Nepal Part II

Kathmandu - Thamel - Pokhara - Ghandruk - Chomrong - Dovan - Deurali - Annapurna Base Camp - Bamboo - Jinu Danda - Nayapul - Pokhara - Chitwan - Kathmandu

This trip, through and through changed me. It was my first multiple day trek and bar none, the hardest thing I put my body through but something in me knew, it won't be the hardest I'll ever do in my life... I'm hooked.

I am going to fully recount our trip for those who'd like guidance or would enjoy a detailed account. Never know who might need it.

We started our trip from JFK, smooth sailing to Kathmandu with a lay over in Qatar. Side note (and there'll be many of these) Qatar Airlines is a wonderful airline. Amazing airplanes and great customer service. When you take less than par airlines, the good ones tend to really stand out and boy did Qatar Airlines deliver. Back to travel deats.... we had a one hour layover but the Qatar airport had quick security line so we didn't have to rush too much. Flew into Kathmandu airport and stayed in Thamel for the night. We got our visa upon arrival, $25 for 14 days stay. They take USD (several other currencies) and credit card. Himalayan-Windows.Com were superb with helping the coordination of all the connecting rides. Thamel is the perfect area to stay in Kathmandu. There's plenty of food and walking around is fairly easy.

The next day we took a flight to Pokhara on Buddha Air. You can also take a bus which can take 6-8 hours. Bus is a great way to get around if you have time but we wanted to get to enjoy Pokhara. It's a lovely town, much more chill than Kathmandu, a lot like Ubud (Bali). Totally safe to walk around, a lot less pollution, and plenty of stores to browse.

One of my favorite things is the word of the mountain and Nepal in general is Namaste. When you pass someone, when you meet someone, whatever the situation may be, a proper greeting is Namaste. It is always met with a Namaste of equal respect and kindness. Nepal, as a people, are kind and helpful. They are not pushy so buying knick knacks and shopping are an overall pleasant experience. When you are in the mountains, is it not encouraged to bargain as the prices are fixed based on location, but when you are off the mountain, especially in Kathmandu and Pokhara... bargain away. Dare I say, start at 50% of whatever they ask for. You're not a local, prices will be inflated based on how they feel that day.

Trekking synopsis... It took us 5 days to get up to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) at 4130m. It's not a steady incline but rather, up and down and then back up mountain after mountain with a constant backdrop of the beautiful Himalayas peaking through behind the closer mountains. The snow covered tops are everlasting and we found ourselves constantly in awe of their beauty. You come across quite a few communities with plenty of kids, lots of friendly dogs, and will bump into what I call the donkey line, a group of donkeys that deliver the local produce... AKA the fresh direct of the Annapurna circuit. If you want to bring anything for the kids, they love chocolate (I know... what kid doesn't). Between Chomrong and Sinuwa, there is a small mountainside school for young children. I really wish I brought them a coloring book or two and crayons. We took a quick pit stop there and played with the kids. I gave them mini instax photos of themselves which they all loved. The walk between Machapuchare Base Camp (MBC) at 3100m to ABC was not long in distance but certainly high in altitude. We took our sweet time with this part of the trek because it is bar none, the best views of the trek. Words simply cannot describe this part of the trek except that, the journey was worth the reward.

Our guide in Chitwan was Nepal Dynamic Eco Tours. If you're ever in Chitwan, make sure to look them up. They are the best! Tell Doma we say hi! https://www.facebook.com/nepaldynamicecotours/?fref=ts

