Ghostriders 11 Day Annapurna Trek with World Expeditions
Includes time in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Cambodia
Commenced 19th March 2009

Tour Notes

Others 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 faster downloading.

The Participants
Mike & Monica (married)
Linton & Viv (couple)
Paul & Barbara (couple)
Noel & Rick
Dennis & Kevin
Linda & Karen
Gael & Glenda

Dennis 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.

See this group photo. There was also another group of 13 people one day behind us (group 2).

Support Staff (30 including the leader)

Name

Rank

Tip we gave them (Rupees)

Subal Leader Voluntary
Purba Sirdar 3,500
Krishna Cook 6,500
Birble Sherpa 2,500
Maila Sherpa 2,500
Thering Sherpa 2,500
Tunka Sherpa 2,500
     
Raimagi Kitchen Boy 2,500
Wanchuk Kitchen Boy (Sherpa) 2,500
Santos Kitchen Boy 2,500
Kancha Kitchen Boy 2,500
Pashupati Kitchen Boy 2,500
Rajkumar Kitchen Boy 2,500
Ramesh Kitchen Boy 2,500
Manbadhur Kitchen Boy 2,500
     
Santos Porter 2,000
Ram Porter 2,000
Tulshi Porter 2,000
Jiwam Porter 2,000
Susya Porter 2,000
Tilak Porter 2,000
Phurba Porter 2,000
Ramposad Porter 2,000
Jet Porter 2,000
Pitamber Porter 2,000
Khrishna Porter 2,000
Bauraj Porter 2,000
Gopal Porter 2,000
Damber Porter 2,000
Mingma Porter 2,000

We tried to get a group photo of all the support staff but is was too difficult.

Trek Summary
Day 1. Pokhara by bus to Khande then trek to Australia Camp. Overnight in tents. Ate in mess tent.
Day 2. Trek Australia Camp to Landrung. Overnight in tents. See this photo of tents at Landrung. Ate in mess tent.
Day 3. Trek Landrung to Ghandrung. Overnight in lodge. Ate in lodge dining room.
Day 4. Trek Ghandrung to Tadapani. Overnight in tents. Ate in mess tent.
Day 5. 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.
Day 6. 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.
Day 7. 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.
Day 8. Trek Khopra Ridge to Swanta. Overnight in tents. Ate in nearby teahouse dining room.
Day 9. Trek Swanta to Ghorapani. Overnight in lodge. Ate in lodge dining room.
Day 10. In Ghorapani. Overnight in lodge at extra cost. Ate in lodge dining room.
Day 11. Trek Ghorapani to Hille. Overnight in tents. Ate in lodge dining room.
Day 12. Trek Hille to Naya Pul. Bus to Pokhara.

Other 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,

Wake up Greg (from the Wiggles)
In 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.

Shortest Person
Noel. 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?

Oldest/Youngest
Noel (65), Linton (44).

Best Banker
Monica. Anytime there involved counting money she jumped at the chance. See this photo for proof. After all she does work in a bank.

Saddest Plant
At 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.

Biggest Shock
At 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 us.

1,000 Steps - Eat Your Heart Out
In 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.

The Funniest Evening
After 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 made this footprint and we all signed it and Subal nailed it on a pole.
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 good laugh.

Longest Queue
At Kathmandu arrivals terminal which was a dilapidated building. Queues very badly organised. The immigration officials were grimfaced and grumpy.

Things I Did Not See In Kathmandu

  • Concrete pumps. All the concrete is hauled by workers carrying it.

  • Street signs.

  • Personalised 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.

  • Wheelie bins.

  • Obese people.

Worst Tee-shirts
Khopra 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).

Where Were All The Ants
I 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 by there.

Strange Things You See

  • People you passed on the trek wearing white sneakers, thongs and face masks.

  • A porter carrying a heavy load in bare feet.

  • Porters 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.

  • In Kathmandu people playing table tennis using bricks as a net.

  • Two guys manipulating a metal electricity pole down a very steep section of track. It must have weighed over 100Kg. See this photo.

  • Two sticks holding up a rock. See this photo.

  • Table & chairs made from slabs of rock. See this photo.

  • Rickety support under a building. See this photo.

  • If 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.

  • In 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.

  • A porter carrying cages full of live chickens. See this photo of the cages.

  • In 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 photo.

  • In 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.

Kathmandu - A City In Decline
I 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.
Some of 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.

Lady Bird, Lady Bird Fly Away Home
There 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 this photo.

Most Adventurous Day
The 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.

Favourite Photo
This 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. This photo 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).

Where are all the Cats
I 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 photo evidence.

Things I did Not Expect

  • The 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.

  • That there were trees in the hills. I expected all the hills to be denuded of trees.

  • The steepness of the terrain, the high number of ready made steps and the fact that every skerrick of available land was terraced.

  • The number of small villages that you pass through on the more used trekking routes.

Revealing Themselves
On 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". See this photo for what you see.

Secret Code
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 the trek.
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.

Leaning Tower Of Landrung
This guest 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.

Sardine Express
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!

Where We Ate
Apart from the trek where the food was provided we ate at various other places.

  • In 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.

  • Meals in the Radisson hotel in Kathmandu were excellent. We had breakfasts, lunch and evening meals.

  • Breakfasts in the Tulsi hotel in Pokhara were measly with very little variety.

  • In 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.

  • The 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 toast down.

  • In Seim Reap Cambodia we went to a restaurant in the "Pub Street" area. It was OK.

Squashed Goods
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 broken.

Subal Our Leader
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.

Optimism And Enterprising

  • Sign 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.

