Finally back in Seattle, caught up and rested. Oh, and clean shaven as well. That was the first, and possibly the only time that I will go without shaving for an entire month.
First things first. If you want to read about the whole trip, start at the bottom of this page and go in reverse. If you want to see the photos, go here and see the first eight albums (starting with Hong Kong).
Given the sheer diversity and length of the trip along with the fact that we posted something to this site almost every day of the trip, I though it best to summarize a bit, talk about some highlights, and give a bit of perspective now that it is over. Before I do that, I want to say thanks to everyone who followed along. Initially, I didn’t really tell anyone we were doing this because I didn’t really know how much we would do or whether it would be any good or not. After a few days of positive comments and the fact that we actually enjoyed doing it, I started to let people know and the response was amazing (at least to me). The site got almost a thousand hits during the trip and people seem to be passing it around to others now so it hasn’t really died out. Again, thanks!
Now, before I talk about the highlights I wanted to briefly talk about the last day. Not too much to cover, frankly. We had a great breakfast at the hotel, did some last minute shopping around Reykjavik and then headed out to the airport quite early to return the rental car and make sure we had decent seats (Iceland Air leaves a bit to be desired in the “confirm your reservation in advance” and “online check in” departments – we had confirmed the seats way in advance but none of this showed up when we tried to check in). Once in and confirmed, we had lunch, made a last video interview, and waited. All of this seemed pretty boring until we got on the plane. Keep in mind that we really went really early to get decent seats. Once in these nice seats, and as the rest of the passengers boarded, we quickly realized that almost everyone had the same “we confirmed it in advance, why do we have horrible seats” issue. Specifically, a family of six (kids of about .5, 2, 4, and 6 years old) who had confirmed in advance were all sitting in random places. Their solution, try to move everyone around on the plane after the fact to see if they can get everyone together. Ty had to move 3 times before they got even close. Might want to work on that one, Iceland Air. The rest was fine and we made it back to Seattle (and Ty on to Spokane) just fine. Seeing Sonya after a month was amazing!
Ok, on to the highlights. For those that don’t feel like reading the posts (although I recommend it), here’s a quick summary:
- Ty Brown (one of my closest friends since age 5) and I spent 30 days visiting Hong Kong, Beijing, Tibet, the Friendship Highway from Tibet to Nepal, Kathmandu, Delhi, India, and Iceland. The majority of the trip was in Tibet and Nepal.
- Overall top 5 things we did: 1) Visited the school in Nepal some friends and I donated through Room to Read many year ago. The entire community came out to give thanks. 2) Seeing Mt. Everest in the clear for several hours, and again the next morning. Stunning. 3) Seeing all of my friends in Asia and making new ones. Particular highlights were hanging out with Jason, Kathy and Howard in Beijing and Joanna, Mark and Kathryn in Hong Kong. 4) Recording video of an impromptu singing/dancing performance from the people who ran our tent at Everest Base Camp (even better was watching them as they saw the video of themselves afterward). 5) Seeing the Great Wall on a very clear day and watching Ty see it for the first time. Two major rain storms had cleared much of the pollution.
- Best food: Here are my favorites, by country: Dim Sum with Carine and Grace (Hong Kong), Donkey Tacos with Jason (Beijing), Hot Pot with Howard & Kathy (Beijing), Noodle Shop in Lhasa, Tibet (where we met English students and eventually went to their school as show-and-tell subjects), Several Yak-meat dishes in Tibet, Pizza in Kathmandu (yes, pizza), Murgh Walla in Delhi at Zaffron, and finally getting good seafood again in Iceland after 20 days without it.
- Scariest moments: Almost all of these involved driving, especially along the friendship highway. Many times we drove along cliffs with no guard rail, often on dirt roads. Some parts had huge boulders in the road that had fallen recently (hundreds of them). Any driving in Kathmandu qualifies as scary (way less road than cars and trucks). The driving highlight still had to be when our driver in Tibet suddenly veered off the nice paved road with no warning into a crazy downhill off-road adventure which was described later as a short cut.
- Accommodations: Best hotel: Hotel Courtyard in Kathmandu; Worst Hotel: Zhang Mu Hotel in Zhang Mu, Tibet; Most interesting: tent at Everest Base Camp.
- Misc: Ty finished six books during the trip and I finished five.
- Best Photos: See below for my opinion of the best.
Well, that should wrap it up for this trip. Ty and I had a great time and hope to do something similar again in the future if our situations permit it. With any luck, this won’t be a once in a lifetime adventure. I should be able to add some video in the coming weeks once I figure out how to convert it from HD to something more usable here.
Next trip is South America with Sonya and our friends Dominic and Gillian. Looking forward to it!
Thank you once again for blogging along the way. Its been a joy to follow your every day. Kath and I love your writing style and your stories. Love to Sonya. Mark