Tips:
- When flying into Kathmandu, try to get seats on the right side of the plane to get a nice view of the Himalayas. When you're flying within Nepal, sit on the right when leaving Kathmandu, and sit on the left side when returning to Kathmandu. Stellar mountain views.... stellar!
- Bring a hot water bottle. In the guest houses, they use them as personal heaters in the higher altitude. Unfortunately, they almost always run out. You can also use this as a compress for sore muscles.
- A good attitude is key to getting through this trek as it is on the tiring side but not too technical. Do note that bringing some sort of knee sleeve is probably a good idea, especially if you have any sort of knee problem. Going down the stairs (and there are a LOT of stairs) made my knees down right cry.
- To calculate the amount of money you need to get through the mountains, I'd say it's about $35-40per day. The higher you are in altitude, the pricier things are so if you intend on spending more days in higher altitude, expect to bring more money. It goes without saying, all cash, nepali rupees, and definitely no credit card. As you get higher, you will get charged for everything. Hot water, heater under a dinner table, charging your phone.
- If you like your eggs sunny side up, ask them to fry the egg on one side. If it's undercook, ask them to cook it a wee bit more. We found that if you order a fried egg, it's usually cooked through which is not my preference.
- There comes a point in the mountain where meat is not allowed to be eaten. Get ready to be a temporary vegetarian. Maybe bring your own source of protein if you think you'd need it.
- Just an FYI, in the mountains, you get splotchy cell phone service but it's there. There is usually wi-fi at every guest house but expect to pay for it. Local sim cards can be purchased at the airport or small convenience stores. Look for the NCell sign.

Hotels/Guest houses we stayed at:
I. In the main towns
Kathmandu: Hotel Eco Resort (Thamel) typical Kathmandu hotel. Clean and simple rooms.
Kathmandu: Kantipur Temple House - Pretty hotel with a calming feel in the midst of Kathmandu's bustling city. Great customer service and clean rooms. Good wi-fi
Pokhara: Splendid View Hotel: Try to get a room that is not toward the front of the building. With the room being on the street side, it tends to be noisier. Clean and decent rooms, with a good hot shower. Close to the lake, stores and plenty of restaurants and a quick driving distance to town bus station.
Chitwan: River View Lodge: Really pretty rooms. Loved the decor.
II. On the mountain
Ghandruk: Moshen Lodge - If you can stay at another guest house, I'd skip this place. There's no hot water and rather expensive by local standards (at 800NPR/night).
Chomrong: Chomrong Cottage - A lovely guest house with hot water, Time Out magazine rated chocolate cake, and Lonely Planet rated pizza. Yum.
Dobhan: Dovan Guest House - GREAT showers with hot water, decent rooms and good food.
ABC : Annapurna Sanctuary Lodge - Decent rooms and good food. Has hot showers but I didn't use it. I was simply too cold to even consider that day.
Bamboo: Forgot the name but here the guest houses are pretty all the same. Great hot showers decent rooms.
Jhinu Danda: Forgot the name but it was the last hotel on the hill. I would not recommend this hotel. Rude employees and on the pricer side.

Snacks that I packed for the 8 day trek (I only brought what I knew I couldn't get on the mountain. There are plenty of little stores to get snacks and other small goodies that you need.):
- 2 Honey Stinger Organic fruit chews. Not nearly enough. I should've packed at least 6. Easy to share, get for maintaining energy, lightweight, and didn't melt. https://www.rei.com/product/773849/honey-stinger-organic-energy-chews
- 1 GU. I could've used a couple more https://shop.guenergy.com/products/energy-gel?variant=12137664577
- 6 Pocari Sweat powder packets (electrolyte powder) https://www.amazon.com/Pocari-Sweat-Squeeze-Bottle-Bonus/dp/B003T8P3ZW/ref=sr_1_4_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1480899325&sr=8-4&keywords=Pocari+Sweat
- 1 sleeve of Oreos eaten in celebration to getting to the top. Clutch.

Clothing I packed:
- 3 short sleeve dri-fit. Could've used maybe 1 or 2 more.
- 1 long sleeve dri-fit. Probably should've also brought a long sleeve half-zip
- 2 thermal shirts
- 2 thermal pants
- 2 convertible hiking pants. Could've used 1 more.
- 1 fleece sweater
- 1 Patagonia nano jacket
- 1 Arc'teryx shell
- 1 beanie
- 1 gloves
- 4 smartwool hiking socks
- hiking boots
- nike frees (never used these on the mountain)
- tevas (perfect for after the hike lounging)
- 2 sports bras
- 1 sunglasses
- a lot of undies

Suggested personal items to pack:
- bio-degradable wet wipes and one roll of toilet paper for blowing your nose. Local tissue is hella rough.
- shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, sunscreen, anti-bacterial, bug repellent (mainly for Chitwan)
- a variety of bandages, reusable wrap, safety pin, neosporin, vaseline.
- Medicines: DayQuill, Advil, Mucinex, Benadryll, and sweet, lovely Diamox.