Dubai and Kathmandu

After I finished my round-the-world trip, I decided that I would not make blogging a regular habit. It takes an astonishing amount of time and effort, especially if you like to cram in all your thoughts like I do. And, to be honest, although I love my daily life, it isn’t really blog-worthy.

However, when I came home from my most recent trip, I knew that I wanted to write about it, if only for the sake of preserving my memories. I had such an incredible journey. Not that everything went smoothly (it rarely does!), but even the most challenging moments make for funny stories.

I left Ottawa on November 4, and flew first to Toronto, then from Toronto to Frankfurt. I really lucked out on that flight. I snagged an entire back row of seats to myself! This meant that I could push all the seats back, create a pillow mountain and stretch across the row. Economy luxury! Maybe, just maybe, for the very first time in my life, I would sleep on a plane. But it was not to be. I was jolted around by turbulence virtually the entire flight. I was also surrounded by a boys hockey team on their Big Europe Trip, and they spent most of the flight shouting among themselves. So unnecessary. Oh well.

After spending five tedious hours at the Frankfurt airport, I flew to Dubai. I watched Boyhood (great film!) and again didn’t sleep. I landed in Dubai at around 11:00 p.m. A friend had invited me to stay at his place for my layover, and I picked up some booze for him at duty free. They have a surprisingly generous allowance! As I was moving through customs and baggage claim, I played a desperate game of “Let’s Catch the Elusive Free Wifi” with my tablet. Unfortunately, it was a game that I lost. Repeatedly. This was not good. I needed wifi to contact my friend, since I had left my nifty smartphone in Canada (on purpose – don’t worry, this was the only time that I actually needed it!) I wandered around arrivals for the next hour or so, genuinely impaired from lack of sleep, trying in vain to connect. I somehow ended up sitting cross-legged on the floor near the gate, weeping slightly, and shaking and cursing the tablet. WHY. WON’T. YOU. CONNECT. YOU. BIG. HUNK. OF. %^&*%^&*%^&. TECHNOLOGY!!!! (For the record, whining at your device does not in any way help it function better). Luckily though, a “damsel in distress” tends to attract attention. A wonderful random guy handed me his phone, but my Facebook wouldn’t work on it for some reason. Eventually, a kindly airport employee who had a usb stick with wifi offered to help me get online. I started weeping again, but this time with gratitude. I finally connected with my friend, and grabbed a taxi to his place. Drama over!

My friend in Dubai is all sorts of awesome. As soon as I arrived, we got into his car and took a night tour of the city. His car had a retractable roof, so we were definitely riding around in style.

Dubai by night

At 5:00 a.m., we crashed for three hours and woke up at 8:00 a.m. for more touring. This time, I rode on the back of his scooter, which brings me to my first of many minor calamities. When we stopped to get off the bike, I burned my calf on the exhaust pipe.


After a quick detour to the pharmacy for some nutty-smelling cream, we headed to the beach.


We enjoyed some tasty drinks by the beach, then rode back to his place. This time, I dismounted without further incident (see, I can learn!) We got back into his car and drove to the mall and the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world.

So tall!
So tall!

I said goodbye to my friend and caught a taxi back to the airport for my final flight. I met a guy from Afghanistan at the departure gate who was heading to an environment conference. He told me that I should come trekking in the safe parts of Afghanistan. I’m sure that I will someday. Just not quite yet! After a final (yes, sleepless) flight, I arrived in Kathmandu. As I was about to get off the plane, I realized that my ipod had vanished. I searched for it frantically, and somehow managed to slice my finger open in the process (calamity #2). A flight attendant came to the rescue by opening the tray table, and the ipod fell out. I was so grateful that I gave the flight attendant a spontaneous hug (poor guy, I was quite gross after so many hours in transit!)

I went from the airport to the Kathmandu Guesthouse, where I pretty much fell unconscious for a few glorious hours. I had some free time the next morning, so I went to Durbar Square Kathmandu and walked around the old palaces.

So many birds!
I climbed many narrow steps up this tower
View of the city from the tower
Street in Thamel near the guesthouse
Street in Thamel near the guesthouse

I had decided to go with Intrepid for my trip to Everest base camp. I had an excellent experience with the company in Africa, so it seemed like an obvious choice. I met with my group that afternoon, and I knew immediately that I would have a good time. They were mostly young people in their twenties and thirties, and they all seemed funny and interesting (my favourite kind of people!) I was also thrilled with our head guide. He had a bright and engaging personality, and he got us excited about the trek. He had summited Everest in 2012, so I was very eager to hear his stories! We went out to dinner together that evening, and enjoyed our last (beef) steaks before heading up into the Himalayas.

That night, my main project was to get my big bag under 10 kilos and my little bag under 5 kilos for the flight to the mountains. Maybe I was feeling vengeful, but among other items, I decided to leave my tablet and ipod behind in Kathmandu. Perfect time for a screen break! Although I did bring my ereader. Still, except for going online once midway through the trek, I had a full media blackout. It was awesome. I highly recommend it. I did this weird thing called talking to people. Especially after the screen on my ereader froze at high altitude.

Next stop: Lukla!


3 thoughts on “Dubai and Kathmandu

  1. Helen Bowes

    so glad you are blogging again. Can’t wait for the next installment!
    that story about losing your ipod when it wasn’t really lost at all….that happened to us on a plane with our phone…’s silly what sleep deprivation can do.
    Glad to hear you survived without electronics!

  2. Aunt B

    Helenka, this is fascinating. It must have been strange to be in a large, skyscraper-filled city one day and in a much quieter city the next. Looking forward to reading your next installment. I’m glad you have done this.

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