Tuesday, March 22, 2016

nepal: sibling companions

I went to Nepal with my two bachelor younger brothers, Choon and Teng. 

(I, with spouse and children, was the only one who had to think hard about what I had to leave behind and even then, KK was most amenable. I said I was going to Nepal and he asked ‘when?’)

A friend said: Gosh I’ve never gone travelling with my siblings before. I don’t really get along with them.

In this regard, I think we’re blessed.

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* Choon, me, Teng

I’ve never gone on a holiday with my brothers without our folks before, but I honestly couldn’t ask for better travelling companions.

We all three:
  • Are low-maintenance folk who enjoy simplicity more than ostentation.
  • Are early risers and we are never late for anything.
  • Do not like staying in a hotel room to nua and would rather be out on the streets.
  • Have similar ideas on what makes a great holiday - something which is real and un-manufactured and un-commercial.
  • Don’t like to talk too much.
  • Like to explore and try things out.
  • Are chin-chai.
Other pluses are that money isn’t an issue. We all draw from the Central Bank (mum) and pay her back.

The two boys also fulfill roles which I suck at.

Choon and Teng are excellent navigators with an internal brain GPS, and they never get lost. When I go travelling with KK and the kids, it is very, very, very stressful trying not to get lost because KK has an awful sense of direction and so do I. I lose my car in carparks. In Nepal, the boys effortlessly lead me through the tangle of Kathmandu’s streets without a hitch.

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* In Pokhara 

My brothers also take care of all the money (I refuse to carry a single Nepali rupee and just look to them to bargain and settle tips, etc) and Choon takes charge of administrative matters. They also know how to go online to search for good eating places, and once the food is in front of us, we pinch from each others' places with little regard. We grew up together, after all.

My role is in taking photographs and perhaps, in socializing and making small talk when it’s absolutely necessary.

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Like so, during our last night in Nepal when Rava, the owner of our tour agency (who also happens to be a diplomat - he is the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Estonia to Nepal) hosted us to a grand sit-down dinner at a nice restaurant complete with dancing girls. 

We would have been happy to eat in silence. Instead, I pretended I was doing an interview, and as Rava chatted on, found out enough about Rava's growing-up years / education / family / career to write an article on him if I wanted to.

I don't think our folks were at-ease though; to have their entire brood traipsing off to what they thought was a dangerous place. Pa, just back from hospital, nagged relentlessly about how we had to take care of ourselves, while Mum surreptitiously armed Teng with a bottle of special 'blessed' oil which he suddenly whipped out in a fit of giggles during our flight to Nepal. "This is very important," he said, chortling. I think its supposed to keep us from harm.

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* Anointing ourselves with the oil. We didn't take it very seriously.

One day, I hope Day, Jo and Lu will grow up to be siblings who can travel together. It's quite nice.

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