11 Day Annapurna Trek with World Expeditions
in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Cambodia
19th March 2009
may have different opinions but this is the way I saw things. I
genuinely liked everyone on the trip and had many long and
interesting discussions with everyone. Anything I say about
anyone is purely in fun. Some information I got from others on
the trip. I may have enhanced some of the information I gathered.
Anything that is blatantly incorrect please let me know. Any
photos referenced have been converted to a smaller size for
Mike & Monica (married)
Paul & Barbara (couple)
Dennis & Kevin
Linda & Karen
organised the trip through World Expeditions and he is to be
commended for his efforts. Dennis also compiled some notes about
the trip. Click
here for his notes.
this group photo.
There was also another group of 13 people one day behind us
Staff (30 including the leader)
we gave them (Rupees)
tried to get a group photo of all the support staff but is was
Pokhara by bus to Khande then trek to Australia Camp. Overnight
in tents. Ate in mess tent.
Trek Australia Camp to Landrung. Overnight in tents. See this
photo of tents at Landrung. Ate in mess tent.
Trek Landrung to Ghandrung. Overnight in lodge. Ate in lodge
Trek Ghandrung to Tadapani. Overnight in tents. Ate in mess
Trek Tadapani to Dobato. Should have been overnight in tents but
because of heavy snow we stayed in newly built lodge at extra
cost. Ate in lodge dining area beside warm heater.
Trek Dobato to Chistibung. Overnight in tents. Ate in mess tent.
During the evening meal it was snowing and we had to continually
bash the top of the tent to dislodge the build-up of snow. A new
lodge is being built at Chistibung.
Trek Chistibung to Khopra Ridge. Should have been overnight in
tents but because of heavy snow we stayed in newly built lodge at
extra cost. The original plan was to stay here 2 nights and on
the second day to walk to Kaire Lake. Because of heavy snow we
were unable to walk to Kaire Lake so we only stayed one night.
Ate in lodge dining room with no heating. They did provide an
extra doona for the bed.
Trek Khopra Ridge to Swanta. Overnight in tents. Ate in nearby
teahouse dining room.
Trek Swanta to Ghorapani. Overnight in lodge. Ate in lodge dining
In Ghorapani. Overnight in lodge at extra cost. Ate in lodge
Trek Ghorapani to Hille. Overnight in tents. Ate in lodge dining
Trek Hille to Naya Pul. Bus to Pokhara.
days were spent in the Radisson hotel in Kathmandu and Tulsi
hotel in Pokhara. For Mike, Monica, Noel, Rick and Kevin the last
3 days were spent in Cambodia. They were joined by Fiona, Liz and
Alan from Group 2 and Mike's sister,
up Greg (from the Wiggles)
our case it was wake up Kevin. Most mornings we would ask him how
he slept and he usually replied not very well. These
photos show that Kevin slept during the day so no wonder he
could not sleep at night.
When he filled in his application form he put his height down as
120cm. Consequently, when he pulled out the down jacket supplied
by World Expeditions it was for a child. Luckily, he got it
changed. A few days later we caught him trying on this
jacket so what was his real motive?
(65), Linton (44).
Anytime there involved counting money she jumped at the chance.
photo for proof. After all she does work in a bank.
the Kathmandu arrivals terminal. I noticed this poor pot plant
that looked like it had never been watered or it had only been
given water from the mould covered water cooler nearby. It was in
a bad state. I wanted to take a photo but an evil looking guard
was eyeing me off so I gave it a miss.
the "Monkey Temple" overlooking the Kathmandu Valley.
Soon after we arrived thunder and lightning started and then the
rain. Locals told us that this was the first rain for 6 months.
We were standing at the topmost point of the temple when lighting
struck very close to us. It frightened the whoopsey out of
Steps - Eat Your Heart Out
the Dandenong's we have the "1,000 Steps" a moderately
steep set of steps that people use for training. In Nepal some
days we would walk up and down at least 10,000 steps in a day. In
particular, coming down from Ghorapani, there must be at least
100,000 very steep steps.
we got back from the trek in Kathmandu, Subal our guide took us
to a restaurant in the Thamel area called the "Rum Doodle".
See this photo at
the entrance. This is apparently where all the trekkers and
mountain climbers go to meet. If you have climbed Mt. Everest you
get your meal for free. You can also create and leave your
"footprint" on the wall or ceiling with your details on
the footprint although there was not many spaces left. Glenda
footprint and we all signed it and Subal nailed it on a
Subal and Dennis (our GPS man) both left early so we
did not know the way back to the hotel. Subal did sketch us a map
but it was useless. Someone had the idea that some of us could
use rickshaws to get back and the rest would follow the
rickshaws. Well the idea worked sort of.
Gael & Glenda
were in one rickshaw and Barbara & Karen in the other. Noel,
myself and Paul followed the rickshaws for a while until Paul's
knee played up and Noel dropped back with him. All the others had
dropped behind. I chased both rickshaws and just beat them back
to the Hotel. The girls told me later that the two rickshaws
seemed to be having a race. Rickshaws have no lights and whilst I
was following them I had my head torch reversed as a tail light.
Oh! I forgot to mention it was raining. The others eventually
drifted back to the hotel in a dishevelled state. We all had a
At Kathmandu arrivals terminal which was a
dilapidated building. Queues very badly organised. The
immigration officials were grimfaced and grumpy.
