What was your favorite city and why?
Ljubljana was my favorite city, because it was very laid back and calm. It was a small city, but the people were kind. We didn’t have to worry about transportation either, because everything was within easy walking distance.
What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising, and also gross, thing I saw on the trip was seen on our bus ride back to Kathmandu. I was delighted to turn and look out the window, only to see a elderly woman leaning out the side of her van and heaving onto the door and road. It was definitely very surprising and extremely disconcerting.
What was the best moment of the entire trip?
Even though India was definitely not my favorite place we’ve visited, I would still say that the best moment/moments on this trip took place in Chhotarem’s home stay. The time we spent there really shed a light on a family’s life in a developing country. The joy and determination on display were truly amazing, and it was so interesting to get the perspective of someone as vibrant and charismatic as Chhotarem, living such a harsh life. Countless other moments could take the top spot, but I have to go with this one.
What was the scariest moment?
Definitely having a severe allergic reaction in the middle of the Himalayas. But how many people can say that that happened to them? The experience was terrifying, even though my mom says seeing me ride away on a super small motorcycle, with two grown men as well, was even scarier.
What do you think you might do differently when you go home because of your trip?
I’m going to try to work harder to accomplish some of my goals. I have a ten times better chance than some of the people we’ve seen on this trip, just because I was born in a different country. These people have to work so hard for a better life, and I feel like I definitely should start making changes in my own and working to finish goals for myself.
Did you find any sights or activities a bit off the beaten track? Beyond the tourist traps?
It’s very hard to stay away from the tourists, but I thought Chhotaram’s homestay was as close as you can get in India. It was still somewhat touristy, but we were able to spend time in the villages by ourselves or with Chhotaram. We could experience the cooking and daily activities of a real village family. The people we met there were kind and very accepting towards our family.
What was your favorite meal?
Easy. The breakfast place we ate at in Glenorchy, NZ. I’m not kidding, this place was as good or better than Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg. The pancakes and syrup were to die for, taking in the fact that it was probably the first time I had had syrup after a month and a half. It was definitely my favorite place we’ve eaten at on this trip.
What was the strangest thing you ate?
Supposedly, according to the rest of my family, I ate a chicken head without knowing it. We had eaten at a restaurant in Kathmandu and had ordered Tanduri Chicken, when suddenly Ella yells at me to stop eating. She asks me if I ate the head and I had no idea, considering I had eaten everything on my plate. So who knows? I may be the only one I know who has eaten a chicken head.
What was the funniest/strangest/or most insightful thing a local said?
Chhotaram in India talked to us about the use of opium in the village. “Opium makes you brave,” he said, and that a type of food called ghee that will keep you from getting addicted. This was an interesting idea, but my mom just says he’s full of it. He even joked that after we had all tasted a tiny amount, except for Ella, we could all pass a dog and cry out “It’s a lion!” “But Ella could help us determine the difference,” he had laughed.
Where would you revisit? Would you ever move to any of those cities?
I could definitely spend some time in Ljubljana, Slovenia or Dubrovnik, Croatia. These were probably my two favorite European cities. But I seriously doubt I would want to live anywhere else but in America.
Tell me about one person you met.
On the Annapurna, about the fifth day, we kept meeting this small 60 year old man who was one of the funniest and happiest people I might have ever met. He told us he worked almost his entire life as a guide or porter, and he was so full of energy it was contagious. He did everything with joy, knocking snow off branches with his walking stick, and laughing infectiously. He was one of the coolest people we met, especially in Nepal.
What was the hardest or most frustrating part of the trip?
I would have to say the Annapurna Circuit. The hike and views were amazing, but I could not get over the overall extreme discomfort. It was so frustrating going every day with someone very sick. At night you could never get very warm, and when you needed to relieve yourself of your daily diarrhea, you had to do so in a squat toilet.
Did anything go wrong that seems funny now?
Having a severe allergic reaction isn’t really a joking matter, but looking back on it, I definitely overreacted. It wasn’t a very hard thing to stop, but I was freaking out bad. Everything was totally fine though, and the only side effect I had was puking……again
What did you learn about yourself?
I’ve learned that in my free time I love to organize information. I know it sounds crazy to most everyone, but I actually enjoy it. I’m still not sure how to use my new skill yet, but it is something I’ve learned about myself.
Now that you’ve been these places, what are two other places you’d like to go?
Three actually: Chick Fil A, SATCO, and El Tapatio. Ha, Ha – Mom doesn’t think this is funny.
How have people responded to your taking the time off from work, etc. to travel? And how about taking time off from formal school for the kids?
Everyone we have met on this trip has told us how cool of parents we have for taking us on this trip. I don’t see it, but whatever you say people. Just kidding 😉
What do you do to keep from getting burned out on the constant travel?
I always try to contact my friends, which keeps me in touch with the goings on back home. That helps me a lot and also doing fun stuff alone away from the rest of the family. Alone time for me is special and helps me not get too tired or irritable.