Friday, May 29, 2009

The Last Post

Back in Toronto and it feels like we never left. It's amazing how quickly you can slip back in to what's familiar (well sort of). It's been a wonderful welcome home from our family and friends who have been here for us throughout our adventure, and they've done their darnedest to make the transition as easy and comfortable as possible (if you're reading this, that means you're one of them ;-). We do get waves of flashbacks though, that make us smile and make us a little sad, because after 8 months away, you wonder if it will stay with you.

We met a Dutch guy in Thailand while heading to the airport for our final flights home; at first, he came on a little strong. He was a little too outgoing, heading to Australia for his 7th time to buy a camper van and work over the internet while travelling abroad at his leisure. Sounded pretty sweet; his reasons were that he loved Australia, he was sick with the boring lifestyle back home, he could avoid taxes, and he could work and play at the exact same time. Somewhere during the story Kristin and I both realized that ironically, we were starting to get excited about the exact things he was starting to detest; routine, home, friends and family, familiarity, rules and some sort of a system. We were excited about our lives getting back to NORMAL. We left him at the airport and we realized that although we were in different places in our lives, he was actually quite a swell guy. One thought stuck with me throughout the flight home however, and our time and Vancouver, and our first week back at home. At one point he said "what is NORMAL?" When he was bashing his home for the things that pushed him away, he kept mentioning "is it NORMAL to have twenty-four hour electricity, plan parties 14 days in advance, have hot water at the turn of a switch, spend $75 on a birthday present, drive everywhere we go, walk by friends' houses without stopping in, see family only twice a month, throw away a camera when a better one comes out, have 24 hour grocery stores, drive 2 hours a day to and from a job, exercise to lose weight, have a 'cereal isle' in a store, do your banking online, text someone instead of talking to them, throw out old clothes, eat fruit from the other side of the world, build houses that are way too big, or take a shower every day...?" And so I've been asking myself this question all week; is this life NORMAL? Or is where we have been for the past 8 months MORE NORMAL... places where people grow their own food, where they know everyone in their community and work together to get things done, where they walk or bus everywhere, where they don't miss good friends' birthdays because they have another commitment, where they do all their cleaning during the 4 hours of electricity in a day, where they stop what they're doing if a friend comes by, where a celebration lasts all day, where they go to a store because they like the owner, where they eat the same food everyday, where the children have as much responsibility as the adults, where refrigerators are used as shelves because there's no power, where family spends hours together just sitting and talking, where they live in rooms not houses, where business comes second and people come first...? Maybe this is actually NORMAL; maybe, after being in the places that we've been, we can try to make our NORMAL lives a little more NORMAL, by changing some of our habits to be more like the rest of the world.

And so, after being away for so long, we are very glad to be home, and are excited to get back to REGULAR LIFE, but of course, never forgetting what's NORMAL. Thank you for sharing our adventures with us. Can't wait to see you all,
Love K and C

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Get out your Parkas we're heading to the beach!!!

Well after 40 hours of flying and only about 3 of sleeping, we relived Monday May 18 for the third time and arrived in Van city to awesome welcome signs by Chrissi and Lane!!!

We got to their place and munched down on all our favorite goodies that we had been craving for the last few months before hitting the trail and doing some rollerblading. We then decided to head to the beach for a BBQ so we put on our parkas, winter hats, warm socks and headed down - This only led to confirm that yes we were back in Canada bc where else do you have to dress for winter to go to the beach!!

Anyway loving being back and heading to Alana and Michael's tonight for Killer Bunnies!!!

Love k and C

Bangkok - Seoul (Korea) - Vancouver CANADA!!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Van City, here we come!

Ladies and gentlemen,
after a big ol' long time, we are heading home! The beaches in Thaiworld have been a wonderfully warm (ok, shit hot) way to end our journey... on this side of the world that is! We both have a feeling that meeting up with friends in Vancouver over the next week may top even the wildest India had to offer! So we say farewell to the foreign world and hello to our native soil, for which we have developed a longing over the last 2 weeks! HOWEVER; as our trip is nowhere near officially over, we can not justify saying our goodbyes to our amazing and appreciated followers just yet. So brace yourself for one more post (or maybe two), that will only be 3 hours behind instead of 12 hours ahead! So close!

Love you all,
K and C
P.S. On a side note, 8 pm tonight will hopefully mark the official end of 16 days of consecutive sweating (If it doesn't, we're joining one of those hyper-hydrosis clinics when we get back).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

No Food or Drinks Please!

After a few days in Bangkok we headed out to Koh Phi Phi, a beautiful island to celebrate the midge's big 30th birthday!!! We rented a beautiful cabin overlooking the beach, went snorkeling, swimming and visited the island they filmed the movie "The Beach" on. It was beautiful.

We then went for a romantic sunset cruise which consisted of us jumping into a old long boat that was falling apart a little, getting drenched by the salt waves for two hours and then them throwing us a Styrofoam box of fried rice to eat for dinner and pineapple off a garbage can lid. I guess we should have known:-)

After that we switched islands to Koh Lanta where because it's off season we got a sweet ass deal on a cabin and have had the beach and the resort to our selves for the past four nights (well minus Saturday). They have signs up all over the resort saying food from outside was forbidden, so we were sneakily eating our peanuts and mango - that is until the Thai's shouwed up on Saturday night and proceeded to bring in:
  • rice cookers
  • buffet meals which they somehow cooked and ate by the pool
  • sandwich makers
  • 26s of JW
  • Coolers
  • chips, pop, cookies, chocolate
  • plates, cups,
  • inflatable rafts AND a pump
  • chairs
  • and anything else they could think of
We then looked at each other and realized we had alot to learn.

Anyway today we off to a few buses and an overnight boat to Koh Toa an island on the east side to chill out some more and do some snorkeling. Miss you all!

Love k and C

Bangkok - Koh Phi Phi - Koh Lanta

Monday, May 4, 2009

Stairway to Heaven by Russ Gillman

A day after successfully completing a 15 kilometer run with Cory's aunt Judy and her running group I hopped on a plane for the 20 minute flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara to meet up with Kristin and Cory to begin our seven day trek. As usual, with a few days of downtime following their Annapurna Circuit trek, they had already figured out the lay of the land in Pokhara…where to stay, which was the best bakery, who had the best fruit, muesli and curd for breakfast, the best restaurant for dinner and who had the best happy hour. Happy hour? In Nepal? Who knew? They met me at the airport, took me to the hotel they had chosen and showed me to my room. It was relatively clean, comfortable bed, ceiling fan and a bathroom with shower and toilet but curiously, no sink. "We could get you a room with a sink", they told me, "but it would be more expensive". "How much is this one?" I asked. " Three hundred rupees ($5 CDN)". " It will be fine" I told them. A little weird, but fine. They then asked me to empty my backpack "to see if there is anything you could leave behind". Secretly, I think they just wanted to see if I had brought the President's Choice chocolate bars Kristin had asked for and the cans of Molson Canadian Cory had requested. In hindsight, it was a good thing they did as I ended up leaving about a third of the clothes I had brought.

