were on our way to Shinjuku, Tokyo.
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  • Day27

    Kathmandu - May 7

    May 7, 2017 in Nepal

    Yesterday morning Jon turned a corner and was feeling much better. I was relieved because I wasn't sure how I was going to manage two suitcases, two backpacks and a delirious husband. We spent most of the day resting.

    We were up at 6:00 am to finish packing, to eat breakfast and to check out. Shree, the main driver for our trekking company, arrived promptly at 9:00 am to take us to the airport. We were there with lots of time to spare and spent about two hours waiting with Elizabeth and Reig. Our flight was first so we checked in, went through security and spent two more hours waiting in In a hot, sticky, smelly waiting area.

    Our flight was delayed by about half an hour but finally we were walking out onto the tarmac to climb the stairs to the pristine Thai Air Boeing 777. As I climbed the stairs I paused to have one last look at Kathamandu. The city was shrouded in a layer of dust and smog, obliterating any mountains in the distance. I found that I was experiencing a strange mix of emotions as I looked out on this city I may never see again.

    On the way to the airport Shree had said to us, "You guys are really lucky that you get to visit other countries. We never get to leave." His comments were on my mind as I climbed the stairs. I was feeling relieved to be leaving behind the dirt and squalor. I was feeling ashamed that I was feeling relieved. I was feeling guilty that I had been born into a life of comfort and privilege while so many millions of people have to make do with so little. I was feeling sad for the lovely Nepali people who work so hard to eek out a living in a very difficult place but who do it with such grace and calmness.

    After one last look I boarded the plane and began the journey back to my privileged life. Nepal had kicked the shit out of this spoiled white woman. I was forced to admit that I don't have the physical or mental toughness to survive for long in Nepal. I really hope I make it back here some day.
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  • Day25

    Kathmandu - May 5

    May 5, 2017 in Nepal

    Just when we thought we were over the worst, Jon has now become extremely sick. Just after his bout of food poisoning, his throat started to get a little sore. It has now developed into a full blown throat infection.

    We arranged to have a doctor come to our hotel room. He has prescribed 7 different medications including two different antibiotics, pain meds, something to gargle with and and something for an upset stomach from all the antibiotics!!

    Needless to say, it has been a very quiet day, with Jon spending most of it in our room sleeping. I did a little shopping but mostly just hung around the hotel checking on Jon.

    A new water system is being installed in the whole of the Kathmandu valley. A big culvert was being installed in the very narrow road right outside our hotel. The road was completely torn up and muddy but the Nepalese seem to take it all in stride. No one seems to get mad or frustrated. They are amazing people.
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  • Day24

    Kathmandu - May 4

    May 4, 2017 in Nepal

    Today we took the day tour Jon had organized yesterday. We visited two old cities, Bhaktapur and Patan. It was a real eye-opener.

    We have had a few drives around Kathmandu going back and forth to the airport but this was our first time getting a good look at the area. I had thought that when we left Kathmandu we would go into the countryside on our way to the other cities. This was not the case. The whole of the Kathmandu valley seems to be an urban area. The population of Nepal is 28 million, a little less than Canada, but the area of Nepal is tiny compared to the area of Canada. Three Nepals would fit into Saskatchewan! It makes sense then, that this is a crowded, congested place.

    Bhaktapur and Patan were very interesting. These areas are UNESCO world heritage sites so they are working to repair the damage from the earthquakes. We got a very superficial glimpse into the history of the area. It's a bit hard to follow all the details. It's complicated by all the Hindi, Buddhist, and Nepalese names of things which I find hard to remember.

    As the day wore on, Jon's health started to deteriorate so we had an early night.
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  • Day23

    Kathmandu - May 3

    May 3, 2017 in Nepal

    It's been an easy relaxing day. After breakfast we walked over to the trekking company to drop off the borrowed equipment and to settle up. Because we cut our trek short and came back to Kathmandu early, it ended up that we had paid for more days than we actually used. We had signed a no-return policy so we weren't hopeful we'd get a refund. Jon worked his usual magic and finangled us not only a refund but a car, driver and guide for a day trip tomorrow to some points of interest outside of Kathmandu

    After lunch we took a walk to a lovely walled garden nestled in a busy area of Thamel. It was a beautuful oasis of trees, fountains, paths and flower beds. Apparently it was built in the 1920s and recently restored with help from the Austrian government. We spent about an hour there and wandered back to our hotel.
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  • Day22

    Lukla to Kathmandu - Part Deux

    May 2, 2017 in Nepal

    We were up at 5:00 am to pack up and make the one minute walk to the airport. Thankfully, Jon had improved and was no longer shaking with chills. And luckily, Elizabeth had also improved but neither of them were 100%.

    We repeated the chaotic checking in process and, once again, found ourselves in the cold Lukla Airport waiting room. We were certain that we would be the first passengers out but, with dismay, we again watched several planes come and go. It was explained to us that in Nepal, if your flight is cancelled, you go to the bottom of the list and have to kind of take what you can get. We were offered no compensation and no special effort was made to get us out. It's a very different mentality to every other airline in the world but apparently the norm here.

    We were booked on a different airline than the day before. We would be flying Nepal Air, a government run airline, and finally at about 8:00 am our plane showed up. All the passengers on this flight had experienced the same cancellation problems we'd had. When the plane showed up we all literally ran out the door onto the tarmac. No way was anyone going to spend another day in Lukla!!

    We boarded the plane, which had seen better days and which seemed to be held together with duct tape, and we were soon on the runway and taking off. I thought I would be happy to finally be leaving but, as arduous as the journey had been, I found It a very bittersweet moment.

    The flight only took about 30 minutes and in no time we were back in Kathmandu in the warmth, chaos and smog. A driver was waiting to take us back to the Dalai La Hotel.

    We had one last meal with Bijay, a delicious breakfast at our hotel, and then said our goodbyes. I think we were all a little sad. He was an excellent guide. He had also been very sick on this trip, first with food poisoning in Namche Bazaar and then with a fever and lung problems for the rest of the trek. He said that in all the treks he'd been on he had never been sick like he had on this trip. In spite of his issues, he continued to look after us. Even though we urged him to rest, he wouldn't leave us until he had looked after our needs. Tomorrow we were to meet with the owner of the trekking company and we were going to give Bijay's boss a glowing report.

    Once in our rooms, and being the spoiled white people we are, we luxuriated in hot showers, clean clothes and naps on super comfy beds!
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