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NepalTrekking to A.B.C.

On 16 October 2005 from Pokhara, Nepal | comments closed

A.B.C. = Annapurna Base Camp, located at 4130 metres altitude it was the final destination of our 10-day trekking in the Annapurna range. I won’t be placing a day-to-day report in my blog here, but I’ll write down some things of interest to give you an impression. I think the photos will tell their own story.

The trekking party consisted of the 8 Dutch tour members (including tour leader), and 6 Nepali staff: the guide, the assistant-guide, and four porters. The first day started off nicely with a walk along a river. Patricia, the assistant-guide and I were walking ahead of the rest, and after an hour we decided to wait for them. When they hadn’t arrived in 1,5 hours, we reached the conclusion that we took the wrong route (even though the assistant-guide kept telling us we were on the right track), and we walked back. We reached our first lodge right before dark in rainy weather. Needless to say, no one believed the navigation skills of the assistant-guide afterwards, and during the rest of the trek no one got lost anymore.

The second day we walked to Ghorepani where we had to pay a fee to the maoist rebels. They were unarmed and not very impressive, yet all foreigners were gently forced to pay the 1200 rupees (15 euro). The next morning we got up before sunrise to climb up Poon Hill and watch the sunrise from there. We continued to Tadapani and to Chomrong on the fourth day. This part of the trek was mainly through forests, and agricultural areas. We encountered quite a few locals, some of which looked like they were just going for a stroll, and some were carrying lots of stuff (there are no roads in the trekking area, just tracks). Also we passed lots of donkeys, and the occasional cow on the track.

The fifth day we took the track to the Annapurna Base Camp, where we arrived on the sixth day. Since this track only leads to A.B.C., we encountered more tourists, guides, and porters than before. At A.B.C. the view was amazing, especially the next morning, when the sky was completely clear. We could see Annapurna I (8000+ metres), Annapurna South (7000+ metres), and Machhapuchhre (almost 7000 metres) from an altitude of 4130 metres. Really spectacular.

Luckily no one suffered too bad from altitude sickness, although Pieter did get really ill (still not sure what, he managed to get up and down slowly, but had to be carried the second-last afternoon). From A.B.C. we hiked to Bamboo on the 7th day, where some smart Nepali had started a German bakery. And having fresh chocolate croissants and orange juice for breakfast up in the mountains is really heaven.

The 8th day we hiked to Jihnu, where we soaked in the natural hot springs next to the river, before having dinner at the lodge. The food at the lodges was quite good, not only the local dal bath (rice with ‘linzen’), but also macaroni, pizza, fried rice, potatoes, pancakes (yummie) and soup. Besides the food, the hot showers that were available in most of the lodges were an unexpected convenience. Some also had electricity, but usually only a few hours of the day.

The ninth day Fidel, the assistant-guide, one of the porters and I took a somewhat more difficult path and visited another town. We arrived at Syauli Bazar before the others though, because the ‘easy’ path was not a easy as it sounded. The tenth (last) day was a short walk along the river back to the main road. There the bus to Pokhara was already waiting.

NepalHonk Honk to Pokhara

On 6 October 2005 from Pokhara, Nepal | comments closed

The first day in Kathmandu was spent checking out Durban Square and the monkey temple. At Durban square they fitted a bunch of hindoe and buddhist temples together. The monkey temple was aptly named because monkeys abound at the place, and climb the roofs. In the evening we had dinner with the entire group (8 including tour guide), before calling it a day after two nights in airplanes.

Today we did the 200 km busride to Pokhara in a fast 7 hours. Needless to say, the roads here are not that good, and people drive like crazy (except for our bus driver). It was a very scenic ride though, through the mountains and along the river. Pokhara is nicely located at a lake, and the view is supposed to be great, but the clouds were ruining it today. We did get some rays of sun though, and it gets quite warm when we do.

Tomorrow we’re starting the Annapurna Sanctuary trek, so the next post will be when we’re back in Pokhara.

NepalArrival in Kathmandu

On 5 October 2005 from Kathmandu, Nepal | comments closed

Opposed to my previous post, I didn’t check out Abu Dhabi after all. It was about 40 degrees outside, so even breathing was hard. Therefore the afternoon was spent sleeping, but after the dinner buffet Peter and I walked into the city for a while and we checked out the river. Expensive cars all over the place, a real contrast with Kathmandu, from where I’m typing this post.

The flight from Abu Dhabi to Kathmandu was good. We got a $150 voucher to use as a discount on Gulf Air flights, as a compensation for overbooking the flight to Kathmandu. However, this is fairly worthless compensation, as it only benefits us if we fly with Gulf Air again within the year. Except for the fact that I’m not planning a trip to a Gulf Air destination within the year, I’m also not very eager to fly with them again.

In Kathmandu we were picked up from the airport after a while, and brought to the hotel through all these narrow bustling streets. Definitely Asia: everywhere different smells, lots of people, lots of noises, temples smoking with incense sticks, and shops everywhere. The weather is about 25 degrees, but cloudy. The hotel is one of the highest in the city (7 floors), and thus the view from the rooftop terrace is great.

NepalGulf Air & Abu Dhabi

On 4 October 2005 from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | comments closed

Somehow Murphy’s Law always applies when I need to get a flight. In this case, first the car wouldn’t start, and when it finally did we got cought in an unexpected traffic jam (German national holiday apparently). Anyway, after illegally crossing some train tracks and catching a train just-in-time, I managed to get to Schiphol airport even half an hour before the tour guide. Worried for nothing, I guess.

At Schiphol I met all but one of the others. 2 couples, another single guy, and the tour guide; all between 31 and 39, so I’m definitely the youngest. Check-in at Schiphol was fine, as was the bmi flight to London. When we boarded the Gulf Air flight to Abu Dhabi 4 people from our party of 7 got upgraded to business class. Unfortunately not me, although I suspect it was because I had my frequent flyer number registered with all passengers.

Once in Abu Dhabi we tried to get our boarding cards for Kathmandu, but were informed that the flight was full, and we got bumped to the next flight at 01.30 tonight. Therefore we won’t arrive in Kathmandu before Wednesday morning. So we went through customs (another page filled in my new passport), and the airline brought us to a hotel in Abu Dhabi, where we’ll get lunch and dinner (too late for breakfast).

After my half-an-hour of free internet here in the hotel, some resting, refreshing, and lunch, I might check out the city a bit, although it’s really hot here, and I’m not really dressed for this weather. So far my impression of Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) is really positive. New 4-lane highways, shiny high-rise buildings, expensive cars, and a lot of construction going on. There’s definitely a lot of money being made in this region, especially with today’s high oil prices.