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email letter from Tue, 1 May 2001

Subject: Arrived in paradise...er, sorry, just Dehli

Namaste (hello) all!

Sorry for not writing much in the past couple weeks - the combination of being high in the mountains of nepal's Annapurna Conservation Area, the high rates for internet access in Nepali towns ($4.5/hr in Pokara and $5.75 / hr at Chitwan), combined with the continual power outtages caused by lack of water flowing to feed the hydro-electric damns, and all day buses and trains have combined to keep me away from email.

After I left the mountains (Sonia and Shad, I went on the Poon Hill, Chomrock, Tolke circuit for 1 week), I headed to Royal Chitwan National Park.

Joined forces with 3 Danes and rented a jeep, driver, and guide (brothers) for the day. While the guide straddled the spare tire and held one hand on the rear roll bar, he described all the wildlife we were encountering. The driver was able to keep to the roads and simulataneously spot deer and animal tracks in the woods, as well as monkeys jumping high in the trees overhead. The elder bro, our guide, has been doing this for 13 of his 30 years.

What a field day...i counted 20 of the one-horned rhinos (may have seen a few more than once over the day), about 70 deer, 3 sloth bears, a wild crocodile, tons of birds including eagles, peacocks, kingfishers, and long tailed paradise fly catchers. also several families of monkeys - mothers jumping from tree to tree with 3 or 4 babies clinging on.

No tigers, but we did get very close to severl rhinos. crept through the bush to a river where 3 rhinos wallowed. we were at 10 meters when they finally had enough and raised up, stared us down, and finally backed away as we prepared to run up nearby trees...sweating heavily.

We did find a tiger kill that was several days old...and saw the tiger claw marks on trees...like massive scratching posts. Finally ended the day with a killer, if quite early, monsoon storm. After hitting 38 deg C, the wind blew sideways and finally drove the rain and marble sized hail into the back of our uncovered jeep. my poncho over the four of us passengers did little...But our bruised knuckles faired better than the local corn crop - many fields were cut in half by the hail. the biggest piece we found at our guest house...just smaller than a golf ball.

So, this adventure was followed by the adventures in Indian style travel: I left chitwan in a jeep at 930 am to bus park, then a bus at 10:30 to the next bus at 11 am. arrived at the India/Nepal border at 4pm...left on bus to gorakpur at 530pm...arrived there at 930pm. bought ticket for 1130pm train (14hs) to dehli. found out only 5 min later that my train was delayed by 8 hours. I tried other route..another train with other connections to Dehli...but when it arrived I found sleeper car space available. So, instead found a hotel at 1130pm. Got some sleep...fought off mozzies in my hot room with ceiling fan. damn hot. Only little snack food for meals all day, so quite hungry. Got up at 630am to check on the delayed train. It was now delayed more. found some dodgy food from street vendors after parusing 20 of them. waited longer for the train. more delay. finally board 1130PM train at 930AM.

spent ALL day on train, but this is always better than the buses (usually have one knee jammed into the seat ahead and shins smashing the bars below, while other leg is supporting the crowd of people standing in the aisle).

little food and meals. traveled with a french speaking swiss dude (10 yrs my junior). We had a sleeping car compartment to ourselves all day (thank God), but shared it with the 18 year old indian dudes who where teaching Simon how to speak Hindi. Got some sleep when not fighting off the mosquitos and being awakend by the tea vendors at many stations. Finally arrived at 230AM to dehli. Took an autorickshaw from Old Dehli to New Dehli stations and walked to our geust house...got VERY hot room with ceiling fan. fought more mozzies..but less than on train. All in all, a rather straight-forward Indian style travel day(s).

next? deciding now.

Cheers, Ted "Sanjay"

Email letter from Tue, 24 Apr 2001

Subject: What a hike

Just back from a week of hiking around the Annapurna conservation area. Each day was filled with millions of stone steps, and countless stream crossings, and vertical changes. Most days we climbed and or descended several thousand feet (minimum). One highlight was the climb i started at 4:30 in the morning - freezing cold and 300m (1000ft) straight up in 45 minutes to catch the sun rising over the peaks. The sun illuminated some mountains more than 27,000 ft high (glad i didnt choose to climb those).

tons of villages with terraces on the steep mountain-sides to grow all sorts of vegatables, wheat, and rice. people of many ethnic groups. travelers from all parts of the globe, and killer scenery.

some days were like hiking through the Lord of the Rings - forests of moss covered trees and massive rhoddadendran (sorry for spelling) - great trees with pink and red flowers and massive peaks in the distance.

unfortunatly, now back to "civilization."

