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NEPAL: I’m in Pokhara for some much needed rest and relaxation!

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Welcome to Another Random Jotting from Backpacker Paul!

Nepal – Sarangkot, Awesome Mountain Views 1

Pokhara, Nepal, February 2018:  Sarangkot is that one special place, memorable and most definitely unforgettable. The mountain views from here are simply awesome on a clear day! I’ve been several times and I’m going again – today infact since there’s a window of opportunity. The clouds and mist have been replaced by a clear blue sky and crisp fresh mountain air.

How to get to Sarangkot: Three ways, the hard way the easy way and the expensive way.

The hard way entails a trek from Lakeside to the next village along, Phedy, and then a steep hike up the hill to Sarangkot – That’ll take 3 hard hours!

The easy way involves 2 possibly 2 busses from Hallanchowk to Sarangkot village then a 15 minute hike up to the view point. Bus 1, Hallanchowk to the locally named Zero intersection, 15 rupees. Bus 2, Zero to Baglung bus station, 15 rupees then the third bus to Sarangkot village – leaves between 9 and 9.20 am, 50 rupees one way. Depending on bus times the whole trip takes about 1 hour 15 minutes.

 

The expensive way is to of course take a taxi from the hotel. Depending on ones haggling skills it’ll cost between 600-750 rupees one way for a white person. Should take around 35 minutes.

Since I’m not renowned for laying out unnecessary expense or taking the hard way when an easy option exists its of no surprise then that today’s trip will be the easy way!  Except that I’ll skip the third bus and take a leisurely stroll up to the 5,500 foot vie point.

NEXT: On the road to Sarangkot and a look at those awesome mountain views…..

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Nepal – 4 Flights and 28 hours to Pokhara.

England, 2nd January  2018: 4 flights across 2 days should hopefully get me to Pokhara if all go’s to plan. Yes, i’m about to embark on another migration southwards and eastwards to first Nepal then onto Hong Kong and Japan. I’m breaking with tradition this year by starting at my local airport rather than London! So, at 6.15 am its a freezing cold  stomp in the dark, to the city centre bus station and the airport bus.

Flight 1 Norwich International to Amsterdam Schipol: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Embraer Jet, 35 minutes flying time costing £86 (£172 return) arriving Schipol at 11am. A pretty nice flight on the Embraer Jet, a small commuter plane and today packed to the rafters! Plenty of legroom and I managed to sneak 3 bags into the cabin – backpack, kitbag and laptop bag!

Flight 2 Amsterdam Schipol to Istanbul Ataturk: Turkish Airlines Airbus 330, 3 hours flying time costing £255 (£510 Return) departing Schipol at 1830. Another flight packed to the rafters but its only a relatively short trip to Istanbul.

Flight 3 Istanbul Ataturk to Kathmandu: Turkish Airlines Airbus 330, 6 hours flying time incorporating the £255 as the fare from Amsterdam to Kathmandu. Departs at 0145 arriving Kathmandu 11am. A good flight, well, any plane half full can be deemed a good flight. So, with plenty of space and great tasting food one can say this red eye trip is quite satisfactory.

Approaching Kathmandu…

Flight 4 Kathmandu to Pokhara: Yeti Airlines British Aerospace J41, 25 minutes flying time at a cost of £87 one way. Leaves Kathmandu at 1245 arriving Pokhara 1315. I was booked on the 1445 to Pokhara anticipating a possible late arrival and long immigration queues – wrong on both counts! The staff at Yeti Air kindly rearranged my flight to the next available -30 minutes time, no fuss, no price penalties, they just did it.

On the way to Pokhara…

And once again in Pokhara, Nepal.

England – Planning The Next Trip

 

Norwich,  Norfolk, England, Winter 2017: I will always use the online booking agent Skyscanner as a guide and would never contemplate actually making a reservation. Online reviews quickly establish that those obscure names offering rock bottom bargain airfares are rarely what they seem. I don’t know about your country, but here in England scamming the gullible is big business!

I usually fly from London, but this year is going to be different. Yes, I’m flying from my local airport and connecting through Amsterdam and Istanbul. I’m heading back to Nepal and it turns out that flying with Turkish Airlines from Amsterdam is about £100 cheaper than flying from London! So, with all the transport costs to and from London and the flight from Norwich factored in the flight to Kathmandu from my local airport is only marginally more expensive.

