[This is a chapter from my travel book. There are lots more chapters posted on the blog, but if you’d prefer to read them all at once, sign up for my e-mail newsletter and I’ll be sure to let you know when they’re available in a condensed form!]
We woke up the next morning to blue skies and crisp morning air — by now an expectation, not a surprise.
I brushed my teeth in the brisk dawn, standing outside and taking in the vista while doing so. The mountains in front of us, here, were wonderfully staggered, creating an illusion of movement. Probably the movement of the glacier caused that, I though, before realizing that I really had no idea how glaciers worked. The shape of the mountains could have been the result of anything.
It was true, I didn’t really know much.
What a long, strange year it’s been.
This was the most tumultuous year of my life, so far. It’s been a year defined by two things: people, and places. So I thought I’d write two posts looking back at my year: 2016 in Places, and 2016 in People.
Places is easy—it comes first. People will be harder, and I’ll have to think long and hard about what I want to share, and with whom. It may show up here, it may just be a private thing I share with those close to me. I’m not sure.
The downside with a growing audience is you do need to consider what you say a little more carefully.
As I go into 2017, I’m faced with a big choice: do I choose to keep chasing places, for another little while, or is it time to settle down and devote myself to enhancing my relationships with people?
The two goals, unfortunately, are often mutually exclusive.
My search for breakfast again took me along the touristy Lakeside strip. I didn’t much mind though—after a month of having the “local experience” in Taiwan, I was more than happy to play the tourist for a little bit.
And the Nepali love tourists. Not in a snide, disparaging way like you might find in some other places— the Nepali genuinely love their visitors, and are happy to help them experience the culture and natural beauty of their country. This is the only touristic place I visited on this trip where I didn’t feel any sort of tension between the tourists and the locals. So if you’re going to be a clueless tourist looking for a piece of home, Nepal is as good a place as any to do it.
My search for familiarity led me to the Pokhara branch of Himalayan Java. I had spent some time at the Himalayan Java in Kathmandu.
Apparently it’s a chain, I thought to myself as I spotted the signs. Maybe not a chain, could just be a second location. After all, the Himalayan Java in Kathmandu hadn’t seemed particularly slick or reproducible. And although Nepal’s a wonderful country, there probably aren’t too many opportunities to open a western-style coffee chain. Kathmandu, Pokhara, maybe Chitwan, I mused as I crossed the road and headed to the coffee shop.
Drinking tea, smoking hash and playing chess, our afternoon whiled away in the most pleasant fashion. We did nothing, worked towards nothing, and simply spent our afternoon enjoying the simple pleasures of drinks, conversation, and each other’s company. I had to agree with the Malaysian: I didn’t know what day of the week it was, but it certainly felt like a Sunday morning.
[this is an installment in an ongoing series about my travels in Nepal. The story starts here. It’ll make a good deal more sense if you start there, but feel free to make your own decisions]
Dusk fell, and a chill set in on the open-air cafe. The Spaniard had taken his leave late in the afternoon, off to enjoy a siesta. I was wearing only a t-shirt, all I had needed when I set forth that sunny morning. Now though, the cold was cutting at my bones, and my teeth were on the verge of chattering. I conceded the chess game—the hash was doing my play no favors— and bid the Malaysian adieu.
“Will you be here tomorrow?” I asked, as I settled my bill with the owner.
“Of course,” the Malaysian answered with a gracious smile. “I am here every day.”
“I’ll be back,” I promised with a pointed finger. “And I’m going to win some more games next time!”