Vacay with the Mau Fam (Nepal Part 3)

As many of you know, my amazing family came to visit me during the holidays last month. If any of you know my parents and/or older brother, you know hilarity always ensues and many adventures to go with it.

Jeremy arrived first – thankfully, he made it into the country. Some of you might have seen the hilarious conversation on FB that we had before he left the US. For those of you who haven’t seen it, read and laugh:

Me: Jeremy, did you bring a copy of your passport?
Jeremy: What? I need a copy of my passport?
Me: Yeah…I told you this a few days ago.
Jeremy: Whoops. Well, I guess I can’t get into the country. Too late! I’m at the airport now.
Me: *face palm*
Jeremy: I like to live life dangerously
Me: Clearly. *a few mins later* You remembered to bring the CDs, right?
Jeremy: ……………
Me: =.=
Jeremy: I brought my bird whistle!!!
Me: =.= This is why people think I’m older than you.

Can you already tell this is going to be a fun trip? Haha.

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One thing that I was really excited about my family coming was the fact that they would understand precisely what living here is like. You can tell stories and show pictures, but one cannot completely grasp what it’s really like to live in a foreign country unless you’re there yourself.
After grabbing a bite to eat, I asked Jeremy to come grocery shopping with me. Walking anywhere from 10-30 mins to get groceries is normal for me…I made Jeremy carry as many groceries as I could. He wasn’t as excited as I was. Hahaha.

After this, we went to the airport to pick up my parents. We waited for what seemed like forever for them to come out of the airport – for a while, we thought we had missed them, checking up and down the area, making sure they weren’t waiting on some obscure corner. Apparently, it just took them a really long time to get through the visa and immigration lines.
This is when the REAL fun began. My mom, who grew up in a tiny village in Malaysia, but who has been living in the US for the past 30+ years, was not prepared for the ride back home, even though I had prepped her for it.
Mom: Wow, it’s really dusty.
Me: I told you this before you came.
Mom: Yeah, but I didn’t realize it was going to be THIS dusty.
*a minute later*
Mom: Their driving scares me…ahhhhhhh!!! That car was so close!! That motorcycle almost hit us!!!
Me: Mom, calm down…this is nothing.
Me to Jeremy: Good thing we decided not to go to India……………….
Mom: Why?
Me and Jeremy: It’s a lot worse in India.
Mom: REALLY!??!?!??!
Hahahahah.

Anyway, we all made it back in one piece to the B&B we rented close by to my apartment and regrouped. I made everyone walk everywhere, as much as possible. =D

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The next day we lounged around and I showed them the peaks of the Himalayas and the Valley from the roof-top.

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Sunday dawned and we left bright and early for our first adventure – getting to Chitwan. Now, I was told by people that it would roughly take about 5 hrs to get there….except I forgot that you’re supposed to add an hour or two to whatever time they give you to be more accurate, just because it’s Nepal and that’s how things work here. Yes, it took us 7 hrs. It was not a delightful 7 hrs either, unfortunately. The scenery was beautiful; however, all of us got really car sick due to the nature of the driver and road.
But, let me back up.
About an hour into our drive we came to a fork in the road and our driver stopped and told us there were two ways to get to Chitwan. The road to the right would only (in theory) take 4 hours, but there would be a lot of traffic jams and it would be very hot. The road to the left would take 3 extra hours, but there would be no traffic jams and the scenery would be very pretty since it went through the mountains. As we contemplated this, the driver said, “Ok! We take the mountain route!!” And promptly drove up the road to the left. Lol. In hindsight, it was probably a good thing as I found out later that the road to the right routinely is closed from 10:30am-3pm for construction. We would have be stuck there for a VERY long time if we had gone that way and not made it through before they closed the road.
As I said, the mountainous road was beautiful, but we were all carsick from the winding roads, the bumpiness, and the stop and go of the driver’s driving. You can imagine our relief when we finally arrived to our hotel in Chitwan.

The only cool thing about taking the mountainous route was that we were able to stop and take pictures of the beautiful Himalayan range!

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Between the jetlag and carsickness, Mom and Jeremy knocked out for a good portion of the trip. If they weren’t sleeping, they were asking if we were there yet. I felt like the parent instead of the kid! Lol.

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We witnessed a beautiful sunset over the river and jungle that night and spotted crocodiles hunting in the river. Here, you can see the gharial crocodiles – the ones with the very narrow snouts.