The hike they had chosen is called the Poon Hill loop. They picked it because the third morning you get up at 5 a.m. and over 45 minutes you ascend 450 meters to the top of Poon Hill where, if the weather is clear, you get a spectacular view of the Annapurna range from Dhaulagiri -- the world's 7th highest mountain at an amazing 8,176 meters in the west to Manaslu, the world's 8th highest peak at 8,156 meters in the east. In between you have Annapurna 1 at 8,091 meters, Annapurna 2 at 7,937, Annapurna South at 7,220 and the fascinating Machhapuchhere at 6,993. These views assume you have good weather but as the guide book points out, when you wake up "if the sky is clear go, if it's overcast --- go back to bed!!"

Over 2 for 1 cocktails (Kristin's favourite was the "Daisy") and 650 ml. bottles of Everest beer, Cory and Kristin outlined the general nature of our hike. I think they waited until I was on my second Everest and more relaxed before they got into the specifics. "We start our hike at 1,000 meters of altitude and for the first 2 days we have to go up 1,000 meters each day so we'll be ready to make our assault on Poon Hill the third morning". "No problem" was my immediate, beer induced response. "The rest of the time we go down from where we start, then up again until the 7th day when we only go down". "Sounds easy enough", I said. They weren't providing much more detail and I wasn't looking for it. The less I knew, the better, I thought.

The morning of day 1 went well. Some steady but not severe climbing increasing our altitude by 500 meters. We stopped for lunch and then I got the news. In order to get to the village we were going to stay in that night we had a section of stairs to do. I consulted the guidebook and asked why there were two arrows on the trail we were taking. "That's the direction we're going" I was told. "But the trail this morning only has one arrow on it" I said. Then the truth. "If it's got two arrows on it, it's one bitch of an uphill" I was told. Looking at the guidebook again I read the description for this section. It consisted of 3,421 continuous stairs rising 555 meters at a starting altitude of 1,515 meters. To put this into perspective, the CN Tower sits on land that is 75 meters above sea level. To climb to the top you cover 1,776 steps and go up 346 meters. So here I was about to climb twice as many stairs, covering 50% more height at a starting altitude 20 times higher. Something told me this was not going to be a pile of fun. After a couple of hours and many, many stops to tuck my lungs back in, I finally joined K&C at the top where they were resting comfortably.

These stone trails are everywhere in this area of Nepal. I'm not sure when they were built or who put them there but they truly are remarkable. They are sturdy and well crafted. They lead you from village to village and as I found out on the third morning, to heaven. Poon Hill sits at 3,190 meters ( 10,500 feet) a dwarf among the giants that are around it. We awoke just before 5 took a quick look outside and fortunately, saw stars. We were out the door at 5:15 and by 6:00 a.m. were standing at the top of the hill just as the sun started to illuminate the surrounding peaks. The scenery was breathtaking. We spent about an hour in awe of the huge snow covered mountains before the rising haze and clouds started to obscure them. What a wonderful morning and certainly from a scenic standpoint, the highlight of our hike.

The next few days were, as promised, a series of ups and downs but more severe than I had anticipated. We would start the day at 2,500 meters, descend to the river at 1,700 meters and then climb back to 2,000 meters all to reach our night's destination. Along the way we followed the teachings of Auntie Judy -- "Ya need salt!", "Coke will cure whatever is bothering you", "You need to eat" and " Trekking is not a race!". We found that there are only about five names for the lodges no matter what village you are in -- Grand View, Panorama, Excellent View, Super View ( all of which, by the way, weren't lying -- the views at breakfast from their patios were spectacular) and either Annapurna Lodge or New Annapurna Lodge, although we never ever did see much of a difference between these two. If one was newer it was sure hard to tell. I learned that you don't just walk into a village. You either climb up or drop down into it but you never just plain stroll into it. And having been in Nepal previously, the people were as warm and generous as I remember despite their impoverished circumstances.

I must say that Kristin, "my guide" and Cory, "the Sherpa", were perfect hosts. They are strong trekkers and work well with each other. They are easy going and we all got along well. We experienced no blowups although we came close once. After a long day Cory left us to check out a lodge high in the village. While he was gone Kristin and I had decided that no matter how nice it was, the chances of them having electricity and hence a cold beer, was slim. We felt our chances were better by heading down into the village. Cory returned and told us the inn was beautiful -- quiet, great views. We insisted that we should check out the rest of the village, though not telling him why. "Okay, then you two are going to pick the place" he rather strongly declared. I went to one place, which was a dump but fortunately Kristin found a beauty and after a warm shower and a cold beer, everyone was good.

After spending the week together there are many humorous incidents that the three of us will remember -- the mother and daughter from British Columbia who were high on life, tiger balm or something else, Kristin's long awaited but somewhat disappointing Mars roll, my own roll -- of toilet paper that never seemed to diminish, the old man on the porch -- "Where you from?", "Canada", "You want marijuana?", the hell hole we stayed in our last night, which Cory maintains is a rite of passage, the pain in the ass Slovak contingent and the three Nepali amigos -- city slickers on their first ever trek (and likely their last!!).

So, how would I sum up our seven day journey?
Room with a hot shower at the end of the day……………100 rupees ($1.65)
Lukewarm 650 ml. bottle of Everest beer………………….220 rupees ($3.50)
Unlimited dal bhat with veg curry, pickle and papad……..250 rupees ($4.20)
Spending a week hiking the Himalayas with your son and daughter-in-law……Priceless!

Friday, May 1, 2009

How to Survive a flight with Nepal Air

1. Drink 5 glasses of wine in one hour.
2. That's it!!!
Well we made it to Thailand last night after a surprisingly smooth flight with Nepal Air (the wine definitely helped 'take the edge off") and we were only two hours late - so not bad. Found a place to stay, ate some delicious food and checked out what can only be described as consumer heaven. Anything you want to buy here apparently you can - its crazy. I think Cory and I are enjoying being back in a developed country and loving the services, electricity and AC in the rooms (essential considering it is 35 degrees here and humid).
Miss you all lots and will send more once were on the beach!!!
Love k and c
Kathmandu - Bangkok (Thailand)

Monday, April 27, 2009

40 days and 40 nights!

