The jeep ride back to Pokhara took forever.
The road, typical of developing infrastructure, was rocky, dirty, and pothole-filled. The huge 4×4 jeep, luckily, was prepared for these conditions But I, riding without a seatbelt on one of the jump-benches in the back, was not.
My stomach was also feeling a little iffy — although clearly not as poorly as the diplomat’s daughter’s, who we had ceded the front seat to without any argument — and the jolting and sloshing was not helping anything.
But, the same way a life goes by day by day, month by month, year by year…the ride passed: minute by minute, hour by hour, until we were back on familiar ground.
Every travel magazine, site, and company worth their salt has a “x best cities list.” While yes, some cities do generally feel a little better than others, the truth is… it’s all subjective. The city that steals one person’s heart may leave another with a stolen wallet, and the pair will return home with two very different tales to tell their friends of foreign hospitality.
So, with that in mind, here’s my ranked list of my 20 favorite cities in the world.
And as they say: I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. Feel free to give me suggestions for cities you think I’d like in the comments!
I took a few more games from the Malaysian. Either he had gotten too stoned, or I was starting to understand his playing style.
“Tomorrow, we will play again?” he asked me as I stepped back from the board.
“Nah, I have to go trekking tomorrow,” I said. “Need to redeem your reputation, losing against this youngster?” I say, half-joking. He had handily taken the majority of games from me. I knew he was the better player.
“Don’t flatter yourself,” the Malaysian said, looking down. “You are not that young.”
“I’m only 23!” I protested.
“Exactly,” he said. “That is not that young.”
I stepped back, slightly offended. He was probably right. He seemed like the sort of man who was usually right about things.
Some photos from Pokhara.
I shook hands with my opponent across the chess board. Beams of early-afternoon sunlight broke through the roof of the Pokhara cafe where we were sitting.
My opponent grinned a toothy grin. He was dark-skinned, freckled, missing one of his front teeth, and had a big, bushy white beard. He wore a light scarf wrapped around his head. This was the Malaysian.
Fifty-one years old, professional itinerant, and damned good chess player.
He’d just taken four out of five games from me, smoking hash almost the entire time.