Nepal Round Up

on Friday, 30 April 2010

So we have now finished our month in Nepal, and a month really was not enough time!Compared to India it was completely different, India was more of a cultural experience, whereas Nepal was more about the adventure activities. The rafting we did was the best thing so far and was absolutely brilliant. It comes highly recommended as does our guide Arroon and the company Equator Expeditions (Next to Kathmandu Guesthouse). Our visit to Chitwan was brilliant and much better than we had hoped and although we were regretting the trek on day one, that was a huge challenge and great fun at the same time. As always these things are made so much better by the people you do them with and we had great company on both trips. Nepal was not only more fun, but it was much cleaner, the people more friendly and generally much easier to do things. We had a lot less hassle and we didn’t get ripped off nearly as much. India was great in its own way, but after a country like that you just need a rest from the stresses and hassle. My only regret was again, like India we were rushed, there is so much more I would have wanted to do in Nepal and this is one place I will definitely return to in the future. I think it is somewhere that needs visiting fairly soon though. Our rafting guide said in the not too distant future the river we rafted on will be no more and the trekking will get even more ruined by roads and tourism. On our list of to do things already are rafting on Sun Kosi river in October and to climb Island Peak.

Highlight – Rafting the Karnali river and trekking the Annapurna circuit.

Lowlight – Finding my laptop broken after 24 hours on a bus

Comment of Nepal – Tom again – After spotting some bags of water hanging from the ceiling in a tea house on the Annapurna trek. I ask what they are for, and Tom’s suggestion is “There probably for holding the roof down”. (They were really there for warding of the flies.)

Funniest Moments :

  • Jonathon getting back to Kathmandu after us when flying.
  • All Tom’s clothing bought in Kathmandu falling apart after day one.
  • Our guides coming back totally off their faces on apple brandy and trying to deny drinking.

Chill Out In Kathmandu

Today we planned to chill out in Kathmandu, buy a few souvenirs and catch up on uploading some photos and the blog. We popped out at 5pm to get a few bits and we meet a member of staff from the tour office we booked everything with. “He says we have to go to the office because we have to leave on our Tibet tour a day early, because of the Maoist strike taking place the following day, that we had previously been told would not effect us. We go to the office and are told we have to leave straight away. We are not happy and have to rush back to the hotel to pack everything up and get to the bus. We get to the bus station and there are about fifty people on the bus already and it is just leaving as we arrive. We have to wait for the next bus which fortunately is a smaller, nicer mini bus. We have to wait about 3 hours for everyone else to be rounded up and come to the bus stop before we can finally leave. The protesting is already starting in the streets with hundreds of Nepalese marching in the road. We arrive at our hotel shortly after midnight, although the other bus has arrived considerably earlier and the rest of the group are already fast asleep. The hotel is about a 10 minute walk from the border which we will cross over tomorrow.

Back To Kathmandu

on Thursday, 29 April 2010

Today we have quite a  long bus trip back to Kathmandu and actually arrive at 3:30pm. The bus drops us in an area we are not familiar with, and although I know Thamel is not far away, we end up sharing a cab with a couple of other guys. Low and behold it is a 2 minute walk round the corner, although the cab driver takes the scenic route. We return our down jackets and my trousers. We then decide to have an Ayurvedic massage as we are aching pretty bad. We end up paying about £10 for an hour, full body massage. I have to lye facing Tom’s legs with a dreadful view. The masseuse starts on our legs and this is the first massage we have had and it was also the most pain I have ever had. Walking round the Annapurna circuit was a walk in the park compared to this. The pressure they were applying seemed like they were actually trying to break our legs and it was some of the worst pain I have ever felt. I am not ashamed to say we both were screaming like little girls, which for some strange reason wouldn’t make them stop. I have started to think maybe Ayurvedic massage is some sort of torture massage. They would basically press there whole weight on you, punch you, pop you toes and fingers out of their joints and even press so hard on the back of your neck, I couldn’t breath. The most ridiculous thing was that they would ask if it was too hard, but whatever you said they would do it harder. The most painful parts, you would desperately try not to scream or they would just go harder. Eventually it was over and if I am honest, I probably felt worse than when I went in. We went for a pizza, which was a local stone baked pizza place which was lovely. I had planned to catch up on the blog but was so tired we just crashed out and went to bed quite early.

Poon Hill And Our Last Day Trekking

on Wednesday, 28 April 2010

We some how manage to get ourselves out of bed at 4:30am. The view is supposed to be the best in the area and we walked al the way yesterday to get here. We meet downstairs, but Gopal is not there and another guide tells us to go find him. We knock on his door and his alarm has not gone off, so he has overslept. We start the climb which is about 1000m and we are told takes about forty five minutes. To begin with it is pitch black and again we have to use the torches to walk. We can see already that the weather is pretty bad and the view is not going to be great, but decide to go all the way up anyway. We finally get to the top and most of the view is covered by cloud. We get a glimpse of three mountains, but five minutes later everything is overcast.

People are still arriving and as we go back down there are still quite a lot of people coming up. Some peoples trek has been to just visit poon hill, so must be upset at not seeing anything. Our guide tells us some people get really angry and shout at the guides when they can’t see anything. It’s a shame that the view was not great, but we have had some great views along the trek. Some people will stay the night and try the evening or the next day, but we need to get back to catch our tour to Tibet. We get back at 7am and decide to have a quick rest, until Gopal comes and finds us at 7am and says we need to go, as we have another seven hours walking to get to the end of the circuit. Today is almost all down hill, which is as bad as going uphill, if not worse. It is starting to get very hot again as we go down and I am sweating buckets again. We walk through a village where we see loads of women and children carrying huge pieces of wood. Apparently the village is building a school and the whole village joins in to help carry the materials up the hill to the site. Apparently the men are out getting the heavier materials and bringing them back to the village while everyone else chips in and carrys the lighter bits. One pair of young girls can’t even lift the piece of wood onto their shoulders and Gopal has to lift it up for them. Can you imagine a village coming together like that in the UK. We finally arrive at the end after walking down about 3000 giant steps. We have a one hour taxi ride to Pokhara where we are staying the night before returning to Kathmandu.

We have a quick look round Pokhara an happen to bump into a guy we had met in Varanasi a month ago, who had just arrived in Nepal. We have a little explore of Pokhara and surprisingly it is quite a big place and then tourist area seems to be bigger and more touristy than Thamel in Kathmandu. We all go out for a meal at the Everest steak house and I end up with the trekkers steak, which is three steaks and is the most expensive meal for along time costing almost ten pounds, but it is absolutely delicious. We go back to the hotel early as we have to catch the bus back to Kathmandu early the next morning. It’s a shame we only had one afternoon in Pokhara, because there was much more to do.

