Hong Kong ding dong!

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For all of today’s gawking, I deserve to be stepped on, shit on and slapped by every New York City tourist that I’ve ever cursed at for getting in my hardly urgent way.

This city, Hong Kong, is bursting with modernism, efficiency and tidiness. It is so technologically-excelled and energetic with bright lights, flirty advertisements and of course rolling human traffic- all of which opens the jaw and widens the eyes, no pun intended.

We flew here from Nepal and stepped off the plane to a large and pristine airport. Coming from a country untouched by time, I felt so crazed and stunned by the immediate opposition. Nepal lives in B.C. time, and I’d liken the airport here to a 15-years-in-the-future America with how digitally lit all the directions and designs were. The bus that shuttled us into the city had free wifi and continued the same spotless and flashy style from the terminals.

We grabbed dinner last night at a traditional Chinese restaurant. Greg got noodle soup topped with pork belly. I got noodle soup topped with nothing- or so I thought I conveyed in my order to the waiter.

Pointing to my self, waving my hands sideways then pinching my arm fat, I said, “I don’t eat meat. No eat meat. No meat in soup. Please.”

“Yes, yes, okay no meat,” our slender waiter tells me.

Couldn’t get much clearer cut, could it?

Well a few minutes pass by, I’m eagerly anticipating my first Chinese meal, and out marches the string bean with two bowls of noodle soup- Greg’s is clearly topped with fatty slices of pork belly and mine appears to be topped meat-free.

I thought I was all good in the hood so I started poking at the noodles with my chopsticks. As peeping as the munchkins in the Wizard of Oz, tiny somethings, somethings I was very, very afraid of though, began to creep to the surface of my soup. Dear God I wished they were munchkins and not pork bits, but it just wasn’t the case.

I know I sound crazy, but I become a vegetarian on these Asian adventure- though eating meat is a sign of progress, wealth and luxury, especially with China’s history of famine and poverty. But seeing the uncle of the chicken or even pig (gross) I’m about to cut into hanging as restaurant-window drapery turns me off entirely and sends chills through me twice.

Today, it took a bit more effort to guarantee truly vegetarian meals, but we did pull it off.

Anyways, back to the great, many, wonderful things about Hong Kong- the escalators are high speed, there are free and speedy Internet computers in the subways, hand sanitizer stations on most street corners and even a Chinese Mr. Softee. All of which we used or ate- and man were the computers delicious.

There are also short mountains in Hong Kong and an elongated skyline. There is one hill in particular, called Victoria Peak, that is 1800 feet high and has a nifty and historic tram that cruises to its top. From there you can see an expansive view of Hong Kong. It was a tad polluted, humid and overcast, but it was still an impressive shot.

We decided to follow a walking trail down instead of taking the tram again. Along the way there were super-fit uphill exercisers- some Chinese, some other kinds of Asian, some (a decent number really) western, and then a ton of dogs (sorry, not sure of all their ancestries).

It was a Sunday morning on our stroll and everyone seemed to be relaxed, laid back, in good health and enjoying their weekend. It just felt so comfy and I love comfy spots in big cities. It was on that downhill hike, I decided that I could definitely live in this international city.

The rest of the day we hopped around town via public ferries, unbelievable rail systems and our sturdy feet. We toyed with electronics, sat in lively parks, rummaged through street markets and like I said before, pushed my luck with lunch and dinner (for breakfast we just McDonald’d it- and even still had immaculate service and presentation).

To end the day, we headed down to one of the piers to watch the symphony of lights. The show plays every night- lord knows how much electricity it takes to power that- and lights up buildings in the skyline to an energetic soundtrack.

In one day of gawking at the impressive efficiency and crazy modernisms of Hong Kong (oh and boy did I go crazy over all the cutie Asian babies too), I can definitely say this won’t be the last trip I take to this town-regardless of the hanging edible pets.

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More pictures!

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So slow to upload, but here are some!!

more to come :)

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Some pictures :)

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Alive!

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We’re still climbing and crawling through the Himalayas, but for our 10th and last day, we travel by bus, not by foot.

First Kesha was playing then Taylor Swift. Eminem was on for a few tracks too, but now classic Nepalese music is playing on the bus stereo as we wind, bump after curve after cliff, through the mountains.

Winding around these parts of town, especially when you’re coming around a blind edge, honks blare to signal someone possibly coming from the other direction that you’re there too. Sometimes, when there is that other jeep or bus, you have to share a “lane” the width of a queen size mattress. A few times today, we sat parallel with another bus, during which the drivers seemed to have been yelling to each other, “okay, you scoot an inch”, “got it, now your turn”, then repeat, and all the while I could just pull the hair of the next-door passengers. We also passed waterfalls that had just a few planks built over their pool for us to cross. In those instances too, I felt like I could have reached my hand out to touch the water.

