Processed Nepal photos posted on Flickr

After a bit of messing around with my Nepal photos over the last week, I’ve removed from Flickr the unprocessed photos uploaded when I got back and replaced them with processed versions. Most are geo-tagged with coordinates, altitudes, headings and city names and can be viewed on a map by clicking the links below the photos, and all of them now have titles.

You can flip through the 101 pictures in the refreshed Nepal 2013 set on Flickr.

I realize some things would be easier if I posted photos on Facebook instead of Flickr, but then what would be the point of using a nice camera? To comment, you’ll need a Yahoo!/Flickr account. This is a good time to mention that Flickr vastly increased the capabilities of its free accounts last week. I’ve had a paid pro account for years, and I have barely begun to touch the terabyte of space they now provide free users. It’s worth signing up, which you can do at www.flickr.com.

Nepal GPS logs

While I was in Nepal, I had maps posted on my website showing my location and tracks, when I wasn’t just hanging around in Kathmandu or Pokhara. The Delorme inReach satellite tracker/messenger carried transmitted that automatically every ten minutes or so. It worked pretty well, with dead spots only where I was against a steep canyon wall under tree cover. I wasn’t watching closely enough at that point to see whether it was the GPS or the communications satellite, or both, with which it had lost contact.

Delorme’s site recorded everything, and I’ve trimmed the data down to the individual segments of the trip, cutting out things like airport arrivals and wandering in London, though I suppose I could also upload London. In addition, I have a more detailed and probably slightly more accurate trip log of the trekking days on my handheld GPS. I’ll download that and post it at some point. The camera also logged my location most of the times I pressed the shutter, so there is some more data. Not sure what point there would be to it, but I guess I could stitch together a hell of a detailed map of where I was using all three sources.


If you want to see my tracks, download the log files over on my trip page.

AAR

Readjusting to work and home life has been tough — still is. There’s no good way to transition from a month of de facto retirement in a foreign country back to a set work schedule. Beyond posting a few untouched pictures and attempting (but not with great results yet) to HDR some high-contrast sets of photos to show deep mountain contrast as well as the foreground, I’ve been reluctant to sit down and go through everything. I’m starting this post on my lunch break, because it needs to be written before I get too far down the road. May edit it later as things come to mind.

Some of the things I miss:

– The sight of high mountains
– The sights and sounds of a foreign country
– Copious amounts of time alone with my Kindle
– Talking to some of the other travelers
– Getting to know some of the local people
– Physical activity being the rule most days
– Delicious, different food
– Uncrowded cafes and restaurants and time to sit and enjoy them
– Having no plans and still finding plenty to do
– The challenge of trying to understand, appreciate and communicate with Nepalis

Things to do next time — some I did, some I didn’t:

– Take Cipro or otherwise try to fight the inevitable stomach problems
– Hire a guide for trekking
– Plan the trek for a leisurely pace and beat it if all goes well
– Take long lunches on the trek if desired — or short days, or whatever seems fun at the time
– Take a “crowded,” touristy trek if that seems best
– Find whatever home base seems comfortable and move as that changes
– Save the nonessential layovers for a separate trip to any other desired destination
– Four weeks is good; more would be better; two and a half would work
– Unlock a phone and use it with WiFi and a local SIM card
– Blog often
– Don’t bring a computer; a tablet is even nonessential weight
– Late February and early March are acceptable for all but the iciest and stormiest trekking routes — and certainly fine for the initial days of getting settled in the country
– Find good guest houses
– Treat water rather than buying bottles

Preliminary pictures

I haven’t had time to do anything more than just to flip through my photos from the trip after transferring them off the SD cards, but I’ve started to upload a subset of the ones from Nepal unedited. You can find them as a set on Flickr. It includes some of the cellphone pictures I’ve used in blog entries as well as around eighty shots from my camera.

More from Nepal will be forthcoming, but I need to do a little editing, stitching together a few panoramas and attempting some tasteful HDR to bring out the contrast between the white mountains and the dark foreground. In addition, I have a couple hundred from my stop in London to sort through and upload.

Boarding for the last leg

Business Class is boarding now, so it seems we are reasonably on time for a departure forty minutes from now. That’s a heavy contrast with this flight yesterday, which seems to have been delayed fourteen hours. The route had a bad history of delays, so if I get to Chicago tonight sometime I’ll be happy. Will check in from there when we land.