Tatopani To Ghorephani

on Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Today we were told we had a really long day, with about eight hours of trekking all up hill. We had to go up a couple of thousand metres. We first stopped in Sikarh which was where our group was separating, as Julie had three more days than us and needed to break up the remaining journey as to not get back too early. We stopped for lunch and said our goodbyes to Julie and Hari, her guide and then set of on another three hours uphill. The last hour was really hard work and I was again quite short of breath. I think because of how fast we had ascended. This was the first time we had been by ourselves since day two and so it was a  bit strange, just the three of us. We went to a local pool and snooker place and had a few games. We ended up drinking rum and coke as we could get a bottle of rum and a bottle of coke cheaper than a  single beer. We go to bed quite late even though we have to be up at 4:30am to go and see the sunrise from poon hill.

Ghasa To Tatopani

on Monday, 26 April 2010

I wake up this morning and am still feeling absolutely dreadful. I really don’t think I can walk at all and am going to have to get the bus. I really want to complete the whole circuit after already doing most of the circuit already. We only have about three and a half hours of trekking today and it’s fairly easy going which is a huge relief even though I still feel dreadful and my legs are in pain. The main attraction of Tatopani is the hot spring. We go down in the afternoon and as we haven’t bought any swimming trunks we have to go in, in our boxers. The water is very hot, but is great for our aching muscles and we sat there for about an hour with a beer. The spring is very touristy and lots of local men would walk past to gawp at women in the spring. We chill out for the rest of the day and luckily I have recovered. We chill out for the rest of the night and play the obligatory Nepali card game.

Marpha To Ghasa

on Sunday, 25 April 2010

After requesting that we not walk on the road again today, the guides decided to take us on a very unused trail which went along the side of the river. To begin with it was nice enough, but as it was clearly not used much there had been a lot of landslides and there had not been any fresh trails created yet. This meant a lot of the trekking was not on trails and we were scaling the side of the mountain with our rucksacks and a sheer drop down to the river below us. After climbing along the cliff edge for thirty minutes we come to a huge landslide with a fifteen foot drop down. We clearly can’t make it across and instead of making our way all the way back, the guides decide to cross the river. For some strange reason they decide to cross at the widest point and we have to all take our shoes off and pull up our trousers to cross. The water is absolutely freezing, the current is very strong and the stones under the water are very uncomfortable.

We are both screaming like little girls as we cross over. The trekking after this is pretty boring and so I try and read while walking, which is probably not a great idea.

We stop at a very nice restaurant for lunch and amazingly they have fish and chips on the menu, so that can’t be missed. We finally reach the hotel and my legs are aching so badly that I can’t even stand up and am in agony. I try and just lye there, but then just become freezing and have to go down to dinner in my down jacket, hat and gloves. I can barely eat any of my dinner and am freezing for he night.

Muktinath To Marpha

on Saturday, 24 April 2010

We had a long walk today so had to be up early. The usual stop was Jomsom, where a lot of people fly out from, but we only stopped for lunch. In Jomsom we walked past the Nepalese mountain warfare camp, which must have had about a hundred miles of razor wire round it. In Jomsom there is a checkpoint and as we had left our passports in Kathmandu to get our China visas, but they wanted the details of our visa. As we were going to have to overstay a couple of days I had to lie about the dates of our visa.  Trying to be smart, we all try and cross what looks like a dry river bed, unfortunately half way across what had looked like a small stream is actually now a twenty foot wide river and we have to admit the guides who have walked the long way round are right and have to walk back and scale a cliff while they look on laughing. We get to Marpha, which is apparently famous for it’s apple brandy. We arrive at the town and the sign says “welcome to the delightful apple capital”. We have a look round the shop and I buy a few souvenirs including a baby yak tail, unfortunately when we get back to the hotel and see the guide he tells me it is fake and is not actually a tail but just some fur wrapped round to look like a tail. Surprisingly the guides are laying off the apple brandy tonight, or perhaps not surprisingly after the state they got themselves in the night before.

Thorung Pass

on Friday, 23 April 2010

I whake up at about midnight and have a look at my ipod to see the time. I notice that a cookie that was next to my bed has dissapeared and I start wondering whether maybe I had eaten it the night before, but was fairly sure I hadn't. I finally get back to sleep and wake up at 2:30am. I look over and under Tom's bed is the half eaten cookie, it looks as though Tom had a case of the munchies and had pinched it during the night. On closer inspection though it has been nibbled all the way round by a mouse during the night and the mouse looked as though he had tried to frame tom, planting it under his bed. At 4am we leave for the pass. Obviously it is still pitch black and between the five of us, Gopal has a small useless torch, Julies guide and Tom had nothing and Julie had a headtorch that had about as much light as a glowstick. 10 minutes in Julies headtorch dies completely and we have to do the rest of the climb using just my headtorch and Gopals tiny torch. When we get to the top it has got seriously cold and when I take of my gloves, the sweat inside immediately freezes, luckily the sun starts to rise and we get a bit of light. This is at the high base camp, which would usually be another stop off for most people. After the high camp we pick up quite a few more trekkers and it starts to get seriously cold, at about 5000m, I really start to struggle breathing and although Julie and Tom are ok, I can barely walk 10 metres without being totally breathless and have to stop to rest. Eventually we arrive at the sign which says that we have finally reached the top of the pass at 5419m, and after collapsing and resting, get the obligatory photos of us by the sign.

We are only there 15 minutes and then we have to descend all the way down to Muktinath. Which is actually harder on our legs than going up, although for me the air gets better and I can breathe easier. So we have ascended over a 1000m and are now descending almost 2000m. We get into Muktinath absolutely shattered and as we arrive there is a holy man sitting at the side of the road smoking cannabis through a pipe and offering it to everyone who walks past. We get to our hotel and manage to get a warm shower, the wind has really picked up outside and it is like something from the wild west with stuff being blown down the street. Our guides have snuck out and return shortly after bleary eyed and slurring their words. They deny it but we know they have been over the road and have had a fair few apple brandys. We brave the weather and pop over to try one, which they have said are great, we also are convinced to try some goat meat. While sitting in this weird room chatting, eating goats meat, there is a sudden scream and a we all jump up and turn around to find a baby is sleeping on a pile of boxes and blankets in the corner and we had not noticed at all. We have a quick look round town for some souvenirs, but there is not much on sale as most of the shops had closed because of the weather. We come across a supermarket selling some "Tasty Marie" biscuits though. Tomorrow is another quite long day to Jomson, so we have another early night.

