Greetings clients and friends—

One of our travel advisors has recently returned from a fantastic 24-day trip to Nepal and Bhutan. Since this is a part of the world we Westerners don't often visit, I thought you might enjoy hearing from Amy about her experiences.
Most of us are in the travel business because we LOVE to travel! The advisors in our office have been to many amazing locales, and would be happy to share their knowledge with you in planning YOUR next adventure. Where are you thinking of going? Give us a call, our number is 425-827-5656 or you can simply reply to this email.

Anita Bornemann, Owner
Professional Travel Service, Inc.
Kirkland, WA

Hello, fellow travelers! I have just had a fantastic adventure and am thrilled to share a few small stories with you, read on:

When I booked my airfare from Seattle to Kathmandu, most of the flights were three legs, but Emirates offered just one connection in Dubai with a long layover. How could I pass that up?

I arrived around 8pm and took at taxi straight to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world. It was 95 degrees out, but cooler than daytime temperatures so the plaza at the base of the tower was crowded and festive. Enjoyed the dancing fountains too!

Jet lag got me going very early the next day, but that did mean it was slightly less hot, and the market vendors weren't completely online. I enjoyed riding the abra (water taxi) across Dubai Creek, the architecture, the artwork, and watching the city come alive. Way different vibe than the previous night. By the time I was done exploring around noon, it was 107 degrees and I was about to start stiff-arming the more aggressive sellers.

Back at the airport and onward...
Kathmandu! I enjoyed two nights in this bustling city of about 3 million people. I had a full-day guided tour which included visits to four different temple sites (observing funeral rites at one), as well as monkeys, cows in the road, completely mad traffic (and I thought Rome and Cairo were crazy!) prayer wheels, mud, rain, and people-watching. I had an excellent time!

Next up, a 6am flight to Lukla and then I'm off on a 14-day trek in the Himalayas. Totally pushing my comfort zone, but I believe it is going to be epic!
Unfortunately, thunderstorms around Lukla (forecasted for several more days) prevented our flight, so on the advice of my guide decided to enact plan B. We drove to Pokhara (about 6 hrs) and will trek the Annapurna region instead. The drive was beautiful, thru the jungle and along the river, but I didn't get many pictures (I slept). It is crazy to me that a twisty, partially dirt road is the main highway! The trucks,are all individually painted and decorated, many with unique horn sounds.

Trekking days 1&2: Mostly working the Himalayan version of the Stairmaster. Up up and more up, over stone stairs! Gorgeous tho, even tho it has been cloudy and I've not seen the peaks yet. This part is mostly jungle and rhododendron trees...yes huge trees! I can only imagine what these hillsides look like in bloom. Did 7 miles yesterday, 9.5 today, and about every hour or so we stop for tea, love it. Staying in Ghorephani tonight (9390ft).
Trekking day #3: Mountains! Finally, the clouds part! The big ones we can see are Annapurna South and Machhupichhre, and the plan is to visit the base camps for those two peaks in a few days. I took mountain pictures from about 10,000ft altitude, and yet still in the rhododendron jungle. (Where is the tree line?!) Todays hiking was up and down, and then more up and more down, challenging. But there were also a couple mule trains, several monkey sightings, and a buffalo that wanted to push us off the path, exciting!  😝  And we got to Tadapani before the rain hit. Spent the evening snug by the fire with tea and WiFi, a good day all around.
Trekking days 4&5: well, the clouds continue to block my views of the peaks, even though they look really cool drifting thru the valleys. The trail goes down one steep hill, across a river, up another steep hill...repeat 4 times or so. Lots of stairs...good heavens, I shall have quads of steel when I return. I am enjoying seeing the little villages on the steep hillsides, and there are waterfalls everywhere! We are in Dovan tonight, in the Annapurna Sanctuary, at 8162ft.
Trekking Day #6: started in the best way with a WiFi phone call to my family.  Then Machhupichhre came out from behind the clouds and the day was a complete win before breakfast was over. Sure there was a couple hours of rain, some dodgy bridges, and clouds for most of the rest of the day. But made it to Machhupichhre Base Camp at 12,128ft, and enjoyed an amazing view of Annapurna South (23,884ft at peak).
Trekking Day #7: Arrived at Annapurna Base Camp, 13,550ft, the highest point of the trek, and ironically the easiest bit of the trail. Enjoyed visiting with fellow trekkers from Mexico, Indonesia, and Germany untl the clouds finally cleared around 6pm and we all stood in awe of the peaks around us.

<== Annapurna South
Trekking, days 8-11: Day 8 we made it down to Dovan, done in one what took two to go up. Day 9 to Jinnu, with a rest day (Day 10) to enjoy the hot springs. My knees feel normal! Day 11 we crossed a very loooong bridge and walked only about 5 miles, spent the night in Ghandruk. Visited a Gurung museum, and got dressed up in traditional outfit. (FYI: Gurung are the folk that live in the Annapurna region. Sherpa are the folk that live near Everest.)
Trekking Days 12-13: Day 12 was consistent, down one side of the valley, cross the river, up the other side, repeat. And torrential rains arrived with lunch,culminating in no view and no Wi-Fi on our last night on the trail. Day 13 saw us drop over 3,000ft in 7 miles and 3.5 hrs, and then suddenly there was a car to whisk us back to Pokhara. DONE!!!

I walked a total of 98.7 miles on the trek.
My last few days in Nepal I enjoyed some less structured wanderings in Pokhara and Kathmandu. Attaching photos of random street scenes, local food, cows in the street, monkeys on buildings, and my awesome guide Krishna and his family, who had me over for dinner tonight. Oh...and I got to see the peaks of Everest and Lhotse, because I did the uber-touristy mountain flight in the morning just so I could see the tallest mountain. Tomorrow, on to Bhutan!
There is a lot to love about the Kingdom of Bhutan. They have a dragon on their flag, and take seriously the concept of "gross national happiness", need I say more?

It is gorgeous, a bit like a greener version of the Eastern slopes of the Cascades. I visited a number of dzhongs (fortresses) and temples...hmm, like visiting castles and churches in Western Europe-- artwork, architecture, religion, history and civic pride. I also visited the world's largest seated Buddha in Thimpu.

Crowned my trip with a hike to the Tiger's Nest temple, where the combination stunning architecture, gorgeous natural setting, and hundreds of years of Bhuddist tradition makes for a very impactful experience. Oh, and it is at a mere 10,200ft altitude, and you start the 4 mile hike up at around 8,000 ft. But there is tea on the way up and lunch on the way down.

The trip home was long, 3 flights and 38 hours in transit, but I booked a "sleep pod" at the Dubai airport and was able to lie flat for about 6 hours and snooze, a nice break.
I am so grateful to my family for letting me be away for such an extended period of time!

For more information on my trek, more pictures, as well as pricing details and some logistics, I've created a page on our website, please stop by!

Thanks for reading, and happy wandering! Regards -- Amy Drackert
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Anita Bornemann
Owner, Professional Travel Service, Inc.
  (425) 827 5656