Nepal – To Kathmandu, 1

Kathmandu, March, 2018: The Prithivi highway for $7 or fly for $87, That’s the choice once faces when travelling to and from Pokhara. I chose the tourist bus for $7, a decision I came to regret. Here’s how the story unfolds….

7 am at the tourist bus park in Pokhara and the place is a frenzy of activity. It’s the height of the spring tourist season as trekkers and natives head back to Kathmandu. Despite this, our bus isn’t full, well not yet anyway. So, subject to pickups on route I could be in for a row to myself which is a great bonus on a long journey like this one I’m about to embark upon – 8 to 9 hours!

It’s a journey not for the faint of heart that’s for sure I’ve done this several times and just close my eyes, but first timers may arrive at their destination feeling somewhat thankful to have survived! The road is narrow compared to developed nations like Switzerland and Austria. The surface at best rather bumpy, at worst it’s simply nonexistent as blacktop is replaced by dirt top. Driving standards are dubious to say the least – risky manoeuvres are the norm around here such as overtaking on corners with just an inch or 2 between vehicles. On the positive side, theses drivers are skilled at getting their passengers at least to the first meal stop – breakfast.

Holdups, not uncommon on the Prithivi Highway, but so early in the journey doesn’t bode well. Just after the breakfast stop and it all grinds to a halt. An excellent opportunity for susu, a photo of the hills and another stretch of the legs. And then that sinking feeling when realises the bus has departed. Yes, without any warning the bus has left the scene minus 2 of its passengers. Oh dear, this isn’t a good situation to be in, with passport and money still on the bus doubtful I’ll ever see them again…..

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Nepal – Himalayan Sundown at Pokhara Airport

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2018: A 10 minute bus ride to Rastrabank Chowk followed by a 15 minute stomp up to the end of the runway at Pokhara airport  – a great spot for some mountain viewing. From here, one can see practically the entire Annapurna mountain range and since the weather has been unusually clear all day then today is an opportunity to catch a Himalayan sunset.

As the sun begins to sink a hue falls upon the glistening mountain peaks. A subtle pink turning into a deeper shade of orange as the sun sinks to the Southwest. A majestic and serene scene indeed. Mesmerizing to begin with then the mists and shadows fall obscuring the Eastern facing slopes until finally its all in the grasp of dusk. Time to head on back to base.

Waiting for the sun to set….

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Changing colours at sundown…

 

In Summary…

Sunset begins at around 5.30 this time of the year and lasts for about 45 minutes. Bus from Barahi (Map) to Rastrabank Chowk (Map) is 15 rupees. From Rastrabank walk up to Mustang Chowk (Map) and the airport is straight ahead. Turn right then next left to find the end of the runway (Map).  A great little expedition requiring almost no effort – great for non-trekkers like me!

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 – Dhanpush in a Day Pt.4

Pokhara, Nepal, February 2017: All is pretty quiet here in Dhanpush – on the cusp of the trekking season and not much appears to be going on. a small shop has no shopkeeper while the local abortion clinic equally looks rather depleted of human activity. There is however a collection of ramshackle structures offering food, albeit limited. The famous Nepali Dhal Bhat is unavailable for 1 person, but I can have an omelet, 2 eggs and veg in its culinary construction – will I get a Jamie Oliver special?

So, while the cook is rustling up my omelet, here are a few images to look over.

Well, that omelet didn’t have the Jamie Oliver touch and grossly overpriced. Infact everything around here seems overpriced if your skin colour is white! Just a little up the dirt track is a couple of jeeps awaiting passengers – 300 Rupees for a ride down, locals pay 60. No thanks, I’ll walk down and the chap smiles unashamedly. And so its time to leave Dhanpush and make my way to Pokhara. Any further and I’ll run into the permit checkpoint – it’s around $40 if you want to take the 7-10 day hike towards the mountains, permits purchased in Pokhara.

Down then, just follow the jeep track which after about 50 minutes intersects the original path I came up on – good, no chance of getting lost now!

And to conclude Dhanpush in a Day, here are some of the images heading down towards Phedi and the bus back to Pokhara. A last look back at the mountains before cloud-out, some wildlife spotting and the afternoon sun showing up the splendour of the terraced fields and valleys. So, I hope you enjoyed Dhanpush as much as I did!

