After an early morning departure from our Taipei AirBnB, we were outside waiting for the cab at 4:30 am. We are headed to Nepal with an over night in Bangkok. We decided to spoil ourselves and booked the Vie Hotel Bangkok and even better, breakfast buffet at The Vie. Even though we got to the hotel at 7AM, they let us check into our upgraded suite a few hours early. The benefits of regularly visiting a hotel. We spent the afternoon in Bangkok looking for gear for Nepal and going to a movie (Black Panther, we liked it better the second time). After a nice supper at Muay Thai we headed back to pack and relax at our room. The next morning we were up early to gorge ourselves at the breakfast buffet before heading off to the airport and the second leg of our flight to Nepal.
Even though our flight was on time arriving we weren’t able to land and spent an hour circling above Kathmandu. When we eventually did land it was a bit hectic… Going through to immigration was partially automated and there was a person helping at the machine. We made a mistake and didn’t get the 45 day visa but the 90 so we ended up paying more. At the counter there was a sign stating that you can pay with card but the guy kept saying “cash” and Helen kept responding with “no, card” until he finally put it through. The lady beside us had an argument with the staff, accused them of keeping her money. They only accept American at that counter and will refuse bills if they feel they are too old… apparently they asked for a replacement $10 bill and didn’t give her back the original. It was quite heated. Then it was figuring out what line to go thru to get our visa stamps but the people there were friendly and called us over.
From there it was find a taxi, get a sim, go to the ATM, decline multiple trekking sales and eventually get in the cab. If you book the flat fare cab, it’s fine but you get the cabbie and “friend” who will try and sell you on a trek. They all tried to talk us out of spending our time on the Annapurna circuit but we stuck to our guns. Pat and Liz (we met in Myanmar) had recommended a place to stay and Hotel Yala Peak became our little oasis when we got there. We had our first momo’s and hit the shops for gear. We ended up going to Shona’s Alpine where we were helped by an English guy who has lived in Nepal for a long time (Shona’s husband). We appreciated the fact that he was pretty straight forward about the gear, what was a knock off, what was a better quality knock off and what to actually get. We ended up buying sleeping bags, hiking poles, fleece sweaters, gloves, hats and rain jackets. We also purchased a Steripen classic from another store to handle water purification. These are actually the real deal in Nepal. The good thing with them is that they don’t freeze (like our Sawyer squeeze can) and only take 90 seconds to purify 1L, versus at least half an hour for ClO2 drops or tablets. Our first night we were still pretty pumped so headed to Sam’s Bar for some after dinner drinks… glad we did as we met Lee from England. He lives in the Middle East with his family but travels to Nepal on a regular basis. We had a great evening.
The next day it was walking over to the Nepal Tourism Board to get our Annapurna trekking permit and TIMS cards. Between the heat, dust, cars and people, Kathmandu is crazy. I can’t even begin to describe it. After that we had a rest and lunch before heading out to finalize our gear. We ended up eating almost every meal at Rosemarys Kitchen which was attached to our hotel. The staff there were super nice and friendly, food was delicious and it was quiet.
The last day was rough for Paul, the dust had aggravated his sinuses and since he was just getting over his cold we decided it was best for him to stay out of the dust. I got some last minute things while he packed. Teamwork! We stripped our packs down to only what we needed for the trek and left the rest in a cheap duffel bag at the hotel for retrieval upon our return.
The Micro Bus to Besisahar
So we decided to take the mini bus to Besisahar which deserves it’s own segment. Paul got us to the right place and we managed to get our tickets with the help of a local fellow who was also heading in the same direction. The mini bus was, like every other one we’ve taken, built to hold 12 but at one point had 16 people plus luggage. I consider this a win since we saw goats on top of one. The drive out of Kathmandu was long and dusty, we stopped a lot to pick up people… finally getting on the highway was a relief. Until we got to a huge line of traffic. One thing about Nepal, there are accidents everywhere. Our driver maneuvered us to close to the front where he stopped and everyone got out. We waited there for a bit while our driver figured out options. He loaded us all back in and took off back the way we came and turned onto some random dirt road.
