Sunday, January 29, 2012

In my head, I'm still overseas

            After a week of gorging on pizza, deli sandwiches, and bagels, I’m well over the missing New York stage. Yes, I’ve returned to the land of Brooklyn accents, tough-guy attitudes, and a Super Bowl Sunday preparations, but in my imagination I’m still abroad roving around on the London Underground.



            “You don’t really know your country until you leave it” is just one of the many things people have said to me about study abroad. I certainly do have a greater appreciation for the States than I did before I left. On my first day back, I hung up an American flag I’ve had here for a while, but never did take the time to display before. This is always going to be home and I love my country. U.S.A. and its people are unique and there’s still so much opportunity here that is lost elsewhere.
The next bit of decorating my new dorm room after handing up the American flag, was to plant the four leaf clover seeds I brought back from Ireland and unpacked my British pub food cookbook. When professors, friends, and family see me for the first time after my trip, study abroad incites a conversation that reminds me of the great adventure I had. The memories and constantly explaining how going abroad benefited me makes me want to go again. More than the appreciation of New York and America in general that increased during my time abroad, I now have developed a longing for somewhere else, another place to miss. As I apply for summer jobs and research positions, the ones that would station me in London or a city in Europe that I never made it to during my travels stick out from the pack. I’m still afflicted with wanderlust.



P.S.

On my flight back to the States, Icelandair provided envelopes for passengers to donate their extra change, which is particular convenient for those not planning to carry around their spare coins until they one day return to a country that accepts them as far off as that time could be. The charity supported by Icelandair’s envelopes provides ill children with air flight and expenses like souvenir money for the trip of their dreams. I’m so grateful that the Gilman Scholarship program supported my trip that I otherwise would not have been able to afford so, save for a souvenir or two from each currency, I poured my little satchel of pence, kroners, and euro cents, anything I didn’t use for the laundry machine, into the envelope. I didn’t quite hand get to hand it to the stewardess myself, but the nice lady in the aisle seat passed it along for me as I laid passed out exhausted from all my travels.

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    The Annapurna Sanctuary is “high glacial basin lying forty km directly north of Pokhara. This oval-shaped plateau sits at an altitude of over 4000 meters, and is surrounded by a ring of mountains, the Annapurna range, most of which are over 7000 metres.With the only entrance a narrow pass between the peaks of Hiunchuli and Machapuchare, where run-off from glaciers drain into Modi Khola River, the Sanctuary was not penetrated by outsiders until 1956. Because of high mountains on all sides, the Annapurna Sanctuary receives only 7 hours of sunlight a day at the height of summer. The unique combination of heights and depths in the Annapurna Sanctuary give rise to an extraordinary variety of ecosystems. The south-facing slopes are “covered in dense tropical jungles of rhododendron and bamboo”, while the north-facing slopes, in the rain shadow, have “a drier colder climate similar to that of the near-by Tibetan Plateau.”
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    In recent years, the number of trekkers to the Sanctuary has increased substantially, in part because the Sanctuary forms the base of one of the major routes to the peaks of the Annapurna range. The Annapurna Sanctuary is now part of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, which places restrictions on number of outside travelers, gathering of firewood, and domestic animal grazing.
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    Day 09: MBC/Deurali to Bamboo (2500m)
    Day 10: Bamboo to Chomorong. (2170m)
    Day 11: Chomorong to Ghandruk (1940m)
    Day 12: Ghandruk to Tolkha. (1710m)
    Day 13: Tolkha to Dhampus. (1510m)
    Day 14: Dhampus to Pokhara. (820m)
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  18. Annapurna Base Camp trek begins north of the Lake city Pokhara which is reached by a 6-7 hour tourist bus ride and a 25 minute scenic flight from Kathmandu. It begins at the village of Nayapul at just 1090m (1½ hours drive from Pokhara) and climbs gradually up the Modi Khola Valley through natural forests of oak, rhododendron, pine and bamboo. Villages are sited on ridges high above the river where slopes are gentle enough for terraced farming.
    The climax of the 12 days Annapurna Base Camp trek is reached in the spectacular Annapurna Sanctuary amphitheatrewhere you will first pass the Machhapuchhare (Fish Tail) Base Camp (3700m/12 139ft) en route to ABC (4130m/13 550ft). Here you are surrounded by an immense and breathtaking wall of rock and ice reaching heights from 6 500 – 8 091m and dramatised by closer rocky outcrops rising above the U-shaped valley gouged out by the glacier. Cloud frequently forms in the late morning making for enticing glimpses of an ever changing landscape: at sunrise it is frequently still and clear offering viewers, photographers a surfeit of possibilities.
    The downward journey only requires 2 to 3 nights with one spent at Jhinu Danda for a visit to the hot springs. The last morning requires a short trek to Phedi and a half hour drive back to your hotel in Pokhara.
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