-Kathmandu, Nepal-
The last few days in Nepal have been rather ordinary. As most of you already know, this is my second visit to Kathmandu. I spent a month here volunteering in an orphanage here, about 4 years ago. Things are much improved here, but I am not sure how I feel about all these improvements. Firstly, the pollution is under much better control in the city now and the litter in the streets is still bad in spots, but hardly as bad as what I remembered. There are more people out selling fruits, and sunglasses, and clothes on the street, which is a testament to the improving economy. Thamel, surely a Mecca in the tourist world, right in the middle of Kathmandu, is different too. I expected to be angry and frustrated just walking down the narrow streets, avoiding bikes and cows and mini-violin sellers, but to my surprise Thamel is very quite right now. There are no cows wandering the streets here this time, which is surprising as well. Kathmandu feels more smoothed out and approachable now. But this just makes it more appealing to the packaged groups who come to see 4 or 5 things, drink imported beer, and take photographs at some of the most inappropriate times. I always try to distance myself from these groups, because seeing them frustrates me. While accommodating for these people will help Nepal bring in the much needed euros and dollars, it takes away from the backwater feel of Nepal. Kathmandu does not feel as mysterious. I liked the grittier, more unpredictable Kathmandu better.

Anyway, Kathmandu has a lot of cool sights to see. There are temples scattered throughout the narrow alleys and streets to stumble across. It is kind of funny to think that of all the places in the world, I feel quite familiar with Kathmandu. I re-visited a few spots had already seen, including Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal, Pashupatinath, one of the most important Hindu spots in Nepal, and Swayambhunath, huge complex of Buddhist that is over 2000 years old. Yeah, just another day in Nepal. I also rented a bicycle for a day and went up north to try and find the orphanage. I actually found it, but when I walked into the courtyard where a man met me and told me that it had moved. How long ago, I don't know, so it may not exist anymore. I had a feeling it would not be there anymore, so I was not overly disappointed. I was more disappointed the next day when my butt was sore from that incredibly hard bike seat. I have spent some extra time here in Kathmandu for two reasons. First, I am not able to get up to Tibet until Feb 16th so I had to wait around for that. And secondly, I needed to slow down and take a rest for a while. I have been moving at breakneck speed for a while. In days days, as long as the Chinese embassy does not reject my visa application, I will be heading up into Tibet and Lhasa. Not sure how I am going to get back yet or when. It'll work out.

A final note on my trek a couple weeks ago; I walked about 110 miles in 12 days.

And lastly, I have had a lot of time to think, think about everything. New nicknames have been given to me in every phase of my life, grade school, high school, college, E Lewis County, San Diego. I think I may have found a new one that I like. "The Original Goodness" . I got it from a box of juice. Thoughts, opinions?