A Travellerspoint blog


Final post from Nepal

And so, as quickly as it began- it's over.

Our last day trekking was a quick one- after breakfast only about 45 minutes (down) from Dhanpus to our van to take us back to Kathmandu. I will suggest however that if you are considering starting your trek by heading to Dhampus as your first stop, beware. Most of the hike down we commented how tiring it would be to do this in reverse- as it was a solid 45 minutes of navigating uneven steps down the side of the mountain. But- who doesn't love a challenge?

As we are starting to have local haunts on this trip- we hit up the Hilltop for one last round of Nepal Ice and veg curry. The boys at Hilltop were polite as always, and for a highway rest stop, the food really cannot be beat. If you're headed between Kathmandu and Pokhara, we highly recommend this place. Who knows- maybe you'll spot the two boys sporting Canada pins.

For our last night with Shorty, we had dinner together at the Bricks Cafe, in Pattan. The restaurant is an old, three story brick house, which has been converted into a cozy and unique restaurant. There was a curvy Nepalese girl, demonstrating traditional dance on the second floor, while we ate our Thali (with forks) in a quiet corner by the windows on the top story. Some new gems have surfaced in our eating catalogue since our return to Nepal- peanuts masala (a raw peanut dish, with chilies and diced red onion); veg curry with zucchini, carrots and broccoli (yay for color!!); and carrot pudding. Ok, carrot pudding did not surface until Bricks- how ever this delightful little treat is bound to be served along side my Mom's Christmas Pudding this year. We enjoyed a couple bottles of our favorite grape juice and devoured yet another great meal in this lovely country.

Traditional Dancing

Tender Trio

This morning, Shorty took us on the last of our sightseeing of the city (which we missed because of staying in Delhi an extra day). Kathmandu is actually three cities combined- Kathmandu, Pattan and Bhuktapur. We slept in Kathmandu, ate in Pattan, so naturally for our last excursion- we shopped in Bhuktapur. The city is a living heritage site, as such, Dhurbar Square is restricted to foot traffic (and the occasional vehicle). It is far cleaner than the other cities, and holds a very rustic charm which cannot be found in Kat or Pattan. It feels like it has been frozen in time. We wandered some sights before being set loose by Shorty, to purchase our last souvenirs that we had been holding out on (our bags weigh too much as it is...)


When we finally arrived back to the hotel at 7pm, we collected our laundry and desperately tried to smash it into every nook and cranny in our backpacks. B has a nifty little compression sack (MEC, I think) which I am entirely jealous of, as it seems my bag explodes every time I undo a snap. So far we have all managed to travel quite well with 55L backpacks- although the weight varies between 12 kgs and 16 kgs between the 3 of us!!

And now- we're at the Kathmandu airport. 3 hours early, with little to do. We tried some chocolate with corn in it (random). Drank some more coffee. Stood in a few line ups. And watched the Cricket on TV. Very few ways to waste some time in this airport... But finishing the blog post for Nepal, seems like a great option.

So, final parting words before we leave Nepal- the people are warm, the culture is rich, the view is amazing, and the experience- just might change your life.

With love, Nepal. We'll be back.

The Tender Trio

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Posted by ellie nicole 17:06 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Finger Food

Another morning, another round of porridge and boiled eggs. Some meals are meant to stay the same. We haven't been too adventurous with breakfast.

The view is again spectacular when we peek out of our little concrete hide-away. Annapurna South graciously occupying the morning sky. You can't help but have a smile on your face when this is the first thing you lay eyes on when the curtains open.


Today is a shorter day- only about 4 hours of hiking, Shorty tells us. It does however contain the steepest incline- 45 minutes of stairs. Now, inclines- not bad. Tough on the calves, but easier to pace and keep your breath. But stairs... Another story.

So we set off- and up- out of Landruk. We were told that in peak season over 3000 people a day commence a trek in the Annapurna range- and I am happy to say that in March, we didn't encounter very many people at all. To get to our "tea" spot, it was up and down, back a little further into the mountain and out. The flora and fauna (and school children and cattle) were a welcome sight as we made our way along the path.

When we stopped for tea, we got to witness the madness of 15 Nepalese workers having lunch. Traditionally, Nepalese eat with their hands. They pour steaming lentil soup over fluffy white rice, and then massage the food into a pile and scoop it up, and down the hatch. Without spilling an ounce. Impressive. What was even more impressive, some of these men finished 3 full plates of rice, lentils and greens without batting an eye. I suppose doing hard physical labour in the hot sun will do that to you.

Tea ends- and our journey up begins. A game of mental fortitude really. Don't get me wrong- this is not the most strenuous trek in the Himilayas- it's not Everest or even any of the base camps. But it's a bit of a mind bender when you are feeling your legs burn, and you have to focus so hard to ensure you make it up the next step, as all of the "stairs" are different heights and angles.

Good news is- we made it.

