Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Please leave your expectations at home"...

These are the final words my Nepali program coordinator said as he wrapped up the international call yesterday.  It had to be 4 am his time, so I was touched that he made the effort to touch base with me again right before I left.  

I'm sure he's used to airport visits in Kathmandu to pick up shell-shocked westerners who've never traveled in Asia before. Some are devastated as the reality of third world living conditions surpass their preconceptions of what has often become, in America at least, a somewhat romanticized view of developing countries. 

So I took Hom's request to heart and - though I genuinely have no expectations for anywhere I travel - have prepared myself for the worst.  Which is pretty bad, considering some of the conditions I've endured in the past.  I think that having spent time in Asia in the past will prove to be helpful in adapting to my new lifestyle. I'm sitting in the airport in Guangzhou, China right now. It's funny how everything about the Chinese way of doing things, which once seemed so strange and foreign, feels familiar and even a little comforting on my second visit - as this is just a stop on my way to somewhere even more unknown.  

A rule of traveling in Asia is that you will encounter some unforeseen circumstance.  This time, it's my flight itinerary. It didn't specify the date I would arrive in Kathmandu, only the time. I must have miscalculated, because I'm arriving an entire day earlier than expected. Crossing the date line always makes things complicated.  Fortunately, Guangzhou has free airport wifi, but unfortunately you need a valid Chinese cell phone number to retrieve the password. I employed the help of a sweet Chinese girl to get me online and was very lucky to be able to call Hom and let him know I'm arriving early.  "No problem, Shirah, no problem! I call my driver now and send him to airport."  Fantastic.  I won't be homeless in Nepal tonight!


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