Manang To Thorung Phedi

on Thursday, 22 April 2010

Today we are climbing almost 1000m more and although the plan was to only do half the distance today we are trying to get a day ahead so we can do the full route and not have to get a jeep for the last part. we have to walk through a small stretch which has been marked as a landslide area and our guides say we must keep an eye on the rocks. Half way through though I am so knackered that even if the rocks started falling i don't think I could have run anywhere. We finally arrive and the sign tells you the symptoms of altitude sickness and I meet about 7 of the criteria. We also notice it says for every 1000m of altitude climbed you should have a rest day. But tomorrow morning we are more than 1000m again which doesn't seem good. Up at this altitude it's sarted to get fairly cold and it's the first time we need to use our jackets and hat and gloves. With all Tom's stuff on he looks a spitting image of Crazy eyes in Mr Deeds. Julie is feeling a bit ill and we are unsure whether she will do the pass the next morning or not.

Acclimatization In Manang

on Wednesday, 21 April 2010

We are given a lye in this morning, as we only have a short trek to the glacier and back.

We leave at about 9:30am and spend the rest of the day playing cards back at the hostel. We check out a Cinema which is a bsement room with a 20" tv and a cupboard full of pirated DVD's. While sitting in the conservatory playing cards we notice some bags of water hanging from the ceiling, we wonder what they are. Tom genius suggestion is that they're to hold down the ceiling and stop it blowing away, me and Julie crack up and with that Tom has one the comment of Nepal, second country in a row! Our guides eventually explain they are to scare the flies away.

Lower Pisang To Manang

on Tuesday, 20 April 2010

We get up this morning and after deciding the night before we are going to take the upper pass to Manang which is apparently much more beautiful but also means a steep climb up and back down instead of an easy flat route. We are having some breakfast and notice out the window three young kids running towards the edge of the river, we think they are just playing and are just commenting on how cute they are when the first two suddenly drop their trousers and pants and squat over the side, while the third proceeds to urinate between the them over the edge. We all start laughing and noticing us up in the window, one of them stands up turns around and proceeds to give us a big moony. It's a long day today and it takes us 7.5 hours to get to Manang. The upper pass was well worth it and the views are amazing and can see Annapurna 2 and 3. I have a look around Manang and find some apple crumble which we decide we will try out later. This is quite a posh hostel, run by a photographer and is one of te nicer places we have stayed. Manang is at 3500m so the next day we have an acclimatization day and just have a short trek to a nearby glacier, for the first time we won't have to carry our bags.

Chame To Lower Pisang

on Monday, 19 April 2010

We start a bit later today as we feel there is not much advantage to starting so early and by now it is much easier going and we are actually enjoying it and managing to take in the scenery, instead of marching head down with sweat pouring of us, just trying to get to our hotel as quick as possible. We have a short day and arrive in Pisang at 12:30pm. We find another pool hall, but it is very full with locals and we can't get a game and have to sneak past a bull guarding the door. We end up returning to the hotel and play more of the Nepali card game, but have noticed that our guides, particurlarly Julies, likes to cheat a lot and it is almost part of the game to try and cheat. Somehow they always seem to win. Today we have seen a lot of people taking part in some sort of race along the route and tonight a huge group has decided to stay at our hotel.

Danaque To Chame

on Sunday, 18 April 2010

We have been told Chame is a bigger city and we can get cash and some cheaper snacks. We are still going at a fast pace and only ever seem to be overtaking other trekkers. We pass some porters carrying some bags for, some American guys which are twice the size of ours, with their own small bags strapped on top. I think I would feel bad paying someone to carry my stuff. I have asked Gopal if I can try carrying one of the porters loads to see how much they weigh, and a short while in we come across a porter having a break and Gopal asks if I can try lifting it. I walk over, failry confident I will be able to atleast go a short way with it. The guy is carrying 4 steel planks used for making bridges, which don't look too bad. I put the headband on and go to stand up, thinking it will be easy, but it doesn't even move, let alone get of the ground. I can't believe it, the guy carrying this is a tiny bloke who must be in his 50's atleast. Gopal, who used to be a porter has a go and just about gets it up on his head with the help of a couple of others and walks a short way up the hill. He tells me the porter says it weighs 80kg, but Gopal says he is understimating that and it's even more. We also come a cross a dog that has been spray painted to look like a tiger. We get to Chame and find them selling some serious walking boots for almost half what Tom paid for his trainers and strangely everything seems cheaper than Kathmandu. We have a look around the town and come across a sign painted on the wall that says pool and snooker room. we decide to have a look and walk down a small alley into a barn and find a full size snooker table and pool table. I have absolutely no idea how they got it up here and it just seems ridiculous. We check our emails but at 10R a minute can't spend long. The deal with the hotels is you get a cheaper room, but you must eat and drink at the hotel, otherwise the price doubles or triples. We also buy some tang as the water is now getting too expensive and we are going to have to start using our purifying tablets, which taste dreadful. I make a call home using a locals mobile which costs £1 a minute.

Chamje To Danaque

on Saturday, 17 April 2010

Again we are up early, for some reason, whether our bodies are getting used to it, or the slightly easier terrain, it is much easier going today. The night before Gopal tried to glue Tom's shoes, it didn't work well and ended up getting a local man to stitch them together for him. Tom also managed to borrow a needle and thread and made a pretty dreadful attempt at sewing up his trousers. We stopped earlier for lunch today and I think that made a big difference to how hard it was on us. We also get a few more rest stops as we our guide is now with his friend and not trying to catch up. Julies guide is also working as her porter and although he is carrying quite a large rucksack with his own rucksack inside, it isn't much heavier than ours. Although I can imagine it being nice onlyhaving to carry a bottle of water. We get to the hotel and decide we will order a beer. Julie orders a Gorkha, a local beer and me a Carlsberg, but after 5 minutes they turn up with two Tuborgs! We order some Fried potatos with cheese which are basically potato wedges and the portions are absolutely huge. I also order some chocolate pudding, but for some reason they decide to serve it before my potatos, I say I don't want it first and end up having it cold afterwards. We only have 5 hours tomorrow, but the first 3 are apparently uphill!