Can you believe it? We're done trekking in Nepal! Russ Gillman herded us all down our final set of stairs (of about 20,000 this week) this morning and we are all happy but exhausted. He worked his ass off and has decided it only fitting to provide his own account of the last 7 days trekking (which is great 'cause as per the comments, apparently you've heard enough from us!). We're all heading back for a nap shortly and then off to bar hop from happy hour to happy hour (Russ says beer makes him feel better). It was a great trek, and thank god we're done!
Love K and C
P.S. We've posted the rest of the Annapurna pics.
P.P.S. For those of you following at home: Kathmandu --> Trekking --> Kathmandu --> Trekking --> Pokahara --> Trekking --> Pokahara --> Happy Hour!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

~ The Annapurna Circuit Trek ~

Day 1: "Back on the Bhat"
(Besisahar --> Bhulebhule - 2.5 hrs walking, 9km, 840m)

From one bus to another, rip off after rip-off we slowly made our way to the Annapurna Circuit trailhead. By 2:15pm we had completed our bus marathon (which began at 6:30am and covered a staggering 114km) and decided to stretch our legs and try to cover some ground. Naturally, 10 minutes in and the rain started to fall as we started off on the the longest trek we had ever done.

Day 2: "Blisters in the Sun"
(Bhulebhule --> Chamje - 6.5 hrs walking, 20km, 1430m)

It was hot and sunny and we weren't complaining - in fact we were loving it!!! Our sweaty feet made a few bubbly friends that Kristin was eager to pop... must be a Thomas thing. We followed a ridiculous road that has replaced trail sections. Ugly site if you're a trekker - wonderful site if your a local (who can now take a jeep)!! But one landslide after another made the "road" pretty much useless. Not to worry, the workers should have it cleared just in time for the monsoon!
On a side note, Kristin sadly realized she had left her best friend behind in Kathmandu - her headlamp! She should be over it by day 14!

Day 3: "Move Your Asses!"
(Chamje --> Danaqu - 5 hrs walking, 15km, 2300m)
I guess starting early means you have to travel with the locals and their never ending parades of donkeys! As this is the main way to transport goods to higher villages, I think "donkey dodging" was actually more difficult then trekking today. Kristin's luck with animals continued as she was bumped into the side of a cliff at one point by an ass with an attitude! (We also happened upon fields, yes fields, of marijuana; needless to say we emptied our bags and loaded up!).
Day 4: "No wonder we're tired..."
(Danaqu --> Dhukur Pokhari, 6.5 hrs walking, 25km, 3240m)
Our morning began with quite a steep but fast ascent followed by... flat!! Not even Nepali flat (which is know as ups and downs) but real flat! It lasted for about 4 km too, which was a "miracle, as Kristin put it. At about 1:00pm we were pretty pooped and ordered our favorite boiled potatoes for lunch. We finally arrived at our destination, both a little out of it. Kristin had a little diarrhea blowout, but we were both exhausted. The altitude, maybe, the potatoes, possibly... and then we calculated our mileage for the day... 25 km! No wonder we're tired!

Day 5: "We'll be comin' 'round the mountains when we come"
(Dhukur Pokhari --> Nagwal - 4 hrs walking, 11km, 3657m)
We came face to face with the first of three Annapurna peaks today, with number four not far off. We also got our first taste of altitude since leaving South America; man what a wake up call! Definitely brought back our r-e-s-p-e-c-t for real mountains. The smaller village we stayed in was absolutely beautiful but quite desolate. Constructed entirely out of stone, it sits on a wind strewn plateau above the treeline. Perfect for a day in the sun, but quite a tough life for its inhabitants trying to make a go of it. Even more reason to appreciate a cold bucket shower and generous helpings of fresh cabbage!

Day 6: "Kristin in Wonderland"
(Nagwal --> Braga (Manang) - 2 hrs walking + 2 hrs side trip, 12km, 3300m)
Kristin discovered her heaven on earth today in the village of Manang. A breezy 2 hour stroll led her to her hottest shower since October 1, bakery upon bakery full of the "best" (according to her) Apple crumble, Apple pie and chocolate cake, beautiful sunny grasslands with galloping horses, samosas and even an en-suite squatter!! It took a lot of convincing to get her off her butt for a 2 hour acclimatization side trip, but the valley and the glacier views were worth it!! And so was the excuse for another extra helping of apple crumble. On to the foot of the pass tomorrow, with a quick morning stop at the bakery of course:-)

Day 7: "Let it Snow, let it snow, let it snow"
(Braga --> Yak Kharka - 4 hrs walking + 30 min side trip, 13km, 4018m)
And so the perfect weather came to an end but at the right time. As we slumped into our lodge at 4018m, we had just enough time to throw back some samosas and chocolate croissants (carried up from Manang) before the sky darkened and the snow started to fall. But it turned out to be a lovely afternoon acclimatizing with new friends by the fire (Eric, Scott, Lindsay and Lauren). We played cards, drank tea, watched the snow fall and talked about favorite beers and farting. Almost like being at home... almost.

Day 8: "I said brrr, it's cold up here, there must be some Mountains in the atmosphere!"
(Yak Kharka --> Thurong Phedi - 2 hrs walking + 1 hr side trip, 10km, 4540m)
We finally arrived at the foot of the Thorung (or "Phedi" in Nepali) and the lodges were a buzz with Pass talk. Some groups were setting of at 4:00am to get a jump on the weather (you shouldn't cross the pass after 10:00am as it gets too windy and cold); 6:00am sounded early enough for us. To escape the chaos we had one last go at acclimatizing, and booted it up 400 metres to "high camp" (the last place to stay before the top). We were hit with a face-full of snow and an even more bitter "breeze". All we could think was thank god we're not sleeping up here (we were down where it was warm... -15)! And thus... bring on tomorrow!!!!