At that point, we started 4x4’ing in an overloaded Toyota Hiace… Paul even commented that an ATV would have had trouble on the “road”. I could try to describe it, but I don’t think it would do it justice. While freaky, it was pretty amazing to watch the driver and his assistant manage creek crossings, large rocks and massive channels in the dirt roads. There were lots of tricky bits but there were other vans and everyone worked together. The best part was when Paul looked behind and saw full size buses following us down on this trail… CRAZY!!! 7 hours later we made it to Gateway Himalaya Hotel in Besisahar, me with a massive headache and Paul with a hunger only to be cured by momo’s. After a nice relax we did our final preparation for the start of our Annapurna trek. We decided to hike all the way from Besisahar to the very end past Ghorepani. It seemed that most people used jeeps and/or planes to turn a 16 day trek into a 8 to 10 day trek. By doing the full thing we figured we would acclimatize better, altitude and fitness wise. We continued to use the excellent free maps.me app to navigate along with a KMZ file we found on the web. Maps.me was able to import the file and it showed us elevation profiles between points on the trek. Excellent for planning and seeing what hellish ups and downs awaited. Another invaluable resource was the New Annapurna Trekking Trail (NATT) guide.
The Annapurna Circuit
This was our first stop on the trek, it was about an 18K walk with about a 400m elevation gain. We had decided to walk instead of taking a jeep since we had the time and felt this would help with fitness and acclimatization. We did miss a turn and had to do a little back tracking but soon learned to watch for the red/white painted flags for directions. I struggled on the stairs, did my usual over heating and feeling like poop while being passed by kids heading to school. They had a little laugh at my condition but I was still traumatized by our first suspension bridge crossing so was oblivious. We stopped for lunch at Hotel Hilton and had our very first dal bhat… which was delicious.
A little bit about dal bhat… “24 hour dahl bhat power” is really a thing. It’s dal, rice, curry veg, regular veg and usually a papadum. All this for a couple of dollars but the best part is the free refills. Yep, you get a big serving to start and then you get refills… as much as you can handle. At times one of us would order dal bhat and share a refill if both still hungry. You can get meat options, but we had heard some horror stories so became vegetarian for the duration of our time in Nepal.
We made it to the Wanderlust Guest house in the afternoon. The guesthouses are pretty basic but welcoming. The rooms are unheated with beds, a blanket and pillow. Sometimes you get lucky with a plug for power and rarely, an attached bathroom. The shared bathrooms and showers aren’t attached and usually are away from the room so keep midnight pee runs to a minimum!!! The showers weren’t always hot either… those times you found a solar heated shower were the best. The owners are basically cooking in their own kitchens, sometimes over a wood stove but the food was great… mostly potatoes which appealed to my Irish heritage. The eating areas are also shared, usually longer tables where everyone ends up sitting together. The nice part of this was that you met other trekkers and got to hear about so many experiences.
At Wanderlust the owner’s son was having a birthday, he just turned 1 and there was a little party. Not surprisingly we had an early night as we were tired.
Our next day was the 18K walk to Chamje with about 700m elevation gain. The thing about elevation is you are gaining and losing on a regular basis and the estimated amount doesn’t account for it. You are up and down valleys, crossing suspension bridges and walking along rivers being passed by herds of goats, pony trains, porter trains and other trekkers. We were on and off the road at various times, lots of stairs and at one point we went up off the road, crossed a steep creek only to come back down to the road. We had a nice tea and lunch with Chris from Holland, who had stayed at the same guesthouse the night before.
The ascents aren’t easy for me, but I was put to shame by the elderly locals who were up and down, carrying large loads and working. Outside of Jagat, we met a tout who was advertising for his brother’s guest house. He was a really nice guy and we had a good chat. He gave us a card for his hotel and we kept going. We did decide to stop at this place… it was a little spooky since we were the only guests there but it was fine and there was a hot shower. They plied Paul with “mad” honey from the rhododendrons and the fellow kept us entertained with stories. Supper took a long time, but was REALLY good which was surprising since the cook was 3 sheets to the wind. We realized that when he came and sat with us again and serenaded Paul. He asked Paul to go out with him after “your wife goes to bed” but being sensible and tired, Paul declined.
