Wednesday, May 29, 2013

We Don't Need to Air Condition the Bathroom!

"We don't need to air condition the bathroom" was a common phrase uttered by my father over the years we lived in Indonesia.  I remember rolling my eyes, in my best snarky teenager way, as Dad would constantly close doors to air conditioned bedrooms and reprimand us lazy kids.

I now say the exact same thing. 

"We don't need to air condition the bathroom."

Our bathrooms here in our apartment are a little different than what we are used to back in the States.  Like other countries around the world, many bathrooms in India are what is know as "wet" bathrooms.  There is no enclosure around the shower area.  There are drains in the floor and your shower water sprays every which way, eventually making its way to a drain.  I accepted and dealt with this for a few months, but got a little fed up with constantly damp toilet paper.  One day, we found ourselves at a furniture store where we saw two shower curtain tension rods.  We immediately bought both.  We hadn't seen them before, or since.  Now, we have two slightly less "wet" bathrooms and blessedly dry toilet paper.

And don't you love our mirror?  It's bedazzled.

To deal with the fact that bathrooms here are generally wet places, they must be well ventilated.  And so, we find ourselves with louvered windows in all our bathrooms, thus giving us a steady stream of "fresh" air.  So, when a bathroom door is left ajar, with the AC running, all that lovely cool air goes straight out the window.  We don't need to air condition the bathroom OR India at large.  Our poor windows aren't adjustable, so there is no way to clean their exteriors.  Hence, this is what our bathroom window looks like.


The windows certainly provide the visual privacy that is required, but that is about it.  Living in a large apartment complex, our louvered-windowed bathrooms are above and below all our neighbors similarly louvered-windowed bathrooms.  Sometimes, I enter the bathroom to find myself enjoying the melodies of our whistling neighbor.  It makes me smile, but feel slightly self-conscious.  More often than not, when I'm getting into the shower in the morning the noises aren't so pleasant.  A cacophony of "nasal cleansing"greets me, and continues throughout my shower.  How so many people could produce so much mucus is beyond me.  This morning, I actually spent a good hour contemplating whether or not I really needed a shower, because I just couldn't face the grossness this morning.  Snort-cough-spit, snort-cough-spit.  Just be glad there is no accompanying photo.

We've been in India for three months now.  Apparently, this is when the "honeymoon" phase ends and irritations rise.  My feelings about the bathroom are the first sign....   

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Himalayan Sunrise

The entire purpose behind our trip up to Nagarkot was so we could see the Himalayas.  We awoke with the birds just before 5 a.m. and set out to the small Buddhist temple above our guest house.  From that point, we waited as the sky lightened and the mountains began to show themselves.

By 6:30, the clouds started rolling in, and within moments, the mountains were gone.
Our camera and photography skills don't do these views any justice.  But, even coming from a land of mountains ourselves, we found morning in the Himalayas to be something entirely new and heart-stopping.  You could see a glimpse of heaven.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Nepal -- Day 4

On our 4th day in Nepal, we headed to Kathmandu Durbar Square, our third and final of the Durbar Squares, and our fifth world heritage site.  While it was our least favorite of the Durbar Squares, it is fascinating.  It is still very much in use by the local population and as such is crowded, noisy, hot and full of life. 

We spent the morning exploring the area and doing some souvenir shopping. 

Danny and H undertook the climb to the top of Nine Storied Palace.
Here's a video of their adventures.

After a wonderful pizza lunch at the landmark restaurant "Fire & Ice" we piled into the car, and headed up into the "foothills" of the Himalayas, to a town called Nagarkot.

As we neared the small mountain town, we were stopped at a road blockade where protestors and riot police were engaged in a stand-off.
Luckily, we had simply stumbled upon the filming of a Chinese movie.  After a 20 minute wait, we inched our way through the crowds, and made our way to The Hotel At the End of the Universe.

I had a nice nap

We kept warm under blankets, watched a movie, took a nap, and headed downstairs for a lovely candle-lit dinner.

After some card games, we hit the sack.  Ready for a sunrise wake up the next day!

For more pics from Day 4 (can you believe there are more?) check out the slideshow.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nepal -- Day 3

Our third day was a big day for us.  We loaded into the car and headed out of the city to the nearby town of Bhaktapur.  Bhaktapur is famous for its Durbar Square, which happens to be another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We enjoyed the cool weather of the morning; wandering, climbing and imaging what might once have been.

This Durbar Square was severely damaged in an earthquake so feels more spacious and open than the other Durbar Squares we visited.  H was particularly intrigued by the remaining signs of earthquake damage.  The empty footprints of where a building used to stand was almost as fascinating to him as the existing structures.  

After that we found our way over to Taumadhi Square, which is quite a contrast to Durbar Square.  It is bustling and gritty and much more lively.  We had a lovely lunch in a traditional building in the middle of the square and then did a little more exploring.  

On our way to the car, we stopped by Potter's Square and the Erotic Elephant Temple.  (You'll have to watch the slide show to see a little elephant lovin'.)

We then headed to the village of Changu (World Heritage Site #4!)  It is a delightful mountaintop pedestrian village.  (A nice break from the traffic elsewhere in Nepal.)  We enjoyed the company of a stray dog (that the kids named Joe) who stuck with us as we climbed up to the temple, and toured the hillside town.  Changu Narayan (the village temple) is home to the oldest stone inscription in Kathmandu Valley, and several wonderful sculptures.  We even saw a monkey!

The stone behind these unimpressed goofballs has the oldest inscription in the Kathmandu valley: 464 AD.

There's Joe, the dog.

For more pics of day three, check out the slideshow.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Nepal -- Day 2

Our second day in Nepal was a Sunday.  Although for the expat community, this is part of the weekend, for most of the country, Sunday is a weekday.  Kids go to school, offices are open... business as usual.  For us though, it was a day when cousins weren't in school, which meant that our kids wanted to do nothing more than hang out and have fun.  So, the grown-ups struck out on our own for a little sight-seeing.  Our first stop was the Jawalakhel Handicraft Center, where Tibetan refugees hand-weave beautiful rugs.  Watching them spin the wool and weave the rugs was absolutely mesmerizing.  Their fingers flew and smiles beamed as they painstakingly crafted their masterpieces. 


After that outing, we picked up all the kids and headed over to the Lincoln School, where they were having a music festival.  The opening number was a children's choir singing a medley from The Lion King.  Our kids have been singing it ever since.  The music was great, N had a good nap on her dad's lap, and seeing the school was a treat. 

The late afternoon we spent at the Patan Durbar Square, our second UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Even in the gloom of spring rain, it was magnificent.  

The best surprise of the day was the Patan Museum.  Unlike so many other museums in the region, this one is beautiful curated.  It is simple and thoughtful.  The writing is poetic and humorous at the same time.  From what we understand, the Austrians were responsible for this museum.  Well done, Austria.  It is a quiet little piece of heaven, in the midst of honking, bustling Kathmandu.  If you are planning a trip to Nepal, set aside a few hours for this lovely spot.    

Check out the rest of our photos in the slideshow below: