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Reisverslag Adventures in central nepal
3 oktober 2015
Adventures in central nepal
Finally back in kathmandu, so time for a update.
For those who didn't read my facebook updates; I went to Pokhara two weeks ago and from there to the Annapurna area.
After having been around the Kathmandu Valley for two weeks it was nice to get to know some more of the country. There are only a few main roads in Nepal and one of them is the road from KTM to Pokhara. It's officially called a highway, which actually means that most of it is paved. But still there are many people walking along the road and vehicles don't really drive faster than inside KTM city.
After going uphill to leave the valley, the whole way the road goes along rivers, mainly the Trisuli river. That's one of the main rivers in Nepal and very popular for rafting. As I was thinking about rafting or kayaking that river, I could check how difficult or challenging it would be to go down that river..
Most of the rivers get much wilder this time of the year because of the Monsoon rain, though the Trisuli still looked quite smooth most of the way.
After 7 hours in the bus I arrived in Pokhara together with Mark. The moment we got of the bus, there were a bunch of guys running to us like mosquitos to offer a taxi to and hotel in the touristic part of the city, positioned at the lakeside of the city and therefor called 'lakeside' (how surprising). At that moment I noticed that my cellphone was gone. I was sure to have put it in my pocket before leaving the bus so I supposed it got stolen by one of these people offering us a hotel/taxi. I wanted to check in the bus, but that had gone away already. Than one of the guys made a call and 2 minutes later my bus was coming back to the bus park. After praying to Buddha I got in the bus and... there was my phone, between the seats where I and Mark had been sitting. This made me very happy for 2 reasons; finding back my phone and also getting reassured again that Nepali people don't steal from tourists but are really helpful.
So we took the taxi and hotel of the guy who helped us. The hotel turned out to be a nice one and very cheap. A nice start of our stay in Pokhara.
The next morning I woke up very early and looking out the window I saw a huge mountaintop pearing trough the clouds and high above the other mountains. My first real view of the impressive
Himalaya. Right out of bed I walked to the lake and getting there the views got even better. The most impressive was the Fishtail peak, called the Machhapuchchare in Nepali. It reminded me much of the Matterhorn. What a beautiful start of the day.
Later that day Sietske arrived with the girls and nanny by plane. They booked at a very nice hotel with a swimming pool in the street next to our hotel, which was a very welcome present for us, because Pokhara is very warm and humid.
The next day me and Mark went up the hill next to the lake, on the way to the world peace pagoda. (Sounds very promising, doesn't it?)
The lonely planet gave a rough description of the way to the top, but as they don't really signpost routes and destinations in Nepal, we had to guess where exactly to start the climb. All of a sudden a local boy came to help us finding the way and of course 1 minute later he offered us to guide all the way to the top. As our (Mark and my) mission is to help the nepali people out as much as possible after the earthquake, we accepted him as our guide. It was a very slippery road up, though our guide didn't have problems with it, going on his flipflops. Only when we reached the top and he got our money, he got so excited that he slipped.
From the pagoda we had a nice view on the lake and tops of the annapurna, although it was getting cloudy already. (early morning is the best time to watch the mountains in nepal)
after joining an old woman with a japanese buddhist praying ritual, we walked down, looking forward to the swimmingpool at Sietskes hotel.
Next day we had to get up early to get a taxi which took us to a special viewpoint where you get nice sunrise views of the Annapurna and Daulagiri mountains and even a part of the Manaslu. We waren't the only ones there, but compared to normal it was not so crowded. (In pokhara the lack of tourists is much clearer than in KTM).
The last day before I was about to fly into the mountains, I went with Mark to visit a tibetan refugee settlement. Fortunately the settlement was build up with normal houses, no campaments as we expected. We attended a buddhist mess for almost an hour. Very different from a christian mess and much more relaxing I must say.
Next day I had planned my flight to Jomsom to get to know the Annapurna mountain area. There are two big uncertainties with these flights. The planes are small and not really stable so you always hope to have a save flight and landing. But more important is to have the luck that the plane does actually take off. The pilots are only allowed to fly on vision, and it's often cloudy around Pokhara, with building up strong winds during the day, so there's a big change that flights just don't leave. (The day before, only 1 plane really left.) I was booked on the 3th flight that morning. The first flight left about 2 hours late, and only when the 2nd one left, I could start my check in. Fortunately also my flight took off and I even arrived safely in Jomsom, although the winds were getting strong already so the plane had to make 2 extra circles before it dared to land.