Today was a shorter 12K walk but we had a 900m gain on the way into Tal. The walk today was along gorge cliff edges, past waterfalls and up the stairs to Tal. It was a beautiful walk and we did get some good mountain views on the way. When we stopped for tea in Tal, there was some blasting going on for road construction but it was on the other side so we could watch. Later on we passed a herd of goats heading down and saw some people we had met at the first guest house. Paul’s pace is much different then mine so he took a chance to stretch his legs and headed off while I did my usual plodding along. This worked great… until I headed the wrong way and spent 15 minutes going up stairs that I didn’t have to.
It started raining in the afternoon so we were happy to get to the New Tibet Lhasa Guest House and sit around the fire.
Not be be confused with Chamje, even though it is confusing, which was a 17K walk with 500m gain. This is the spot where many people jeep into to start the circuit, skipping the first few days of walking. We had a check in at the local tourist office and proceeded to find a guest house. We ended up at Potala Guest House and settled in our room then went wandering through Chame looking for blister band-aids for our hot spots. When we got back we met three guys who were travelling together, two knew each other and they had just met the 3rd on the prior days. We also met Jin from South Korea. We spent the evening chatting and exchanging stories. Jin was travelling on his own with his porter/guide Ram as his wife had to cancel. We had a really nice evening and headed to bed. We were lucky because the pipe for the fire ran underneath our room’s floor so it was almost like heat!
Our next target was Pisang which was a 15K walk and 300m gain. This had us walking past a few apple orchards which explained all the apple pie in the area. We were supposed to go to Upper Pisang which would of added about 200 more in elevation and another few km’s but we decided to check out Lower Pisang instead. We had met Jin and Ram on the trail and they had mentioned that it is really busy in Upper Pisang and they were staying in Lower. We thought if we wanted we could head to Upper Pisang if we didn’t like where we were. We were walking through when Ram stuck his head out a doorway and told us to come stay at the same guesthouse, the Monalisa Hotel and Restaurant. The building was a bit sloped and we might not have stopped if it wasn’t for Ram. Super glad we did through… there was a solar shower, the rooms were a bit insulated and the food was excellent. We had a really nice visit with Jin, Ram and the owner sitting around the fire that night.
From Lower Pisang to Manang, going through Ghyaru and Ngawal on the way which was over 20K with an end elevation of 500m gain. We had a huge gain at the front to Ghyaru, a drop, then several hundred meters gain to Ngawal at 3800m before dropping to Manang for our acclimatization at 3500m. Today was the day that we saw the the Himalaya’s for real. We saw Annapurna 2 and 3, you could see back down the valley and ahead into the mountains. This may have been one of my favorite days while it was one of the hardest. Going up to Ghyaru was beautiful. Paul went on ahead since we figured it would be pretty hard for me to take a wrong turn… nope, I still managed to go left instead of right and I ended up walking past the town instead of heading up. I figured it out when I couldn’t see anyone on the trail ahead and turned around and started heading up. One of my favorite moments was seeing Paul on the wall around the village with my cup of tea. This was a beautiful area and we saw the “yeti” in the snow on Annapurna 2. After an apple pie for Paul and a Snickers for me we continued on to Ngawal.
We met Jin for lunch at Ngawal. We also met Edwin and Scott, both from the US who hike together and had been friends for years. We had a great visit before heading off to Manang. You can definitely notice a change at this altitude and I was happy that I had started taking the low dose of Diamox altitude pills a day before. There was the other option of keeping down by the river valley on this portion, but we were so glad we challenged ourselves heading up. The scenery was amazing. Manang is also the very last jeep stop and lots of people and tours start from here so it was really busy.
