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Published: October 29th 2017
Tomorrow we leave Nepal and fly to Thimphu, Bhutan. I am excited to finally visit the happiest country on earth, but I am sad to leave Nepal, as we have explored only a small part of this country. One thing I will truly miss is the food. Nepalese bara, topped with spicy tomato chutney had been my most delicious breakfast while we were in Kathmandu. I rarely eat breakfast, but I almost craved these little patties made of black lentils. And the dosas and momos were beyond compare; I could happily eat these three foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for weeks on end. Add a tall glass of fresh mango juice and a side dish of sautéed greens and the meals become fit for the gods. Such delicious memories I will have of Nepal!
We also ate sumptuously when our whole group ate lunch with a local family in Kathmandu. High on a hilltop looking out at the city below, sheltered from the hot sun by a shielding white awning, eighteen of us sat around a long table, enjoying the breezes as well as the many foods the family had spent two days preparing for us. Being vegan, I did not eat the meats or home-made cheeses, but there was so much good food offered that I did not suffer any hunger at all. Out of at least ten different offerings I loved the bitter gourd best; I could have devoured a whole plate of it! I knew I had eaten it somewhere before, but still cannot remember in which country it was that I had first tasted bitter gourd. It is amazingly delicious. The family kept walking around the table, serving all of us again and again, making sure we each had what dishes we wanted. This was another incredible feast. The Nepalese certainly know how to eat very well.
We left Nepal the next day, on a Monday, and after flying on Bhutan Airways from Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan, a most extraordinary thing happened. I decided to take advantage of one of the ladies' rooms at the airport before we boarded yet another bus when suddenly I heard someone calling my name. Was this possible? My name is not a common one in either Nepal or Bhutan, so I looked around wondering who and where the other Laura was. Because I had been in Bhutan for only a few minutes, who, other than my female travel group mates, who had not come into this bathroom, would recognize me in Bhutan? And there, ahead of me, standing in line was my friend Cathy from California, whom I had met two years earlier in China! Her eyes were wide open in surprise, looking at me, and questioningly calling my name once again. How incredible for us to meet there and then, in a ladies' room at the Paro airport! In Bhutan! We hugged and hugged each other, happy to be reunited, so amazed at this serendipitous meeting. Outside I hugged her husband Jon, another good friend from our China trip. There had actually been five of us who explored parts of China together, who climbed the Great Wall, who ventured out on our own in Hong Kong to find the enormous Tian Tan Buddha sitting on top of a hill on Lantau Island, who bravely bought Oyster cards to ride the streetcars and busses in bustling Hong Kong to better explore and become familiar with that wonderful city; besides Cathy and Jon, myself, another John with his Mary had all become good friends, the five of us bonding together in our searching out parts of China, Tibet, and Hong Kong that our tour did not touch. But after only a very short time for reminiscing, we had to leave to join our respective groups. What were the chances of our meeting this way, exactly at the same moment in the same small room, more than halfway around the world? We couldn't wait to tell John and Mary, the two others in our little China exploratory group. I was so happy to meet with Cathy and Jon again, and could only think what a delightful way to be welcomed and initiated into the magic of Bhutan! What other wonders would await in this happiest of countries?
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