A Travellerspoint blog

Nepal

Kathmandu & Summary of Nepal

After relaxing in pokhara, we headed back to kathmandu before leaving for Sumatra. The first time we were in Kathmandu, I wasn’t overly impressed with it but was prepared to give it another chance. We decided this time to stay outside of the madness of Thamel in a quieter hotel. It was a little far out but i think we made the right choice as it felt a lot less polluted than the Thamel. Seeing as we only had a few days in Kathmandu we hired a driver for the day to take us to the main sites as recommended by the hotel owner. We were totally shocked at how impressive these sites were. Amidst the chaos of Kathmadu, they have some of the most interesting city sites I have seen to date. We first went to a big Buddist temple Boudhanath that has one of the biggest stupas in the world. It had a really nice atmosphere around it and was a good place to start our sightseeing day.

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After this we headed to Pashupatinath. This was a very interesting place as culturally it was so different to Ireland. It consisted of one very big hindu temple that we couldn’t enter but the most interesting thing was the public cremations that were taking place along the banks of the river. There were about 5 pyres set up with bodies burning in the open air. We both found this very surreal as it seemed so public with lots of tourists watching from the other side of the river. I was anxious it was disrespectful but we had a guide who said that the locals don’t think of it as disrespectful to have tourist onlookers, this type of cremation is their way of life.

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Following this we visited two fascinating ‘old cities’ Bhaktapur and Patan City that exist within the massive area of Kathmandu. These towns have been preserved over the years and are really lovely to walk around. They are still functioning towns with many people living in them but tourists pay an entry fee which goes towards preservation etc. Both towns had wonderful architecture and temples with small quaint streets.

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We were also lucky to be in kathmandu at the same time as Diwali (the festival of lights). After our sightseeing day, we went walking around it was lovely to see all the lights put up around the houses and the children running from door to door singing and dancing. It reminded me a lot of our christmas mixed with halloween. After these few days in kathmandu, I can say that my opinion of it changed. Its definitely a very interesiting place and there is a lot to see for a wkd with some great bars dotted about but it is a bit of a crazy city. Especially the traffic and the amount of motorbikes. I'm not sure I will ever get use to the constant beeping that they seem to love all across asia!!!

Summary of Nepal

Trekking
There are loads of companies to choose from with varying prices for guides and porters. The companies will organise everything for you if thats what you prefer - as in a package. You can also just hire the guide the porter and pay for everything else as you go along. Make sure to ask lots of questions of the company you choose and also meet with the guide before you set off on a long trek with him/her. we went with this company who we can highly recommend trekking company

Transport

The roads in nepal are not so good. Bus journeys can be very long and if you get the local buses, they can also be very packed and sometimes dangerous. They have tourist buses too that go to and from the main trekking areas. The other option is to fly internally. This is more expensive but it saves a lot of travel time. Some people think its a little scary. Personally, I really enjoyed the internal flights. Within the cities there are various taxis and tuk tuks. The taxis tend to be very old cars but get you from A to B. I found some of the driving to be a bit mad so the best approach is not to look at the road ahead too much!!!!

Food

They have local nepalese with the famous Momo's which are like dumplings. They also have Dhal Bhat which is a rice dish very popular with the locals. Then in pokhara there are lots of places serving western style food. Some of them are very good others are just average. Overall, the food was ok. We found it a little bland but then we had just come from India. I really liked the sizzling momo's.

Accommodation

Kathmandu
This hotel is in the center of Thamel it has basic facilities but its very nice for the price. Hotel Ganesh Himal
This other hotel is outside of the centre and is very nice if you want somewhere quieter.Hotel Melungtse

Pokhara
There are lots of places in pokhara so its worth shopping around. We like the North Lakeside a better place to base yourself. We really liked the rooms in Hotel Greenpeace but we had to move due to noisy neighbours in the next guesthouse.

Activities

There are lots and lots of things to do from trekking, rafting, paragliding, canyoning, kayaking etc. If you go to pokhara you will be able to organise any of these from the numerous agents there. Its also possible to book anything like this from kathmandu also. I would just make sure that the company you pick has good reveiws and a good safety record.

Dodging Mosquito Status: Pretty good in Kathmandu. I guess the city is even too hectic for the mossies!!!!!