The Hardest Day Of My Life

on Friday, 16 April 2010

Today we were expecting it too be hard, after the first day which we had thought was uphill, but apparently wasn't and the fact we were walking twice as far as yesterday. About 15km from Bhulbhule to Chamje. It was better to start walking in the morning, so we were up at 6:30am for breakfast and leaving at 7:15am. It started off not too bad, but a short way in it started going steeply uphill and the paths were not as I had expected, but where very uneven and not as well trodden as I had thought. I had also noticed there was hardly any other walkers and we were overtaking quite a lot of people. He was desperate to catch up with his mate. We had to climb along way up and at the top we just collapsed absolutely exhausted, knowing that we were barely half way. By this time Tom's sole was almost falling of and our guide managed to buy some superglue to stick it back on later. I am glad to say the Bear Grylls were holding up nicely, cheers Jezza. We bought some drinks which was the first time we noticed the hike in prices. a bottle of Fanta was 100R and the water 50R. We had heard that was got up to several 100R furthur in though. We then walked all the way back down again, which was demoralising as it felt like we had achieved nothing, at this poin t our guide asked if we wanted lunch, but as it was only 11am we thought we would wait the two hours it would take to get to the next town. Then we started the worst part probably of the whole trek, a steep road, where in places we took shortcuts, which was more like rock climbing than trekking. We soon realised that we should have eaten when our guide suggested and the fact that we had, had breakfast early and were burning a lot of calories, was making it even harder. I began to feel faint and just couldn't see anyway of carrying on. I don't know how, but we managed the last part and arrived at the town for lunch. A mars bar now cost almost £1 and the water was now 80R. For some reason I decided it would be good to just have some Tomato Soup, which although was nice, I think my body needed a little bit more, but funnily the walking reduces your appetite. We both decided we will have to have lunch early, but now we have another hours walk to our hotel. We finally arrive at about 3pm and collapse in our room. By this point Tom's trousers are now coming apart as well and clearly it is not a good idea to buy anything in Kathmandu. We soon realise another mistake, we have been sweating so much our clothes are absolutely drenched and stupidly we have only brought one change of clothes, so we have to walk down stairs in our thermal trousers looking like a complete pair of idiots. We sit down and play some cards with a Canadian girl also sitting in the restaurant called Julie, who turns out to be with our guides friend, he has been so desperate to catch up with. We relax for the rest of the afternoon playing cards, our guide teaches us a Nepalese game which we will play constantly every night after trekking. We again go to bed early as we have a similar length day tomorrow, but slightly less up and down.

The Start Of the Hardest 2 Weeks Of My Life

on Thursday, 15 April 2010

Our bus was picking us up at 6am and apparently no tourist buses go to the town where the trek starts, therefore we had to get another public bus, where they cram you all in, two to a seat. The journey was supposed to be about 6-7 hours and we were on the bus with our guide. To begin with there was not many people on, so instead of sitting in our cramped seats we moved to the back of the bus to get a bit more room. Inevitably they end up cramming about 7 people on the back seat, designed for 5. A local Nepalese teacher trys practicing English with me and wants me to teach him teh correct grammar, but doesn't understand why I can't find a way of explaining anything to him. We arrive in Besisahar, at a time I can't remember, all I know is the journey is quite a bit longer than we had expected, but I suppose we should have expected that. We only have a short trek to Bhulbhule is only to take 2-3 hours. We arrive in Bhulbhule and are absolutely shattered, my shoulders are aching, I have a big blister already, Tom's trainers are falling apart and I think we are both almost at the point of giving up already. We watch a film at the teahouse and have some food before having to retire at 7pm. We have a 6-7 hour trek tomorrow going up and down, so our guide can catch up with his friend who is a day ahead of us. We go to sleep thinking we have no chance. Shortly after I get too sleep, I am awoken by Tom jumping up in bed shouting and flailing his arms and I think somebody is in the room. It turns out he was just being attacked by a moth though!

The Best Nights Sleep Ever

on Wednesday, 14 April 2010

I whake up at 5am with Aaroon shouting to get of the bus, I think we have stopped for something to eat or for a toilet stop, but then the other guys say we are there and I am in absolutely shock. I can't believe I have managed to sleep the whole way back and after briefly thinking it was a cruel joke, we jump off and after the nightmare of the journey there, it's great to arrive almost instantly. Apparently during the night because we were lying across the seats, Som one of the guides had climbed through the back window to sleep on the back with all the bags,apparently giving Tom the shock of his life! We arrived back in Kathmandu at 5am and unfortunately when we got to our hostel the door was closed and nobody was at home. We checked a few more, but were all either closed or full as today was Nepali new year. We therefore had to sit outside for two hours until eventually we could get someone to let us inside. Another thing I had noticed was that the usual police were not on the street and there was soldiers instead, we didn't know what if something had happened while we were away, but later found out that all the police had it as a day off, although everyone else went to work as normal. Today we new we had to sort out some gear for trekking as we were leaving the next day for our trek. Tom had to get a few more bits than me, but it was annoying that we had to rush around doing lots of things. We hired down jackets and I also hired a pair of trousers, the down jackets were 25R per day and the trousers were 15R. We were hiring second hand stuff and when we went into this building where it was stred there was room after room piled with jackets, trousers and sleeping bags. The smell was just ridiculous and we didn't know whether any of it had ever been washed. We also bought some other bits and pieces. Me a fleece to replace the one lost at Delhi airport, water bottles, purification tablets, a head torch, gloves and hats, sleeping bags and Tom some trousers and trainers. We needed the sleeping bags because apparently in Tibet it would be below minus 10.
Later in the day we met our guide for the trek his name was Gopal and was just a year older than us. It was a brief meeting and we were meeting some of the guys from rafting for a meal so just had a short chat about what was going to happen. I also went to try and get my laptop repaired but the guy had changed his mind and said he needed 21 days to have it repaired and gave me some xcuse that the screen in this laptop is so delicate that they can't post it and it would have to be sent to the factory to be fitted. Therefore the next chance I will have is in China where I am hoping there is more chance they stock the part. We meet Jonathon and Julio, minus Cecilia as she is feeling ill. We go to a local steakhouse, K-too steakhouse and have a good meal. We learn that Jonathon only arrived back in Kathmandu at 11am this morning after his flight was cancelled the night before, ironically arriving 6 hours after us. I was glad the flight was full when I asked at the airport! I had intended to try and update the blog, but was so tired, we just packed our bags, leaving out anything we didn't need, but they still weighed almost the same as before with our jackets and sleeping bags and were a bit worried they were too heavy.

Final Day Rafting

on Tuesday, 13 April 2010

We are up early today as this will be the last day rafting and we start the long journey back later today. We only do one hours rafting and finish rafting near the main road. We have to pack everything up and carry it up a steep bank to where the bus is waiting for us. We all help carry pieces up, but a local man carrys up the metal parts of the gear which he is not very willing to accept help with and when coming to a narrow part which is not wide enough just tries to ram it through the concrete walls on each side. raft and amazingly afterwards our packed up raft, which apparently weighs 80kg, but probably more now because it is soaking wet. The guy doesn't look particurlarly strong and must be in his late forties atleast, but manages to carry it up by his head without excepting any help. We later realise why he has carried it up, we are all eating at his local restaurant and surprise, surprise we are back to Dal Bhat. After we have finished eating we jump on the bus and have no idea how long it will take this time, but nobody is looking forward to it. Paul, Anne Sophie and Oskar are only on the bus about an hour and are stopping at a local national park for a few days, so there is a little more space on the bus. Jonathon is also flying back to Kathmandu from a local airport, Nepalgang, which is the smallest , most rundown airport I have ever seen. We are envious of his 55 minute flight, but in the end there are no seats anyway and the flight would have been 140 dollars which was not worth it. On the way back, they stop at a dam so we can seem some crocodiles and we also see some mad fish trying to jump up the damn, but after frantically trying to swim up, slide back down. Apparently a lot of the crocodiles sit at the bottom with the mouths open waiting for the fish to jump straight in. I end up using a drybag and some sleeping mats to make a makeshift bed across two rows of seats and hope to atleast get a few hours sleep.

