Thursday, August 30, 2012

4 Countries in 2 Weeks!

Today is my first day of business school in Helsinki!
Don't gasp too loudly - I know the last time you heard from me, about two weeks ago, I was kicking around in Kathmandu.  A lot's happened since then...

I successfully retrieved my new ID card/residency permit from the Finnish Embassy the day after I arrived back in Kathmandu. I'd budgeted an entire two weeks to accomplish this task because the unpredictabilities of transportation and life in general are such that it was a legitimate concern that there would be 5+ consecutive strike days preventing me from getting to the Embassy during the two hour permit pickup time slot. So my unexpectedly quick pickup left me with a whole two weeks to burn!

While waiting for my Sherpa friend Pasang to also arrive in the capital, I met a friendly British musician in a cafe and we really hit it off. He drives an overland vehicle for a unique company in the UK - Madventure.Travel - and was in the middle of a SEVEN MONTH LONG camping trip, driving from London to Sydney, Australia (putting the truck on a ferry at times, obviously). When they came to the Tibetan border, it was closed, so the travelers continued on plane to Beijing to finish their trip on public transportation, and Adam was stuck in Nepal trying to sort out all the visas he needed to get home.

Well, to make a long story short, he had to leave Kathmandu the next day to take the truck to Sauraha, in the Chitwan National Forest and jungle of southern Nepal, and he invited me to ride down with him for free. My friend Pasang arrived just in time, and the two of us set off with Adam for the 6-hour drive to Sauraha.
The truck was HUGE!



On the way we learned a lot about Adam's travels and his experiences in Nepal. We also saw a local bus that had fallen off the cliff-side road when the driver fell asleep. It happened just 3 days before we got there. Forty Nepali people had died in the accident, and there were a few guys using a homemade winch system to try to retrieve the wreckage. 


We ended up spending three days and a total of $45/person for accommodation in a luxury resort, good food, self-guided safari, camel riding, and elephant riding! It was an awesome, spontaneous jungle adventure, and I'm so glad I went because after living in the mountains, this was a whole new side of Nepal I'd never seen.

Behind me is a RHINOCEROS bathing in the river! 


Clouds coming in for the daily afternoon monsoon rains.



It was super hot and incredibly humid, but I quickly learned that
jungle waters tend to be infested with crocodiles. It was the
running, yelling, and waving of hands by the locals that clued
me in. So I only swam once.

The jungle sunsets were incredible!

My favorite time of day was watching the elephants come down to the river
for a drink in the evenings.

I have so many more pictures to share of our time in Chitwan. These will come soon.

To quickly bring you up to date: I left Nepal the weekend before last, spent 12 hours exploring Dubai during a long layover, and then spent a week with my family in Oregon before getting back on a plane to Helsinki.  Since arriving here on Tuesday night, I've signed a lease for my new downtown apartment and have been running around getting a Finnish social security number, opening a bank account, looking for a job, getting my mobile phone in working order -- all those things you have to do when moving to a new country. Helsinki is even better than I remember it. I'm so happy to be here and have no doubt that I've landed in exactly the right master's program for me!

During our evening walk to the marina - 5 minutes from our apartment -
with my cousin Maya

We're hatching!  These are our favorite egg chairs at a lovely
little cafe on the marina.






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