Elizabeth’s BFF, Emma – she of the sparkly handmade Christmas card – went to Nepal in January to give cameras and photography lessons to some students in the Paljorling refugee settlement. Emma’s family has friends in Pokhara, and her mom founded the Himalability project, a program that helps young Tibetan refugees continue and expand their education. Emma invited Elizabeth to join her, and of course Elizabeth jumped at the opportunity. Luke and I were super excited for her and totally not at all jealous.
During the initial planning stage, Emma emphasized that she did not want a flight layover in China. She had had unpleasant experiences with Chinese airports in the past and is not a fan of China in general. The girls opted to layover in Dubai instead.
A few days before their departure date, Iran launched an attack on a couple of US military bases in Iraq, in response to the assassination of General Soleimani. Iran threatened to attack Dubai if there were any reprisals, and in all the tension and uncertainty a civilian passenger jet was mistakenly shot down in Iranian airspace. For a few hours on the night of January 7, we thought we were watching the opening salvoes of a new war.
Even after the crisis deescalated, the whole situation still felt volatile and unpredictable. But life is a daring adventure, as Helen Keller famously observed, or it is nothing at all. Luke and I dropped Elizabeth off at the airport on the morning of January 11th and we all hoped for the best.
The photos I’m using for these Nepal blog posts were all taken by people other than me. I have permission to use them from everyone involved. This first post is just about the journey to Pokhara. Following along from the comfort of my Internet connection, it looked exhausting. Nepal is a long way away, yo.
Elizabeth’s flight out of Austin was delayed an hour by weather, causing her to miss her connecting flight in Las Vegas, but the airline rebooked her for a later flight.
She left Austin…
…had a stop in Las Vegas…
…and finally rolled into Ontario Airport around 6pm Pacific time. Emma’s family picked her up and took her out for dinner in Temecula, and she spent the night at their home in Anza.
They checked into LAX bright and early the next morning, ready for their adventure!
And off they went!
It’s a 2.5-hour flight from Los Angeles…
And then it’s a 15-hour flight from Seattle to Dubai. Most of the scenery there was obscured by cloud cover, but Elizabeth did get some nice views of Scandinavia.
Dubai did not get attacked by Iran, so that was nice.
After that, a 3.75-hour flight from Dubai to Kathmandu.
First views of Nepal:
Factory smokestacks and smog:
By the time the girls arrived in Kathmandu, they had just enough energy left to check themselves into the Kathmandu Guest House…
…and then slept the rest of the day away.
They woke up hungry, and wandered out into the streets of Thamel in search of a restaurant that was still open past 10pm.
The next morning they boarded a bus to Pokhara. This is an eight-hour drive, including pit stops.
And at last, nearly five days after we dropped Elizabeth off at the airport in Austin, she and Emma arrived in Pokhara on the afternoon of the 15th.
Stay tuned, there’s much more to come!