Penultimate Days Rafting

on Monday, 12 April 2010

Today was our last full day rafting and again, the rapids were going to be very small and there would be lots of flat water, so I took my other camera out on the raft for some photos. As we had gone down the river the villages had got bigger and bigger and this stretch was by far the busiest. As we went down the river the shore on both sides of the river was lined with hundreds of kids shouting Namaste and bye and lots of them trying to swim out and climb into the raft. The raft was actually almost impossible to climb into unless you new the technique for doing it, so most cases they would just hang onto the side shouting Namaste constantly and if not on the raft just in the water waving and shouting, so much so that they would be sinking because they were constantly trying to wave and would end up bobbing up and down in between shouting and waving. Some of us have a go being in charge of guiding the raft and I end up jumping into a local canoe that pulls up beside the raft. The thing is ridiculous unstable and they start rowing away from the boat, so I have to end up jumping out and swimming back to the raft.

After setting up camp we play some cards and although we thought there was some sort of party planned, it didn't materialise and it turned out we didn't have enough rum between us for them to be willing to make a punch.

Final Day In The Kayak

on Sunday, 11 April 2010

Today I manage to sleep in quite late, but whake up with sand all over me and inside my sleeping bag, as we didn't use a ground sheet during the night. I started the day trying the kayak again, but after two more capsizes, one where I ended up going down the rapid smashing against the rocks, I have decided it's not for me. On the way down, on a quite stretch we suddenly hear a loud grumbling noise, we look around and there is a fairly large landslide coming down straight into the river, about 50 yards ahead of us. Luckily we are not too close to the cliff face, but there is a huge cloud of dust which engulfs the whole river and everyone has to cover their faces as we float on through. We set up camp early again and this time there are loads of kids in the camp. They akll want to have their photo taken and after a while they want to try taking photos of each other. After a while they start getting a bit carried away and fighting over the camera and one of the older locals steps in and says no more. For the afternoon Aaroon has gone in the gear raft and one of the other guys has joined us in the raft, to give him a little rest we think, or to give the guy who has been kicked out of his kayak so we could kayak something else to do.

Some More Leisurely Rafting

on Saturday, 10 April 2010

This morning, I have actually whoken not because I am freezing cold as usual, but because stupidly we decided to set up our raft tent on a steep bank and we have all fallen back down into te raft during the night. I am up before everyone else, wheras as Tom can sleep wherever and for however long he likes, once I am awhake that is it. So I get up and start a fire to keep warm. For breakfast this morning, amazingly we have chocolate pancakes with honey, the food really has been a welcome shock on this trip. I start the day in the kayak and although I manage a few small rapids, just. I am not enjoying it much and just can't get my balance. I paddle over to the raft and ask if anyone else wants a go, just as I finish speaking, somehow, in the calmest water possible I capsize, for a few seconds I am trying to remember what Jonathon has said, but it's pointless and I have to bail out. It's easy to get out, but it's just the hassle of having to get the kayak out and empty it when you pull out. As I come to the surface, I notice Paul has jumped in to help, while Tom just laughs on the boat, cheers pal. We drag the kayak onto the raft and empty the water and Tom jumps in to have a go, I get the job of lowering him slowly into the water although the temptation to dunk the kayak straight downwards is strong, I manage to resist, just. We stop quite early and today is a very short day, with only some small rapids. The nigh before the guides had tried to catch some fish with some net they found in the river but had been unsuccessful and only caught some leaves. When we arrived at camp, some local kids had come over in one of their canoes made from a hollowed tree and the guides had asked them to catch some fish. A couple of hours later they returned with a huge bag full of fairly small fish, but apparently about 5kg! We try the eskimo roll some more, but are still unable to do it and I am at the point of giving up. Julio has a go and on his second attempt, turns himself straight over, unbelievable! We play some more cards, including 500, a similar game to contract which is quite good fun. The guides as usual are asleep ealry but again we play till the candles have burnt out.

More Rowing...

on Friday, 9 April 2010

I am awhoken early, partly due to being absolutely freezing, even though I am now wearing every item of clothing I had brought with me and also because on the other side of the river a group of kids had gathered and where playing drums on some old plastic containers while they sang and another young boy did the funniest dance you have ever seen. They kept it up for about an hour with every now and then the guides joining in singing. I get up and manage to restart the fire from some embers which are left and with a hot chocolate am able to warm up a bit. We have breakfast and once finished they put all the breakfast left overs into a plastic bag and give it to some local kids. This is a mix of everything we have had all in one bag and although it doesn't look very appetizing, is probably a real treat for them. Some of the kids venture a little closer and start playing with the pump for the rafts, obviously they have never seen anything like it before and once one realises air comes out of the end, he spends the next ten minutes blowing it into his and his friends faces. Today is apparently the hardest days rafting and includes the rapids, The Juicer and Gods house. It is quite rough and although we manage just about to get through without losing anybody, Jonathon capsizes in his kayak and although he has capsized several times he has always popped back up fairly quickly. This time though he doesn't turn back over and is caught in a quite bad rut of rough water. For what seems like about five minutes, while Arroon is shouting at the safety kayakers, who are much to far away to do anything he doesn't turn over, eventually, although it was probably more like 10 or 20 seconds, he pulls himself out and we see him pop up, everyone breathed a big sigh of relief.
After these rapids there is some flatter water and everyone jumps in for a swim. A little furthur down totally unnanounced the two rafts pull over to the side and shout at us to swim over as well. By this point though we are caught in a really strong current and although everyone is swimming as hard as possible, nobody seems to be getting any closer to the bank. One of the safety kayakers, Som(sp) comes out to try and get some of us, Anne Sophie grabs onto the back of his kayak and I also swim up and hold on, after about 30 seconds of Som frantically paddling we are not going anywhere and I let go, managing to just about swim over although Tom is being dragged even furthur down and this making me laugh, makes it even harder to swim against the current. Tom finally reaches a rock sticking out and everyone is safe on the side of the bank absolutely shattered from swimming only about twenty yards. Several of the guides and Aaroon walk up the bank and we can't quite see what they are doing but after a few minutes we just hear a lot of laughing and see the younger trainee guide running around in the long grass chasing a chicken. We all watch in hysterics as he spends about five minutes in vain, chasing the chicken. I decide to walk up and have a look, just as I get to the top, I see him walk down with two chickens hanging by the legs by a reed, apparently dead. I am unsure whether I should be up there, but Aaroon says come over and shows me the local house and their animals, including a new born calf which is only a couple of days old. As we offload the rafts we realise the chickens are actually still both alive and strangely they are just so still, maybe resigned to the fact they would shortly be our dinner. We practice a bit kore in the kayaks and Jonathon helps move the paddle while we are under to get a feel for the movement which seems to help and I feel I am making progress. While we are messing about they have killed and plucked the chickens unfortunately as I was pretty keen to kill one mysef. We have a late night with a couple of beers and some cards as we have been told from now on it is fairly easy and we can leave a little later in the morning and we can also do some kayaking if we want. I have totally lost track of the day or date which is strange but also quite nice. The heat is also getting a bit too much and especially my hands are completely burnt to a crisp. We are also starting to ache a bit after all the rowing in the strong rapids.

