Thursday, June 21, 2012

And Away We Go ...

We are off to to see the wonders of Asia ... or at least some of the wonders.  By the time you read this we will be somewhere between Omaha and Shanghai on our way to our most ambitious vacation yet.

We decided to take this trip almost a year ago and only a few days after returning from out Route 66 vacation (I posted about it here).  The original plan strung together three General Tours tours taking us to China, Tibet, Nepal, and India.  This plan was pretty solid until about three weeks ago when China changed one of it's rules.  China declared that all tours entering Tibet must be of at least five people.  The middle tour, the one that would have taken us overland from Lhasa, Tibet to Nepal via the Everest base camp, was affected by the rule change.  This portion of our trip was a private tour (just me, the Wife, a tour guide, and a driver) so we didn't meet the five person minimum.  There was a week of scrambling as we were offered options by the tour company and we made an offer of our own.  The tour company offered to add additional cities in China to our tour.  We suggested adding Bhutan to the tour.  In the end our Bhutanese addition worked out.

Here is the Itinerary ... with only a few of the things we will see and do:
  • China
    • Shanghai
    • Yangtze River Cruise (three days with shore visits along the way)
    • Lhasa, Tibet (Yes, we will still visit Lhasa with our larger China tour group)
    • Chengdu (Here we help feed the Pandas)
    • Xi'an (Terracotta Soldiers)
    • Beijing (Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City, Great Wall)

  • Nepal
    • Kathmandu (Four days here and in surrounding areas) 

  • Bhutan
    • Thimphu (Capital of Bhutan, Cultural places)
    • Paro (Tiger's Nest Monastery)

  • India
    • Delhi/New Delhi (Tour the Cities)
    • Agra (Taj Mahal)
    • Jaipur (Ride the Elephant up to the Amber Palace)

The whole trip from airport to airport is thirty-two days, the longest vacation we've ever done together.  The only question mark will be the weather as it's monsoon season.  Frankly, I don't care.  My new camera is waterproof.   I am ready to see wonders, rain or shine.  Turns out, right now it's cooler in Shanghai than in Omaha.  And, frankly, I can't do anything about the weather so we'll just have to work around it.

Another thing I was concerned about was altitude.  Turns out Kathmandu (4,600 ft - 1,400 m), Thimphu (7,656 ft - 2,320 m), and Paro (7,300 ft - 2,200 m) are all at lower elevations than most of the places we went to in Peru including Machu Picchu (8,040 ft - 2,450 m). Lhasa (11,450 ft - 3,490 m) will be up there close to the same altitude as Cuzco, Peru.  Since the only issue with altitude in Peru was a headache for a day and general tiredness, I am no longer concerned about altitude.  The hardest day will be the hike up to the Tiger's Nest which is on the last day of the high altitude portion of our trip.  This should give us plenty of time to acclimatize.  We just have to take things slow and I think we'll be fine.

This is going to be an awesome vacation.  I know it will be the unplanned, unexpected things that will make this vacation special.  I will not be posting while I'm traveling (here or on Facebook) - only the occasional email to the families.  I'll have a lot of pictures and stories to post about when we get home.

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