  • At 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.

  • At 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 plates.

How 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:

  • It is harder to squeeze stuff out of containers such as toothpaste and shaving cream etc.

  • You do get short of breath and this can lead to an anxiety attack. Always move slowly at first.

  • You 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 though.

  • It is very cold and going to toilet often is annoying.

  • It is virtually impossible to dry any clothes unless there is a heater.

  • At 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.

Dreaming Of His Holiday House
In this photo 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 house.

MIscellaneous Interesting Things
A collection of unusual signs, Nepalise English signs and other interesting ones. Click here for all the photos.
A collection of unusual things. Click here for all the photos.

The Walking Haystack
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.

The 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.

Land Tenure And Other Regulations

  • I 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.

  • I 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.

  • It 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 difference.

  • You need a permit to erect a building but there are no building regulations.

  • I don't think there are any health regulations.

Put In
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.

Things I Should Have Brought

  • Gaiters. World Expeditions did indicate that they are recommended for higher trips but snow was not expected on our trek.

  • A 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.

Risk Management
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 satellite phone.

Things I Did Not Need

  • Basic medical supplies. We were told to bring some but World Expeditions provided a comprehensive kit which was carried on the trek.

  • Insect repellent. Brought some but never used it. Even in Cambodia I never saw a mosquito.

  • I reckon Kevin did not need to bring this fold up stool.

  • I 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".

Best Socks
Paul with his iridescent green socks.

The Last Night
What 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.

  • Started 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.

  • Subal gave a speech. Click here to listen to his speech.

  • Dennis gave a speech. Dennis impressed them with his occasional use of the Nepalise language. Subal translated the rest. To listen to his speech click here.

  • More singing and dancing by the support staff. We all joined in. See this photo.

  • Linton and Viv read out their ode to the trip. Click here to listen to the ode.

  • More singing and dancing by the support staff. We all joined in.

  • Glenda 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.

  • More singing and dancing by the support staff. We all joined in.

  • We all sang "Have a beer with Tunka (Duncan)". Click here to listen to the song.

  • We all sang Botany Bay. Click here to listen to the song.

  • Linton danced and a few of the support staff joined in. Then we all joined in.

  • The 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 appreciative.

It was a great evening but my hands were sore from clapping.

Out Mascot
The 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.
The Nepal Lonely Planet has this entry headed "An Unexpected Companion".
"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!

The Toilets
I 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.

Negotiating The Price
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 local economy.
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.

Safety Issues
On 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.

The Money Situation
There 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.
In 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 was 4,300.

The Darkest Museum
The 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).

What Are They Really Thinking
What 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?

Rubbish Collection
I 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 is provided.

The Power Problem
Nepal 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 problem.
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.
At 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 there.
Lots of lodges have solar hot water and we utilised this a few times for showers. See this photo.

Treats
Everyone 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.

Injuries
Dennis, 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 slowed us.

Zoom Zoom, Chop Chop and Washy Washy
Terms 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.

Sickness
Nearly 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.

The GPS Man
Dennis. 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.

Flora and Fauna
Did 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 were large.

Best Views
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 that night.
There were also good views of the snow capped peaks for the first few mornings of the trek.

The Best Map
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.

How 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.

Amusement for the Porters
Some of our group did
Tai Chi and/or Yoga. See this photo. This was of great interest to the porters. Often I would see them lined up mesmerised by the display.

The 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's Surprise
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 "Bad Move".

Best Tee-Shirts
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.

Video Coach/Bus/Taxi
They 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 any videos.

The 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.

Games They Play
Porters 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 tennis.

Lights Across The Valley
When 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 photo.

Meals
I 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 of food.
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.

Blue Roofs
Why were most of the roofs in Nepal blue? Apparently, this is a lucky colour.

Best Card Game
UNO. 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.
I gave 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.

Worst 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.

Communication
Surprisingly, 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.

Highest Elevation Reached
Khopra Ridge 3,643m according to Dennis.

The Most Photographs
Were probably taken by Karen and Linda. Mostly of moss, flowers and other obscure items.

Nepalise Flat
Our 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.

Cleanliness
We 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 each meal.

The Pen Lady
Glenda brought a supply of pens with her and handed them out to any deserving children she passed on the way.

The 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.

Do They have Mail
In Ghorapani the mail comes once a week.

Getting To Know You
It 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 for this.

My Birthday
On 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.

Disappearing Bikes
After 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 photo.
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 bike.

"Yeti" Hats
Here 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.

Best Flight
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.

Neighbourly
At 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.

The Laundry Con
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 Singing Competition
On 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 English songs.

Budgie 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.

Biggest Shower Head
This shower head in the hotel in Seim Reap, Cambodia. Pity  the water only came out a few of the holes.

Maximum Descent/Ascent in One Day
Ghorapani to Hille 1,400m/Tadapani to Dobato 800m.

The Story Of Tunka
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.

Best Temples
The temples at Katmandu were interesting, particularly the 2,000 year old "monkey temple" on the hill overlooking Kathmandu.
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.

About The Porters And Kitchen Hands
Porters 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 sections.
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.
They carried 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.

Trekkors Granola
This addition to our morning porridge was appreciated by all who used it. This is a scan of the label.

Uninvited Visitor
At Swanta, Glenda woke up during the night to find this creature crawling over her face.

Most Expensive Book
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 community.

Hot Water Bottle
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.

Equipment Problems
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.

An Elevating Experience
Had two interesting experiences in the Kathmandu Radisson hotel elevator.

  1. Kathmandu 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.

  2. Alone, 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 then on.

Thank You
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?