Day 9: "F***, F***, F***!!!"
(Thurong Phedi --> Muktinath - 5 hrs walking, 16km, 4450m-->5416m-->3800m)
After waking up at 4:30am (although I don't know if you could call what we did in the night sleeping), and laying there freezing for a bit Cory and I decided to get up and start the long hike up the pass. We left at 5:30am in the dark and cold. I'll describe the hike in 3 different sections as they all carry there own emotions:
Uphill (the first 3 hours): "Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, freezing, toes numb, snot dripping down my face, cannot feel my face, cannot breath, fuck, fuck, fuck".
The Pass (at 5516m): Amazing views, sooooo nice to be at the top, we celebrate with a quick piece of chocolate (thanks Jude and Rob) and then head down to try to get warm and rid of the headaches and slightly nauseous feeling... but AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING!!!
Downhill (1.6km) - "Sweet, smooth sailing, no more uphill..." and then two hours later... "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, pain in knees, and toes falling off, fuck, fuck, fuck".
Finally we arrive in Muktinath, have a hot shower, eat, feel great and are heading to "Bob Marley's Pub" (who would have thought???) to meet fellow summiters for beers... or a beer, before we all pass out.

Day 10: "Done and Done"
(Muktinath --> Eklaibhatti - 3 hrs walking + 1.5 hrs side trip, 16km, 2740m)
We slept until 8:00am and left at 9:45am, our latest start thus far. We started our LONG descent (of 6 days) pumped after flying over the pass. It had been a brutal 35 minutes of gentle downhill when we threw our packs down and dove into the trail mix. Two hours later we threw our packs down again and ordered apple and vegetable momos, and then pounded a pack of coconut cookies. That was it. The pass caught up to us and we were officially exhausted. We did manage to stroll to the next town (sans packs) to get a glimpse of the Valley of Upper Mustang, a Tibetan resettlement area still ruled by a king and forbidden to foreigners to enter. Maybe tomorrow we will make it a little farther; and maybe not.

Day 11: "Marpha's Vineyard"
(Eklaibhatti --> Marpha - 3 hrs walking, 13km, 2400m)
After dying the first half of the day we stopped hiking after lunch when we found another heaven called Marpha (I think it was our bodies that told us to stop or else it was the amazing apple crumble we found again). We decided to rename this trek the Apple Crumble Trail and indulged heavily, loving every bite. Cory and I also decided this is the way to trek; no carrying tents or setting them up, and no cooking any meals! The villages on the upper portion of this side of the circuit are struggling due to the new road completed 2 years ago. Supply prices have dropped dramatically, but so has tourism (because no one wants to hike on a road), and some smaller villages are now almost completely deserted (not to be confused by us with "desserted").
Day 12: "Almost out of Ghasa"
(Marpha --> Ghasa - 6.5 hrs walking, 24km, 2010m)
We managed another 24 km day, but barely. With an hour left to go we almost had our first full blown breakdown. I won't mention any names but the only thing that kept her going was a throw down of coconut cookies and dried apples and a midget Sherpa offering to carry her bag for the rest of the day (I won't mention his name either). But we made it, and after seeing the breakdownee's blistered toes at the days end, I'm not quite sure how; she's a tough one that Thomas girl!

Day 13: "Feeling hot, hot, hot!!"
(Ghasa --> Tatopani - 4 hrs walking, 13km, 1190m)
Welcome back to "Swelter-ville"... and we even sweat going down all day! We cruised in to our destination midday, leaving us plenty of time to visit the local bakery (of course), local hot springs (which our bodies thanked us for), and "chilled" with two other Canucks throwing back beers (which our minds thanked us for) and Euchre matches. Now this is trekking!

Day 14: "Welcome to the Jungle"
(Tatopani --> Banthati, 7.5 hrs walking, 24km (19km/2000m uphill), 2520m)
Well shit, we wished we had Guns and Roses blaring all day, it might have helped us walk up the 19 fucking km. There's no other way to describe it than it was brutal. 1300m up before lunch and another 700 m after, sounds fun doesn't it? Kristin was an animal who booked it up in record time (and almost got attacked by an enormous monkey). I finally met my match and was cursing and dying at every switchback on the back nine. Why are we so god damn competitive?

Day 15: "The Annapurna Diet"
(Bhantati --> Chomrong - 5 hrs walking, 16km, 2050m)
We thought we would share with you our healthy diet for the last 15 days:
Breakfast: Tsampa porridge (barley, flour, water and sugar) and Tibetan Bread (fried dough)
Snack: 2 packs of butter crackers with peanut butter or handfuls of trail mix
Lunch: Boiled potatoes (6 full potatoes each), and fried macaroni (yes, you can fry macaroni - who knew?)
Snack: A pack of coconut cookies each (the only cookies available on the trek if you didn't guess)
Dinner:- Dal Baht (rice, Dal, potato curry and a Papadum) - 2 full plates of each

Day 16: "Tips fr the Trekker"
(Chomrong --> Bichook Deurali, 5.5 hrs walking, 15km, 2100m)
We've come a long way, seen alot of sights, and learned alot of lessons. Here are our top trekking tips for a successful journey:
1. If your shit freezes to the toilet, kick it down with your shoe.
2. Always make sure you get a papad with your Dal baht.
3. Up sucks. Down sucks. Flat doesn't exist.
4. The Atkins diet is load of shit.
5. Earplugs are the most important piece of equipment to carry.
6. Groups are fucking slow.
7. Porters are not human, they can't be.
8. "Sweet" is a Nepali kid's version of "hello".
9. Cabbage is heavenly when it's the only veggie for miles.
10. Before accepting a room, feel the bed, test the light switch, check the roof, then ask for a discount. It only makes sense.

Day 17: "It's a long way down..."
(Bichook Deurali --> Phedi - 2.5 hrs walking, 7km, 1100m)
After waking up to a rooster/cow ensemble and a sweaty 3 hours downhill, we did it! We finished the 17 day, 261 km Annapurna Circuit! The latter half of the day was spent handing off our repulsive laundry, indulging in fruit salad, napping and laying around. Thanks for following us through this ridiculous adventure! And now, with mixed emotions, we're going to get drunk!

We Did It!!!!!

After 17 days, Over 250 km, blisters, diarrhea, dal bhat, buffalo, yaks, snow, rain, sun, hail, mountains, glaciers, jungle, hills, rivers and too many up and downs to count Cory and I have completed the Annapurna Circuit!!!!!!!! More details to come (so get excited cause we are:-)

Monday, March 30, 2009

So sorry for no pics!