Posted by ofenelon 03:41 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Upsteps, Downsteps & Some White Water Rafting

Ok so we are still in Pokhara lying about but we haven't been altogether lazy. Since the last post we went on another trek and are just back from two days rafting. I suppose after the issues of the last Trek, while I really enjoyed it, I felt that I didn't want to leave Nepal with a fear of trekking again in high places etc so we decided to do a shorter trek in the lowlands. When i say lowlands I mean the highest point was approximately 2800m high!!!!! The trek we done was actually a yoga trek to Panchase hill and it was really great. It was 4 day trek not that far from Pokhara and it is a lot less touristy than the Annapurna routes. It is also very scenic and goes through some lovely villages eventually reaching the summit of Panchase Hill. We done yoga in the mornings, stretches throughout the trekking and in the evening we had guided relaxation. Ok so the guided relaxation wasn't really something we were into but it was an interesting experience none the less.

We trekked to the summit of Panchase hill for sunrise on the 3rd morning up at least 1, 000 steps. There was one point on the way up and it was 4.45am, dark and i was v tried and I did say to myself - why on earth am I doing this? However, once we reached the summit, it was worth it. The view of the Himalayas was spectacular. I think the view is a little better than Poon Hill as you can see the 3 ranges of the Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu. In fact the views for the entire 4 days were amazing. You have hilly green landscapes and then it is as if a child paints on white mountains on clear blue skies above the clouds. Our guide was great too and his passion for Nepal shone through as he pointed out typical Nepalese style houses, shrines and temples. His yoga classes were also very good which meant that we finished the trek with little or no aches - always a plus!!! Thankfully there was no dehydration on this trek although i think i learnt my lesson for some time yet. The whole trek was a success but the accommodation for the last two nights wasn't the best. The sleeping area (loft) was fine but the bathroom facilities were ...well lets just say that we didn't bother showering for the two days there. The food was pretty bad too but you cant really complain too much. We had a great time and have a few interesting memories from that last particular tea house.

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Aside from trekking, there are many activities in Nepal. If you are into adventure sports then its a paradise as from Pokhara there are endless places where you can book rafting, paragliding, canyoning, kayaking etc. We really wanted to do some rafting so we booked a two day camping trip on the lower seti river. Its a fairly easy river and as we have no experience we thought it might be best to start with this. It was a great two days. The first day was relatively easy going with few rapids but fabulous scenery as the river winds though deep gorges. After camping on a river beach we set off for day 2 which was great craic. There were lots of rapids and I giggled like a child as we tumbled over them. I think we are going to sign up for another half day trip this week on a river nearby that is suppose to be full of great rapids so i cant wait for that!!! Plus one big bonus is that its not near as hard work as trekking, I can just look up at the hills instead of climbing them.

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The landscape aside, I think what amazes me most about Nepal is the ability of people to adapt to a country that has such high terrain. There are villages located high up into the mountains and some villages are 5 days walking from each other. You can see rope bridges and pulleys across deep ravines and boats that pick up kids to bring them across the river to school. There is a lot of poverty here in Nepal and yet people seem to get on with their daily lives, they have lots of festivals and seem to always be polite and helpful to tourists. There is no doubt though that life can be very tough both in the cities and the mountains. I have watched in awe at women of about 80 years of age carrying heavy loads up hundreds of steps and the same can be said for the older children. You feel like you should help them carry the load up although I probably wouldn't be able to lift such weights.

For the next few days we will chill out here in Pokhara and then head for Kathmandu and on to Sumatra. Unfortunately this morning we had to check out of our lovely guesthouse due to noise pollution. The noise pollution being a crowd of very loud french youths in the guesthouse adjacent to ours. Two nights in a row we had to listen to them sit outside our door discussing all manner of worldly Bulls**t. Somebody should tell them that one can solve world peace just as easily sitting inside their rooms!!!!! I could have done with some guided relaxation as I lay awake conjuring up all kinds of evil plots against them.....:)

Dodging Mosquito Status: I seem to have escaped pretty well for a change but they launched an all out attack on Ger last night for some reason. Unfortunately our next stop could be the war of all wars as they will be rampant on the Indonesian coast!!!

Posted by ofenelon 01:45 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

On top of the world in Nepal

We were on our flight from Dehli to Kathmandu when Ger nudged me to look out the window of the plane. I looked and said 'what its just clouds?'. On a second glance I could see what he was taking about. Peering up above the clouds we could see snow capped mountains of the Himalayas. What a sight! While I will never be a mountaineer, I can totally understand why people climb everest. It must be so amazing to be standing on top of the world.