Ram had gotten us rooms at Tilicho Hotel in Manang, we were to spend 2 nights here acclimatizing. We had a nice tea and snack with Jin, Paul wandered around looking for a place to watch the Liverpool game. Unfortunately he didn’t find anything and we ended up in the common room and had our most social night. There were people from US, England and South Korea and we all had a debate about education, mortgages and the state of the union in general. The next day Jin and Ram went up to the local Ice Lake while we went 400m above Gangapurna Lake. Most people stop at the tea house, but we keep going to the summer village which was abandoned at that time. It was a really nice hike and we spent time watching eagles and taking photos before heading down.
We met Edwin and Scott for lunch, then attended the HAS(high altitude sickness) briefing at the local clinic. Edwin joined us, he is a nurse so was interested in hearing about it. We learned about the signs and that if close enough, you should continue up since you lose altitude quickly on the other side. I had mentioned about some blisters and Edwin came over and took care of one for me. When we were talking he said that it was better to pop them at altitude since they don’t heal. Jin was exhausted after hiking up to the lake so had an early night. We met an English couple who were on their way down from Thorong La, she got AMS at the pass quite badly, so had to head back down.
At this point we were travelling with Jin and his porter/guide Ram was taking care of arranging our accommodation, which was nice. Today was a 14K journey with about 500m gain. One of the side effects of the altitude pills is numbness and tingling in your extremities… I am already bad enough with dropping things so probably not the best person to handle anything fragile. Unfortunately, I dropped Paul’s Vapur water bottle on the frozen ground when trying to attach it to his pack so it shattered. Luckily we had bought a Nalgene in Kathmandu… it was a fake but it still worked. We had a nice walk, spent most of it with Jin and stopped for lunch together. The food wasn’t great but the walk was beautiful. We got in to our place in the earlier afternoon and went to meet Edwin and Scott for a tea. When we were sitting there some other people came and sat with us, turns out they knew Scott’s brother back in the US. He was their professor… small world. We all had a nice visit before we headed back. We ate in the common room with Jin and met lots of other people as the trek was busy. There was a lady, from Germany(?) who had hiked and lived all over the world, a younger guy from New Zealand, a young couple from the US and a 12 year old Ukrainian who was travelling with her Dad. Turns out she is a figure skater and this was her break. It was really cold at night so we were happy we had our warm bags.
Thorong Pedi High Camp
On the way up you have two options to hit the pass. You can stop at Thorong Pedi at the bottom of the pass. It’s a nice guest house and atmosphere but you have to get up really, really early the next day and it adds another few hours and a larger elevation gain to clear the pass. We decided to go straight through to Thorong High Camp. You still get up early but it shaves elevation and time off the big pass day. Ram went ahead to make sure he could get us a room which was great. We took our time and got to camp in the early afternoon. It’s crowded here so we ended up sharing a room with Jin. After lunch Paul and Jin went up the hill at camp to see the view… I tried but the wind was freezing so I bailed.
Sitting in the common room we meet the 3 guys from Chame and played cards. They were Swedish, Argentinian and Croatian. We also met more people from New Zealand, Singapore and various other places. Edwin and Scott were also there. While we were playing cards I noticed that Paul was doing really weird things, I’d watched him play shithead before and this wasn’t normal. He said he had a bit of a headache but was fine. I said start the pills, he said he was fine. We stayed for supper then headed off for an early morning wakeup.
When we got to the room, Jin had put hot pocket hand warmers in our sleeping bags!!! That was such a nice surprise and needed as it was very cold.
Thorong La Pass to Muktinath
This is what it is all about, the highest pass in the world that you can cross by walking. We started off at 4 am after a breakfast of garlic soup. Paul was tired but said he was fine, slight headache. There were a lot of people heading up but it was so dark out you felt like you were on your own. Ram set a good pace and we started up. This was not easy, it was cold, dark and even with the head lamps hard to see. The elevation was also hard to handle and the air is noticeably thin. As we were heading up Paul started to feel unwell, his head started pounding and he felt very nauseated…. aka Altitude Sickness. At this point we had seen people on horses, huddled on the side of the slopes resting and people throwing up. Lesson learned, at the slightest sign, start taking Diamox! Ram felt we were close enough to keep going and Paul refused to turn around. We made the pass!! 5416m!!!