I Did Not See In Kathmandu
pumps. All the concrete is hauled by workers carrying it.
number plates, parking meters, automatic car washes, speed
cameras, speed signs, multistorey car parks or fuel price
signs like this one
in Siem Reap Cambodia.
Ridge. There were three tee-shirts in stock. All XL size and the
elevation printed on the tee-shirts was wrong (according to
Dennis our GPS expert).
Were All The Ants
did not see any ants in Nepal until we got to the bottom of the
steps from Ghorapani. This
photo shows them in single file across the steps. I asked our
guides and they assured me there are many ants in Nepal but I
never saw any after that.
Also near the bottom of these
steps was a large amount of poo from various animals that passed
Things You See
you passed on the trek wearing white sneakers, thongs and face
porter carrying a heavy load in bare feet.
carrying large heavy suitcases. These types of suitcases weight
up to 5Kg with nothing in them. They should have transferred all
the contents from the suitcase to another lighter canvas bag. We
spoke with the porter carrying such a suitcase and he told us
that he was getting paid 1500R/day for carrying 50kg and he can
carry up to 80kg.
Kathmandu people playing table tennis using bricks as a net.
guys manipulating a metal electricity pole down a very steep
section of track. It must have weighed over 100Kg. See this
sticks holding up a rock. See this
& chairs made from slabs of rock. See this
support under a building. See this
you look at the two front support poles in this
photo, you will see that near the bottom of the poles they
have been thinned out. I was told that if there is a fire, the
two poles at the front will collapse first thus blocking the
entrance to the building.
Kathmandu, there was a new building being erected near the
Radisson hotel. There were workers shovelling screenings to make
concrete. For each shoveller, there was another person helping
to pull the shovel into the screenings via a rope attached to
lower end of the shovel.
porter carrying cages full of live chickens. See this
photo of the cages.
Ghorapani when we stayed in a lodge, you were encouraged to lock
your room door using the provided lock. However, the lock was
not what we would call high quality. See this
Seim Reap, Cambodia, most highways had street lights running the
length of the highway. Seemed like a waste of electricity to me
in such a poor country.
- A City In Decline
did not like Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The air was
polluted and streets littered with rubbish. The traffic was
chaotic. Power outages contributed to the pollution because
people used generators. The streams were littered and raw sewage
was running into them. High poverty level and people living in
the streets. There is no reticulated water. The main area called
Thamel was a rabbit warren. The infrastructure was crumbling and
I could see no evidence that anything was being fixed. I would
not call it a functioning city and wonder what it will be like in
10 years time. I have no idea where one would start to fix
things. I purchased the Lonely Planet guide to Nepal before we
left and none of this was mentioned in the guide.
the so called "sacred sites" were in a very bad
condition. Litter everywhere, motorbikes allowed to drive through
them. The sacred river had raw sewage running into it. At some
places we had to pay an entrance fee because we were tourists.
Where is all this money going?
Pokhara, the second largest
city, was in a better state but who knows what it will be like in
10 years time.
In the World Expeditions pre-departure
information there is mention of the Kathmandu
Environmental Education Project (KEEP). This is a non government
project committed to preserving the environment in Nepal and
includes initiatives for improving conditions in Kathmandu. They
are doing some excellent work and we can only hope they make a
difference in the longer term.
Bird, Lady Bird Fly Away Home
was an epidemic of Lady Birds nearly everywhere in Nepal except
in the higher regions. Everywhere you looked they were active.
See this photo and
one day trek from Tadapani to Dobato. This section of track which
we traversed over 4 days through Dobato, Chistibung and Khopra
Ridge to Swanta is off the normal trekking route and we did not
see any other trekkers except Group 2 who we met up with when we
were coming down from Khopra Ridge. This route is not even
mentioned in the Nepal Lonely Planet.
Leaving Tadapani we
walked for about 2.5 hours and struck the first snow. Had lunch
in a gully where the snow was quite thick. After lunch it started
to snow so we put all our snow gear on. See this
photo. Good thing we did because it got worse. Then came
thunder and lightning. Then we had to traverse a few treacherous
sections. Very narrow path (ledge) on very steep terrain. Made
slippery with the snow. I was scarred. Subal gave me his stick
which helped. Mike slipped on one section. Glenda who suffers
from vertigo was helped by Birble. Still more thunder and
lightning. Could not see very far. Paul was walking near me and I
heard him yell out. I looked over and he had fallen over. My
first thought was that he had slipped and hit his head but he
yelled out that he had been hit by lightning. All who were nearby
raced over to help him but he kept complaining of a terrible
headache. We took off his head gear but could not see any damage.
Paul seemed keen to keep going and Subal said it was only about
10 mins to shelter and it was. Paul had a headache for a few days
and fully recovered.