Seeing the Himalaya mountains from Pokhara was already beautiful. Getting out of the plane in Jomsom and standing right between them is something different. Wow what an amazing views and landscape up there. And hard to believe even that the tops are more than 5000m above where I was standing, while that was already at 2800m above sealevel.
The environment on the northside of Annapurna is incredible and different from what I expected. the clouds mostly come from the southside and it's hard for them to pass the mountains so the northside is really dry. It reminded me of the Grand canyon and death valley, so dry and deserted, but with beautiful colours.
The next 4 days were full of enjoyment, walking through this beautiful landscape, with very small and authentic villages. The guesthouses are very traditional with a lot of wood in their construction, narrow allays and staircases and nice rooftop rooms. They all provide hot water showers and wifi, but that's only when they really work. (As in whole Nepal, there only power 50% of the time and hot water must come from the sun heating it up). It didn't really matter, because the air is so warm and dusty that showering doesn't really help long and who needs wifi when you are in such a beatiful area!
The only bad thing about my stay in the mountains was that I didn't bring my hiking boots. Leaving KTM a week before I wasn't planning to go really hiking up the mountains and my friends recommended me to just take my running shoes because they are not so heavy when carrying in the backpack. But not bringing them I regretted soon enough, because everyday I got more blisters. Luckily I brought enough sporttape, so I managed to walk most of what I had planned to do. On the 4th day I arrived in Kagbeni, one of this beautiful mountain towns people told me I had to see. From there it was only 2 hours back to Jomsom where I would take the plane back next morning.
Walking around the village I visited a nice monastery in Kagbeni and attended a buddhist class for a while. The students learn tibetan, nepali, english, sports, maths and sciences. About the last subject they were asking me everything after I told them I was a science teacher in the Netherlands. It was a very nice experience to see what buddhist students do when they are at school.
After this visit I started walking towards Jomsom but I got really worried about the blisters. Knowing that my 28 days trekking would start within a week I didn't want to ruin them more. So when a motorcycle passed I asked for a hitchhike, which the guy was willing to give to me. Sitting on the back of a motorbike for about 45 minutes, driving over very stony gravel roads and passing several riverbeds, that's another adventure. Sometimes I was sure the bike would break down under us, so when I safely arrived in Jomsom I wanted to pay the guy for the ride. He didn't accept my money and was pleased to help me. Again; nepali people are really helpful!!
Sitting on the veranda in from of my hotelroom the rest of that day, watching the mountains while having a great lunch was very welcome. I love Nepali food with all the spices and herbs, and the big choice of vegetarian options. My favourite snack are the vegetable pakodas, some fried crackers made of vegetables with lentils and eggs. But my overall favourite is the Dal Bhat, the most traditional and famous dish in nepal. The basic is just rice with lentils sauce, but every restaurant serves it with different curries, veggies, spiced pickels and if lucky, with some delicious yoghurt. Hmmmmm.
The rest of the day I had some nice chats with other tourists I had met during these 4 days hiking around the annapurna.
Next day the flight back went rather smooth and with only 1 hour delay, so it was a good start of the day to relax in Pokhara before heading back towards KTM.
On the way back I had planned a 2 day rafting/kayaking tour on the Trisuli river (check the beginning of the report). I didn't know exactly where to get off the bus on the way there, but the rafting agency told me that the busdriver would know. After having past several rafting spots I got a bit worried, but right at the moment I was telling to driver not to forget to put me off, we arrived at the point where I had to get off. Two other tourists were waiting already to do the raft. As the river didn't really look very wild, I hoped to go in a kayak instead as I agreed with the agency, but that was not possible. The rafting was fun but a bit to smooth for me. Fortunately they told me I could do the kayaking the day after and one of the other tourists was also interested to do this. So after having another dal bhat that evening at a small restaurant on the road next to the river, we put up our tents at the river bed, sat at the campfire that our kayaking guide had made and talked about kayaking, politics, live in nepal and europe and after that went to sleep early. (which is normal here, being dark around 6 pm, I always feel like going to bed around 9 or 10 pm.)
Next day we got up early, did some stretching and yoga at the riverbank and than headed back to the restaurant for a simple though healthy breakfast. Then we had to wait for our kayaks and gear. This should take about 30 minutes but took more the 1,5 hour, because there wasn't much transport between our camping place and the house 10 km further down where they had the gear in store.