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The next morning, Jeremy woke me up before dawn and we took photos from the roof top and also walked around the surrounding village snapping photos.

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He forgot his bird whistle in the room, but that didn’t stop him from making bird noises with his hands. =.=

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After breakfast, we jumped into the back of a truck and were whisked away to our first adventure – elephant riding through the jungle.
Mom was a little overwhelmed with everything at that point and yelled, “TOO MUCH ADVENTURE!!!!” as I died laughing.

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Here’s a little disclaimer about riding elephants. A lot of you have heard about the tragic reality of the elephant riding exploitation happening, especially in Thailand. I have personally ridden elephants in Thailand before I found out about this and experienced firsthand how they treat them. I will not be riding elephants in Thailand anymore and hope that you will make an educated decision not to as well. So, now you’re probably wondering why I decided it was OK to ride elephants in Nepal. To be clear, I wasn’t all that thrilled to participate in this, however, I chose to go ahead with it because: I had heard they treated elephants better here, my parents – especially Mom – was excited to ride one, it was part of the package deal. Yes, I know those are HORRIBLE reasons, but I let it slide this one time. Although, they still don’t treat the elephants like they should, it was a lot better than Thailand. If you’re interested in this matter, I encourage you to research about it and make your own decision. *end disclaimer*

We climbed on our elephant and went slowly gallivanting into the jungle (Can you even “slowly” gallivant? Is that a thing?). The whole time leading up to this day, my family had been joking about what we would see. Jeremy, of course really wanted to see tigers, which is very rare, but occasionally happens. I had told them that we would hopefully see rhinos, but if we were unlucky, I joked that we’d only see birds. Haha. We kept our fingers crossed.

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Thankfully, we were very lucky during our elephant ride and saw not one, but SEVEN rhinos that day (on and off the elephant)! It was so exciting to be able to see rhinos in the wild and so peacefully eating grass while we were on the elephant. It felt like they had a mutual understanding with each other, which was really cool. In addition to rhinos, we were able to see spotted deer, peacocks, and crocodiles sunning themselves on the riverbank.

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After lunch, we had a few hours to kill, so we decided to rent bicycles and ride around the area and take pictures.

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Dad was particularly excited that there were so many water buffaloes around the area. Why? B/c he ADORES the VeggieTales’ “The Water Buffalo Song” from Silly Songs with Larry. If anyone of you know that song, you’ll know it’s pretty hilarious and definitely silly, which makes it even more funny that dad loves the song. So, of course he wanted to take a picture with the water buffalo when we stopped.

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Once again, we jumped into the back of the truck (this time, my mom was more relaxed) and got into a long carved wooden boat with a group of tourists from China.

I will not rant about tourists from China…..but, just know I have strong feelings towards the majority of them. I have worked in the tourism industry before and have personally dealt with them, in addition to being thrown in their groups at times as a tourist, etc. As individuals, they are great people. As groups……they can be very trying. We’ll just leave it at that. Haha.

With that in mind, we took a nice cruise down the river and spotted a lot of crocodiles sunning themselves on the riverbank as well as other cool birds. I was very stressed out the whole time, mainly because of Jeremy enabling one of the other tourists who we will dub, “Selfie Girl.” Selfie Girl, who not only took many selfies and other pictures with her selfie stick, sat a few seats ahead of us and felt the need to leeaaannnnnn whenever she switched taking pictures on either side. This caused the boat to lean dangerously to whatever side she was leaning. Mind you, this is a hallowed out wooden boat, and with so many people in it, it was riding very low. Jeremy, thought this was really great, especially since he knew how stressed out this lady was making me, so he would leeeeaaannnnnnn to whichever side she was leaning, which in turn caused me to lean as FAR as I could to the opposite side so we wouldn’t tip over. I’m so glad Jeremy enjoyed the river cruise. =.=

In the picture below, you can see Jeremy’s head on the very left leaning, me on the very right trying not to lean to the left at all, and then you can see Selfie Girl leaning alllll the way to the left with her camera. Yes, she had an actual camera in addition to her phone/selfie stick. 

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After the river cruise, our family, along with half of the group, went on a jungle trek. Since their tour guide left with the people that went back to the hotel, Mom became the official translator for the China group. Before we embarked into the jungle, our guide told us what to do in the event we met up with any of the four dangerous animals during our trek.