Chistibung to Khopra Ridge also had a
few treacherous places near the top. As we neared the top of
Khopra Ridge, porters were in front of us shovelling
snow from the path ahead of us.
photo I took of some of the group arriving at Dobato after
our "Most Adventurous Day" (see above). We were in a
hurry to get Paul to some shelter. I did not know that there was
a lodge at Dobato until we pushed through the scrub and I saw the
buildings. When we got inside there were all the porters huddled
around a fire. It was like an oasis. It was still snowing and the
group quickly made a decision to sleep in the lodge rather then
the tents. Noel initially though he might sleep in the tent
outside but after about 5 seconds outside he changed his mind. He
got his wish the next night when it snowed in Chistibung and we
were in tents. The porters took down our tents that evening but
our guides still slept in their tents. This
photo is what the guide's tents looked like the next morning.
of us having breakfast at Dobato around the heater and this
photo of the lonely toilet tent at Dobato (which I don't
think got used that night).
are all the Cats
never saw any cats for at least the first 3 days. I asked the
guides about this and they assured me they exist in Nepal.
However, I only saw one cat on the whole trip and here is the
I did Not Expect
unseasonable weather. Nearly every afternoon the clouds would
roll over and there would be thunder in the distance. Sometimes
there would be rain. Did not expect to be trekking through snow.
there were trees in the hills. I expected all the hills to be
denuded of trees.
steepness of the terrain, the high number of ready made steps
and the fact that every skerrick of available land was terraced.
number of small villages that you pass through on the more used
the first few days of the trek we woke up to views of snow
covered peaks but the tops were shrouded in mist. But by late
evening the mist had cleared and you could see the tops of all of
them. It was like the mountains were "revealing themselves".
photo for what you see.
Before the Trek commences, each person is given a
large red bag in which to place the items they wish to take on
the trek. This bag is carried by the porters during the day
between sites. On the first day the porters had written a code on
each red bag underneath our name on the name tags. This is an
indication of the weight of the bag. Each porter carried two bags
and they selected the bags so that each porter carried
approximately the same weight. We got to keep these bags after
We were told that each bag could not be above
12.5Kg. Glenda told me she had to throw out her lipstick to keep
the weight down.
Tower Of Landrung
house in Landrung definitely had a lean on it. The whole
building looked very rickety. You would be taking a risk walking
on the top floor.
This is how someone else described the buses in
Nepal. Every bus we saw was jam packed with people and often
there were buses with a load of people on the roof!
Apart from the trek where the food was provided
we ate at various other places.
Kathmandu the first evening we walked to a Nepalise restaurant
(Nepali Chulo) which provided some entertainment with the meal.
On the next evening we took a bus to another Nepalise restaurant
(Bhanchha Ghar) with group 2 and there was more entertainment
provide. In both cases the meal was essentially the same and I
did not find it particularly appetising. They gave us each a
serve of "Raksi", a rice based alcoholic drink. I gave
it to someone else. We also dined in the "Rum Doodle"
in the Thamel area. The food and service were good.
in the Radisson hotel in Kathmandu were excellent. We had
breakfasts, lunch and evening meals.
in the Tulsi hotel in Pokhara were measly with very little
Pokhara the first evening we went to the Boomerang restaurant.
It was very good, Nice atmosphere, entertainment and fast
service. On the second evening we went with group 2 to Zorba's.
Meal was OK but slow. After the meal at Zorba's, a few of us
went to the Amsterdam Nightclub. It was boring and we only
stayed about 1 hour.
hotel in Seim Reap provided a poor breakfast although the
lunches were good. At breakfast, there was toaster that had the
plastic broken on the handle that you push down and the handle
would not stay down. They provided a folded up piece of
cardboard that neatly jammed in the handle slot to keep the
Seim Reap Cambodia we went to a restaurant in the "Pub
Street" area. It was OK.
Before the porters loaded and carried the red bags
they would compress the bags as much as they could. This caused a
few internal haemorrhages. I was told of a few broken mirrors, a
bag of sugar broken, snakes (sweets) mangled and shampoo bottles
We could not have got a better leader. Always
authorative and in control of the support team yet joined in
singing and dancing with the guys on the final night. Knew
everyone everywhere and got things done. Good command of English
and very knowledgeable. At Kathmandu airport Linda and Dennis had
their bike helmets confiscated but Kevin was allowed to keep his.
Subal somehow got them back.
seen in Kathmandu for "Ride on Mowers". Had not rained
for 6 months. There is a acute shortage of water and I saw very
little lawn in Kathmandu.
Poon Hill up from Ghorapani there was a guy at a small stall
selling drinks. This was at 5.30 in the morning. See this
photo. He seemed to be doing OK.
Seim Reap, Cambodia, we went to see the floating village in the
lake that the Seim Reap river runs into. When we returned and
were getting into the bus, some hawkers offered us with plates
with our picture in the middle of the plate. I was intrigued as
to when they took our photo. Our guide told us our photos were
taken when we got off the bus and whilst we were visiting the
floating village, the hawkers were printing our photos on the
Altitude Affects You
Nobody suffered from Acute Mountain
Sickness. The highest altitude we reached was 3643m at Khopra
Ridge. There are a few things you do notice though:
is harder to squeeze stuff out of containers such as toothpaste
and shaving cream etc.
do get short of breath and this can lead to an anxiety attack.
Always move slowly at first.
go to the toilet more often. I went four times in one night.
After a while, you got sick of this and stopped drinking the
after dinner drinks. It didn't seem to make that much difference
is very cold and going to toilet often is annoying.
is virtually impossible to dry any clothes unless there is a
the end of the day, a few of us suffered from aching around the
back of neck. Subal told us this was due to a combination of
leaning forward and your backpack pulling on your shoulders. He
was right, because the ache went away after a few hours.