…with boarding pass

It took an hour, but the agent helping me seemed to enjoy the challenge. Thankfully, this was not a quick layover. Though Etihad is operating the flight for my last leg, I’m book on it through American, despite my having flown Etihad for the previous three legs of this trip. It shouldn’t matter, one would think: I had the same situation with AA and BA on my first leg leaving Chicago a month ago, and I checked in with BA with no issues.

Here, however, it was a problem requiring much glaring at the reservation computer and a few phone calls. Eventually I ended up rebooked directly with Etihad, and they threw in a couple of meals during the layover for my trouble.

I had a real, beef burger for dinner, trying to eat on Central Time now. That’s my third of the day, actually, but the other two were veggie burgers at Peace Eye and in the Kathmandu airport restaurant, respectively. I held back from any type of burger until today, but the thought of going home to easy food decisions swayed me.

I slept on the flight here, and now I’m trying to stay awake for a few hours or, probably, until my last flight starts. The first half of it roughly corresponds to when I should be sleeping in Chicago. If I can sleep a little then and wake up over the Atlantic I should get a little head start on the jet lag, though I imagine I’ll be in bed early, back home, on Saturday evening — which, it’s weird to think, is today here. I’ll be home this afternoon.

Back in Abu Dhabi

Flight was on time, so I’m back in the desert for a layover. Hopefully that’s all it is. Working now on getting a boarding pass for my final flight back to Chicago, since they couldn’t give me that in Kathmandu.

If all or most goes according to plan, I should be on the ground in Chicago in around 24 hours.

Kathmandu airport waiting

After a delayed flight in the plane pictured below, I’m sitting in the ticketing area at Kathmandu TIA waiting for the Etihad desks to open in two hours. From there it’s another four til my flight leaves. I could run into Kathmandu for early dinner or something, but the thoughts of lugging my gear around and of getting more rupees when I’ve carefully run down my stash make me content just to sit here and follow the news from Massachusetts.

Saw most of one peak around halfway through the flight out the left window, thanks to open seating. I have no idea which one, and we were probably forty miles from it and just above it, but it was a beautiful pyramid rising above the clouds, more black rock than white snow and ice on the south side that faced the plane.

Walked over from the domestic terminal down a path alongside the terminal entrance road, though it turned out there was a dirt path between their parking lots where some of the locals walked.

So it ends…

I’m at the Pokhara airport waiting for boarding time. Nice second-story airport cafe here, choice of full view of the runway or partial view from the shade. Devendra drove me here on the scooter, saving a taxi fare but putting the fear of dying right in me. That’s my second ride on the back of a bike this trip, and at least this one was on a paved road — and we didn’t drop it this time. I just don’t sit steadily enough to be a good passenger. I warned him of that, and we made it, despite me flying up and nearly off when we hit one dip in the road.

Spent the morning packing and trying to interpret questions from the US parents of one of the other tourists here who had to spend the night in the hospital. He’s fine, it seems, but he couldn’t talk on his phone from his hospital room, and you can imagine their stress when calling his cell phone and the guesthouse staff answers. They speak English well, especially Devendra, but it takes a while to catch to the accent, especially over the phone and trying to ask medical questions.

All of my purchases fit into my main bag, and the Nepali backpack I bought here as storage during my trek makes a slightly more able carryon than the tiny one I brought. Main bag weighed in just under 20kg, so no extra fees for this trip, it seems. Of course, I jettisoned a lot of food during the trip, energy bars along with backpacking meals for my planned trek, and I left my little REI tent behind weeks ago. Since it became an unused pain in the ass swinging from the bottom of my backpack, I’ll gladly spend $100 back home to replace it. Most of my toiletries were expended, and the Tevas I bought here to rest my boots were trashed and smelly, so they stayed behind.

Just waiting now for a Yeti Airlines plane to land, then boarding, then back through security at the TIA international terminal in Kathmandu to wait for my nighttime flight to Abu Dhabi, where I’ll switch SIMs and see what’s built up in my normal mobile account. A somewhat lengthy layover there, then a final, fifteen-hour haul to flooded, Chicago, customs and immigration and the Blue Line home. Sad to be leaving…very much so…but I like the act of traveling as well, so here we go.