1. Elephant – hide. (I think there was another option, but can’t remember it atm.)
2. Rhino – run in zig-zags, hide, or climb a tree.
3. Sloth bear (which is a bear, not a sloth) – stand in a group and make a LOT of noise.
4. Tiger – stare at it until it backs down (show them who’s boss) or climb a tree. (I actually don’t know if climbing a tree was part of what to do, but it might be….don’t quote me on that. I don’t want to get sued if you get attacked by a tiger in a tree because they might be able to climb trees…..hahaha.)

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Don’t worry, that’s just a herd of water buffalo…no dangerous animals! Lol.

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Once we got that squared away, we went our merry way into the jungle. We spotted a rhino in one of the watering holes, but it was far off and didn’t pose a threat to us. We also saw a lot of birds and deer.

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About 2/3rds into our trek, the guide asked us to be VERY quiet as he showed us fresh sloth bear tracks. If you’re not aware….China people are NOT very good at being quiet for very long, nor do they know how to whisper. There was a LOT of shushing during the trek. It was a bit comical, come to think of it. At the very end of the trek, our guide allowed us to talk again and told us that if we had been 2 minutes early, we would probably have been able to see the sloth bear, but he wasn’t sure if there was one or two. If there had been two, they might have tried to attack! Glad we made it out in one piece!

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Our adventure in Chitwan had come to a close and the next morning we were off to Pokhara.

This time, I had everyone mentally prepare for a 7 hr journey. It actually would have taken us 5 hrs, but we got stuck in two traffic jams due to construction. The first time, big boulders fell down the cliff….which was really exciting for my parents to witness. The second time, we couldn’t see all the action so we got out of the car and walked around and almost left Jeremy because all the cars started moving once the road cleared and he almost had to jump into a moving car. Haha. Although, the road wasn’t as winding as the road from Kathmandu to Chitwan, it was extremely bumpy since a good portion of it wasn’t paved. Think: rocky dirt roads. For 5 hrs. Yeah, once again, we were really grateful when we arrived.

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One of the popular things to do in Pokhara is go up to Sarangkot and watch the sunrise. We got there at 6:30am to wait for the sunrise that never came. It was too cloudy. Whomp whomp. Some of the other people there had already been there for more than an hour before we arrived!

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Our driver took as around the area to see some of the touristy sights.

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Peace Pagoda.

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Underside of Devi’s Falls. During the monsoon season, this area is closed off as there is too much water and it is dangerous.

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Jeremy loves bargaining with the little shops.

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Another thing that Jeremy loves to do is make up conversations in Chinese and practice them over and over again whenever he pleases. He had a whole dialogue (yes, a dialogue, not a monologue, with himself) about diving when we were in Malaysia and drove all of us crazy when he would practice. This time, he changed the topic to jungle trekking – inspired by our recent adventure. It was pretty hilarious. Neither of us speak fluently (Jeremy understands even less than I do), so this makes it even more hilarious when he busts out in Chinese.

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The next morning, our parents went off to go ziplining (which I had done the last time I was in Pokhara) while Jeremy and I went off to go tandem paragliding. Apparently, paragliding is a big thing there, so we decided, why not? Best and worst mistake ever.

But first, check out this cute puppy!

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After being picked up and then waiting at their office for an hour, we (Jeremy and I, three other guests, the five pilots, and the driver) crammed into their SUV and made the journey up to the launching site. When we got to the top, there were a lot of companies there already waiting for the weather conditions to be just right. We sat around, watching the pairs taking off…and trying not to laugh at the ones that failed (I know, I’m a horrible person). After a while, Jeremy got hungry and we decided to get a bowl of noodle soup at the shack nearby. For some reason, it took them forever just to make two bowls of soup, so we had to rush and eat it as our pilots were starting to set up our parachutes (I think they’re technically called “wings”, but, for the sake of simplicity, I will call them parachutes).

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We shoveled our food in our mouths and then ran back out to get geared up. My pilot put my harness/seat on me, hooked us to the parachute, and gave me directions. Basically, I had to start running immediately when he told me to.

Jeremy’s pilot giving him instructions.

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We waited patiently for a few minutes for the breeze to blow the right way.