Of His Holiday House
of Mike he appears to be dreaming of what could be his next
holiday house complete with polluted river frontage. This was
taken at the end of the valley near where they were doing a
cremation at a temple site in Kathmandu. Here is another photo
of Mike taken in Ghorapani still dreaming of that holiday
collection of unusual signs, Nepalise English signs and other
interesting ones. Click
here for all the photos.
A collection of unusual things.
here for all the photos.
In Swanta, we noticed a local man
walking with a huge load of straw/sticks on his back. It looked
like a walking haystack. Glenda chased him and took a photo.
View Multiplication Factor
Take the best views you have
seen in Australia and try to work out how much better the views
are in Nepal. I reckon about 100 times better.
Tenure And Other Regulations
asked the guides how the ownership of land is handled in Nepal
and they assured me there is such a thing a freehold title. I am
not convinced and intend to find out more.
noticed that with some Kathmandu buildings, the area of the
floors increase with height causing the upper floors to extend
over the road. This is because some land charge is based only on
the area at ground level.
is apparently compulsory for motor cycle drivers to wear a
helmet but not for the pillion passengers. It any case it does
not seem to be enforced. There were some traffic police at
intersections in Kathmandu but they did seem to making any
need a permit to erect a building but there are no building
don't think there are any health regulations.
Early in the trek I noticed others using this phrase.
For example "Put in Kev". I discovered later that is
was started by Kevin years ago and is used on their bike rides to
prompt people to ride harder.
I Should Have Brought
World Expeditions did indicate that they are recommended for
higher trips but snow was not expected on our trek.
pedometer. Distance in km or time taken are meaningless in
Nepal. The number of steps taken is more meaningful but does not
take into account altitude variations which can be up to 1,000m
in one day.
After Paul was hit by lightning, I asked our
guide what he would have done if Paul had sustained serious
injury. He replied that he would have sent a runner to the next
town and phoned for help. However, as we discovered later you
cannot rely on this because often the next town had no
electricity because lightning had struck the mobile phone and
electricity towers. This highlights a serious flaw in the World
Expedition risk management strategy. Guides should carry a
I Did Not Need
medical supplies. We were told to bring some but World
Expeditions provided a comprehensive kit which was carried on
repellent. Brought some but never used it. Even in Cambodia I
never saw a mosquito.
reckon Kevin did not need to bring this
fold up stool.
thought I did not need a walking stick but on our most "Most
Adventurous Day" I changed my mind. When I saw the
treacherous sections I grabbed a branch from the bush in order
to fabricate a stick but Subal loaned me his. At Dobato he
arranged for a number of sticks to be made from bamboo and I
used one of these whist we trekked through the snow. Mike seemed
the only one of us who did not make much use of a stick although
he told me he used one on our most "Most Adventurous Day".
Paul with his iridescent green socks.
a fun night it was. Our last night was camped at Hille. Krishna,
the cook made this
cake. After dinner the festivities began on a large concrete
area near the campsite.
off with the support staff singing. One guy was playing a bongo
drum. Others started dancing. They are very lithe reminding me
of rap dancers. Click
here to listen to a portion of the music.
gave a speech. Click
here to listen to his speech.
gave a speech. Dennis impressed them with his occasional use of
the Nepalise language. Subal translated the rest. To listen to
his speech click
singing and dancing by the support staff. We all joined in. See
and Viv read out their ode to the trip. Click
here to listen to the ode.
singing and dancing by the support staff. We all joined in.
sang her ode to the trip to the tune of "The lion sleeps
tonight". We all joined in for the chorus. Click
here to listen to the tune.
singing and dancing by the support staff. We all joined in.
all sang "Have a beer with Tunka (Duncan)". Click
here to listen to the song.
all sang Botany Bay. Click
here to listen to the song.
danced and a few of the support staff joined in. Then we all
handing out of the tips to the support staff. A few days earlier
we had all collated our tip money. We were told the amounts to
give by Subal who handed them out to each person who then went
around to every one of us and we shook their hand. Some were
very shy and did not look at you but I could see they were very
was a great evening but my hands were sore from clapping.
dog who followed us from Tadapani to Ghorapani (5 days) then
disappeared soon after we arrived. We called him "Warby".
Imagine our surprise when we walked up to Poon Hill at Ghorapani
the next morning and there he was curled up under the tower. We
never saw him again after that. He was very quiet except at night
when he often barked. He just curled up in the snow or under our
dinner table. At Swanta, he did have a confrontation with one of
the local dogs. Here are some photos of Warby in
the snow, Warby again in
the snow and waiting
for his dinner in the mess tent at Chistibung.
Lonely Planet has this entry headed "An Unexpected
"Dogs often join you on the trail,
following you for periods ranging from a few minutes to several
days. They just tag along, sniffing at interesting smells along
the trail and don't seem to expect food or affection. On day
you'll look around and notice the dog has vanished. The late
Tenzing Norgay said that having a black dog accompany you is
especially good luck."
Well, Warby was black!
am over squat toilets. Admittedly, it is a more natural position
but there is always the problem of keeping your pants out of the
wetness that always seems to be around the toilet. Also, not
being allowed to throw the toilet paper down the hole does not
seem right. You have to place it in the container provided. See
this photo. We
each were issued with three rolls of toilet paper but it had no
serrations and varied in thickness. It was soft though.