Things along the road were nuts, but that’s to be expected with it only being “built” few years ago. In the past, it was just a small trail that was used more by villagers than by trekkers. Now, locals and tourists all the same hop in poorly-maintained whips and cruise through the dusty, pot-hole filled and rocky routes. As much as I wished the bumps would ease at any point in the 7-hour coaster ride, I really hope they don’t ever pave. Already it is clear how the road, and the jeeps and buses that plow it, made the villages and mountains look entirely less preserved. My only recommendation is to require women to wear support along the bumpy way. Biggest mistake of the trip thus far to ditch the bra today…

Our second bus ride of the day, more on the outskirts of the mountains, was on paved roads. This I didn’t mind because we weren’t in the thick of nature, though the views were still gorgeous.

The bus looked like a school bus and the pre-puberty voices that filled every seat made it seem that way even more. We kept getting stopped over and over by roadblocks, and at one of the traffic stops, Greg got super curious.

Like in India, people hang on and out of cars all over the place. People sit on top of jeeps, buses and cars and they stack 5 people on a 2-seater motorcycle. Again- it’s nuts. So in Greg’s curious state, he starts sticking his head so far our the bus window that his legs are all I see in the bus, and I’m holding them.

“Let go, let go, I’m going up,” he says. And that’s the last I see of Greg.

I stick my head out the window freaking out.

“What in the heck are you doing?”

“Come up! It’s great!”

That “up” he’s referring to is the luggage rack, and young Nepalese boys will sit up there for God only knows why…It seems crazy dangerous.

“Absolutely not, get down here.”

And then I thought.. well…

And hopped up!

The rack was uncomfortable beyond belief, but the airy breeze and fantastic views were so exhilarating! We sat up there for the rest of the 4-hour bus ride, dodging cable lines and tree branches, and feeling on top of the world. It was a much better alternative to the cramped, sweaty, loud and claustrophobia-threatening conditions inside the bus.

Plus, we were soaking up the sun, thousands of feet below the snowy mountain we’d just climbed.

It was yesterday that we made it over the pass, thank absolute goodness. For those similar to me, with little repertoire for mountain talk, a pass is the lowest point between two high peaks. Since our first day, our feet have been pointing in the direction of these peaks, and each day we gained more and more elevation until we reached the Thorong La pass at 17,892 feet. That’s higher than any mountain in America’s 48 states (Denali, in Alaska, is 3k feet higher) and we climbed it- I kind of don’t believe it, but my aches and pains keep reassuring me that it is true.

Nearing the pass, was the most physical demand and endurance I’ve ever felt, but reaching it, was one of the most adrenaline-rushed moments I’ve ever felt. Greg is used to these sport-induced rushes, but for me, the top of the University of Florida stadium is the highest I’ve ever climbed…

Needless to say, we were both very proud of myself and Greg.. ehh.. typical accomplishment :)

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Here comes the sun…

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Whiter than the clouds they dare to puncture, the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas stand intimidating bold and seemingly impenetrable.

Today, however, a soft and sun-blessed exhale of wind breaches such strength and sends a parade of warmth through Nepal’s sincerely antiquated Manang village.

We are here to rest from the five days we’ve already spent hiking and to regain fuel for the four days to come that will be spent in the same gruelingly magnificent manner.

I’m unashamed to admit this, hiking has been quite demanding on my novice bones. Squatting over a hole in the ground and showering with water that seems to pour straight from the snows’ melt has been too.

But the unimaginable views, even through cracks in wooden-framed and shaky outhouses, have magically eased my overworked, shivering and now firmly in spring-break-shape body, and I feel warmed by all the overwhelming beauty these mountains have revealed.

Starting from the top, where needle-point peaks and tight-rope-thin ridges cut through a never bluer sky, the glow of the sun hitting the stark white is radiating, to say the least.

Just further down, when the thick, uninterrupted snow begins to taper and the deeper shade of the mountains start to show through, there is a contrast and jaggedness that puts shattered glass to shame.

When the trees far outweigh the snow, the green trumping the white, the fantasy around the soaring peaks lessens and the mountains become more tangible and conquerable.

Then, before you know it, you yourself are a part of the next layer- pardoning a string of mules, sharing oxygen with a forest of greens and following swiftly the curve of the hill.

In some parts, it would seem believable to shake hands with a hobbit or ask a pony for better direction. In some parts, you feel small and minute- like no one is looking or watching or listening, or would even care to. Even in the densest parts, you feel open, though not for anyone but yourself, and you feel feathery, like the wind could have its way with you.

Even when you feel your breath shorten, your heart about to stop and your legs close to giving out, you look up, you look out and you feel yourself most alive.

It’s all amazing- each step further, each new angle, none that let you down. It’s all amazing and we’re still 3 days from reaching the high point of the trek…

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