We had three lovely farewell meals at the beginning of this week with some of the friends who we had made in Nepal. One dinner included one friend, and we met two of her delightful Nepali friends, a celebration she had arranged as both she and we were leaving Nepal on the same day. We also had lunch with a traveler who we had met on our first view of Mount Everest from Nagarkot. Both of these women happen to live in New Zealand, and we will see them again when we visit there. The third was a special dinner out with our wonderful hotel owner.
On one of our final days in Nepal we visited Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, which – of all the three former Kingdom palaces of Nepal that we saw, sadly, this one seemed to have been damaged the most severely by the earthquake of 2015.
We also treated ourselves to a farewell massage. Then, I walked the 30 minutes to have “fried ice cream” at a place co-owned by the nephew of a friend from California. The dish was as delicious as it was attractive, worth the hour to and fro. Loren passed on the walk – he missed out!
Then, while we were awaiting our car to the airport, our hotel co-owners and their sincere, kind staff gifted us each with a traditional Nepalese scarf. As they put mine on, they said “Saraswati” – the Hindu Goddess who I so admire that her name is part of my email address. Then as they gifted Loren his scarf, they called him “Mahadev,” a manifestation of the Hindu God, Lord Shiva.
I am already missing Kathmandu. It was a privilege to stay so long, and it draws on my heartstrings that now we have had to leave our special friends there. I will long treasure my memories from this place. I am reflecting on the several Nepalese words and phrases that we learned, like, soondar for beautiful, that I used so many times on our two treks. Or Tapai lai kosta chha? for How are you? and the usual reply is thik chha for Everything’s OK. When passing the reception desk on the way upstairs to our room each night we said Subha rhate for Good night. What I must say for now to all the wonders of Nepal is: Dhanyabaad and Tapai lai ramro hos – my heartfelt Thank you and Best wishes.
From Kathmandu airport we flew by the Himalaya for our last distant look at the barely perceptible peak of Mount Everest, and, for the next 5 hours to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we witnessed day slip into night. This leg entailed a 2 hour time change…
After a 2 hour layover, we flew another 8 hours overnight to Australia’s Gold Coast airport. On the way I was tickled to see the Southern Cross constellation from my window, but my camera could not capture it. Soon afterwards I looked down on a magnificent lightning storm, that my camera could catch, but barely did justice to what I saw. Imagine two more nearby spots of repeated similarly bright intermittent though frequent flashes… incredible. We had another 2 hour time difference with a one and a half hour layover. Here we were made to de-plane solely for a rigorous security check just to return to our same seats on the same plane. Maybe it was because the flight crew was changing, but felt unnecessary, even bothersome. Actually, this required us to put our feet on Australian soil, making this our 7th of 7 continents to spend a bit of time on!
Then we flew the 3 hours to Auckland, said Awkland, actually, and had our first view of the terrain of New Zealand. With another 3 hour time difference on arriving, it put us ahead of Nepal by 7 hours. So, we have been a little bit jet lagged this week. Here we have learned to say Kia ora – pronounced key-ora, for Hello! in Maori – said mah-awree, the native tongue. We are learning too how to speak English – New Zealand style. For example, what would sound like “Ken ewe meek thee bead?” would translate to “Can you make the bed?” And, again I recognized that the stars on the flag represent the Southern Cross constellation, thanks to a friend originally from Australia who we met in Egypt.
In planning for our time in New Zealand, Loren had wanted to ride “The Magic Bus” that he had heard about when he traveled those 18 months by bicycle some 40 years ago. However as we looked into it – which company goes by a new name now, it seems to cater to the partying-20-something generation, so that pursuit has come off of our wish list. Also, we had read that it is best to visit the South Island in February and the North Island in March. So much for that advice – we are on the North Island now and will not reach the South Island until mid-March. At least we observed the warning to avoid December for the seasonally higher costs, but, we are here for the February to March cyclone season… Hmmm, that sounded frightening. So, my concern made me curious.
What I found is that “cyclone” is the name given to storms that arise in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans; “typhoon” is given to storms that start in the North Pacific Ocean, while, “hurricane,” is what is used for the same type of storm that forms in the Atlantic Ocean. That helped put such fearsome phenomenon in perspective. Further, I was interested to learn that “monsoon” means a seasonal prevailing wind in the regions of South and South East Asia, northern Australia and Malaysia, as well as in parts of the western hemisphere. A monsoon is not a single storm, but a shift in wind direction seasonally, that blows from the south-west between May and September and brings rain – called the wet monsoon, or, from the north-east between October and April – called the dry monsoon. All words that I had heard over my lifetime but had not understood.
In Auckland, we managed to take a full day tour that gave us a little insight into the Maori cultural heritage,
as well as introducing us to some of Auckland’s geographical highlights.
We have also enjoyed a lunch date with one of the two women who we had met in Nepal and had a farewell lunch with. We also had another lunch date with a young woman who we had met on our overland trip in southeast Africa two years ago. Tomorrow we look forward to an outing with one more young woman who we had met on our tour in Morocco a year and a half ago. And, we hope to see our one other friend who we met in Nepal next month, when we are on the South Island where she lives.
Our AirBnB studio apartment is a block from the Auckland Sky Tower. As the week wore on it became overcast and more humid, even quite stormy. This rainy weather makes our hot yoga a little harder, but, we are thoroughly appreciating it. I was invited to teach a couple of the classes too, which I happily accepted!