This always happened when you purchased
something. The stall owners used calculators a lot where they
entered their price and then allowed you to enter your price. For
some of the group it became a competition to see who could get
the best price for a particular item. Generally, items were more
costly in the remote areas but this was seen as supporting the
At some places you were surrounded and
followed by hawkers. The worst was at a temple site in Kathmandu
where our bus was parked out the front. Whilst walking to the
temple hawkers continually hassled you and even followed you back
to the bus and continued negotiating through the window. By the
time everyone got back to the bus it was surrounded by hawkers.
the flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara the sign on the back of the
seat said "Use seat for Flotation". Here are some other
photos of safety issues.
I noticed lots of LP gas
cylinders being carted around and wondered if are regularly
tested like in Australia. A close look at the cylinders showed
that they are stamped with a tested and retest date.
are plenty of money exchanges and ATM's in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
On the first night we all descended on
this money exchanger just near the Radisson hotel and he ran
out. Got used to using Rupees in Nepal.
Did not spend enough
time in Thailand to get used to the local currency.
Cambodia the currency is a mess. They use both the Riel and the
US dollar. Prices are often quoted in both. The conversion rate
is about 4,000 Riel to $1 US and you are often dealing with
10,000 Riel notes. We needed money to pay the $25 US departure
tax at Siem Reap airport. I had 100,000 Riels ready. However, at
the airport departure desk, the conversion rate was 4,100 to $1
US and inside the terminal at the restaurant the conversion rate
Guring museum in Ghandrung. See this
photo. When we visited there was no power and it was very
dark inside. The lady gave the first few of us torches but ran
out and gave the rest candles. Here are photos of Noel
and Mike in
the museum. Mildly interesting. Cost 30R (about 60c AUS).
Are They Really Thinking
do our support staff really think of us? Westerners with plenty
of money and they are effectively our slaves although they are
paid a wage. I felt a bit embarrassed at times. I noticed the
porters and kitchen staff staring at us for long periods. Subal
did give us some insight into this by sort of admitting that they
resent us because of what we have. However, I did not notice any
animosity towards us at all.
You continually pass families
just eking out a living and I felt sorry for them but what can I
do to change anything.
Once, at the bottom of a valley near
a suspension bridge, we came across a young boy who had sustained
an injury to his face. Subal patched him up. Whilst this was
happening I contemplated the life of this poverty stricken
family. They were living in a shack by the river which had very
little in it. There were 7 children dressed in rags. See this
photo. What is the future for them?
always wondered if there was any systematic collection of
rubbish. Given the amount of litter it did not seem there was. I
was told that there were places were litter could be piled up and
it would be collected. I was surprised to see a rubbish
collection truck in Pokhara. See this
photo. Discarded plastic water bottles are one of the biggest
problems in Nepal and we are the ones causing the problem. On the
trek all water was boiled for us but in all hotels bottled water
gets most of its power from Hydro. Because of the lack of rain
there is was not enough power to supply all areas of the country
24 hours/day. Therefore they have this "Load sharing"
arrangement. Certain areas of the country are provided power for
a few hours a day on a rotating basis. Some hotels and other
businesses have their own generators which adds to the pollution
In the rural areas, some communities have their own
Hydro schemes or are asking for help to create one (see this
photo), but they also are suffering from the lack of rain and
the power supply is therefore erratic. The rural areas have a
further problem from lightning which is very common in Nepal and
kills many people every year. We arrived at few towns expecting
power only to discover that lightning had hit an electricity
supply pole and also their mobile phone tower taking them both
out. At Ghorapani this was the situation when we arrived but we
found an enterprising shop that had a solar powered telephone
with a mobile link back to some other town. This is a photo
of the shop.
In some of the lodges we stayed at, we took
the opportunity to charge up batteries. It was very expensive.
Usually around 100R (about $2 AUS) per hour per person.
Khopra Ridge lodge I noticed solar panels on the roof and wiring
and lights to each room. There was also internet access in the
attached shop but the power was not working whilst we were
Lots of lodges have solar hot water and we utilised
this a few times for showers. See this
carried treats such as snakes, jubes and other lollies and we
shared them around whilst trekking. Mars bars, Snickers and Coke
we purchased from teahouses along the way. This
photo of Noel eating a Snicker is typical. Some of the girls
purchased Yak Cheese as shown is this
photo. Many brought cappuccino and chocolate satchels from
home which we had in the afternoon with hot yak milk.
Noel and Monica all had twisted ankles. Linda sprained her wrist.
Paul hurt his knee. Dennis had a frozen shoulder. Noel got a
touch of stinging nettles on his bottom during a toilet stop.
Nobody offered to put antiseptic on it. None of these injuries
Zoom, Chop Chop and Washy Washy
used by the guides. The first two were prompts to get us walking
again after a rest stop. There were lots of lovely rock seats
alongside trails for rest stops. See this
photo and this
photo as examples.
The last phrase was used by the
guides after they delivered our washing water to the front of out
tents each morning.
