On October 27 we left Kathmandu early in the morning on a public bus to the town of Jiri, where we would start the week long hike to the town of Lukla. Most people fly to Lukla but we wanted to improve our fitness and altitude acclimatization before hiking in the serious mountains. The bus was quite cramped but I loved the views and even the crazy, repetitive music; Sean didn`t share quite the same appreciation but he`s had enough bus rides to know better. Jiri is a town of 1500 people and was such a welcome change as we had had enough of the big city. The town was surrounded by rice terraces and hills that weren`t hidden by smog and friendly people filled the streets. We stayed in a guesthouse for less than a dollar a night (lucky for us that became the norm) and left early the next day for Shivalaya. The walk was 3.5 hours with only a 600 m elevation gain, so it was an easy first day. The views were amazing and I was mesmerized by the whole thing because I had never experienced anything like it. Terraced gardens and grain fields were everywhere and we walked through many small farmhouses with free roaming chickens, cows and goats. My favorite part was when kids and toddlers would come running out to smile at us and sometimes yell out greetings. We met a German married to a Nepali woman, and she gave us quite a bit of useful information. We came across a brown garter-like snake and she told us to look out for poisonous green ones in the lowlands. I loved looking at all the wild and domestic plants and comparing them to ones I know from home. Shivalaya is another town full of character, and during supper we witnessed a runaway cow, still tethered to a cinder block, try to make his escape through town with laughing Nepalis chasing him. Once he was finally under control it was another spectacle to watch them try to get the cow across the bridge to the other side of the river. After supper we walked through the town and saw a house being constructed out of rocks they had chipped into squares; the road was also made of hand-chipped rocks each placed by hand. The rocks everywhere glitter and look like they`re made from `fool`s silver.` We watched a man fishing with pole and a net and a bunch of boys playing volleyball on an outdoor court; they could have made varsity teams at home! Right before we went to bed a couple from Quebec came in and we decided to hike with them the next day after visiting for a while. Sean made the guesthouse owner`s day when he asked how much we had to pay for blankets; they were free and the owner thought that was the funniest thing he`d heard in a while.