We stayed in Kathmandu for a few days before beginning our 1st trek in the Annapurna range. We didnt get a chance yet to do some sightseeing in Kathmandu but we will on our return. I am prepared to give Kathmandu another chance but the first time around I wasnt overly impressed by it for one simple reason -the air pollution. I suppose im a bit sensitive to it giving the recent bout of chest problems. Apart from that, its a lively spot with good some good bars/restaurants. There are also millions of trekking shops selling fake trekking brands, Northface, Mammut etc. It is hilarious as the 'fakes' are so like the original that it can be very hard to tell but the shops dont lie about it so you know what your getting (its obvious from the price anyway). The quality varies though from shop to shop. Even though we had most of our stuff for trekking, we still had to do a bit of shopping which after 3 months of hardly no shopping, i was super excited!!!! The reality was that there was so much choice in gear that shopping actually became a bit of a headache. In the end we got all our stuff in a well known shop 'Shonas'. We did get some fake stuff and so far they seem good enough quality so happy with that.

From Kathmandu we met our trekking company and made arrangements for our trip to pokhara to begin the trek. Our guide was called Chandra and our porter was Diprecht. They were very nice and professional and we knew we had chose our trekking company (Jagat Lama) well. Chandra went over our itinerary of the Poon Hill trek and we headed for Pokhara. We ended up getting a flight to pokhara which was interesting. It was a small plane and it was recommended to us to sit on the right hand side so we could get the views. The trip is only 30mins and the recommendation was correct, there were stunning views out the window of the various Himalayan ranges.

The trek itself was amazing but tough going. The trek we done was in the annapurna range called the Poon Hill trek but we did extend it into Annapurna sanctuary too.. Its a very popular area as the scenery is very varied and then of course you reach parts where you get stunning views over the himalayas. The top of poon hill is approx (3200m) .and it is one of the best places for viewing the different ranges. The scenery was just spectacular and it was a sight I'll remember for the rest of my days.

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A bit like the mountains, the trek itself had a few up and downs. The main one being that after the first day, i got sick with dehydration. It was unfortunate but these things happen and I recovered fully by the end of the trek. It just meant that we had to rest for complete day, drink a lot of electrolyte fluid and then after take it slowly until i regained strength. Ger was a brilliant nurse though so i was back to normal in no time. Apart from that minor set back, all went well. The trek itself was physically tough but we were both fit enough so we were able for it. Every day we probably trekked the equivalent of up and down carrauntoohil (sometimes more, sometimes less). We had the option of trekking to annapurna base camp (4100m) but we decided against it for two reasons. The first was after the dehydration, i was a bit nervous to put the body under more strain. The second reason is that I struggled a bit with the heights so heading further up wouldn't have been a good idea. While i loved the trek, we can now confirm that i have a slight fear of heights and that i will be be sticking to lower heights from now on. Unfortunately for Ger it means that we wont be able to do another high altitude trek on this trip. I felt really bad as I knew he was really looking forward to it but we both realised that I would not be a suitable partner for the higher altitudes. The guide also agreed with us. Hopefully he can come back someday and do Manaslu with some other people. We are both delighted that we got to see what we did so neither of us are too disappointed.

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Now were are back in pokhara and its the perfect spot for relaxing. We have already changed our flights back to Kathmandu as we dont want to leave here. We were staying on one side of pokhara which wasn't that interesting and very touristy but we moved across town and its a lot better. There are lots of really great cafes/restaurants where you can sit out and watch the paragliders fly around. The weather here is fab too, not too hot but still in mid twenties. The great thing about Pokhara is that while at the moment its full of tourists & backpackers, there are lots of cool things to do. They have endless companies organising paragliding/rafting/kayaking etc. They also have yoga classes so we are attending them. (i am trying to pick up as many tips as I can from different teachers and get the flexibilty up). I think in the coming weeks we hope to do a short 'low altitude' village trek and some rafting but at the moment we are feeling rather lazy so we will see how that plan goes!!

Dodging Mosquito Status: They too seem to prefer the lower altitudes and are lurking about pokhara. I have spotted and been attacked by some but thankfully they are not as plentiful as India. Perhaps there is just more choice here as its full of unsuspecting trekkers.

Posted by ofenelon 18:47 Archived in Nepal Comments (2)

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