Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back in the U S and A.... Great Success!!

We had to cut our trip short, to make this post brief I'll sum it up kinda quick...

While we were sitting in our favorite coffee shop in Pushkar India,

This one:

...we decided we wanted to build our own mobile coffee cart, roast our own beans and serve the best coffee possible, well this started a lot of things rolling. We decided we wanted to live near my family in KS for part of the year and in AZ for the other part of the year, near most of Heidi's family. Since we were planning this, I also decided I might as well open another moto shop.  I've named it High Plains Moto,  It'll be in KS only.  So one thing led to another and we bought a building in KS, paid cash for it, no mortgage :) Half of the building will be High Plains Moto and we'll build a loft in the other half, which will b our home in Kansas.  We've also made plans to open a mobile coffee business called XO Coffee Bar (possibly...the name may change as we move forward with our plans), which should be up and running by summer of 2012.  We also bought a coffee roaster so we can start roasting our own beans.  Because all of this was now in the works, AND we have just laid out lots of our travel cash for this building, we had to cut things short. We decided to cancel our yoga training in exchange for coming home early to save more money for our future businesses.  That's how we ended up back in the USA on Dec 13th (Heidi's birthday), way ahead of schedule. We plan to be in Kansas by sometime this March or early April, we have lots of work to do!

Our next trip will most likely be back to Thailand, since we only were able to spend a couple days there. Then we hope to travel around Southeast Asia for a couple months. Or, we may plan our next trip to South America - Peru to be exact. Who knows what the future will hold?!  We try to always keep our options open. We are excited to be back, and very excited to move forward with our plans.

We will continue this blog for a while with our domestic adventures, and the building of our moto shop and coffee cart.

On another note, we are happy that we did in fact make one complete lap around the globe, by planes, trains, automobiles, and foot :)

Stay tuned...if you want :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One night in Bangkok!

We left for Kathmandu airport at 7 am and had plenty of time to get through security and board the plane. Unfortunately the plane was delayed almost an hour for take off. The flight had a connection in Delhi, India, then onto Bangkok. Finally we were airborne at 0945. We landed at Delhi 2hrs prior to our flight to Bangkok, which would be plenty of time if we weren't at Delhi airport. First, there was no announcement as to what gate we were connecting to, and no airline personnel knew either. Then we had to run like mad to the opposite side of the airport. I thought we had plenty of time since we were just making a connection and not leaving the terminal. WRONG! For a connection (at Delhi Int'l) you have to go back through security again! AND get a new tag for your carry on luggage. Once we got through that disorganized, inadequate system, we still had to run to another terminal, and our gate was on the very end of it. This was the most ignorant system we had ever scene.

So, after a pain in the ass experience at Delhi Airport, which included Heidi getting yelled at by an airport security official for trying to stand in the "men's line," AND after enduring one extremely long security line for women (it literally took an hour for Heidi to get through) we arrived safely in Bangkok.  We arrived safely in Bangkok after Heidi was frisked (boobs and butt grabbed by a female security officer) five times since leaving Kathmandu...NICE!  Too bad it wasn't me doing the frisking, I was getting jealous :)

Goodbye again, India... :) we still love you, but we are ready to move on... We'll be back someday.

Hello, Bangkok-

We were descending just in time for a good sunset pic

Our hotel - Viva Garden

Street market across from our hotel...there are street markets EVERYWHERE here:)

Cheesy rooftop pic from our balcony...

Tricked out Thai moto...

Gotta love public transit...especially when it is SPOTLESS!!!

Another street market in Siam (in the heart of Bangkok)

View from the famous restaurant (the one in the movie, Hangover 2)

Great market where we bought our watches :)

I bought some kind of veggie snack, not sure what it was. But, it was very tasty!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kathmandu - just relaxing

We didn't do much here for the week, just roamed around the city and took photo's and tried the street food. We cancelled our trip to Nagarkot since we needed to save money. We'll definitely make a second trip to Nepal someday and do it justice by going to Everest base camp or something.

From the hotel restaurant on the roof :)

The hotel was down a small dark alley, looked shady at first. Of course it was wonderful when we checked in and got settled.

A phone tech's nightmare - Nepal Telecom, now Hiring for outside plant tech :)

Downtown Kathmandu

 Serious business going on here

The morning fruit and veg supermarket

Another shot from the hotel roof.

