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I arrived in Nepal without much of a plan. Any vague ideas I had come up with for my trip was tossed aside pretty quickly. Contradicting information and advice really confused me in the beginning. Things changed daily. I pretty much winged it the whole way, like this trek.

Oct 28, 2014 (pm)

In Berithani, 200 rupees ($2) for a room with a view of beautiful river. Reminds me a bit of Khudi, but this is a larger town, the beginning/end of Ghorepani trek.

room with a view, Berithani river, Annapurna

So yes, plan changed again, as expected. Was told I could bus from Pokhara to Phedi then jeep to Pothana. Got off at Phedi at the trail head where I could have started, but looked at the steep stairs and didn’t want to move (saw porters carrying huge loads down in the rain, covered by plastic sheet! Followed about 1/2 hour later by a group of tourists). Was then told could get jeep to either Dhampus, before Pothana, or Ghandruk, after it, so I chose the later, trying to minimize walking on shared roads with motorized traffic. A group of people sheltering from the rain at roadside tea house flagged a jeep down for me, but not a normal transport jeep. I just went along. Fell asleep half of the way, woke up to see the sky clearing up a bit and light pouring down glazing over the valley and terraces below. If there’s no storm, there’s no clearing up! That moment of light. Got to a town where the driver dropped off stuff and greeted people. And was told it was Nayapul, not among the 3 places mentioned before but was assured I was still in the right direction! Ok! Just not what I came to expect. Driver talked with a bunch of people, about my situation I suppose, before driving down to valley and dropping me off at check-post in Berithani, because he wasn’t going any further. By this point, I was thoroughly confused about these villages names and where I should start walking.

Pokhara, Berithani, light after storm

Check-post worker pointed out a taxi going up to Kimche (I assumed another village on the trail) for $8 but thought that was a bit expensive so I said no. Found out that tomorrow morning there will be bus up there after 9, so I’m gonna take that one instead. Still not sure which way to go after that. Could just do Ghorepani loop like planned but that’s gonna be only a few days. Was considering ABC (Annapurna base camp/sanctuary trek) but feel very unprepared with this weather. Can try to go as far as possible before being forced to turn back. As said, should just take it by the day. Didn’t see Berithani mentioned much – I guess people just trek right through it – but I find it quite pretty here, picturesque. Especially now. Cotton candy white clouds on blue sky, mountains on all sides, a few terraced fields with yellow ripe crops below, right above the river.

Berithani river, Nepal, Annapurna

It’s so cool. Sitting inside my room writing and still can listen to the river outside. I just love the sound of water moving in nature: oceans, rivers, waterfalls…

Berithani town, children holding hands, Nepal

Berithani town, girl cooking outdoor, Nepal

(… note about a friend’s personal matter…) But us, the modern girls of VN, caught in between traditions and opportunities, between the shoulds and the coulds/cans, we can never be too sure. Not knowing if it’s something about ourselves or if it’s our situations that make it so hard. Life. Love. The things that should be simple, and yet so complicated. Always. The quote that I read … has become one of my favorites: “Life is understood backward, but can only be lived forward.” There’s no way around it.

Things that happened during the first few days when I wasn’t keeping notes:

– Sat next to a French guy on the plane KUL-KTM. Diving instructor for 10 years and now manages a dive shop in Koh Samui! We talked about diving, traveling, life, being spiritual (or not). He speaks English like a German.

– It was Diwali here! I think Nepal is much less intense than India, religiousness, celebration (and much less visible destitution on the street and the attitude of treating poor people like dirt)

– Went to P and S house for dinner on Diwali. It’s a beautiful house with a nice garden. P has a nice big belly but she’s so cute and skinny and seems so comfortable walking around. In Hawaii, I used to think S was so lucky to have P but now I think they’re such a great match, though might not look like it the first time the way Z and R look together.

– S’s father’s family photo is amazing. 1 dad, 9 sons, 1 grandson. So many different expressions and attitudes!

– Found out Z & R’s relationship is very atypical: intercaste, long time dating, signing the paper without the wedding. Such a beautiful couple.

– Paid $40 for a freaking designer sari blouse. I so regret it and wish I hadn’t. The embroidery should be in gold!

