Many have asked, why the subcontinent of India?
Who wouldn't want to travel halfway across the world for nearly a month, solo, into a land where the culture is totally alien, where you don't know a soul, you can't speak the language, barely have enough clean clothing to last a handful of days, on a daily budget that might allow you splurge on a Happy Meal at McDonald's back in the States?
It wasn't the uncertainty of what laid ahead overseas that bothered me, but rather the prospect of the painfully long 20 hour flight to Nepal over three days with connections in Tokyo and Bangkok.
The peaks of the Himalayas peered above the clouds at 29,000 feet, the same altitude we were flying. The sun was setting as we approached Kathmandu. After making it through customs, exhausted from the journey, I was jerked back to reality. I had waited for a couple people that I met on the plane who were from Alaska. We decided to catch a cab into the city together. As I opened the doors to exit the airport, we were besieged by an army of touts screaming for us to get a ride with them. I was overwhelmed, standing with my mouth agape, when a security officer came to my, umm.. rescue (?) by beating back the hordes with his billy club. So much for jetlag, I was now ready to rumble.
My first impression of the city was delirious. I felt as if I had tumbled into the jangled and kaleidoscoped subconscious of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The beams of our taxi caught glimpses of the frenzied activity of dogs and children darting across the road, women in saris carrying home produce in baskets strapped to their heads, hawkers selling their wares. Sweet incense wafted out of stores crushed raggedly together along dusty, crooked streets, and out from their walls hung spinning prayer wheels, thanka scrolls and revolving lanterns. Irregular, multi-storied, pagoda-style temples jutted up beside ramshackle huts. Elephant-headed gods sat in the middle of yellow-wreathed shrines. I was bound to have wild dreams that night.