Finally we could start our kayaking. In the beginning the river was smooth, so we could practice some tecnics, especially the rolling (self rescue after tumbling over in the water). After half an hour I got the idea more or less so we could go down the river and hit some cool rapids. From the road above the river, the rapids didn't look big, but once you're in, they appear really cool and challenging. Around lunchtime we got out of the water, very satisfied with the waves and tired of practising all the rolls. After a very welcome lunch I was ready to take the local bus back to KTM. Normally tourists travel by luxury buses with fans but most nepali take the cheaper and more basic buses. I my case this meaned sitting in a full bus, half seated facing backwards next to the driver, enjoying really nepali bollywood music.
Arriving in KTM I wanted to take a local bus to where I was staying, so I asked a police agent which bus to take. He told me and said that it would arrive after 15 minutes. After waiting 30 minutes someone told me that this bus wouldn't come because of the oil lackage. I heard the rumours about India not letting pass oil at the border because of some political problems in the south of Nepal, but didn't know it was so severe. Driving home by taxi I saw that only half of the regular amound of cars and busses was on the road and that there were hundreds of cars and motorcycles lining up at the petrol stations. The next day I heard that also fruit, vegetables and actually everything was behold at the border. How terrible. A week ago the whole country was celebrating the signing of the new constitution after some 10 years of debating and now India is doing this because they don't like the outcome of the constitution. This is not the best thing Nepal needs right now, when it's slowly recovering from the effects of the earthquake. In the last weeks I finally notice more tourists on the streets and in the restaurants and was happy with it, because that's what Nepal needs to recover and develop into a more developed country.
Let's hope that next time I report here, the problems at the border are solved, I have returned safely from the mountains after a month and a new government has formed that really tries to make this country grow.
Foto's bij verslag (12)
5 oktober 2015 15:51 | Door: Stef
very nice and extensive report. I am really happy (for you and for me) you are actually doing this and experiencing it all. Reading it makes me remember our visit to Nepal, some years ago. Also it makes me curious about things you mention, such as a class, and what the students do. And please try to add some photos, of the Annapurna landscape. I was surprised to read that it seemed somebody had stolen something of you. That would have been a huge change in the culture and being of the Nepalese. I was relieved, but not so much surprised, that the phone was just on the seat and the bus come back. It is a good region in the world to recover your trust in the goodness of humanity in general. Confirmed by the free motor ride you got back to Pokhara. We also enjoyed Pokhara a lot. As we were in the wrong time of the year, we could not do any trekking. The concept of time is different than in the west, no so strict. Maybe what we consider as delay, they might see different, as things will happen when and in case they are supposed to happen.
I hope you can reover well before starting the big hiking. Looking forward for the next update, keep going on as you have been till now. Greets from Argentina, where spring is delayed.
5 oktober 2015 19:01 | Door: Bram Jansen
stef, most photo's posted with this report are made in the annapurna area, while walking part of the circuit. What else did you expect or do you miss?
18 oktober 2015 20:43 | Door: Johan Jansen
Hoi Bram, Hier is je (enige echte vader, nog steeds woonachtig in Middelbeers, samen met zijn gemalin en coach Beatrice.Ik heb je reisverslag gelezen; het kostte wel wat inspanning voor mijn ogen, want het waren KLEINE lettertjes. Je maakt veel spannende dingen mee, maar dat was ook de bedoeling, dacht ik.
Ik ben zelf net terug van een week rondtrekken met Jack van Tuijl, die een camper heeft.We hebben Verdun, Nancy, Trier en Aken bezocht en HEEL VEEL gediscussieerd over sociale/maatschappelijke thema's.De rest van okt. en nov. zijn ook best druk; de weekeinden zitten allemaal vol met reunies( studieclub, van de fam. Jansen,etc.). En 12 dec. begint dan de grote, 5-weekse trip naar het Verre Oosten: jou treffen in Laos, Stef en Carolina treffen ion ??/, dan het samen zijn , ook met Roel en Stanley met Kertstmis op een bootje ergens in Vietnam, daarna naar Indonesië, waar we jou weer treffen. WAT EEN REIS VOOR ZO EEN OUWE VENT, ZOALS IK ! ! Maar ik kijk er wel naar uit!
Bram, ga door met je avontuurlijke trip, geniet van de mooie landschappen, gebouwen, etc. En tot medie dec.