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Oct 31, 2014

Annapurna base camp

Yesterday had sound sleep till about 1am when woke up b/c so hungry. Munched off some chocolate and then fell asleep again. And then next time woke up vì mình mơ thấy bạn. Lần đầu tiên. Bạn và 2 người bạn của bạn CM và Đ. Not sure why those 2. Mơ theo đúng kiểu logic và trật tự kì quái của giấc mơ mà chỉ đến khi tỉnh mới biết là không thể. Chuyện kết thúc vào ngày 30/10 khi mà bạn thay đổi quyết định. Dĩ nhiên chỉ là trong giấc mơ. Tỉnh dậy, lần đầu tiên mình nhận ra là những ao ước mơ hồ của mình, đến giờ mới được gọi tên. Đấy là mình ước được ôm bạn một cái thật lâu và thật chặt. Thật lâu và thật chặt. Rồi mình sẽ buông. Chứ mình không dám giữ. Hôm nay trên đường đi, và cả lúc này nghĩ đến mình lại trào nước mắt. Một cái ôm thôi. Giữa núi rừng này mà mình lại thấy bạn. Hay nhỉ!

Annapura Base Camp, Annapurna Sanctuary, Himalaya, Nepal, trekking

gần nơi mình mơ

Annapura Base Camp, Annapurna Sanctuary, Himalaya, Nepal, trekking

Hôm nay là một ngày của những ngày tao rất nhớ và thương mày. Có những chốc nước mắt trào ra khi nghe người lạ hỏi một câu chẳng liên quan gì tới mày, hay nức nở khi nghe 1 bài hát mà có lẽ mày cũng chưa nghe bao giờ. Vì sao! Dù cố gắng chấp nhận không đi tìm câu trả lời cho vô vàn câu hỏi, dù cố gắng sống trong hiện tại thay vì ước ao, có lẽ tận cùng vẫn là sự day dứt. Không trách mày, không muốn trách tao, chẳng biết trách ai. Chẳng thể trách. Thương quá là thương.

Ra biển ngồi. Sóng Đà Nẵng hôm nay lên vì ảnh hưởng bão. Những đàn chim trắng nối nhau bay dọc bờ biển, có đàn bay sát ngay trên đầu sóng, có đàn bay cao lốm đốm trên bầu trời đen thẫm. Thỉnh thoảng có con bay bứt lên không tách đoàn, hoặc dừng hẳn phía sau. Chim cứ bay, sóng cứ vỡ. Tao khóc. Không có gì là mãi mãi, nhưng ra đi là mãi mãi. Đau quá. Tao thương vì mày đau.

Can’t get this song out of my head.

Recently chilled with my Wes crew, including an underclassman I never met before who is a senior this year. He spent the summer in Sapa and was given a huge bag of hemp to smoke in a water pipe and he was trying to finish it all before leaving for the US in a couple of days. Was really missing you and thought you’d have had such a good time with us and no doubt could have easily helped the kid out. Now regretting that I didn’t take some with me to bring to Hanoi for you.

I’m not a writer to write out beautiful sentimental heart wrenching words for you. Sometimes I cry and sometimes I curse at you. And we still joke relentless as if you were only away for a few days. All I want to tell you is no matter what you say, at the end of the day, tình cảm is still the most important thing. And this time you can’t even argue with me, fucker.

I had a pretty hectic couple of days when I first got to the Bay Area.

I flew from San Diego to San Francisco, accompanied by Duong. We took the BART, SF’s subway system, from the airport to Oakland, waited an hour at the subway station, took a cab in the end that cost $70 to go to Trang’s uncle’s place, 2.7 miles (4.5 kms) away. We thought we’d stay there but then decided to spend that night in SF instead, paid for two dorm beds in a hostel last-minute and ended up sleeping together in only one. Read the rest of this entry »

My old friend, Duong, came to pick me up at the San Diego airport on the 31st. Duong was, and still is in my group of close friends from middle school. We hadn’t seen each other for 4.5 years, since I left for college the summer of 2005 – how time flies. We left almost immediately with two more friends of hers. Direction: Las Vegas. So was *everyone* else. It took us 8 hours, instead of the usual 4. The traffic was absolutely insane – it was at times as bad as sitting in a cab in Times Square – it drives you nuts ’cause you are *not* going anywhere, and it seems like it’d be 5 times faster walking.

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