Our favorite Juice man in KTM

 This was some festival on Saturday, the streets were packed like sardines.
We were with em'

 Everyone was enjoying the festivus :)

That is about it - Spent the week just relaxing, nothing to exciting. Although I did acquire some great North Face winter gear, a warm jacket,gloves, and stocking cap - all for $15.18. Heidi also picked up a stocking cap, gloves, and leg warmers for $8.50 :) 

We will be back Nepal...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Silver Lining

After touring the grounds of the Taj Ganj area, we headed back to our hotel and had breakfast. Then we took a nice warm shower and checked out at noon. Our train was scheduled to leave at 10pm so we had all day to hang out and do pretty much nothing. We went for a walk up the street and stopped at the beer shop, bought a couple beers and sat on the sidewalk and talked to another traveler from Australia. After that we got bored and found a mall hidden down a side street. By now it was about 5pm and we saw something we hadn't seen in a long time, a theater. There were 3 movies playing, all Bollywood films. We bought our tickets and watched a movie for about an hour, but then decided we weren't understanding anything anyway since it was all in Hindi, so we left for the hotel.

It was time to check our train ticket status before we headed for the station, turns out we were still wait listed. Which in the past mean't nothing for us to worry about, even when we had a high wait list number we always still got our tickets confirmed. We headed for the station anyway since we were at wait list 3, we had full confidence we would get on the train to Gorakhpor. WRONG! for the first time in almost 4 months of travel in India our wait listed status was not converted to a confirmed ticket. At this point we were hustling to figure out a way to upgrade to 1st class or get a different type of ticket. We got the run around from every window agent we spoke to. I was starting to boil over with frustration and Heidi was too. Finally we gave up and walked out to get a rickshaw back to the hotel. Then the rickshaw driver was inquiring about our troubles and offered to go talk to the station inspector/director about helping us. He said we should offer him some "baksheesh" or a bribe to get us a ticket. So we three went back into the station to try it on. No luck, the director wouldn't help us. We were screwed, no ticket to where we needed to go. We both had a bit of a meltdown, we were tired and just wanted to get to Nepal ASAP, and our plans were crushed. On the way back to the hotel I told Heidi there must be a silver lining here somewhere, we just didn't know it yet, and there was, but we'll get to that later.

We started looking into buses, other train schedules, etc, etc. no luck at all. Then as a last resort we checked out flying. No flights from Agra to Kathmandu were available. Only from Delhi to Kathmandu, so we called a taxi and hit the road at midnight for Delhi. The drive took about 3 hrs and cost 3500 Rs, about $70. It was well worth it!!! We got on our flight we booked just a few hours prior and were Nepal-bound. Note: airlines don't jack up rates at all with short notice bookings, our flight was only $87 each.

By the way, New Delhi airport was an amazingly nice, and very large...just a couple pics

Goodbye India - be back someday...

The Silver Lining - the whole reason to go to Nepal was to see the Himalaya's and catch a glimpse of Mt Everest. Earlier that morning the typical fog and low visibility moved into the Kathmandu valley. This chain of events caused all flights in and out of Kathmandu to be delayed by an hour or so. Of course ours was delayed  for departure from Delhi as well. This was the greatest thing that could have happened, in addition to not getting on that train the night before. As we approached the Kathmandu Valley the flights were still backed up and we couldn't land. So air traffic control places all planes waiting to land in a holding pattern. Basically we were doing very large circles above the valley and mountain range. Thankfully this holding pattern put us in perfect view of the Himalayan mountain range and Mt. Everest, we did a total of 8 laps in this pattern and got to see the mountains in all their infinite beauty over and over again. It was perfect!! What better view could we have asked for but a front row seat at nearly the same altitude. We were in a pattern at 33,000 ft, Everest peak is at 29,035.

Hello Kathmandu

While we are here in Kathmandu, we heard you can get a view of Everest from Nagarkot, so we may take a bus up there one day and try our luck. If its a clear morning we are told it should be visible.

Pics approaching the range

and Everest...

Someday we will come back to Nepal and see it properly, from base camp :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Taj Mahal

After a 14hr train ride from Haridwar, which by the way was not as great as we've been accustomed to in the past train trips. Mainly because we ended up having to share a bunk and didn't get the chance to sleep much at all. Also this train had a few extra passengers that we normally didn't get with our other trips, a couple of rats and a bunch of little roaches.

We were very happy to arrive in Agra, after a short rickshaw ride across town we checked into a nice hotel  for the night. We figured we could use some luxury, a hot shower, a super soft bed, and a nice quiet nights sleep. we enjoyed a nice rooftop dinner and an ice cold glass of beer. We felt like kings :

The next morning we got up at 0530 and rushed out the door to go get in line for the Taj. Everything we read online, and stories we heard from others, led us to believe this was going to be a hassle. We arrived at the east gate to only 20 or so people in front of us, not a single hassle was experienced, not a single scam artist or beggars or troubles of any kind. I thought the hassles must surely be experienced inside the fort. Well, to our surprise, we were not hassled or bothered in any way. The pics and vid can do the rest from here :)

This vid is great, I like how the light is so bright from the outside of this entry room that you can't see the Taj until the camera can re-adjust its lens, then it suddenly appears like magic...

