NOV/DEC 2000

After visiting Kathmandu we flew to Pokhara and trekked in the foothills of the Annapurnas (a range of the Himalayas). We trekked to a lodge (Basanta Lodge) that had a magnificent view of the most sacred mountain in Nepal, Machhapuchhre (Fishtail), the seat of gods. It has never been climbed (It's illegal to climb it). We asked our guide what would happen to someone who climbed it. He just very convincingly said: "the villagers would kill him." The people living in the region believe something terrible would happen if anyone ever climbs the mountain.

At the Basanta Lodge, we took this picture of the Fishtail mountain and its reflection in near-by still water.



Nepal is a male paradise. Women seem to do ALL the work, especially the physically demanding. They are always dressed very neatly and in bright colors. As there are only stone trails, nothing has a wheel where we were trekking.


After trekking, we did some white-water rafting on the Seti river. That was really fun (even though the rapids didn't exceed class 3). We stayed in a camp in the middle of nowhere and visited a remote village, so remote the villagers had to walk six hours to sell their goats or buy supplies. They were almost self-sufficient.



We continued our trip to the south of Nepal to Chitwan National Park (directly on the Indian border) where we searched for and found rhinos while on an elephant safari.



Back in Kathmandu, we visited the famous Bouddhanath Stupa, one of the most sacred sites for Mahayana Buddhism. It's a stunningly spiritual place with the eyes of Buddha looking at you from every angle.





After Nepal, we flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia, to visit Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples. The picture on the right gives an impression of the jungle setting. There are some 400 temple structures built between 900 -1300 C.E. We climbed around 25 of the some 30 sites that can be visited. The most magnificent and famous is Angkor Wat seen here from an adjacent hill.





The dimensions are huge. In this picture, we're looking at the main structure from one of the gates well inside the temple area





Visiting the temple facilities at Angkor Wat and the other temples can be physically demanding. The steps are steep and go up at angles up to 80 . One of them, fortunately for Yvonne, had railings for support.





The graceful female deities found abundantly on the walls of the Angkor temples are called "apsaras." They are considered "sensual", but there is no "erotic" art in the Angkor area.




One of the gems in the Angkor area is Banteay Srei, which has an atmosphere of baroque splendor. Getting there takes over an hour on a dirt road that is in very poor condition. That will change in the near future.




The ancient city of Angkor Thom is entered along this bridge over the causeway. The bridge has gods on the left and demons (not shown) on the right.










In the center of Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple is famous for hundreds of smiling faces looking down at you. Like Angkor Wat, we visited this fascinating site several times during the 7 days we had in the Angkor area.







Finally, a few pictures from Ta Prohm, a temple intentionally left the way it was discovered in the jungle some 150 years ago. The trees literally strangle the structures and their removal is a difficult task as they also now support the ruined structure.





Before returning home, we spent some days in Thailand. The picture below is taken in Ayuthaya, one of the ancient capitals of Thailand. It also shows how trees and their roots surround everything.







We found interesting and colorful markets in Cambodia.







The most common motorized transport vehicle is the motorcycle. Often, one sees up to four people on one cycle. More than once, we saw live pigs transported this way.