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All of a sudden, he yelled, “RUN!!!!” And, run, I did. Right off the cliff. It was an exhilarating feeling as we floated into the sky with everyone else. This is when the real trouble started. Instead of flying straight, we did a LOT of turning in circles. Big circles, little circles, high circles, low circles. I started to feel queasy about 5-10 mins into the flight. Not wanting to be a killjoy and end it so fast, I didn’t mention it to my pilot. I silently cursed Jeremy for having the grand idea of eating before we flew. What I didn’t know is that around the same time, Jeremy was feeling super sick and actually threw up all his food. I feel sorry if his vomit landed on anyone. Hahaha.
Sadly, if it hadn’t been so cloudy, we would have been able to see the Himalayas up close and personal. Whomp, whomp.

I knew Jeremy was feeling bad because I saw him and his pilot head for the landing area to the left of the lake, early. We followed suit later as our time was coming to a close. As we got closer to the landing area, my pilot told me to hold on to the handles and hang on. Little did I know I was in for an adventure. He did a series of dives and dips, which was really fun because it felt like a roller coaster, except it also made me even more queasy than I was already feeling! By the time we landed, I was sick to my stomach but managed to keep everything contained (aka, in my stomach…haha). There were other people that were laying on the ground because they were so sick – lol! Jeremy came over and we had a really great laugh over the whole experience (especially, after I heard that he had thrown up).

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All in all, it was a really fun adventure, but we will both think twice before going again! I think if it’s a straight flight, I might do it again, but I will definitely not do it again in Pokhara!

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After all of our adventure was done for the day (Mom and Dad survived and had a ton of fun on the zipline!), we went and ate at OR2K, a Mediterranean vegetarian restaurant, where a fellow American was dining and talked our ear off the whole time we ate. The funniest part was when he thought we were all friends from college. Lol! Not sure if he was just being nice, or legit thought we were all around the same age.

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The next morning, my internal clock woke me up early since we’d been getting up early every morning to see the sunrise. I assumed that it was still cloudy outside since Jeremy was nonchalantly laying on his bed on his phone. I opened the balcony door and exclaimed to Jeremy, “It’s CLEAR!!” He didn’t believe and checked for himself. We rushed to get our parents and our driver and headed back to Sarangkot to take pictures of the Himalayas.

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Jeremy decided he wanted to look like a backpacker hippie, so he bought new clothes in Pokhara. Hahaha.

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Satisfied that we were finally able to see it up close and personal, we bid adieu do Pokhara and made our way back to Kathmandu. You guessed it, another 7 hours back. This time, the roads weren’t nearly as bad as the other two routes, but we were still really glad when we made it back in one piece!

The following day, we were off again! After making a pit stop at church for the Christmas Eve service, we arrived at The Dwarika’s Resort in Dhulikhel. If you read my last post, you might have seen some of the pictures I took when I went there with my relatives from Malaysia. It was such a great experience, and now one of my favorite spots in Nepal, that I wanted to share it with my family too, so we decided to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning/afternoon there!

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We spent the next 24 hours exploring the beautiful grounds, taking pictures, watching the sunset/sunrise, and participating in activities like pottery and a cooking class. Without a doubt, the Christmas Eve dinner was one of our favorite meals. Seven courses made with farm fresh ingredients (they own two farms!) and crafted so amazingly. Mom also added, “This is by far my favorite Christmas….because I didn’t have to cook!” Lolol!

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This is about the time that Jeremy realized that he wasn’t cut out to be a potter. Lol!

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If you guys didn’t know already, Jeremy is an excellent photographer and he was super excited to take pictures everywhere! (Follow him on Instagram: @jermau)

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Apparently, Himalayan salt is really good for your health. So much so that they dedicated a whole tiny building to it. I’m not sure if it did anything for me….but, it was very relaxing!

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Our beautiful 7-course Christmas Eve dinner. The last two squares in this collage are wheatgrass shots and our scrumptious Christmas breakfast.

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The sunrise was fantastic as we had a clear view of the Himalayan range.

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One thing that I’ve come to embrace here (in general, not just at the resort) is the amount of tea I get to drink on a daily basis wherever I go.

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We learned how to make momos! Nepali dumplings. So good!

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As nighttime fell, we headed back to Kathmandu and geared up for our next adventure.

Stay tuned for the next post!

*Most photographs were taken by myself, however, there are a few photos from my family as well!*

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