Hey all!
We have many a picture to show but have run short of time between treks. We are off on an 18-day jaunt, after which pictures will be our first priority! So sorry again!
Miss you all!
Love K and C

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hey Macarena, Macarena, Macarena

I don't know where to start with this blog post - so much has happened in the last two weeks. Judy and Rob and the Canadian students arrived in Kathmandu with a bang and a bit of culture shock. I don't know what was more overwhelming, the traffic and lack of any kind of road rules, the burning fires on the streets, lack of power (currently there is only four hours of electricity a day in Kathmandu bc of water shortages), the no toilet paper in the toilet rule, or just everything being the exact opposite of Canada!!!

After three days of craziness in the city, we headed out to the ten day hike in the Helambu region. I don't know what was heavier the clothes in all the packs of the amount of chocolate and junk food the kids bought for the hike. I think they were anticipating NO FOOD in the hills. I swear they each had at least 15 chocolate bars and packs of cookies, but shortly after the first day they starting to realize how heavy everything was and were unloading the junk to anyone willing (luckily Cory and I were willing:-) I was thinking it was a smart thing to do until at every lodge we stayed at for the next nine nights they proceeded to buy the lodge and village out of all chocolate and cookies available. I have never seen people consume so many Mars and Snickers in my life - it was quite impressive. I don't know if it was because of the multitude of choices for each meal (Dal bhat for dinner and noodle soup and potatoes for lunch every day) that caused the chocolate crave but whatever it was it was keeping the villages in business for the next 10 years.

The Hike was beautiful, although after having no rain for six months we were lucky enough to have rain every day for a at least three hours and a few storms to boot. We stopped by many schools that Judy and Rob and the kids had fund raised for and brought supplies too. In Sermatang the last stop and the home of the Yangerma school that Judy and Rob had supported until it was closed by the Moaist in 2001 (they bombed the school and wrecked everything in it, as well as told them they had to close the school). Previous students presented Judy and Rob and the students with a ceremony recognizing their support. They are re-opening the school on April 14 this year after being shut down for the past 8 years, due to civil conflict so we wish them the best of luck!!

The town also held a special cultural night for us to attend to. It was all going well as the villages taught us their cultural dance until they ended it and turned to us Canadians saying - "Now Your Turn!". So what do the Canadians come up with to teach as our cultural dance??? The Macarena, The Chicken Dance and The Hookie Pookey!!! The women loved it!! There we were up at 3,000 metres doing the Macarena with the villagers......who would have thought!

It was an amazing time, we loved every minute of it and can't wait to get out hiking again (well sort of:-)

Love K and C

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Don't be a fool... stay in School!

The students at "Somata" School in Kathmandu, Nepal certainly know this! Yesterday there was a boy in grade 6 that was called over by the principal... she began looking through his hair as though she was searching for lice... and then she grabbed his hair with all her might and pulled! She tugged and tugged as she yelled many probably bad things in Nepali, and then made him stand like a soldier. At this point, all the other students and teachers gathered around. "Hands by your side!" she yelled; "hands by your side!" she screamed again. Finally, the boy (Vikash is his name) lowered his hands, because he knew what was coming. I walked over to another teacher and whispered, "what the heck's going on?" All of a sudden, one hand across the face, then a second! After the third slap she pushed the boy toward the entrance of the school and the guard opened the gates. She grabbed his bag and threw it outside the school! Then she pushed him again, even though he's much bigger then her. Slowly, with each forceful push, she moved him closer and closer to the door, where he clearly did not want to go. Then, finally, after this went on for about 5 minutes, he picked up his bag and ran out. "Principal Miss found dye in his hair", whispered the teacher beside me; "this is unacceptable behaviour in a formal school".

Viskash returned later that afternoon with chunks of his hair cut out. He looked pretty silly, but he knew it was worth looking foolish to be allowed back to the only place he could go during the day that would give him a chance at a good job in the future. He even said to me that afternoon, "It was a bad thing I did; I'm sorry Sir". For being one of the most popular kids at school and not the greatest student (he would be in grade 8 if he hadn't failed two years in a row), he was pretty ashamed. But all of the students are like this here. They know that without an education, they either end up farming like their parents, or picking up garbage for a living. So staying in school doesn't seem like such a boring choice.

Plus, Somata School only makes them pay 100 Rupees per month to attend (or $1.60 Canadian). Pretty good deal compared to 1000 Rupees at most other schools. It's not easy though; they are brought in front of the entire school and whacked across the face if they do something bad- as many times as necessary too. They have one final exam at the end of the year in each subject; if they fail that, it's back to the same grade the next year. That goes for kindergarten students too! There school is built entirely of Bamboo so they are constantly chasing out owls, mice, birds and dogs which easily make their way into the cozy classrooms for a good night's sleep. And to top it all off, the students only get 2 weeks of holidays all year!!!

Nevertheless, the students are all happy and work extremely hard. They still complain about school sometimes like Canadian students do, and they enjoy the same things like watching movies, playing sports, eating junk food, and just hanging out and bugging each other. And of course, they're all fascinated by my ridiculous hair! So enjoy knowing that even though all the countries around the world are very different from one another, the kids living in them are exactly the same!

Love K and C

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Yo Yo Yoga!

She's twisting, she's turning, she's tumbling, she's tooting, she's throwing up... no she's not on a bus ride... she's doing Yoga!!!

For the past 2 weeks, Kristin has been winding her way to her most flexible form to date. She does 2 sessions of physical Yoga every day, as well as 1 session of breathing yoga, 1 of relaxation yoga (I mean seriously...) and 1 of chanting yoga! She was a bit bored at first, but now she's found her Chakras and is working her "Yojo" while enjoying wonderfully healthy cuisine. And if that's not enough to make you drool (of what I'm not quite sure), she also does daily nasal cleansings (by pouring a teapot of hot water in one nostril and out the other), abdominal cleansings (by drinking warm water and sticking her finger down her throat to make herself barf), and weekly intestinal cleansings (by drinking 8 cups of salt water, doing 32 yoga poses and then shitting 5 times in an hour)! Not your cup of tea? Well apparently it is for her, as around the clock Ginger Tea is part of the ritual as well!

I like to call it Yoga Prison, but she refers to it as a "Way of Life". Hey, either way, look out Canada, because here comes a Yoga Instructor extraordinaire! She's ready and willing to help you get your Karma in full swing when we return!! (And she might even give you one session free... if her Buddhist side permits!)
Three deep meditative cheers for Yoga!

Love C and K (the Yoganator)

Final photos of India!