Glenda used all these terms very
effectively in her ode to the trip to the tune of "The lion
sleeps tonight" which she sang on the last night.
everyone had a cough or sneeze of some type. Nobody had a severe
case of the runs during the trek. Myself and Noel had bad runs
after the trek and mine continued back in Melbourne. I lost 5kg.
The general consensus was that Mike was the germ carrier. When we
left him at Bangkok airport he looked very ill so maybe all his
germs ganged up on him. I did note however, that Monica (his
wife) was the first person to report feeling ill.
Took GPS readings regularly. Always disputed the elevations
displayed on signs and elsewhere. This
photo of Dennis shows him searching for his GPS. Don't know
why he had shoes on his hands though.
not see a great deal. Karen and Linda would probably disagree
because they took lots of photos of moss, flowers and other
plants. Some monkeys and yaks. The bumblebees
From Poon Hill out of Ghorapani. It is impossible
to describe the views. You have to see them in person. No
photograph could replicate the sights. We had to get up at 4.30
that morning and walk up to Poon Hill. I estimated there were
about 200 people there. They all must have stayed at Ghorapani
There were also good views of the snow capped
peaks for the first few mornings of the trek.
As soon as we got to Kathmandu Noel was
searching for a good map that showed the places we were going.
None we looked at showed the tracks and places around Khopra
Ridge. However, Subal, our leader, had one that did show the
places and Noel was able to find this map. I later picked up the
same map in Pokhara.
Far We Travelled
Not very far at all. When you tell
people that we only walked about 55km on the whole trek they look
at you like you have 10 heads. However, after you explain that at
times you are only walking at about 1km/hour because of the steep
terrain or the altitude it becomes clear to them. The lead guide
forces you to walk at that pace for your own benefit. They know
the best pace to walk at.
for the Porters
of our group did Tai
Yoga. See this photo. This
was of great interest to the porters. Often I would see them
lined up mesmerised by the display.
World Expeditions Discount
At the Radisson hotel in
Kathmandu we were entitled to a discount on meals in the
restaurant. Instead of 1000R (about $20 AUS) it was 650R (about
$13 AUS). Subal, our leader, forgot to tell us about this until a
few had already used the restaurant.
Paul introduced our guides to a game called
Pente. He gave them about one minutes tuition and one beat him in
the first game. Then two of the guides played each other with
another guide looking on. As they played the guides were talking
amongst themselves in Nepalise. One of the playing guides made a
move and the guide looking on instantly shouted out in English
When we first got to Kathmandu we discovered
a Tee-Shirt store near the Radisson hotel that had pre-printed
tee-shirts with the full Annapurna circuit shown on the back.
Noel thought it a good idea have tee-shirts made for us that
reflected our smaller circuit. He negotiated a price with the
owner for 14 units and all the others agreed to have them done.
Later on, the owner disputed the price he gave to Noel but we
managed to bring the price down to 500R each (about $10 AUS). We
left him with the order and deposits along with some late changes
left with a local taxi driver. He said they would be ready when
we got back from the trek.
Some of the group expected the
store to be closed when we got back but he had them all ready
which he had sewed on a 1890 model Singer sewing machine. Later,
some of the group went back and had some additions made. Paul
added a little man with lightning striking the man. Monica added
a figure with crutches.
seem to have this obsession with publicising the fact their
Coach/Bus/Taxi has video. See this
photo of a typical bus. I saw lots of taxis and buses with
this sign. However, on the buses we were on, they never showed
Urinal on the Runway
Whilst waiting in the bus in the
runway at Pokhara, I noticed an elderly couple happily relieving
themselves on the runway.
often played a card game called "29" which looked like
a variant of 500. Passed a few men playing a board game that was
a variant of pool. Instead of balls they use discs which they
flick around the table like in this
photo. Liz, from group 2 purchased a miniature version of the
game which she brought back to Melbourne. Passed children playing
marbles. Volleyball was popular. Saw a few people playing table
Across The Valley
we were in Landrung, it was pointed out to us that you could see
up and across the valley to the place where we would be staying
the next night (Ghandrung). Someone had the idea to leave a note
with the adjacent teahouse for group two who would be here the
next night. The note asked them to flash some lights towards us
at 8.00 that evening. Sure enough, at 8.00 in Ghandrung we saw
some lights flashing across the valley (in the rain) and it was
later confirmed it was from group 2. See this
could not fault the meals on the trek. Warm black tea brought to
the tent every morning at around 6.30. Every mail meal was a
different combination of up to 5 portions. And there was plenty
for seconds. Vegetarians and gluten intolerance was catered for.
We even had Yak burgers for tea one night. Dessert was usually
provided. Cake a few nights. See this
photo and this photo
The kitchen staff and porters ate before us and
with their fingers. Any left overs from our meal was also usually
eaten by the porters and sometimes by Warby, the dog that
followed us for a few days.
Why were most of the roofs in Nepal blue?
Apparently, this is a lucky colour.
Good thing I brought it along. We played this for hours and hours
with up to 8 people and had may good laughs along the way. See
this photo. The guides also
played UNO with us. The most vivid memory I have of playing UNO
is in the eating hall at Khopra Ridge, our highest and coldest
point in the trek. Huddled around the table in the freezing cold
with nearly every item of clothing on we could find and we still
played on. Some even had their sleeping bags liners wrapped
around themselves. Also played Gin Rummy, 500, Yahtzee and Pente
on other nights. Some nights the only light we had was a kerosene
pressure lantern supplemented by our head torches.
the UNO pack away on the last morning at the porters "auction".
