I have arrived in Kathmandu! On first impressions it's very dusty, poluted and busy, but after a day of exploring I have really started to enjoy the city. Most of the locals i've met are friendly and helpful and it generally feels quite safe to go wondering around, even in the non-touristic parts people generally leave you alone unless you need help.

Today I got familiar with the district of Thamel. It's the place where all the tourists stay, so it's mostly full of shops, resturants and trekking agencies. The roads are narrow and it's full of crazy drivers. Luckily, it's too busy for them to run anyone over at speed, but you do have to watch that no one goes over your foot on a motorbike.

In the afternoon I took a taxi to 'Boudha Nath'. To quote Lonely Plant (LP) 'It's the religious centre for Nepals considerable polulation of Tibetan exiles' so it's basically a place of worship for Buddhists and has one of the worlds largest Stupas.

The rectangular holes on the outer wall are full of prayer wheels, which people spin as they walk around the outside.

The golden top is draped with loads of multi colour flags and it also has an interesting pair of eyes painted on.

From the Buddhist Stupa of Boudha I walked for an hour to find 'Pashupatinath Temple' which ranks as Nepal's most important Hindu site and attracts pious pilgrims and dreadlocked sadhus (holy men) from all over the subcontinent. On the way, I got a fantastic view of the Himalayas behind Kathmandu.

The temple was fascinating, as it was starting to get dark and people were lighting fires next to the river to cremate the dead. There were also a lot of monkeys here and some were quite large and scary, although I was told that as long as you don't have food they won't attack you. It is not allowed to take photos here, but I took a few sneaky snaps in the dark.


Waiting in Doha, Qatar

Well, I have officially started my trip! I am flying with Qatar airways, so it means a 2-3 hour stop over between my flight from London to Kathmandu (Nepal).

The first leg of the flight was fine. We flew over Iraq (or Eye-Raq for Americans) and could see cities like Baghdad and Tikrit. I was also amused to see a place called 'Batman' in Turkey on the flight navigation map. haha!

Something I have never seen on any other airline is the sticker system to leave instructions for your air steward. They give you a set of stickers to put on your shirt when you are asleep. I have decided to keep my sticker as it might be handy if I decide to fall asleep in a restaurant during my trip.

As we descended into Doha Airport, I took a photo which provide a 'birds eye glimpse' of Qatar. Maybe my Qatar friend Mo can tell me what this place is?


Going travelling!

As you may already know, I've decided to take an opportunity to go travelling again. It was a spontaneous decision and I've not had much time to plan the trip. There are still so many places i'd like to visit in the world and it was hard to decide where to go.

This was my short list (for a full list, see an atlas) :

- Australia / NZ
- The Islands of S.E Asia
- India
- Nepal
- China (more of)
- Japan
- Korea
- South America (the whole of)
- USA (more of)
- Middle East (especially Iran)
- North Korea (sadly off limits)

After researching them all for a week, I decided that India and Nepal will offer the best value for money. The Autumn also happens to be the best time of year to visit Nepal so it seems like the best option for me.

This will be the first time I have travelled without an organised tour or itinerary. It's something that I've been wanting to try for a while now. Everyone I've met who goes on their own seems to think it's the best way to experience a new place and culture. Maybe I'll even be able to do the clich├ęd 'finding yourself' thing!

So here it is! This is my first blog and I hope you enjoy reading it!