Hey all!
We'll send some "Yoga Yoddles" shortly! Just wanted to get these final India photos up from our last stop in Varanasi!
Love K and C

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

India?? Why Not!! (by Michael Thomas)

India is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural place. I want to tell you some of the things I learned about this country in my three week visit.

I learned: that everyone can speak Hindi and at least all of the following English phrases:
"What country you from", "You Name", "As you wish", "Welcome to my country", "You are my family", "Just touch", and "How much".
I learned: that no matter what or how much you give a beggar, it is never enough and they ask for more.
I learned: that the over 36 million gods they have in the Hindu religion aren't helping them have better lives here on earth.
I learned: that the Ganges is truly a holy river - people swim and wash in the sewage and feces intoxicated water and no harm comes to them (Pat and Kristin bathed in a clean area of the Ganges and are still alive and healthy).
I learned: the the Himalayas are as beautiful and as high as I imagined.
I learned: that wild monkeys consider me a threat and they will attack if I tease them.
I learned: that camels can run as fast as horses and fart more often than me.
I learned: that elephants (called "maatis" in Hindi) are considered good luck - and you need that when you ride them "bareback" holding on to their ears.
I learned: where the saying "Holy Cow" comes from - also where the expression "Holy Shit" comes from.
I learned: that "yoga" is a tough workout - and after I do it I need to meditate restfully.
I learned: that working 12 - 14 hours a day, seven days a week for about $2.00 a day requires Indian people to have arranged marriages - they have no time or money for dating.
I learned: that if you have no thoughts of improving your life or this world because the better after-life awaits you - then why worry about polluting the air, land and water.
I learned: that these Indians are not "aboriginal Canadians" or "native Americans".
I learned: that these Indians "want to be white faces" - their commercials and ads feature the whitest Indians that can be found and they love having their photos taken with "white faces from the west" particularly young women like Kristin.
I learned: that "use horns" literally means to use their horns every minute of the day and night when they are driving. There is no such thing as using car signals and having silence on the roads. The louder the better.
I learned: that roads are not only for cars and trucks. They are meant to be shared by dogs, cows, pigs, camels, elephants, bicycles, bikerickshaws, autorickshaws, as well as your normal cars and trucks - and don't forget people, of course.
I learned: that it takes about 3 hours to burn a dead body and that the chest of a man and the hips of a woman are the last to burn and that this is the local tourist attraction in Varanassi.
I learned: that your children really do grow up and become responsible adults and that it can be nice to have them in charge for a change.
I learned: (not really) but it was confirmed, that we truly love our children and it is wonderful to be able to share a truly unique holiday with them. Thank you so much Kristin and Cory. You know that we love you.

Michael Thomas

Friday, February 13, 2009


Tons of new pics folks!


Love K and C

KO'd in Kathmandu!

Hey all!

Well, we finally made it to Nepal! What a nice change, still lots of horns and lots of pollution, but a hell of a lot better than India, and nobody yelling "look my shop"! Our first impression of Nepali's is a great one!

We went out for a nice dinner last night (still craving the Indian food ;-) and got back home and crashed... quite literally. It was about 1:00am when I started barfing and about 2:00am when Kristin so lovingly joined me and added some shitting too! I almost feel sorry for the toilet. I'm up and moving slowly, but Kristin is still out for the count 16 hours later. Hopefully by tomorrow we'll be back in action.

We went to see the school where I'll be teaching a couple of days ago... what a difference from Maitreya! You can really see that Maitreya has some serious financial backing, as the entire school is constructed of Bamboo! But the kids are sooooooooo much more adorable (they will melt your heart once we get some pics of them sent to you)! Due to midterm exams, I will now actually begin one week later, which ends up working out great as an opportunity came up for me to teach an English course to 120 taxi drivers for 3 hours a day over the next 2 weeks! Really quite exciting.

Tomorrow we're having dinner with Karma and Neema, dear family friends of Judy, Rob, Vera, Russ, Kailee and Jamie, and then Sunday Kristin and I will head out to her ashram to say goodbye!

We hope you are all well and not barfing or shitting, and we miss you all dearly!

More to come,
Love K and C

P.S. For those of you following at home: Delhi --> Rishikesh --> Delhi --> Udaipur --> Pushkar --> Jaipur --> Agra --> Delhi --> Varanasi --> Delhi --> Kathmandu, Nepal!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lessons from India

Throughout our travels in India we have learned many things and wanted to share them with all of you, in case you shall ever travel here.

1. If you ask somone a question and they answer by nodding their head side to side, it can mean yes, no, maybe or I have no idea what the hell you are talking about.
2. Road Rules = There are none
3. If it is faster it is perfectly okay to drive against traffic in the wrong lane on the highway (or any other road for that matter).
4. Just becuase the Lonely Planet says there is a bank machine in a town does not mean they are right.
5. If in fact Lonely Planet is right and there is a bank machine, always remember in order for it to work you need electricity. If for some reason the whole three days you are staying in a town and there is no electircy for that time it does not matter if there is a bank machine. This will result in you walking up and down the main road looking for some guy name Pappa who owns a shoe store who will convert your american dollars to Indian Ruppees for a small commission.
6. If it burns going in, it is going to burn coming out.
7. If there are 5 seats in a car you multiply that by 5 and that's how many should be in the car at all times.
8. It's rude not to stare.
9. You don't need to ask where the public toilet is, it's everywhere.
10. Horns are a genre of music.
11. If the job can be done by hiring one person, hire ten.
12. There is always a boy who will do it.
13. Buy a car with no rear view mirrors (this will avoid the hassle of them getting ripped off - and yes they do make them).
14. Bicycles rule pedestrians, autorickshaws rule bicycles, cars rule autorickshaws, trucks rule cars, buses rules trucks, and cows rule all.
15. Looking is Free!!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Hike with Mike...

So there are a few things you need to know when trekking with Mr. William Michael Thomas in the Indian Himalayas. I will now list them for you in no particular order, other than the fact that each has its own special significance, especially when assigned with the task of "bringing him back safe"; or at all, in my case.