On that morning, a large basket was provided and we were asked to
donate items. After everyone had donated, the items were broken
up into 15 lots (the number of porters) by Subal and 15 numbered
pieces of paper were placed in a hat. Each porter selected a
number from the hat and was given the appropriate lot.
In Flight Meal
Yeti airlines Kathmandu to Pokhara. Two
lollies, half a cup of coffee and some cotton wool. To be fair
they only had 25mins. If you take the bus from Kathmandu to
Pokhara it takes up to 8 hours on a windy rough road.
Nepal and Cambodia have reasonably good mobile and internet
services. I noticed the guides using their mobiles in some of the
remote Nepal villages. Internet services are available in many
villages when there is power and in Kathmandu and Pokhara the
internet services are very good. There is also good access to
Skype and cheap international calls via the internet.
Khopra Ridge 3,643m according to
Were probably taken by Karen and Linda.
Mostly of moss, flowers and other obscure items.
leader used this term a lot when describing the terrain.
Translated it means "Little bit up, Little bit down"
with the words "Little bit" used very loosely as we
soon discovered. See this
photo of a typical Nepal down.
were pre-warned to be very careful about cleanliness. Use
antiseptic hand wash. Keep mouth closed whilst showering although
there was one stretch where we did not have access to a shower
for 8 days. Brush teeth using bottled or boiled water provided by
the support staff. When the toilet tents were used, we were
provided with a water container and soap attached to a string.
However, at Chistibung where we camped one night, it snowed
overnight and the water in the container was frozen the next
morning. See this
photo of the water container with its snow hat and this
photo of the tents in the morning. The porters had already
scrapped the snow off the tents.
All our cutlery, cups and
plates were metal and were sterilised in a large container before
Glenda brought a supply of pens with her and
handed them out to any deserving children she passed on the way.
Most Progressive Country
I was very surprised when our
guide in Cambodia told us that the government closed down the
Casino in Seim Reap because people were losing too much money.
They have Mail
In Ghorapani the mail comes once a week.
To Know You
did not take the guides long to know everyone's names and their
preferences. After only a few days at meal times they would
address you by your first name when serving you. At some camp
sites, they even put our red bags inside the tents and had placed
the bags on the correct sleeping sides. At Ghorapani, where we
stayed in a lodge for two nights, the three couples each were
given a room with a double bed and they did not ask in advance
the 30th March. The cook made this
cake and everyone sang happy birthday. Did not get any
presents though. The day before it was Mike & Monica's 29th
wedding anniversary and we also had a cake. Thank you very much
to the cook.
we got back from the Trek and were in Pokhara, six of us hired
mountain bikes for the morning intending to ride up the road
alongside the lake. Maila, one of the Guides came with us. The
bikes were in appalling condition. Gears not changing, brakes
dicky and seat adjusters slipping. Kevin's bike stopped working
completely and Maila gave Kevin his bike and pushed the faulty
bike back to town (about 5Km). Linton ended up with only one
gear. We rode about 25Km along the road then turned back and came
back the same way. It was very interesting because the poverty
level increased and road condition decreased the further we went
away from Pokhara. Had a long talk with an Australian we passed
who was helping someone build a teahouse. See this
On the way back, we stopped to talk to some young
children who asked if they could ride the bikes. Three of us
agreed but had our doubts when the bikes and riders disappeared
around a corner. I thought the bikes had gone forever and we
would have to walk back. But, sure enough, they eventually
returned and were very grateful for the ride.
Cost us 200R
each (about $4 AUS) for bike hire. We did not pay for the faulty
is a photo of me
on my birthday with a "Yeti" hat on. Only myself,
Dennis and Monica bought and wore these hats. I thought they were
great, particularly in the cold areas where I slept with it on
all night. Dennis bought his the cheapest at 200R. During the day
walking, I wore a "fishing hat" as Dennis called it. He
did not think is was an appropriate hat to wear but I liked it.
From Kathmandu, myself and Mike took a Buddha Air
early morning "Everest" flight. It flew in a trajectory
that allowed you to view most of the worlds highest peaks
including Mt Everest. The weather was perfect with no cloud and a
perfect view of all the snow covered mountains. You were provided
with a map naming all the mountains and the hostess regularly
passed by and pointed out the mountains. Also, twice you were
invited into the cockpit to lap up the captains view. It was well
worth the $216 AUS. The only sour note was an unexpected 170R
airport tax which we had to pay at the airport.
Ghorapani we had a free day. In the afternoon, Noel, myself and
Kevin decided to walk to a village called Deurali. This is on the
track between Tadapani and Ghorapani which was not on our
itinerary. Maila, one of the guides came with us. Took us about
1.5 hours to get there, mostly uphill and then along a ridge. The
village had the best display of knitted goods we had seen so far.
See this photo.
Soon after we arrived it started to hail and a lady in one of the
shops beckoned us into her house. There was a group of people
crowded around a heater and we joined them. One young fellow
spoke very good English and we had a long chat with him. There
was also a very good looking Nepalise girl there and Kevin fell
in love with her. On the wall was huge poster of Surfers Paradise
in Queensland about which the young fellow knew all about. I
bought a hat there at an inflated price but they were very nice
to us. See this photo
and this photo
taken inside. Took 1 hour to get back.
