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Clare’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 01 May 2008

Location: Delhi, India

MapWell I had hoped to be writing this entry in Bangkok, but it seems India isn't ready to let go of me yet...

Air India, you may be interested to know, no longer fly direct from Delhi to Bangkok. I was MOST interested to discover this fact as I attempted to check in for that flight at 5am this morning. Luckily all is not lost, I'm booked on another flight late tonight - probably with a better airline and I've been put up in quite a swanky hotel for the day - which has one of those monolithic, marble, show-piece lobbies. Sadly its seen better days, but my room is very plush and the air-conditioning is saving us all from the 45 degree heat outside, so I don't have many complaints!

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes, much appreciated and taken with good spirit, just because I'm now a card carrying member of the old squad doesn't mean I turn into a grumpy old woman overnight. No, no, I intend to spend years honing that quality.

I was a bit worried about the birthday thing being a bit of a non-entity, but in their inimitable way the travelling gods came up trumps again... I had been in Kathmandu for a week, getting a bit bored when I decided to go Canyoning at Borderlands resort up near the Tibetan border. Loads of people make the trip up for a day or two from Kathmandu for the Cayoning, Bungee or Rafting (Amy had also highly recommended it). Canyoning by the way, is abseiling, sliding and jumping down waterfalls or rivers; in this case a mahoosive waterfall which plunges down the valley wall into the Bhote Kosi river. So off I went to Borderlands...

...Which turned out to be a bit of a hidden gem, the resort is set right by the river, miles from anywhere (and the noise and pollution of Kathmandu) has a gorgeous tropical garden with birds and butterflies all around and is a a lovely place to relax for a few days, so after the canyoning - which was brilliant! - I stayed on with an American couple who I met there, intending to do some day hikes.

The Canyoning was great! It won't sounds that great to explain but you have to keep your balance as you rappell down slippery walls with the water falling on you, jump and slide into plunge pools and on occasion take a leap of faith when the rope runs out and you still have a distance to drop! Good fun had by all and a great way to cool off in the pre-monsoon heat. Over the next couple days we stayed in the Safari style tents with nothing but the sound of the river and the birds. We trekked a little to explore the villages around the camp, read books and chatted. Very civilised! On my Birthday Wade and Alicia made me a lovely card of pink petals, loo roll and cut out pictures from the Borderlands promo leaflet and Borderlands gave me a T-shirt in an envelope made festive with sellotape and wildflowers. In the evening, once back in Kathmandu I was taken out to dinner by Efrot and Edan, the 2 Israeli girls I had been Canyoning with... so all in all it was a lovely birthday and the last few days at Borderlands were a perfect finish to my time in Nepal.

Happily I also saw Bharat, our guide from the trekking, when I popped into the Trek Nepal office to arrange my airport transfer and he accompanied me to the airport and gave me a white silk scarf, the traditional gift for someone going on a journey. While we were trekking and the election was being counted, Bharat would give me a nightly update on the results so we chatted a little about the situation since then. Its actually been a pretty tumultuous time to be in Nepal, they are in the process of becoming a republic. The King has been given a date by which he must leave the Palace and the new (mainly) Maoist government is ready to write the constitution. Not bad considering its been achieved completely peacfully since the Elections began - obviously the last 15 years of insurgency haven't helped the country develop much, but hopefully the declaration of the republic will mean a more positive future. I certainly hope so as I definitely intend to return to Nepal.

Seeing as my last few stops have coincided with political change (Tibetan riots & Nepal Election) I'm hoping the next few are strictly recreational - Bangkok should fulfill that role admirably so I'm told, and then its onto Laos to meet Amy again. So, another decade, another country! Onwards it is...