Gordon:  We arrived in Kathmandu three days ago, after two flights totalling 17 hours in the air.  We spent the first day in Kathmandu dealing with the administrative tasks of getting our trekking permits, cell phone plans, and sufficient local currency for three weeks of trekking.  On the second day my nephew Matthew and I visited Durbar Square, the UNESCO listed former royal palace.  Despite some significant damage from the 2015 earthquake, it presented a fascinating variety of buildings dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries.  It also still houses the Kumari, a prepubescent girl who is the embodiment of a Hindu goddess.  As Diwali is underway, she actually appeared in public at her residence, but unfortunately not while we were there.

This morning we left the entertaining chaos of Kathmandu to take a seven hour bus trip to Besisahar, the start of the Annapurna circuit trek.  That we only covered 150 kms in those seven hours gives some idea of the quality and efficiency of the highway.
We arrived is Besisahar before 2 pm, so we were able to do the 2 1/2 hour walk to Bhulbule, where we are spending the night.  Besisahar is the traditional starting point of the Annapurna Circuit, but roads have now been built as far as Manang, six days walk from Besisahar.  As a result, our walk today was on a rough dirt road.  Besisahar is at 800 metres elevation, so we are in a tropical environment, with rice paddies, bananas and papayas.  Floating over the valley is the brilliant 7,800 metre peak of Manaslu II.  It hardly seems real, partaking more of the heavenly than the earthly.  It is bewildering and wonderful to find ourselves sleeping in the Himalayas only four nights after we left Vancouver.

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