In Pokhara, after we got back from the trek
the guide took us to a shop that provided a laundry service. When
we got it back the next day most of it was still damp. I did not
realise this until I got back to the hotel but others noticed it
at the shop and refused to pay the full amount.
the last day of the trek, we stopped for lunch in Birethanti. We
all sat down at a table outside a local teahouse. Beside us, on
another table, was a group of French trekkers. They started
singing French songs. We responded with songs of our own and in
the end we were singing French songs and they were singing
Smugglers Not Allowed
Noel and I decided to have a swim
in the pool at the Radisson hotel in Kathmandu. First you have to
sign in. Then the attendant takes you downstairs where you sign
in to get a locker and towel. Then back upstairs to have a shower
and put stuff in locker. They would not let Noel wear his budgie
smugglers and made him wear him shorts. We also discovered a spa
and used that as well.
We also had a swim in the pool at the
hotel in Siem Reap Cambodia, Don't know what they were using to
keep the water clean but it left a greasy feeling on your skin.
shower head in the hotel in Seim Reap, Cambodia. Pity
the water only came out a few of the holes.
Descent/Ascent in One Day
to Hille 1,400m/Tadapani to Dobato 800m.
Story Of Tunka
was one of our guides. A young quietly spoken man, he sat next to
me on the bus from Pokhara to the start of the trek. I discovered
that he spoke very good English and we had a long chat. He is
doing a university degree in Business at Kathmandu University. He
does not have access to any computers because neither himself or
the university can afford it. All his studies are done on paper
in English and Nepalise. He works as a guide to support his
university studies and his younger sister at school. His father
is a trekkers cook. His mother does not work. They live in an
apartment block in Kathmandu and pay about 3,500R/month rent.
There is no reticulated water. They have to go out and collect it
in containers like in this
photo. In the winter they cannot afford any heating so they
just "put more clothes on". He has never been out of
Nepal and does not expect too even after he completes his degree.
He does have access to the internet via cafes and thus knows a
lot about what is happening around the world. All the guides knew
about the recent bushfires in Victoria.
temples at Katmandu were interesting, particularly the 2,000 year
old "monkey temple" on the hill overlooking
In Seim Reap, Cambodia, the temples were
extraordinary. We visited 8 of them. Angkor Wat, the largest
temple in the world was the best. You cannot conceive how they
built this structure over 1,000 years ago. Here is a photo
of me at Angkor Wat. Another famous temple has trees growing
in and around the temple structure like in this
photo. Some temples are being restored and until they can be
restored are held together in rather unsafe ways. Like this
temple held together with cloth.
Porters And Kitchen Hands
and kitchen hands with World Expeditions are well paid and
provided with all the equipment they require on the trek. They
were originally provided with high quality boots but did not like
them and are now provided with green "gumboots". They
only wear these in the snow. They looked very slippery to me and
I commend them for their agility in the treacherous
They would often leave camp together with a "woop
woop" as they ran along the trail. One would start yelling
and the others would all follow. One time, we heard the "woop
woop" a long way down in a valley.
It amazed me how
they found trails that had been covered by overnight snow or even
knew which way to go in the snow. They always left long before us
and left a well defined trail for us to follow.
all the equipment required for our trek. This included all the
kitchen items, stoves, kerosene, the mess tent and the tables and
chairs that went inside. All the tents and our reds bags. They
also carried our food but I believe a lot of it was purchased
along the way from local people.
They usually cooked in some
dingy building like
this near wherever we were and often slept in the same
building. At Khopra Ridge, the highest and coldest point on the
trek, they were in luxury. They slept in a building that had a
warm fire and they deserved it.
addition to our morning porridge was appreciated by all who used
it. This is a
scan of the label.
Swanta, Glenda woke up during the night to find this
creature crawling over her face.
In Cambodia, Noel purchased an Angkor Wat
book from a hawker for $20 US. Later, someone else purchase the
same book for $2 US. Noel claims he was supporting the local
Each evening after dinner, we would fill
our metal water bottles with boiled water. This was our drinking
water for the next day but it also served as a hot water bottle
for the night.
Some stitching on Linda's red bag came undone
which they fixed although not entirely satisfactorily. Zips on a
few tents and sleeping bags got stuck. Nobody complained of
blisters or boot problems. My video camera would not work at Poon
Hill (condensation problems) and Linda's camera stopped working.
two interesting experiences in the Kathmandu Radisson hotel
suffers from random power outages but the hotel has a backup
generator that appears to start automatically when the supply
fails. During these changeover events, the elevator goes into
some start-up mode. It goes to the basement first, then to the
top floor and only after this will it respond to any button
presses. Rather frightening the first time it happens.
I took the elevator down to the ground floor but the doors
stayed closed. Pushed door open/door close buttons but nothing
happened. Started to panic and decided to go back to the floor I
came from and the doors opened. Took the stairs up/down from
As Dennis said in his speech on the last night "He
could not have picked a better group of people to spend the trip
with". I agree. Thank you to all of you. I will remember
this experience forever. Dennis also said "What happens in
Nepal stays in Nepal". But what does that mean?