I will admit, it was a little bittersweet since Paul couldn’t really enjoy it, he felt so rough. We took some photos, congratulated all and headed down the other side. This was a test of will power. You lose a lot of altitude quickly, 1200m in 11km, which was good for Paul’s AMS but still really difficult. Imagine walking with a horrible migraine and feeling like you are going to throw up for a couple of hours. As we got lower his symptoms eased somewhat but it took us a long time to get down. We hadn’t bought the micro spikes in Kathmandu which turned out to be a mistake. We had to navigate a very icy section, on a slope with a drop off and someone suffering from AMS. We had stopped to figure out how we were going to do it when the clouds parted, angels sang and horns blew as we saw Ram come back up the trail with micro spikes in hand. He insisted he would assist Paul and I was to go across wearing the micro spikes on my own. When we got to the other side Jin was waiting for us. It turned out he asked Ram to come back and help us, as they were both concerned. They were supposed to be heading to Kagbeni not Muktinath which meant they should have already been on their way as it was a long hike. Instead, they decided to travel with us and take a day off at the end. We were so lucky as I’m not sure how we would of handled it without them.
They headed off to get accommodation in Muktinath while we rested. Paul was starting to feel a bit better but still wasn’t great. Eventually we kept heading down, seeing lots of other people. We had tea with Jin and the 3 guys we had met about half way down. At this point Paul was better but totally exhausted. I forced him to eat a snickers and drink tea… just to give him some energy as we still had a ways to go.
We made it thru to Muktinath later in the afternoon. Ram was waiting for us outside the park check in spot and told us what hotel to go to, the Hotel The Royal Mustang. We met Jin for a late lunch, a shower and a rest then supper. Scott and Edwin were staying at the same place, so we had time to chat and visit. Luckily, other then being tired Paul was fine… so fine he was up at 1am watching Liverpool play Man City in the Champions League on his phone!
On our way out of Muktinath the next morning we popped into the famous Hindu/Bhuddist temple. There were tons of Indian people here doing pilgrimages, begging or both. It turns out that the majority of the road traffic on this side of the Annapurna Circuit is mostly made up of Indian people on a religious pilgrimage to Muktinath.
A brief description of jeep roads. With all the development in Annapurna you can basically do the pass in 5 days. You jeep in to Manang walk over the pass and jeep out from Muktinath, most people take the bus from Jonsom or even fly out. The roads are 4x4 roads at best, narrow, with drop offs and huge channels since it’s all rock and dirt. If a jeep breaks down, which happens a lot, it blocks the whole road in both directions for hours. While the development has made things easier for the locals to get around, it’s also made it easier for all the tourists to come in. For trekking there are lots of trails that take you off the jeep roads. Just lookout for the red and white painted flags which are the NATT trail markers.
We said goodbye to Edwin and Scott, they had to get back for work so took the jeep to Jonsom. We headed off with Jin and Ram for our 11K walk. It was a dry and dusty walk down to Kagbeni but the scenery was amazing. On this side it seemed more like a lunar landscape then mountains. We saw villages and farmers, the area by the river was really green and there were orchards. We had a lot of elevation loss and not too much gain, so it was an easy day.
You had to go through a small wind tunnel to do the final descent to Kagbeni which was slippy with lose scree and rock, but was fun. When we got there, turned out the place we were going to stay had given up our rooms, this happens a lot. Luckily Ram was able to get us in elsewhere. We went to YakDonald’s for Yak tea and yak cheese. Paul and Jin had the tea, the look on Jin’s face when he tried it was priceless. Kagbeni is a pretty town and there was a goat rush hour at one point. The food at the place we stayed was mediocre but the beds were comfortable.