Number 1: Shitting on the side of the trekking path is a goal, not an imposition. Thus, to save face (your own), ensure to recommend a time that will be of least embarrassment to oneself, and that has ample vegetation for wiping, in case toilet paper is forgotten.
Number 2: Speaking other languages that haven't been spoken in a long time or at all (such as Dutch or Hindi), makes for very meaningful conversation. This is especially true when learning or repeating curse words, and discussing in depth issues that you know nothing about, even in your own language.
Number 3: Pretending you are a National Geographic wildlife photographer and disappearing into the forest for an undisclosed amount of time to capture wild Languor monkeys is lots of fun. In so doing, it is crucial to put one's life at risk, even if it means leaving your guardian (me) on the side of the road for 30 minutes, as well as having sticks and fruits thrown down at you by an entire troupe of untamed (and wickedly large) monkeys.
Number 4: Wearing the same socks for 4 days straight is mandatory only if you have been hiking and sweating in them for the entire 4 day period. This way, no wildlife will bother you when you retire to your tent at night, and any humans that are in your presence will silently slip into a "aromatic" coma for the night.
Number 5: It is important to wear only a t-shirt at all times when in the Himalayan Mountains. This serves 3 purposes; first, it shows all others that you are indeed "cold-blooded" as you suggest; second, it reminds others that Canadians are tough, even when it is snowing out and the locals are in scraves and jackets; and third, it allows the t-shirt ample time to dry if you have an excessive sweating condition that causes you to sweat even when no one else does.

These are all important lessons that I learned from Mike at 41oo meters. On our absolutely beautiful hike, I'm still not quite sure which was more difficult; trekking or babysitting?!?!?!
Love Mike and Cory

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Initiation into India

Sorry for the delay in getting to all of you but we have been very busy with all of our touring, eating and shopping.
Well we asked for an ashram and we got ashram - including the dal three meals a day and basic room and board!! At least it wasn't too spicy. A good intro for my system. After the first Yoga lesson at our place which was a little different and we decided was just okay we met a Swedish woman (also a trained yoga instructor) who was staying at our ashram. She was also dissapointed with the yoga and agreed to give us yoga lessons whenever and wherever we wanted. What a bonus. We had most of them on a platform right at the beach. It was fabulous. She was excellent and we fell in love with yoga again. There is nothing better than doing yoga on the beach with a flutist in the background and the sun setting in the distance. Our instructor, Brienne, was excellent. She was a great teacher and a really nice person. We did yoga in the morning and then again late afternoon. We could feel the difference between the beginning and end and we were very sorry to finish. When we get home I really want to get back into the yoga. It is so good for the body and soul. Another treat for us were the massages. We had three while we were there and they topped off our stay. Of course, we managed to get in a bit of shopping. We also toured the now falling apart ashram where the Beatles made the White Album. Walking on the streets outside of the ashram was another experience. Where else in the world would you have people walking, biking and on motorcycles along with dogs and cows. And the garbage is everywhere and that is what the animals eat, even the holy cow. There are horns going every minute of the day and night to warn you that a vehicle of some type is approaching from the rear. According to Kristin and Cory the ashram and the town of Rishikesh was a gradual initiation into India and it was a good start. It was also a great way for the two of us to spend some time together. It was very relaxing and what could be more Indian than yoga:-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

More pics!

Hope these keep you busy while we catch up with Mike and Pat!
Love K and C

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Student Profiles!

We thought you might want to get up close and personal with our former students to see what their lives are really like! Here are a few profiles that you can view from interviews we did with the students! Enjoy!
Love K and C

Good Bye Bodhgaya

After seven amazing weeks in Bodhgaya we are leaving to board the train to Delhi to meet the folks!!!!!! We have loved our home away from home and hoped you have liked learning about Maitreya School. Thanks to everyone who made our stay so enjoyable!
We will write again soon from the Big City.
Love K and C
For those of you following at home: Bodhgaya --> Varanasi --> Sarnath --> Bodhgaya

Lessons from India

Throughout our travels in India we have learned many things and wanted to share them with all of you, in case you shall ever travel here.

  1. If you ask somone a question and they answer by nodding their head side to side, it can mean yes, no, maybe or I have no idea what the hell you are talking about.
  2. Road Rules = There are none
  3. If it is faster it is perfectly okay to drive against traffic in the wrong lane on the highway (or any other road for that matter).
  4. Just becuase the Lonely Planet says there is a bank machine in a town does not mean they are right.
  5. If in fact Lonely Planet is right and there is a bank machine, always remember in order for it to work you need electricity. If for some reason the whole three days you are staying in a town and there is no electircy for that time it does not matter if there is a bank machine. This will result in you walking up and down the main road looking for some guy name Pappa who owns a shoe store who will convert your american dollars to Indian Ruppees for a small commission.
  6. If it burns going in, it is going to burn coming out.
  7. If there are 5 seats in a car you multiply that by 5 and that's how many should be in the car at all times.
  8. It's rude not to stare.
  9. You don't need to ask where the public toilet is, it's everywhere.
  10. Horns are a genre of music.
  11. If the job can be done by hiring one person, hire ten.
  12. There is always a boy who will do it.
  13. Buy a car with no rear view mirrors (this will avoid the hassle of them getting ripped off - and yes they do make them).
  14. Bicycles rule pedestrians, autorickshaws rule bicycles, cars rule autorickshaws, trucks rule cars, buses rules trucks, and cows rule all.
  15. Looking is Free!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An even littler man...

What do you get when you throw together 10,000 people from various Asian countries, 1100 Westerners, 10,000 Tibetan nuns and monks, a 5 acre area of dirt laid over with plastic tarps, 100 loudspeakers from 1965 shouting things in Tibetan, no instructions about registration or teaching times, 200 Indian beggars all crowding for a Rupee, fog so thick you can't see more than a bus length in front of you, no pre-warning of needing passport-sized photos and photocopies of your documents, three 1.5km long lines side-by-side leading to 1 door half the size of your average Canadian, 2 metal detectors operated by 4 security guards, no rules of engagement for locals selling food, sweets, mats, jewelery, and fm radios, every rickshaw in a 4 million person city trying to make a buck, 9 homemade port-a-potty's, and no talking.............
NOTHING! You get absolute and total cooperation because you're dealing with 21,000 Buddhists who's only concern is listening to an amazing leader half their size and twice as happy!!!
That's about as vivid a description we can give for listening to the Dalai Lama in Sarnath, India (a tiny Buddhist holy site beside Varanasi). The setup was quite incredible and the tent that was erected to cover 5 acres... my goodness, Indians should definitely get into the events business back home! Sitting cross-legged amongst 20,000 others in silence while tuning into your amazing English translator on your tiny FM Radio is something to experience. After the morning chanting ends, which is some of the most unbelievable vocal music you'll ever hear (the best description I can give is it sounds very close to a didgeridoo), the 100-monk-troupe of appointed butter tea and Tibetan bread givers literally take off (yes, full-on sprinting), and manage to serve tea and bread to 21,000 people in 24 minutes flat! Kristin and I walked back one day to the tea hut (or factory if you will) to get a behind the scenes glimpse; the one tea "pot" we could see was laying on its side with 2 monks INSIDE on their hands and knees washing it out! And there were 3 of those suckers!!! And on top of all of that, there he sits, the happiest little monk in the world, simply content with just being, teaching adults about how to be happy and how to make others happy! And even though he's projected over the speakers in Tibetan and you can't understand a word, when he laughs, so do 21,000 others!!!