I’ve booked directly with the Airlines, bypassing online agents as I prefer to have my booking confirmation instantly, not next week or next month!

So here it is – leaving 2nd January 2018 from Norwich to Amsterdam with KLM dutch Airlines. Later, connecting with a Turkish Airlines to Istanbul with a plane change to Kathmandu, arriving 1130 the next morning. Then i’m taking a local flight to Pokhara – Lets hope  after all of that, I arrive in one piece. I shall be returning late  July, pretty much the same route in reverse.

And inbetween, I shall be visiting Malaysia, Hong Kong and Japan, plus one or two other destinations yet to be decided.

So until next year…..

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year From England!

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Great Britain – This is Norwich, England

Norwich, Norfolk, England, Autumn, 2017: My home city, Norwich has plenty of historic interest. From original cobbled stone streets lined with Tudor era buildings to the Edwardian and Georgian developments in the hart of the city. Reconstruction after the ravages of World War 2 has seen theses buildings preserved to pristine condition making Norwich city centre popular with domestic tourists and international students.

Over the next few posts I’ll attempt to share the sights and hopefully the sounds of life in a small English city that you’ve probably never heard of before now!

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For now, here’s a set of general images from our fine city and if time permits I’ll home in on features such as the historic Castle and our magnificent cathedral, oh and of course we’ll walk around the market!

England – Back on Home Ground

London, England, June 2017: Its been a long flight, leaving Kathmandu nearly 24 hours ago with a change of aircraft at Abu Dhabi. Etihad flight 11 is a red eye, leaving at 2.30 in the morning! I try to avoid these flights but a I needed to change my ticket and this was all that was left! Etihad operates a standard economy cabin with the same amount of leg room and seat size as all the other operators – not very much of either. Unfortunately for me I didn’t eat much much in the ultra expensive Abu Dhabi airport in the hope of some decent food on the flight. So it was pretty disappointing to be served with 1 small plastic sandwich shortly after take off. Yes, the inside was pretty grim being furnished with processed everything. Zero points for Etihad on the EY11 bound for London!

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Over London at last!Yes, in about 20 minutes we’ll be on British soil for the first time in 6 months. Here are some views of the city as this Airbus 380 meanders towards the final approach the London’s Heathrow airport.

Turning around London’s East End here are some pretty good views of the City Airport.

So how many London landmarks can you spot from these photos?

And that dear readers ends this travel season for 2017. I need to recharge my bank account and plan for travel season 2018 – perhaps you can inspire me with some interesting destination suggestions. Once again thanks for tuning into my random jottings and I hope the casual nature of the dialogue wasn’t too boring 🙂

Nepal – Goodbye, Farewell, So Long….

Pokhara, Nepal, June 2017:  After 3 weeks of teaching mathematics and English spellings to the local kids, its time to say goodbye for another season and head home to England where hopefully the summer will have arrived. Its always hard to say goodbye to Nepal and especially to those here in Pokhara. But goodbye it is as the long road ahead beckons. First its that 7-8 hour bus ride to Kathmandu for a night stop. A late afternoon flight to Abu Dhabi the next day to connect with a red eye flight to London in the early hours of day three!

Its off season so the airport queues are somewhat less than they otherwise would be. The security queue is nice and short which enables me to grab some time for a little plane spotting before jetting off to Abu Dhabi.

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These poor Air India passengers are made to wait in the rain for transport to the terminal.  Below, a selection of the operators arriving and departing TIA, Kathmandu Airport.

At last its time to leave Nepal and head towards London via Abu Dhabi on this Etihad Airbus. The plane is practically empty, surprising since these Middle Eastern flights are usually packed with migrant workers. A seat on the right, by the window should provide some nice views leaving the Kathmandu Valley….

This flight circles the airport as it climbs up out of the valley before setting course towards Abu Dhabi following the Himalayan Mountain range – and what a view!

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Goodbye Nepal, nice to have been here once again….

Nepal – Mountains And More Mountains

Pokhara, Nepal, June 2017:  well, I’ve made it to June in one piece. Having started out in January flying from London to Nepal and onward to various points in Southeast Asia this years trip is almost at an end. Just over 3 weeks and I’ll be jetting off back to London, but before then I’m going to enjoy just a little bit more of the Himalayas and some of the Nepali local life.