Second Day In The Boat

on Thursday, 8 April 2010

We have our first challenging day of rafting today which includes the rapids First enquiry, Humans for lunch(our favourite) and Jailhouse rock. For a couple of the rapids we have to stop beforehand and go and have a look to find the best route. I am always hoping we will end up going of the big drop or into the "washing machine" as Aaroon our guide says. We stop for lunch as usual and then stop quite early at about 2:30pm as we have had some quite hard rapids. As we arrive at our camping spot the guys on the gear raft pick up a women on our side of the river and give her a lift over to the otherside, where a man has been waiting. We guess she just needed a lift over, but we notice the man seems to be looking in her mouth or eyes and shortly after the raft brings her back over. We ask Aaroon what was going on and he says that she was feeling unwell and the man was the only doctor in the area, so she had walked down the river to see him and he had given her some tablets. After unloading the rafts me and Tom try practicing some more eskimo rolls, but I just can't get the hang of it and to be honest can't even get my balance going in a straight line, which is getting frustrating. Our dinner is lasagne and chips and although lasagne is one of the things I would not touch at home, I eat it and it's not so bad after all. We start a fire and play some cards and crack open the rum and coke.

First Days Rafting

on Wednesday, 7 April 2010

I awake early to find I am absolutely freezing and that although very warm during the day, the nights are very cold. I am up before 7am, but the crew have already started assembling the two rafts, the gear raft and our raft. We have some breakfast, which includes scrambled eggs, toast and a potato and vegetable dish. Also tea, coffee and hot chocolate, so we are eating better now than on the whole trip so far. There is also 3 kayaks, 2 of which are safety kayaks and the other is Jonathans. The gear raft has 2 crew and then the other 7 of us and Aaroon are on the other raft. Apparently the first day is an easy day with only level 3 rapids, to get us used to it, with the hard rapids being on the next 2 days. We get a little safety briefing on how to manoeuvre the raft and how to turn it back over if it flips. It is unbelievably hot sitting on the raft and I can feel my hands and face burning very quickly. We raft for about 3 hours and then stop by the side of the river for some lunch. There are numerous kids along the river and we spot a kid right up the top of a huge tree shouting at us. After lunch the crew put all the leftovers into a bag and give it to some of the local kids to take home. We are allowed to have a swim in the river when there is no rapids and the water is deep enough which is a refreshingly cool after sitting in the sun for long periods. At about 3:30pm we stop and set up camp, we help offload all the equipment and our luggage which is kept on our raft in dry bags. I try a bit of kayaking, but just have no balance at all and annoyingly am pretty dreadful, especially when trying to learn how to do an Eskimo roll and failing miserably. We get some snacks of popcorn and soup and chill out on the beach. I go for a short walk down the side of the river and find a little waterfall to have a shower in after avoiding the swarms of massive red ants. Tom and Oscar collect some fire wood to start a camp fire, Tom goes a bit overboard and brings a whole tree down, which Aaroon soon says is way too much and we have to cut it down to a few twigs. We then discover that as we had slept outside the first night we had waived out right to a tent, as they had only put two tents on the raft to save space. We make a makeshift shelter using the raft and a groundsheet to give us a bit of protection, but I am fearing I will again wake up freezing in the morning. The crew go to bed early, understandably as they have been working non stop since 6am cooking and kayaking or rowing. We sit up a bit later chatting until the candles they have given us have burnt out.

Probably The Worst Bus Journey In The World

on Tuesday, 6 April 2010

So we are up again at 6am to start the second day of travelling. At about 9am we stop by the side of the road and Aaroon announces that we have a “small problem”. Smoke is pouring out of the floor of the bus and we all have to get off. After about 30 minutes under the bus they announce that they need to go into the next town and get a  mechanic to come and look at the bus. A couple of the crew catch a lift with a jeep passing by and we end up waiting about 3 hours by the side of the road chatting about the countries everyone has visited and sharing advice. All the other guys have been travelling quite a bit longer and have also visited countries we had not even thought about going to, including a lot of Africa and the Middle East. Eventually the two crew return with the mechanic and a couple of bottles of oil. The mechanic quickly diagnoses that a pipe has broken and we will have to limp into the next major town to have the bus repaired. We arrive in Surkheet where we stop for some lunch while the bus is repaired, unsurprisingly it is dal bat again. The other guys tell us they had been asked to bring a bottle of rum for a last night party, which we had not been told about so we stop of and get a bottle of rum and some beers as we have been told this is the last time we will be able to buy anything until the end of the rafting.  We get back on the bus and after a short drive the road just turns into a dirt track and if we thought India was bad for bumpy roads this was just a complete joke. Not to mention the whole bus was constantly covered in a huge dust cloud and we could barely breathe at some points. Trying to sleep or even sit comfortably was just impossible, the road was littered with landslides which just made the road even worse, apparently the road was being built so they could bring in machinery to build a big dam on the river Karnali which according to Aaroon would mean the end of rafting on the river in the next 10 years. To add insult to injury we end up breaking down again, this time it looked as though a nut that held the steering rack together had just fallen off. After about 10 minutes of trying to repair it using the wheel nuts, by some miracle Paul and Anne Sophie find the nut a short way back in the middle of the road and they are able to repair it.