Namaste friends!
Love K and C

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Computers anyone????

We thought we'd ask you all since that's as good a place to start as any, if any of you know of any company (maybe the one you work for:-) that may have around 16 computers that they are getting rid of because they are old (but still work) or even better would like to buy 16 new computers and donate them to the school we are working at in Bodhgaya, India. Currently there is only 5 very, very old computers that hardly work and our Principle (and us) were thinking how amazing it would be if there could be one computer in each class for the kids to use. If anyone may have any ideas about getting computers donated please let us know!!!

Thanks so much and miss you all lots!!

love k and c

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

S-c-h-o-o-l'-s out for winter!

That's right ladies and gentlemen! After one day back from the holiday break, the government has closed all schools in the state of Bihar for another week due to cold and fog! Very sadly, one of the evening school students at our school passed away over the holidays due to an extended fever (due to the constant dampness and cold it is presumed - he was 15 years old); the government is unaware of this situation, so it is unlikely that this caused the closure, but assumingly it is to prevent such horrible tragedies from happening.

Nevertheless, the students are back to the break, and we are off to Varanassi today with our principal and Kabir-Sir (the other monk/teacher that lives with us), along with probably every other westerner and monk in Bodhgaya to hear FREE teachings from... you guessed it: His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself!!! The opportunity was just to good to pass up!!! And Doug just informed me that there is streaming video of the teachings on, starting on Thursday! (I know, he's so nouveau!)
Miss you all and hope you have a wonderful week! We've posted some school photos just to keep you busy until we get back! ;-)
Love K and C

Sunday, January 4, 2009

We're like, so Zen!

Well, if we learned one thing from our retreat, it's that we'll sure as hell never be true Buddhists because we both have too big an attachment to peanut butter!!! (And chocolate, samosas, nice clothes, Christmukka, each other, the Internet, cable TV, being unemployed, nachos, and peanut m&m's)!! Other than that though, we're both diggin' the Dalai (Lama)!

The 6 day retreat (which turned into 8 - hence the mysterious disappearance on New Year's Eve) was much more than we bargained for. A typical day started with a wake-up gong at 6:00am, morning meditation at 6:45am, breakfast at 7:30am (they made their own peanut butter, which I now have a nice little bodily store of in case I don't eat for 12 days), morning teachings from 9-11:00am, yoga at 11:15am, lunch at 12:00pm, discussion group at 2:00pm (the wonderous hour of the day when retreaters were allowed to talk!), tea break at 3:00pm, afternoon meditation at 3:30pm, stories from Buddha's time at 4:15pm, afternoon teachings at 5:15pm, dinner at 6:15pm, evening meditation at 7:15pm, and then the glorious hours of sleep anytime after 8:00pm!!! 6 days which started to feel like ground hog day at the end, but ended up giving real meaning and purpose to our lives!

Now don't get us wrong, we're not going to go all Buddhist on all of you and never have a bad thought again (in fact, I'm having a few right now), but we will never forget the experience neither. What we learned in 6 days we've been trying to figure out our whole lives; the secret to happiness. Honestly, we know it now, and will be happy to share it with you for a small donation to our travel fund of a mere $5,000,000 Rupees (don't worry; that's like 80 cents or something); but we will definitely try to live by the principles of the Buddhist philosophy. Here's the deal:
  1. Everyone in the world wants to be happy.
  2. You can't control external circumstances, so you should work to try to control yourself.
  3. One's own happiness can be achieved my working to make others happy.
  4. Attachment and aversion to others and objects do not provide lasting happiness.
  5. Creating good Karma has positive effects, creating bad Karma has negative effects.
That's it! That's the secret to a fulfilling existence that we learned in 6 days and have been trying to learn the past 29 years!!! Holy shit is right! Ok, so there's a little more to it than that, but that's really all you need to know (though get us going after a few beers and I'm sure we'll talk your ears off)!

One day before New Year's Eve, the course instructor, Venerable Damshar (a realistic and witty former New York Times economic journalist who ordained in the Tibetan Buddhist Sect. 9 years ago and today lives in Dharmasala, India - currently where His Holiness is also in exile) told us that for those of us that were interested, there was an opportunity to extend our stay with a 2-day meditation retreat at the end. After a long glance at each other and a convincing nod from both of us (using our non-verbal powers), we agreed and took our teacher up on the offer along with 6 others. The next 2 days held more silence and 7 meditations daily let by an Israeli monk (!), Venerable Tamir ... this included 2 walking meditations as well (I only ran into 2 trees which I was pretty pumped about). It was intense, but amazing, and our best meditations of the lot came in the last 3 sessions when we were "in the zone", as our guru liked to say. ;-)

On the last night, Lama Zopa Rinponche (the 3rd highest Lama in Tibetan Buddhism) came to Bodhgaya and stayed at the root institute where our course was being held. He arrived at 1:30am, at which time everyone lit butter lamps and lined the walkways with Katas (prayer shawls). Kristin thought it was absolutely amazing. Me and one of my roomies, Moshe (from Israel), also thought it was pretty cool... but were waiting around a while when people started to hit the sack and butter lamps started going out with no sign of Lama Zopa. We started to feel kinda' bad for the guy as his reception slowly dwindled, until a friend kindly informed us that he had already arrived! Good times. Lama Zopa's still in town, so we'll let you know about future encounters.

All in all, it might end up being the most rewarding 8 days of our trip! Mike, from Edmonton, who was also in the course, shared our sentiments and thought about a great way to let his mom back home know. He was heading into town last we say him to buy monk's clothing for 1200 Rupees (about $30); then, we he arrived back in Edmonton, he was gonna' shave his head, dawn the apparel, and give his mom a big ol' welcome home!

We missed you all New Year's eve and hope it was an auspicious one, no matter where you were!

With loving kindness and compassion,
K and C

P.S. For those of you following at home: --> still in Bodhgaya!!! ;-)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!!! Hope you all had a great night and we were thinking about you all!!!