Remember that blister, the one I didn’t get sorted? Well it had gotten very, very painful so we decided it was time to take a look. Take my word for it that it didn’t go well, I was totally grossed out and I needed to see a doctor. Jin, being a doctor took a look and told me to go to a doctor and take antibiotics. The nearest clinic was Jonsom which is where we were heading next.
The Jomsom Hospital
The next day we decided we had an 18K hike to get to Marpha. My toe was really sore so we decided to stop at the local clinic/hospital in Jonsom. Jin needed to make up some time so was heading all the way to Marpha. We said our good byes at the hospital and Jin and Ram headed off. The hospital was pretty rustic but the nurses were nice and the doctor spoke good English. They took off my bandage and took a look at the toe… the blister had moved under the nail, lifting it up from the base of the nail bed so basically an open wound. The doctor told me the nail would have to come off and took me to the treatment room. When I asked if it would hurt, I was given a funny look and told yes. When they were actually able to take a close look, the doctor changed his mind. My toe was cleaned, wrapped and I was given a warning to stay under 5000m. $10 and 40 minutes… a new record.
After the treatment, the toe was feeling good so we decided to try and catch up to Jin and Ram. We did about an hour outside of Jonsom and continued on to Marpha. I really liked Marpha, the town had cobbled streets and was very pretty. It was also packed… with Russians. Apparently people have retreats there for companies and rooms were quite scarce. Ram got us into the Hotel Old Snow Leopard that was actually quite nice. We had a nice afternoon, Paul and Jin enjoyed the local cider and the food was excellent. We ended up doing some laundry and didn’t see much of the town, so don’t really have photos.
The next day was the longest yet, 26k with a lot of elevation changes. Jin needed to make up time so was going all the way to Ghasa, we said we’d do a game time decision in Kalopani and see if we would go on or not. In the end we stayed together. We ended up stopping for tea in a small village, we were the only non locals. There was a rain storm when we were leaving so Ram said we should stay for lunch and wait it out. The ladies there were really nice, gave us a little brazier to sit around. They were looking after a little girl who was trouble, but really cute. She kept watching us the whole time. We had a nice break while it was raining then headed off.
This was another of my favorite days, even though it was very, very long. The scenery was beautiful. We were by the river, up and down valleys and walking though forest or meadows. We even passed a Nepalese Military training compound. We did have to walk on the road a bit and there was a lot of construction going on along with traffic. It made for a long day. At one point we had to cross a suspension bridge that had been partially covered by a rock slide. Ram went first and made us go one at a time to make sure it was safe. I am not a fan of suspension bridges, I always think they will collapse and I dislike they way the bounce. I loved this one, the rocks kept it stable… they probably also severally damaged it but it was solid.
We all yelled out John Denver’s Country Roads at one point to keep ourselves going. Ram just shook his head. When we eventually got to the Eagle Nest Guest House in Ghasa, we had gone about 28K. The guesthouse was great through, comfy beds, hot water showers and amazing food.
Our next day was a more reasonable 21K. The area was beautiful and we had very little exposure to the roads… anywhere we did go through were cobblestone or rock. We stopped for lunch along the way and saw the biggest marijuana plant either of us had ever seen. Along with the cutest cow. It was a really nice place and we did take our time.
Tatopani is famous for it’s hot springs so once we made it and got settled, Paul and Jin headed down for a soak. With my toenail still just hanging on, I decided to stay put and checked out the patio in our guest house instead. They had a beer and popcorn special which I took advantage of. Paul and Jin joined me after they got back, telling me stories of the springs. While there we met a couple from the US, Julie and Caffrey. Caffrey is originally from South Korea so he and Jin had a nice visit. They had sold everything and started travelling in October 2017.
We had an amazing meal or Mali Kofta and biriyani. At this point Ram and Jin sat us down to discuss our next steps, they had some concerns. We had decided to head to ABC after Ghorepani while Jin had to head back. They went over some routes with us and suggested alternate options. Ram was very concerned as it was very busy on ABC, it’s a shorter trek with more large groups. Since we didn’t have a guide he didn’t think we would get accommodation. We decided we would do a game time decision and headed to bed.