 Above video was taken inside this structure below

 Similar to the Great Pyramid, the size is unreal, something you just have to see in person to appreciate

If and when you go, go early, it makes for great pics with no one in the background :)

 You can see Heidi at the bottom left walking toward the front entrance...

Tried to capture as much reflection as I could with our little Casio cheapo camera :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Assaulted and Robbed in Rishikesh....twice

Pics from Kale's trip to a student's house, his little buddy Abhey (in the red)

This is another student that walked with them, Divea

Ahbey in the red vest in front - Kale and him are buddies now. He invited Kale to his house twice to meet his family and have tea and cookies.  

Our last update was posted while we were still in Satyon volunteering for Town School.  A lot has happened since then!  For one, we purchased a small building in St. Francis, Kansas, which we will be converting into a new motorcycle shop as well as a small loft once we return to the states.  We will be living there for around six months out of the year, and we will live in Arizona for the other six months.  Obviously we had to put a chunk of our savings down on this building, so to offset the cost of our trip around the world, we decided to postpone our six-week yoga intensive and expedite our journey.  We will probably be home in January or early February now.  

Also after our last post, I became extremely clogged with mucous and phlegm, AND my diarrhea came back with a vengeance.  The amazingly stunning and minimally-developed environment of Satyon quickly became the bane of my existence while I was sick.  Having to bundle up every time I had to use the bathroom, and sometimes barely making it to the toilet was enough to make me crazy.  Furthermore, running out of toilet paper was a nightmare because NO ONE in the village sells it!  They sell handkerchiefs.  Dealing with freezing temperatures on top of outdoor bathrooms and diarrhea was not ideal, and I just wanted to leave to a warmer climate.  After a week of recovering and resting in the village we decided it was time to move on.  We said our good-byes to the kids, our fellow volunteer, Pauline and our gracious hosts Pooja and Manish, and set off for Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga.

On our first day here in Rishikesh, after checking into an ashram, and unpacking we decided to take a walk to get to know the area.  There are vendors everywhere lining the streets selling fruits, vegetables, peanuts, hashish, cheap jewelry, flowers and religious symbols.  We decided to purchase some freshly roasted peanuts as a snack while exploring the lay of the land.  This is how the first mugging transpired.  We were walking up a winding paved footpath, which was crowded with sadhus, vendors and tourists when a hand latched onto Kale’s arm, and then grabbed his t-shirt.  The assailant was three-feet tall, and full of hair.  He stared at Kale and then stared at the bag of peanuts in Kale’s possession, and waited for Kale’s next move.  Either Kale could forfeit the peanuts to the monkey, or fight for what was rightfully his… the monkey won that battle.  He got Kale’s sack of nuts(peanuts)

The second assault on us took place on the main street along the Ganges river. We had just purchased a selection of fruits and veggies and were walking back to the room. The fruit was in a clear plastic bag, which makes it easy for the thieving monkeys to see. As we walked along, out of nowhere a monkey appears right in front of us, and approached Kale very quickly and swatted the bag out of his hand, also tearing the bag open. Then the contents scattered all over the ground, he had his pick of anything he wanted. It was a buffet of choices; he grabbed what he could carry and ran off laughing at us. :)

Also this same day, a small calf decided to head butt me in the thigh as we entered a corner shop. So far we both have been bruised on our thighs, Kale from the camel, and me from the calf.  I slapped the calf on the ass after it hit me and called him a jerk.  I don’t think he cared!  LOL It was probably just a love tap anyway.  He was saying to me, “Hey, dude!  Thanks for not eating me or stealing my mom’s milk!”

ALSO - A word about burning trash…DON’T!!!!

Soooo – here we are in Rishikesh, which was supposed to be our home for the next six weeks while we completed our yoga intensive.  However, after the purchase of this building in Kansas, as well as almost four months of travel in India, we have decided it is time to move on.  We are now Nepal-bound.  We will keep ya’ll posted along the way:)  Peace, love and happy trails!

View from our room at the ashram

We found tasty Iranian palm dates...

Morning line up outside the ashram cantina, right before this pic was taken, there were monkeys lining the opposite wall on the left. It was a funny sight.

Here we captured a perp in the act, trying to steal our fruit and assault us again :)

Feed me, I'm bored

That's a big Buddha

Shanty village along a dry river bed

Happy pigs in trash and shit, the axiom is true...