After lunch it was a breezy 35 minute walk to Dhampus, our last stop on the trek. We are staying in the Paradise View Guesthouse. We have learnt through the trek that most villages in Annapurna operate on micro-hydro systems, so the electricity is constant (unlike Kathmandu). Some guesthouses have gas to heat their water, however most do not, and hence hot showers are hard to come by. Paradise had it all- micro-hydro, gas heated water, and amazing water pressure! After three days of trekking and being little Himilaya ragamuffins, we finally all enjoyed amazing hot showers (oh the things we take for granted at home!)

After getting cleaned up, we were treated to a momo cooking lesson in the kitchen. Momo's were a Day 1 discovery in Pokhara and have remained a staple for us throughout our Nepalese eating adventure. The cook giggled at us as we struggled to roll out the dough, and then mashed vegetables into the pastry (not making any of our grandmothers proud). They did however, taste delicious!


For our last night with Porter 1 and Porter 2, they taught us to eat with our hands. Paws full of rice and lentils, we scarfed back the usual fare as they gave us sideways glances and snickered back and fourth to one another. We might not be seasoned vets- but we gave it a hell of a try.

After having Shorty address a situation with a rather large arachnid in the washroom, we are all curled up for our second last night in Nepal. Oh how time flies when you are exploring the world.

Til tomorrow,
L, B & the Ginger Cat

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Posted by ellie nicole 16:56 Archived in Nepal Comments (2)

Hills and Hot Springs

Since being in the mountain region, we have yet to have a clear view of the Himilayas. Our sunrise in Sarangkot was impressive, but the winter clouds hang low and hide the mountains from view most days.

This morning Shorty woke us up at 630am to show us the view from our guesthouse.


Finally- a stunning view of Annapurna South and Fishtail. After breakfast we set off towards the Jhansu hot springs. The trekking has been up and down- to get to the hot springs took us roughly 3 hours from Ghandruk. We had a lovely travel companion with us until Jhansu- Red. One of the healthiest looking dogs we have seen, and she followed us the entire morning. Stopping when we were taking water breaks, or waiting around the bend for us as we stared in awe at the view.


Once we reached the village, we had to hike down about 15 minutes to the river bank to the hot springs. It was sunny and quiet and with the sound of the river in the background, the three of us could have fallen asleep on the edge of the pool. There is no cost to access the hot springs, however there is a donation box, as there is a kind old gentleman who ensures the change areas and the pools are clean. If you are trekking in this area be sure to stop at the hot springs for an hour or so. It has been the highlight of our trek so far.


The hike out of there was the least relaxing part of it all... I think I counted 171 stairs on the last part of the way up.

The second leg of the hike after lunch was on the other side of the valley from Ghandruk. The topography changed drastically (as Shorty told us it would). The terraces were gone and were replaced with waterfalls, lush forest and the river at the lowest points. We crossed he longest suspension bridge as well (side note: they call this the "new" bridge, however we later found out it is only called the new bridge because they just put up new prayer flags...) Only 2 people may cross at a time, and we're told before hand if the donkey's come that we have to let them go first. Half way across the bridge B and I pondered exactly where we might go if in fact a pack of donkey's were to come jingling down the ridge....


The remainder of the trek after was uphill to Landruk. Not overly difficult, as it seems any time the past two days you are ready to call it a day, there is a flat or less of an incline where you an catch your breath and actually enjoy the view. It is quite the rewarding feeling to look across the valley and realize where you have hiked from during the day- especially knowing how many times you descended to the riverside and back up again. We finished today at about 1550m.

Upon arriving in Landruk we are given our room at the Himilayas Guest House, and it's a triple. The room is really only a concrete box, and also contains our first bathroom with a traditional (read: squatting) toilet in it, no big deal! We enjoyed several pots of chai while chatting to a lovely Aussie couple on the terrace with a view of Annapurna South. Not a terrible way to end a day of hiking. And the good news is that it doesn't seem quite so cold tonight... But Shorty gave us two blankets each- just in case. I will still admit that I am loving the leg warmers tonight!

Now we are all curled up, the girls reading and me typing away. It's starting to feel a bit like tradition to do this at the end of a great day.

To more reading and writing,

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Posted by ellie nicole 03:01 Archived in Nepal Tagged springs trek hot annapurna landruk jhansu Comments (0)

Happy Holi from the Himilayas!

Happy happy Holi!!! Today in the mountain villages of Nepal, Holi is being celebrated in all of its splendor. Children are covered in colored powders, are throwing water balloons at each other (and passers by) and are squirting make shift water bottles full of colored water at everyone and everything- including us. Shorty has helped us get into the festivities by putting red powder on our cheeks as we begin our trek through Annapurna.

