Xiamen

“I can’t believe you got a flight back from Taipei back to Los Angeles”. Fifty-eight dollars for the ticket plus all the other fees, two hundred dollars on Xiamen airlines. 24 hour layover and some hassle, I ended up at nice hotel. They gave a 2 pm checkout.. YES! drank the loose tea instead of Lipton’s and got charged 5 bucks…oh well. Walked around the city and noticed the stares which I understand and realized Xiamen may not have a great number of visitors. Flying in night before I saw animated pictures of cranes and herons superimposed on fancy buildings. I am told this is what Xiamen is known for. What really exciting was seeing the Deputy’s Prime Minister and his entourage from Tonga. They are in a 20 year relationship similar to concept of sister cities. Diplomatic relationships start with noticing the “Ta Ovala” and not mistaking anyone for being Samoan. The last nice hotel I stayed at, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Shariff was also staying there. He was in Hong Kong to finish up the “Beltway intiative”. He’s been in a little trouble since then. Better him than me. Zaijian.

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Taipei

I’ve had layovers in Taiwan but hours versus days. Quick bus tours and quick eats was all I could afford. My dear friend used to live in Taipei so she said we were going to hang out here after Nepal. I don’t know Taiwan’s history about Japanese colonialism around 1952. What I do know is that Taipei is beautifully humid (skin radiant and plump) sunny and rainy all in a day’s time. Looking into the sky, clouds move quickly. Ah then there’s the food. Taipei is inexpensive. Plenty of nite market treats to satisfy both budget and craving. Railways are efficient and wifi is essentially free. “iTaiwan” . Beitou hot springs is a stop along the MRT and yes, I am told the older naked ladies will comment on your body at the spa. They will switch quickly over to Taiwanese if they think you speak Mandarin.

Bangkok

Never heard of this airlines until now. 200.00 dollars cheaper than the rest. No booze though but that’s not the end of the world for some people. Seats are comfortable but tall individuals will be challenged. At 5’6 knees are touching seat in front of me. Update I am aware of the flight from Bali to Jakarta that plunge into ocean immediately after take off. It is an inherent risk and I am aware.

Goodbye Nepal

Raj says ” You need to come back and stay a couple of months”. They identify themselves as mountain, Hill or flat people. Hindu and Buddhist. I spent time in all three areas and I am fond of the all the Nepalese. The hill people have shared with me the peacefullness of day to day life and musically I was most struck by mountain music. After my treks I turned to my friend and said I missed being with the hill people. Mother nature’s sounds and movements are most sought after by this soul. I taught myself some Nepal type dances and quizzed the locals. “Is this mountain hill or flat dance? They would smile and sometimes I would get it right. Nepal and all that’s implied…Thank you so much for your goodness. Zaijian.

Death of a Hiker.

In the last few days of hiking, on October 23 I witnessed a body being pulled out of the water. Initially a mountain guide said it was someone who’s luggage went over the side and men were trying to retrieve it. I knew it wasn’t accurate given the scene. Several men at the base of the rocks and waterline. Luggage is colorful and floats fast down the rapids. I was on the other side of the “Big old river”. I looked more closely and under a few feet of surface water, was a man’s arms flailing yet stationary from trunk down. I gasped and cried as the story changed. I immediately asked “Nepalese?” And I’ve should have known better. The story changed to the thought of suicide to what is the most likely scenario. A hiker “without guide”, emphatically expressed by my guide, took his own route and fell. My travel wife did not have the morbid curiosity that seemed to be taking over as more cars and hikers gathered on both sides of the rapids with people asking “What happened?”. I wanted to talk to someone but no takers. It might be a morose thought but I choose to see his lifeless body trapped by a rock as a blessing. His body could be retrieved in order for a proper response by next of kin. I prayed and cried a little more than what was comfortable since I don’t know who he is. I frantically checked blotters and social media when access was available but no answer no mention of a man wearing bright yellow pants with black accessories. He appeared to be late 20’s to mid 30’s. Lean, fair skin with facial hair beard and dark short hair. Futile attempts to resuscitate him may have caused more sadness for some. And all I can do is pray and one day I will know what happened. Some may find record not suitable it ends in 30 seconds.

Lahke pass….okay I will

“I have no business hiking” My inner voice said. It hurt to stretch and I moaned a lot. I saw helicopters above and thoughts of hitching a ride out sounded so enticing. Or maybe ride down on a horse or donkey but I kept telling myself to just put one foot in front of the other. 10 hours later I was down My motives are clear. I often want to see who I am and what am I made of. I am the reluctant hiker and I am made of sheer determination and will power….if only for a moment. Zaijian