This was a day of stairs and rain. Ghorepani was 23K with a huge elevation gain of 1600m in total. When we started off it was a beautiful day. We stopped for a random tea and walked through lots of lovely villages. There were countless stairs and it was pretty continuous gains. We kept being passed by groups of young men. Jin told us there was a sports day going on… to me it was already a sport just getting there. We had a nice lunch in a small town where the games where and continued on.
Our luck changed as we headed higher and the weather turned. We ended up having to stop for a while at a small shelter while it rained and hailed. We were all bundled up in our warm clothes while we waited. When it eased off we decided to keep going, only to get stuck in the rain again. At this point Ram decided we needed to wait it out. We ended up meeting Julie and Caffrey again, so all had tea together while we waited. The rain eased off a bit but didn’t totally stop. Ram felt we needed to continue so we started off again.
After many more stairs and an elevation gain, we made it to Ghorepani. This is more a crossroads for ABC and Annapurna, so it’s a larger town and was packed. Ram had trouble finding accommodation for all us and went to several places before we found one at Poon Hill Guest House . It actually turned out to be a great little guesthouse and we had a really nice evening. The food was good, hot showers, nice fire place and good conversation.
Paul, Jin and Caffrey decided to try Poon Hill in the morning for sunset, they were up at 4am to make it up on time. Turns out Julie and I were smart since it wasn’t great. The clouds were still around, so there wasn’t too much to see unfortunately. It was also very crowded.
Paul and I discussed what to do and decided to skip ABC for now, heading down to Pokhara with Jin.
Ram had arranged a jeep to take Jin to Pokhara from Ulleri. We asked if we could tag along and still not sick of us, they agreed. The walk to Ulleri was easy, all down hill. We took our time and had a nice tea stop. Along the way, we realized we made the right decision by leaving as the trail heading up to ABC was crowded with large groups, porters, ponies and guides. It was the busiest we had seen it.
When we got to Ulleri, we all loaded into a jeep and headed off down the road. I was totally freaked out by the drop offs, but the driver was great and we arrived no problems. We ended up having to switch into a taxi that was arranged for the rest of the trip to Pokhara. There was lots of traffic and the road was closed for a bit so it took a long time. Ram got us samosa and hard boiled eggs which was nice.
When we got to Pokhara, we were dropped off at the place that Ram was hired from. Jin wouldn’t accept any money from us to pay for Ram’s services so we just gave Ram a big tip as a thank you for everything he did for us. Besides his infectious laugh, he was a really nice person and we really appreciated everything he did. Once Jin gave his review, we headed off to find a hotel.
We ended up at the Butterfly Lodge which just so happened was across from the Pokhara Rosemary Kitchen… the irony! Unfortunately I had picked something up and wasn’t able to leave the comforts of my throne… still not sure if it was giardia or a food borne issue. Paul and Jin headed out for supper and went for a drink at Phewa Lake.
We had breakfast together the next morning, Jin had to head to Kathmandu to get back home so it was our last hurrah and we were sad to part ways. Jin is a wonderful person and we shared many a great laugh and good conversation. We agreed to meet again in South Korea or Canada.
For the past week, we had been discussing what to do next. Our original plan had been ABC and possibly the Three Passes Trek if the weather was good. That switched to skipping the ABC and possibly hitting a beach instead for a rest. That changed to what would we do with all the gear… it was pretty much up in the air. With the “toe” issue we decided additional trekking probably wasn’t the best idea and looked at other options. It was our first night in Pokhara when Paul had the thought about heading back to Canada for the summer. We debated mailing the gear back and heading to a beach or taking it back ourselves. When we looked at flights, it made the decision for us… we got a really good business class flight back using Aeroplan air miles for less then it would of cost to ship back the gear. Within 24 hours we were on a flight on Buddha Air to Kathmandu then heading back through China, Taiwan and Vancouver to Creston.