 

 

 

Nepal – Annapurna Avalanche Warning!

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2017: Recent days has seen a cold snap extend across Nepal from the Northwest accompanied by significant snow falls. Reports from trekkers heading down into Pokhara suggest parts of the Annapurna circuit are knee deep in snow. Additionally, the BBC mentioned the risk of avalanches across the Western Himalayan region!

If you plan on Annapurna trekking between now and End of April, better make sure your guide is of some repute! Organised treks of course will know and assess the avalanche risk.

Here’s a few shots of comparisons:

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Not much snow a few weeks ago, February 2017

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Plenty of Snow, March 10th 2017

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Oh, where’s the show, February 2017

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Here’s the snow, March 10th 2017

Nepal – Dhanpush in a Day Pt.3

Pokhara, Nepal, February 2017:

Dhanpush at last!

Actually, the hike wasn’t as traumatic as others I have undertaken. The hike to Sarangkot for example was a 3 hour mammoth effort and mostly in thick forest. This hike by contrast is only 1 and 1/2 hours passing through scenic rural spots. Now though, here we are in Dhanpush and immediately one feels a sense of tranquility – no people, no traffic, no pollution, clear blue sky and of course a view to behold, the Annapurna mountain range.The village is pretty, quaint even. All is quiet as the mid morning sunshine reflects on the stone and slate houses alongside cobbled paths. Well, I’ll let the following set of photo’s speak for themselves…. .

Dhanpush is situated on a ridge fronting the Annapurna mountains. A little misty towards the sun at the ranges Eastern end, but where the sun reflects on the snow towards the West then the viewing and photographic opportunities are quite something.

Here in this set of images we can marvel at natures wonder that is the Himalayas….

Continuing the trek through the village, along the cobbled paths which suddenly turn into a single dirt track leading down towards terraced fields and eventually the bottom of a valley. Its clear that the place is quite spread out as the ridge curves right and leads on to the Annapurna trail. so far I haven’t spotted any of these famed tea houses as thoughts of a nice cup of tea get ever stronger. Although the sun is beating down there is a chilly breeze up here and some hot tea right now would be most welcome. An old timer spots me and smiles. I smile back and ask where I can get tea. He smiles again and beckons me up the little path, more suited to mountain goats! The ‘village elder’ mumbles in Nepali to a woman tending the baby and very soon I have a mug of hot Nepali milk tea – what a treat!

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Next….in part 4, trying to find some lunch, village life and on he way down.

Nepal – Cycling to a Tibetan Camp Pt.3

Pokhara, Nepal, February 2017: Well, its been about 1/2 an hour loitering around here. Sitting on a boulder next to the gushing, pale blue waters of the River Seti, better make a move, quite fancy a cup of tea now, and lunch isn’t far off either!

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Another 35 minutes on the cycle, all the time in an upward direction, Well, I’m pretty much used to it now. Past the police checkpoint without any drama – I don’t think they even noticed me, and up, and up and up! At last, somewhere to eat and drink. Until now eating joints have been thin on the ground, but this is a welcome sight after that uphill ride! And its right outside the Tibetan Camp.Tea was nice but  the food wasn’t great, pretty mediocre – a choice of buffalo pasties or fried noodles, needless to say I played it safe.

The Tibetan Camp (Google Map)

I wouldn’t exactly call it a camp, rather a self-sufficient village. Two schools, a few shops, a village hall and a comprehensive sewerage system not to mention a monastery complex A peaceful, sleepy little place with a feeling that one has been transported away from the hustle and bustle of planet earth and is somewhere totally different. In-fact all this serenity is making me feel drowsy – a 5 minute nap is in order!

Actually, not a bad place to live, right up here with nice views of the mountain range and the air is pretty clean too. I’d say the Tibetans have a pretty good quality of life allbeit on the basic side. I don’t get the impression the kids are rich with gadgets like play stations and such like. I guess the men folk are out in the fields while mamma’s and grandmas can be observed busily threading colourful beads and weaving carpets.

Here, a few images depicting the camps people and its architecture.Those 2 tinkers you can see pushing their bikes, well, I passed them about 2 hours ago in Pokhara….