At about 7pm we finally arrive on the beach at the point where we start the rafting, so what we had hoped was about a 4 hour journey turned into another 13 hours of travelling. We arrive on the beach and kids start gathering straight away, starting with just a few and then 5 minutes later there must have been 50 kids on the beach mobbing us, wanting their photo taken and generally just amazed with us. We have a dinner of steak, vegetables and garlic bread, and the food is absolutely brilliant for something they have just cooked up on the side of the beach, especially as we were expecting dal bat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next 8 days. We then are asked whether we want a tent or just want to sleep out in the open. Aaroon suggests we sleep outside, but we learn that there are only 3 two man tents anyway, so I am not sure what choice we really had. It is fairly warm and there is hundreds of stars in the sky so it seems like a good idea anyway. We settle down on our sleeping mats in some old sleeping bags we have been given and sleep under the stars.

Start Of The Journey From Hell

on Monday, 5 April 2010

We leave our hotel at Chitwan at about 8am and are catching the bus to the Indian border which is going to drop us off early in a town called Narangath. The bus journey to Narangath is not very long and only takes about one hour, we are have been told to meet at a cafe in town and fortunately the bus drops us directly outside so we don’t have to walk around looking for it. We have been told we will have to wait around for a couple of hours because the bus is due to leave Kathmandu at 7am and it takes about five hours to get to Narangath. After about 5 hours of waiting, luckily the cafe has wifi and I can call our tour guide using skype, as our phones don’t work in Nepal. He gives me the number for the guide on the bus, but after several attempts to ring I can’t get through. Luckily, just as we have given up hope of ever being collected we spot a bus driving up the road with three kayaks on the roof and are relieved to find it is our bus. We are greeted by Aaroon, our guide for the trip and he says we will be driving for six hours and then stopping over night and driving another six hours in the morning. We had been told it would be an 18 hour straight journey so this is a bit of good news. There is 6 other people on the trip with us plus our rafting guide, Aaroon and 4 other crew. Our fellow rafters are a Australian/French couple, Paul and Anne Sophie, a Brazilian couple, Julio and Cecilia, a Dutch guy called Oscar and Jonathan, a kiwi who is doing kayaking. After about 6 hours of driving Aaroon announces we will do a bit more driving tonight to shorten the journey tomorrow, which sounds good and we end up driving till about 10pm before stopping at a local roadside restaurant/guesthouse. That concludes about 14 hours of travelling for that day. Our room is very basic and we get the boring Nepalese food Dal Bat before having to spend 10 minutes swatting te mosquito's in our room. But at least we should only have a few more hours driving tomorrow.

Second Day In Chitwan

on Sunday, 4 April 2010

Today we had to get through all teh activities we had booked in one day. We therefore had an early start, up at 6am, these early starts are getting a bit too much. We started with our canoe ride down the river, when we arrived there was a group already boarding the canoe who were just ferried over to the other side of the river, so we thought we had been done over again and our canoe ride was just a ten metre trip across the river. We jumped in and it was just us, our two guides and a small boy, who can only have been about eight years old punting us along. It didn't start well when, as we were being pushed back the kid fell off the back of the canoe. We then endured about 30 minutes of going down teh river wobbling all over the place constantly fearing we were going to tip over in the disgusting crocodile infested water. We eventually stopped to the relief of both of us at the side of the river and got out.

We started walking through the long grass until we reached the jungle area, where the guide spotted some apparent rhino mating marks in the sand and then excitedly went into a detailed description of the mating process. Everywhere was covered in spiderwebs and small red bugs, because the guides were so short and I was walking behind the first guide I ended up getting every single spiderweb in my face. After about 5 minutes of walking the guide spots a rhino laying down just of the track from where we were walking. We stopped by a tree, but as it was quite dark and overgrown we could only see the back of the rhino. One of the guides moved round the side and went in closer to check out whether it was safe for us to stay there, and the rhino must have heard or smelt him because he stood up and turned around.

The rhino had no horn, which we initially thought was due to it fighting or hitting trees, but our guide says that when it sleeps little birds land on its nose and eat its horn. We stayed for about 5 minutes watching and taking photos, which I am afraid are pretty poor, until we left because it was starting to get a bit agitated. After seeing the rhino that seemed to signal the end of our jungle trek and we headed back to the river through the jungle to get the canoe back over to the other side. Along the way we spotted a few monkeys and a woodpecker, but no tigers, although we did find a tiger footprint.

We return back to the hotel and then had our visit to see the elphants bathing, which we had asked if we could sit on them and were told we could but they wouldn't take any responsibility if we got crushed. Our guide tells us we have to pay 100R(95p) to the elephant owner. As it's cheap we both have a go sitting on teh elephant while it sprays itself with water and continously chucks you off. It doesn't look like it but they can squirt water pretty powerfully through their trunks. We meet an Australian guy working in Hong Kong who says he will show us around when we arrive in a few weeks time which is nice. We go back to the hotel for some lunch before our elephant safari a bit later on.

We have a short jeep ride to the elephant safari with a group of Chinese and a Norweigian girl, so we all have to cram in the back of the jeep, and the Chinese have their obligatory huge cameras and equipment. We arrive at the loading area and have two elephants for our group. We jump on the first elephant with the Norweigian girl and a Chinese girl and the others jump on the second elephant. There is not very much space and it is far from comfortable. Tom has bought two bunches of bananas to feed the elephant and starts by giving the elephant a single banana, with the guide just rubbing it on the nose and it automatically bringing up its trunk to collect them. Obviously one banana is not enough and the guide requests the whole bunch which the elephant quickly stuffs in its mouth all in one go. After about five minutes walking we spot our first rhinos. There are two laying in a mud pool and two eating, we are so high up that it is safe to go right up close to the rhinos and take photos.

We continue through the woods, constantly being hit with spiderwebs and branches as our guide takes us down the narrowest of tracks. As we are going down the guide shows us a cut on his hand, which must be three inches long and half a centremetre deep, we can't find out how he has done it or why it has not been stitched up, instead he just laughs. A few minutes later he starts hacking at the trees with his knife wildly and we have our answer as we try and move our legs away from the path of his knife. We keep going for about an hour and thirty minutes by which time I am aching pretty badly and have had enough. We see some more crocodiles, monkeys and deer on the way, but unfortunately still no tigers, allthough we thought we heard one, but that could have been an elephant. On the way back, even after all Tom's bananas the elephant must be hungry because it proceeds to push down a fairly large tree to get to the leaves on the top, which are apparently its favourite type. We see a couple more rhinos on the way back and then dismount and catch the jeep back to our hotel.