Despite June being on the cusp of the rainy season, there are thankfully still enough gaps in the weather to grab some rather nice images of the Annapurna mountains, especially early morning and after a spell of rain.

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June is also a good time for other forms of nature, especially bugs, snakes and lizards. The Bananas start to ripen, sweet and delicious with no added chemicals! Here’s a few of my latest Nepal natural history shots…

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June is also when the mosquito’s get hungry and have a special desire for white skin! The good news is that mosquito’s in Nepal are big and you can usually see them coming during daylight. The big black and white striped variety can be dangerous so watch out!

I’ve written plenty about Nepal, including my earthquake experience. Rather than have me write repetitively, please feel free to use the search box for my previous Nepal posts where you will find an interesting insight into local life.

 

Nepal – Landslide on the Prithivi Highway

Kathmandu, Nepal, June 2017:  Kuala Lumpur, Kathmandu and Pokhara – yes, after having recovered from a nasty lingering virus I’m ready to tackle the now infamous Prithivi highway to Pokhara once again. It’s a journey not for those with a nervous disposition or the unadventurous  – for you, I’d recommend taking a flight, about £80 one way and 25 minutes. By bus, £6 and upto 8 hours, more during the rainy season.

you can see photos from a previous post here, but be warned – not if your the nervous type 🙂   Read Post now…

A broken down truck, usually with a flat tyre is enough to bring the Prithivi highway to a grinding halt. This time its a landslide, well that’s the word on the bus as it comes to a gentle stop behind a thousand other vehicles. An estimated 2 hour delay is going to make this a very long day! So, stuck miles away from any town or village, the only thing to do is stroll up and down in the stifling heat of the day. Actually its not that bad since the natives work up courage to say a few words and then as if by magic a truck appears with ice-creams and frozen lollies. Oh and the nearby monkeys provide some acrobatics for a while!

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And so some 4 hours late, with raging thunderstorms all around, the bus pulls into Pokhara bus park – at least here in one piece with sanity still intact.

 

Nepal – Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Kathmandu and a Virus

Bangkok, Thailand, May 2017: Back to Nepal via Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur but any thoughts of sightseeing inbetween have been somewhat curtailed. A nasty, debilitating virus has hit with its ugly symptoms manifesting on my first night in Bangkok beginning with the odd sensation that I needed to occasionally stretch then tighten my leg muscles. By morning I was quite feeling of nausea with ebbing energy levels. Thereafter sickness kicked in until around 3 in the afternoon by which time I had zero energy. Yes, its hard to even get out of bed and head for the toilet pan! Any thoughts of getting out are completely out of the question for today and probably tomorrow.

Day two arrives with energy at zero having had a disturbed night, but at least the vomiting has ceased. Zero energy and zero appetite but I can just about drag myself towards the kettle and make some tea. So, one more day in this Bangkok hotel before my flight to Kuala Lumpur. Sleeping better now but with a very sore back – like sleeping with a sunburn.

Day three, still with energy well below par I ‘m able to drag myself onto 2 buses and make my way across town to the airport for my flight to Kuala Lumpur. A freezing cold bus and still with that sore skin sensation its not a great journey! An odd mix of hunger and nausea prevents me from eating any quantities of food. I have an appetite back but then when faced with food I can’t eat that much of it. Kuala Lumpur late afternoon with energy back down to almost zero. Still no real appetite.

Day four with no real energy. All I can do is drag myself around the guesthouse here in Kuala Lumpur. That hunger with nausea sensation is still here spoiling what should be the best food experience in all of Asia. That soreness of the skin hasn’t subsided any either.

Day five with a little more energy. Its a real effort but I did make it out to the street and across to the shopping mall ATM. Still unable to eat in any quantity. Stll sleeping with that sunburn sensation.

Day 6, the same as day five! With a flight to Kathmandu tomorrow I’m seriously considering seeking medical attention – thankfully I have insurance! There’s a pharmacy across the street in the NU Mall. A very nice Chinese gives me about half a dozen white pills and is confident they’ll fix everything! These Chinese pills are making me feel rather light headed and well, after that I don’t know what happened since presumably I was sound asleep.

Day 7 and a miracle -yes, those Chinese pills have fixed everything. No more soreness, energy levels back to almost normal. After almost a week of sufferance, I’m ready for the challenges of road travel in Nepal.

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