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The morning of the ascent, pre-dawn, freezing, we forced down our trekker’s breakfast of porridge and mint tea, meant to fuel us for the next eight to ten hours until we reached amenities on the other side of Thorong La Pass.
It had been snowing through the night – since the previous afternoon, in fact, just after we arrived at Thorong Phedi, the final port of call before the real test. We’d spent the night shivering in our rented sleeping bags, the clapboard walls of the hut a thin insulator against the bitter wind.
No WiFi meant there was no way to check the weather forecast, but the snow stopped sometime while we slept.
By 3:30am, we awoke to a night sky awash with crystal stars in the snow globe world. Read more
My husband, who grew up in the year-round tropical embrace of Java, Indonesia, stood in his first snowfall in Manang.
This village, perched at 3,519 meters (11,545 feet), marks a customary point where trekkers spend an extra day as part of the high-altitude acclimatization process. We had awoken from an afternoon sleep to the sound of our porter-become-friend, Buddhi, whose voice rang in the still mountain air.
That first snowfall – powdered sugar illuminated in the pre-dusk haze – fell softly, sprinkling strands of our hair, our lashes, the fibers of our gloves.
We welcomed these benign snowflakes with delight; unbeknownst to us was the greater storm that lay ahead. Read more
I didn’t notice his bleeding toe in the beginning.
In fact, I didn’t look at him at all while we explored the temple's crumbling walls.
I wouldn’t steal a glance at him until the final moments when we pulled away from the site. Read more
The second seller I remember was also a seller of paintings.
He had stationed himself inside one of the temples that a few tourists would pass through each hour and was accompanied by his two young boys. Read more
There are three reasons I will always remember the seller of art, peddling his brother’s artwork in Bagan. Read more
There is no photo of him. There is only a memory of his nameless face set against the backdrop of Bagan’s templed plains.
There he stands, weakly waving, with a smile that stops just short of his eyes. They remain blank, non-fixated. His hand falls flat, defeated, before we round the bend. My now-husband’s words, uttered as our horse-drawn cart pulls away from the gentleman, haunt me to this day. Read more
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