The beginning of our trek was leisurely, a couple of hours and then a stop for dal bhat and water at Green Valley Lodge and Restaurant. In the afternoon sun we began our next leg of our trek to Ghandruk- which was up, up and up again. The view was spectacular- the valley covered in ancient hillside terraces, the sounds of donkey's with bells occasionally jingling along the trails. A welcome change from the bustling cities we have been engulfed in for several weeks. In the sun, the stairs and inclines were challenging- and by the time we finally arrived in Ghandruk, all of our Holi paints were dripping down our sweaty faces.


Word to the wise- although it is warm during the day (in the 20's) it cools off at night. With no central heating (or space heaters), our rooms at Breeze Guest House are the same temperature as outside (7-9 degrees). B had spotted some very cool leg warmers when we were in Pokhara the first time around- so before setting out we all picked up a pair.... Thank goodness! All bundled up in leg warmers, toques, scarves, mitts and jackets we enjoyed pot after pot of warm masala (or fresh ginger) tea while we played cards and ate dinner in the quiet of the Himilayas.

Rooms at the guesthouses appear to be about NPR250-400 a night, depending if you have a bathroom or not. We have budgeted about NPR1000/day for food, which depending on our tea consumption might not be enough! There are no bank machines (obviously) through this region, however most places will also accept Indian Rupees as well. Bottled water has so far been available everywhere, for about NPR120 or less. We have stocked up on snacks before leaving, which has turned to be a great idea as we snacked mid morning and mid afternoon today.

As we weren't expecting it to be quite as cold as it was- we adapted. We had 2 rooms at the Guest House, Ging in one and B and I in the other. When we decided to pack in at 9 pm, we all had acquired two blankets each to keep warm... B and I also opted for the body heat option and chose to nest up and a single bed with four giant blankets, our toques and scarves for the night.


It was one of the best sleeps we have had on this journey- likely because it is so quiet being hidden away in the mountains (not to mention a little physical activity to wipe you out!).

Today we are trekking from Ghandruk to Landruk, with a stop at the Jhanu hot springs. Just another day in adventure travel.

Another day another story,

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Posted by ellie nicole 03:01 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Nepal (part deux)

The difference two weeks make. Arriving back in to Kathmandu, our second impression is so much different than the first. Instead of the dirty, scary, desolate city we arrived into February 19, we are greeted by a welcome calmness compared to India. The city is alive and bustling, and much cooler than the sweltering heat we had experienced in Delhi the day before.

For the next seven days we are in the hands of Shorty- a lovely Kathmandu local who will be leading us through our Annapurna journey. It's just the three of us now- and our porter An-the-man and another who will join us in Pokhara.

A few observations... We are realizing how adapted we have become to our lifestyle while traveling. There are many things which were novel (or bizarre) at first, which are now not of much concern. The top ten:

1. Military with guns and sticks. Whenever you spot them, they are always carrying a mean looking stick and some type of rifle. Not a completely foreign sight, however we are getting used to seeing them pretty much everywhere we go, through India and Nepal.
2. Garbage. Obviously our ability to ignore the trash speaks volumes on how the locals likely feel about it as well. By far the worst was in Varanasi, but it's hardly noticeable any more.
3. Dirty feet. Regardless of what we do, all three of us have ridiculously dirty feet by the end of the day. The dirt tan has become embraced in our Trio as a thing of beauty. I unfortunately never seem to get the best dirt tan- I think it might contrast better on alabaster skin tones.
(please note the dust in the picture...)
4. Cows. Our first day in Pokhara we saw two cows walking on the sidewalk and we chased them down to take pictures. We could really care less about them now, as they're not going anywhere fast, and aside from trying to eat off our plates at lunch in Orchha or hip check is while we're running through Varanasi, they are no longer getting much attention from us.
5. The beds: our first night at Hotel Fuji, we thought the beds were hard and uncomfortable. Round two? They might be some of the most comfortable we have slept on in weeks.
6. Everything about using the toilet facilities. The squatting, the dark, the smell, the occasional splash back. All pretty much par for the course. We will say by far the worst was the train station in Jhansi (Orchha) however.
7. Cold showers. B is having the toughest time adapting to not having warm showers- but I'll give credit where it is due, she's a trooper. Sometimes we get warm water, but not too often. But when you're covered in dust and dirt- you gotta do what you gotta do.
8. Sporadic electricity. This one applies more to Nepal, but sometimes the electricity cuts out. In Delhi the power went while I was showering, and B came to the rescue with her headlamp so I could finish shaving my legs. This is what best friends are for.
9. Street chaos. Not even an issue after Varanasi. We're pretty much local now, jumping in and out of traffic, always walking on the streets, side stepping the occasional cow patty or stray dog.
10. Not having to carry a purse. Ok this one only applies to me, as B suggested I ditch my ratty black purse back in Chitwan. I have been purse free for almost 2 weeks, while B and the Ging carry my life around. It's just so liberating.

Now time to get out of the city and into the mountains.

A little wiser now-
The Traveling Trio

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Posted by ellie nicole 04:56 Archived in Nepal Tagged military india dirt nepal showers kathmandu toilets cows electricity Comments (0)

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