Solo Travel

Kathmandu from the air

First let me thank you all for being so polite in not asking. I have been asked at least 1000 times since I got here: Why don’t you bring your husband? where is your husband? why not bring your family? So I’llĀ  give you some insight.

In truth, I’d love to bring them. I’d have a ball showing them all the things I love about this country. But several things make that not so simple: My darling life partner and I are each very good at being autonomous creatures. We are a great team, too, but that doesn’t mean we love the same things. I’ve never taken him backpacking either. It’s not the “roughing it” aspect, because we go camping just fine. And it’s not the Asia part – he has been to Jakarta, Indonesia and Mumbai, India, and we made a family trip to Bali a few years ago. My family has met Asia. I love what I love and he has his own interests. We share and enjoy each other’s passion for the things we like.

Two Nepali women pilots!

That said, my family spent the last 7 years listening to me gush about everything Nepali (you think YOU’VE heard a lot – Ha!) So I imagine Nepal might not live up to all the stories I’ve told. Not as interesting for them, perhaps. I could be wrong, but that’s one thought. Another is the cost. There are no direct lights to KTM from the US. There aren’t even any 1-stops from Seattle. Everything goes through SFO or LAX from this coast, then to another hub in Asia, before hitting KTM in the center of the continent. That makes the flight long and expensive. This one ran about $1300, so take a family of four and you’re talking some coin just to get here. And about 24 hours of flight time, plus 8-15 hours of layovers each way. You’re looking at 35-40 hours of pure travel just to get here. Once you’re here, then you begin traveling – by taxi, by plane, by foot, by scooter.

If I brought just my hubby, we’d have a great time – he’s more than capable of keeping up with me trekking, tromping around cities, sightseeing. But if we did that, I’d have to find people back home to entertain my children for at least 20 days. Aside: I have tried to explain to my Nepali friends that this is one of the big differences in our cultures: village sisters and cousin-brothers (these are catch-all phrases for anyone who you know in your town, related to you or not) take care of each other’s kids whenever they show up. The first question is always “khanna khanne?” Have you eaten? (Implied: “because I’m gonna feed you!” We do nothing here until everyone is fed.) Basically, if there’s a kid you recognize, you invite them into your home for as long as they need. You should see the looks on my Nepali friends’ faces when I explain that we don’t work that way, and how we do it. I know I am putting several families under a little stress and stretching them thin to get my kids handled back home.

Then there’s the food/IBD issues. I eat everything – that has been tested here in Nepal – sheep stomach, chicken gizzards, and vegetables I’ve never met, like tite karela (bitter melon). I enjoy the variety and challenge (though I don’t need to eat sheep stomach again, ever). My youngest has both a restricted diet, and irritable bowel disease. He did really well in Bali, since rice and veggies are low protein, they are used to vegetarians, and most of the sauces are benign. He requires a protein drink that needs to be refrigerated. You mix it with warm water, then cool it down for several hours, which makes it palatable. Yeah, no fridges in the hotel rooms here. And finding clean water is a nuisance. It’s just one more hurdle.

Traveling solo has huge advantages, as you might imagine: I can move quickly, make decisions without a committee, change plans on a whim, and getting around doesn’t cost much. I feel like a small burden on the families I’ve stayed with while I here. As a family of four, we’d be a little higher maintenance. Most homes here don’t have spare bedrooms, and getting one guest in is easy, but four, a little harder. And yes, I am loving not having to carry or look out for someone else’s: jacket, water bottle, thing they bought, snack, etc.

It leaves a little more time to soak up views like this:

Machupichore (Fishtail) from the Pokhara airport yesterday.