We have dinner and then go and visit the Tharu cultural dance that we had missed on the first night. The view of the dancing was pretty bad and not helped by me having the women with teh biggest mullet you have ever seen sitting directly infront of me. We watch the dances, most involving alot of hitting sticks together, but a couple of odd ones like the ladyboy dance and the peacock dance. The guy introducing each dance was speaking so quickly and in a weird accent that everyone could only understand a few words from each sentence, so we didn't really know what was going on. The dancing ends with a dance where people are invited to join in, unsurprisingly we were not some of thiose people, and to top it off I find that I have sat in a huge lumpo of chewing gum. We return to the hotel and get an early night as we have a very long bus journey to Karnali for our rafting teh next day.

First Day In Chitwan National Park

on Saturday, 3 April 2010

Amazingly Chitwan actually has some internet cafes, so I can get a couple more days done before we are off rafting.

We had to leave Kathmandu early at 6am to catch our bus to Chitwan Park, about five to six hours away by bus. Luckily the bus was a slightly better one than the one we had come to Kathmandu on and we had a couple of seats each with plenty of legroom, so no need to sit on the roof. We exited Kathmandu the same way we came in, and although we had a little bit of traffic, thankfully it was nothing like when we came in. We did however see quite a bad accident on the way down from the mountain, where the drivers side portion of a trucks cab had been completely wiped out and the driver must have been seriously injured if not killed. They will also still trying to winch up the truck that had fallen down the side of the mountain.

We arrive at the main bus station where everyone was picked up by jeeps to be taken to our hotel, we had assumed someone would be waiting with our name to take us to our hotel. Stupidly we could not remember the name of the hotel and it was not written on any of the documentation we had, all we had was a brochure we had picked up at some point. One of the drivers said that the brochure was his hotel and although I wasn't very confident it was the right hotel, we jumped in anyway. We turn up after a 5 minute rally drive down the dirt tracks and low and behold the hotel we arrive at doesn't look anything like the one we had been shown in the pictures. Even though we knew it was not the right hotel they tried to convince us to stay anyway and only after 15 minutes of asking them to ring the number on our receipt did we manage to get the right hotel to come pick us up.

The hotel was fairly nice and we are first shown to our room and then get some lunch, we have a three course meal of soup, some noodle/vegetables wrapped in lettuce leaves dish and some papaya. For the afternoon we had a visit to the elephant breeding centre and a trip to watch a local dance. First was the animal breeding centre which was basically about 20 elephants chained to some tree trunks. One of the baby elephants was free to roam around by himself and was getting a lot of attention. Being fed two packets of biscuits by one women. I think it was probably getting a bit too much attention or wanted more biscuits, because it lashed out at a man holding a little girl with his trunk hitting him in the side of the head.

We went back to the hotel and had some dinner and decided to put the local dance of to the next day as we were so tired. Unfortunately our room has very intermittent electricity and so far no hot water as there is no mains electricity, only a generator. The fan also did not work most of the night so it was pretty uncomfortably hot during the night.

Another Day Visiting Tour Offices

on Friday, 2 April 2010

We get up and are pretty sure we are going to book the activities we had already settled on. We decide to visit a few more places beforehand just to make sure we have the best deal. We are told by a couple of people that it is not the best time for Sun Kosi and that we would be better off booking a 10 day rafting trip to Karnali, an 18 hour bus journey away. We think we have met the bloke from the main rafting company which most other people book through, and he also says that Karnali would be the more adventurous one at this time of year. So we settle on Karnali even though we are not too keen on the long bus journey and it is slightly more expensive than Sun Kosi, being $430 for 10 days as opposed to $330 for 8 days. We go back and forth between a couple of places trying to get them to undercut each other, but we don’t have much luck and the price does not move much. So we settle with one company that seems to know what he is doing and also has the best overall price.

Our itinerary now involves us leaving Kathmandu tomorrow morning early at about 6am and going to Chitwan national park, we will leave the park on the 5th and make the 18 our journey to Karnali straight from the park. We actually spend about 7 or 8 days rafting with the other two being travel days there and back. We return to Kathmandu on the 14th and then start our Annapurna trek on the 15th, for 15 days returning on the 29th. We then have a day in Kathmandu and leave on the 1st of April on our tour of Tibet. So we will be pretty much on the go constantly with only a couple of days of and quite a lot of travel in between.

We have to pay fifty percent of the cost upfront and then the rest once we return from the rafting and we leave our passports so he can organise our visa for Tibet. It is a relief to have finally booked it all up and now we can just enjoy it without endless tour office visits. Unfortunately I have left it too late to have my laptop fixed and will have to wait till we return from the rafting to order the screen and then pick it up just before we leave Nepal. Therefore there won’t be any updates for about four weeks.

A Day Of Visiting Tour Offices

on Thursday, 1 April 2010

Today we got up late and unfortunately there was no water in our room, so we could not shower. We had a bit of breakfast and  then got started visiting all the tour offices trying to book up some trekking, rafting and our tour into Tibet. We visited about 5 or 6 different offices and got similar but slightly different information from each. They were slightly pushy but nothing like the hassle in India. I also visit a couple of laptop shops and they say that it will take a week to order in the screen because it is very new and they don’t stock it, it is also going to cost about £150 to repair, but at least it can be repaired. Our plan so far is to start our trek of the Annapurna circuit on the 3rd of April till the 18th, climbing to 5500m although we have just found out our insurance only covers us to 3000m, even though we have already been over that height in Kashmir, so we don’t know whether we will chance it or try and extend the insurance. The tour groups want proof of insurance but I am not sure how much detail they will check. After the trekking we have a night chilling in Pokhara, before visiting Chitwan national park for 3 days. We then return to Kathmandu and will hopefully do a 9 day rafting trip, but at the moment they only have dates for the 11th of April which is no good, but we hope they can find 3 more people in the next two and a half weeks to make up the minimum required to do the trip. We want to do the Sun Kosi river which is supposed to be one of the best 10 rafting rivers in the world and is a level 4-5 rapids. That will take us up to the end of the month and then we leave for our Tibet tour on the 1st of May, maybe doing a bungee and canyon swing on the way. We have been told by several people we will have no problems getting into mainland China from Tibet and should be able to get a 25 day visa with a little bribe! We will have to book our first train beforehand though doing the 3500m journey to Cheng Du from Lhasa which is costing $180, which is a bit of a shock after the ridiculously cheap trains in India, but it is a condition of getting the visa. In total everything we want to do is going to come to just over a £1000 which again is totally over our budget, but we don’t want to miss out on anything. After spending the whole day visiting shops we go back to the hotel and have arranged to have a drink with a few Norwegian guys we had met who had not booked a tour and just got a guide in Pokhara. Two of them are too tired so we just go to a local bar with the other and have a couple of cocktails as the beer is ridiculous expensive, but the cocktails are fairly cheap. We get back to the hotel and the door has been locked, fortunately the staff sleep upstairs in reception so we manage to wake them up and are let in.