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….

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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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Nepal – Time To Move On

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2017:  Yes, time to move on as my 3 month visa nears its expiry date. Here’s a short recap plus a few photos that didn’t really fit anywhere else in the blog.

January: Blue skies, great views and just a handful of tourists. The nights were cold but by day the temperature reached late teens – perfect for getting over that Jet-lag. Mid January sees the start of Spring with the emergence of hibernating reptiles along with some flowering trees. It is however the dry season and dust just everywhere – especially if one is hiking away from the town.

February: As January rolls into February so the days begin to hot up reaching 21-23 c. Its still pretty quiet, the main tourist season still a few weeks away. With the rising temperatures comes a change in the weather with most days being quite hazy obscuring those scenic views. By mid-morning clouds have completely covered the mountains with the occasional afternoon shower. Early hikes, around the crack of dawn,will still results in some stunning views.

March: February turns into March and the tourists have arrived, but not in any great numbers much to the frustration of local traders – they’r still blaming the 2015 earthquake. From my observations there’s is definitely an over supply on all fronts of the tourist industry here in Pokhara – and its a pretty big one at that. Mid March when the place should be swarming, it is infact rather quiet with food shacks and even posher restaurants empty most of the day. By night, there’s rarely a place that can be called busy. However, for just one weekend the place is absolutely packed – with natives, the Holi Festival weekend. Yes, the place takes on a completely new character as the streets are filled with music, water and paint powder.

And so ends this visit to Nepal for now as I head off to Korea in a few days. I will return in May for another month taking a closer look at what its really like to live in Nepal when one is on the bottom line. I’ll leave you now with some odds and ends – a small reflection of life in Pokhara.

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Nepal – For Nature, Flora and Fauna

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2017: Nature is all around you in Nepal. From the lowlands right up to the highlands one can spot plenty of flora, fauna and natural wonders. Presented here is a gallery of Nepal’s  natural wonders – some of the more common species one can spot on any short hike or stroll around Pokhara and the surrounds. I’m no expert when it comes to natural history, my knowledge somewhat rudimentary at best, but in general one will easily spot a few types of lizard, plenty of bananas, loads of hawks such as Black Kites and Vultures, cute birds such as Orange Shrikes and BulBuls along with a host of Butterflies, Bees and Hornets.

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Nepal – The Iconic Annapurna Reflection

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2017: No visit to Pokhara is complete without that iconic view of the mountains reflected in the lake. Today, a combination of still, clean and clear air have provided the optimum conditions for such a view and the best spot for that prize winning photo is ‘Fish Tail Lodge’. (Google Map)

Situated at the Eastern end of Lakeside its just a 5 minute free boat ride across the lake to a scene of peace and tranquility, only occasionally shattered with the cackle of a Chinese tourist. Its definitely pays to arrive early since this is a pretty popular spot as the Chinese tourists jostle for the best photo positions much to the displeasure of residents taking breakfast.

Here’s a gallery of that iconic Annapurna mountain range reflection. If one however is unlucky enough not to experience this tranquil scene, touts on the outside will happily sell a panoramic photo for about 150 Rupees.

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Soon… I will be leaving Nepal for a trip to South Korea with a layover in Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur – I’m always happy to end up in Kuala Lumpur!

Nepal – Those Magical, Mysterious Mountains

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2017:  In the mainIts the mountains we come to see – the beautiful, magical and mysterious ranges spanning Nepal’s entire Northern boundary. While 90% of visitors embark upon very long hikes to get a closer look, the remaining 10% of us for some reason or other have to find another method to get those great mountain views, namely flying!

  1. Helicopter. The quickest, easiest, most comfortable and of course the most expensive way to see the mountains is take a heli-tour. A 90 minute trip to the Annapurna base camp and back will cost just under $400.
  2. Plane. Depending on the season its quite possible to fly to Jomsom and back within a couple of hours and this flight is special as the aircraft has to fly close to the mountains giving passengers on the right some amazing scenery. A return trip Pokhara to Jomsom is around $145. Alternatively fly there, get a bus back to cut down the cost.
  3. Ultra-light. Not for the faint of hart, these flimsy 2 seat machines offer adventure seekers the ultimate exhilaration as they buzz the closest mountains in sub-zero temperatures. 35 minutes from Pokhara costs around $120. Another 20 minutes will push the price up to $200.
  4. Hire a Cycle. hire a cycle for a few hours around sunrise and head for the airport. Park at the end of the runway and watch how those magical, mysterious mountains come alive. Bikes on hire, around 100 rupees an hour.The images below all taken from the end of the runway with a Canon SX610 HS.

Nepal – The Annapurna Mountains

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2017:  And so as the sun rises so do the people of Pokhara. An early flight revs it’s engines then taxis to the runway for takeoff – and what a view those passengers will have in a few minutes from now! On a morning like this, those mountains take on a whole new perspective as the sun climbs, brightens and moves south illuminating the whiteness of the recent snow falls across the Annapurna range.

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