Next I'll head to Chitwan National Park to see rhinos, elephants, crocadilles, etc. then to see the birthplace of buddha. likely back to dehli, india after. more news coming...


Email letter from Wed, 18 Apr 2001

Subject: Going for a hike

Hi all,

setting off tomorrow for about one week of hiking so won't be checking in on email. now enjoying slow email service and the joyful price of $4.5 per hour (yeah).

I will be hiking in the Annapurna area, near to Pokara, Nepal. There are actually 5 mountains named Annapurna (1-4 + A. South), with Annapuran #1 reaching 8091....METERS...yeah, so that's over 26,000 feet.

No, I won't be hiking there. The highest point i will reach on teh trails is about 3000 meters or about 10K feet. Plenty of tourists head out each day to a number of trails...my choice being amoung the more popular. so, that means i will be enjoying the beauty and diversity of

Himalayan nature as well as little installations and villages all along the way. Each night there are "tea houses" to stop and stay at. A very simple place to sleep and eat.

I'll be hiking with other trekers and of course meeting more each day. Everyone on the trail basically follows the same route and makes about the same stops - so you're never copmletely alone for too long.

So, I'll tune in again in about a week or so...may be up to two weeks, depending on side trips from some of the daily stops. Got some great views of the mountains from the town of pokara today. Here we sit at 1300meters and gasp up at some peaks that range from 6000 to over 8000 meters. Of course, all snow capped. But the REAL photos will be on the trek.

See you soon, and "Namaste",Ted

Email letter from Mon, 26 Feb 2001

Subject: what

Hey all,

am writing on a tough keyboard...without most of the letters so, i am typing from memory...and feel.

In Vang Vieng, Laos. my travels:from chiang mai thailand. 1 day left at 12noon in a mini bus with 9 others and headed for the border. arrived at chiang khong at 7pm. checjkd in to the prepicked guest house and settled in for food and questioning all the other backpackers bout how and where to go.

next day truck ride to a the thai immigration, cross the river by boatm, then to lao immigration. (on the mekong_). then get mis-information on where to get boat to....sdaf.s.df.a.fd whatever. instead stop at boat landing for slow boat to Pakbeng and Luang Prabang. my friend noi and i joined about 60 other backpackers on the boat...seating around the outside of a wooden boat...all facing in. no space left when we arrived, so we sat at the base of the pile of backs and bags. i pulled out my backpack and we sat on it.

this then turned out to be an alllllll day journey. arrived at 7pm. about 1 stop along ehte way wghere we were allowed off to get some local food or use a non-moving toilet. the toilet on this boat is in a wooden room...about the dimensions of a phone booth...but half the height. so most people cant reallyt stand up...especially not those 6'2".

the next day we joined the masses and a few new bodies for the continued boat ride to luang prabang. got quite a bit of time on the roof with loads of others...the best view and freshest air....though it was a regular cycle of boat operators asking people to come down when too many when topside....etc.

in luang prabang, we got some bikes and road allover. saw tons of buddhist temples...now still 35+ in town...was 60+ beforethe commies took over and before the vietnam war ravaged. on a side note...we dropped almost as much munition on laos as we did on vietnam...though we were "never actually here".... great city at the meeting of mekong and nam sanh rivers. 3 dayts later south on the bus yesturday to vang vieng. the bus ride was like taking a dodgy school bus on a twisty, rough mountain road in the hot sun for 8 hours! fun! but amazing scenery.

today was spent biking...er, putting the chain back on the sprockets every 10 minutes while we rode to check out a great swimming spot and some caves. here is all limestone hills...they rise up completely vertically from the floor...stunning.

here it seems that backpackers have taken over. must be thousands in town. and this is a small town, surrounded by rice farms and the like. traveling here is a continuing saga of meeting new people from all corners of teh world and reunions with those you've seen on and off for the last 2 weeks...manny people follow the "path".

tomorrow will be tubing down the river...very slow. the busing it down to the capital, Vientienne.

well that's about all i can afford with my pile of Lao Kip (money).