Ghostriders 11 Day Annapurna Trek with World Expeditions
Includes time in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Cambodia
Commenced 19th March 2009
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
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.
group photo. There was also another group of 13
people one day behind us (group 2).
Support Staff (30 including the
Tip we gave them (Rupees)
||Kitchen Boy (Sherpa)
We tried to get a group photo of all
the support staff but is was too difficult.
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
Day 3. Trek Landrung to Ghandrung. Overnight in lodge. Ate in lodge dining
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
Day 10. In Ghorapani. Overnight in lodge at extra cost. Ate in lodge
Day 11. Trek Ghorapani to Hille. Overnight in tents. Ate in lodge dining
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
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.
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?
Noel (65), Linton (44).
Monica. Anytime there involved counting money she jumped at the chance. See
this photo for proof. After all she does work in a bank.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Where We Ate
Apart from the trek where the food was provided we ate at various other
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.
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
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
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
Click here for all
A collection of unusual things.
Click here for all
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
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
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
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
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".
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
Subal gave a speech.
Click here to listen to his
Dennis gave a speech. Dennis
impressed them with his occasional use of the Nepalise language. Subal
translated the rest. To listen to his speech
More singing and dancing by the
support staff. We all joined in. See
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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".
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Biggest Shower Head
This shower head in the
hotel in Seim Reap, Cambodia. Pity the water only came out a few of the
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.
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.
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.
This addition to our morning porridge was appreciated by all who used it.
This is a scan of the label.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?