Nepal: Pre-trek

Hi everyone!  So we are back from our 10-day trek and let me tell you it was pretty awesome.  Hoch is actually working on the trek post now, so we should have that ready for you soon!  But in the meantime, I wanted to tell you about our first week in Nepal, pre-trek.

Kathmandu:

We arrived rather early (left New Delhi at 6:30am) and immigration ran pretty smoothly.  Before we knew it, we were checked in and enjoying breakfast on the rooftop of our hostel.  We were making plans for our time in Kathmandu and then the lack of sleep hit us, so we ended up not doing too much our first day there.  Hoch napped, I worked on a blog post, and we walked around the touristy Thamel area before finding a place for dinner.  The place we chose had an outdoor sitting area and had buckets of beer (bonus!).  Let’s just say we enjoyed a couple of buckets along with delicious food and the best service of any restaurant we’ve been to since probably Japan.  It is called the Ship Restaurant, if you’re ever in town.  They seriously never let our glasses go empty and were so polite and just on top of everything which was very refreshing (especially since I was a server back in the day). Hoch – it was pricier than most places but not exactly out of the backpacker range either.

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Himalayas from the sky
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Thamel Street Shot

The following day was a big touristy day in Kathmandu.  Some places we visited include:

First stop – Swayambhu Temple (also known as monkey temple).  We walked there from the hostel.  The temple sits atop several stairs (more trek training) and was kind of bizarre with a lot of different things going on, but it had great views of the city.  Monkeys were everywhere and we tried to stay as far away as possible. H – we also had our first taste of famous momos (stylized mo:mo, no idea why) but they were just plain meat dumplings. I didn’t really see what the big deal is until trying it a few more times in other places and realizing that the first place just plain sucked.

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(terrible) Mo:Mo
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Stairs leading to the top
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The main stupa
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View from the top
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Smaller stupas around the top

We then walked to Durbar Square which is a square in front of the old royal palace of the former Kathmandu Kingdom. H – Durbar Square is a square, wow.  It is one of three squares and all are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  This square is surrounded by several buildings that showcase awesome architecture from over several centuries.  Unfortunately, several of the buildings were damaged in the earthquake last year and have not been restored yet.  We still enjoyed walking through the area and taking in what views we could, including the non-restored buildings.

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H – Former receiving hall of the Palace is now a crumbling store

img_6806img_6809img_6810We then decided to take a taxi to see the Pashupatinath Temple (Hindu) which was recommended by a few people at the hostel.  Only Hindus are allowed in the temple itself, but they have a cremation area similar to that in Varanasi outside by a small river.  We walked around the area, but thought it was a bit pricey and ended up regretting coming since there was not much else to see. H – fucking ripoff, that place.

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Entrance to the temple that we could not enter
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Cremation by the river
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Some cool stupas nearby the cremation site

Our last stop of the day was to a famous Boudhanath Temple.  As soon as we arrived, we could see that it was under construction (a large sheet covered the stupa) and decided against going in (so no photos here). H – we also had to deal with a taxi driver who refused to use the meter and demanded 500 rupees to go back to Thamel. After telling him to fuck off and walking a bit we found a parked taxi that used the meter. Actual price: 250 rupees. I know it’s less than $2.50 difference and wouldn’t have ruined our ever-dwindling (scary) reserve but as always, it’s about the principles.

That evening we met up with Jana (German girl we initially met in Udaipur) and some other people from the hostel for Korean BBQ.  Hiking in Korea is huge so it is no surprise that many Koreans come to trek in Nepal hence several Korean restaurants.  Hoch was excited to eat some red meat and in all honestly, it was pretty delicious.  I did not realize how much I had missed it.

The following day, we were up bright and early to catch our bus to Pokhara.  I had read and heard scary things about this bus ride.  A girl we met in Jaipur told us about her ride between the 2 cities back in 2010 (which isn’t that long ago).  Supposedly she saw not one, but TWO local buses swerve off the road and plunge into the river below during her journey.  I then did some research online, and the roads in Nepal are bad.  However, also from what I read it seemed like all the tourist buses are safe.  The last thing Nepal needs is to scare more tourists away so they make sure to not overload the buses and the drivers take it slow.  We were on a tourist bus so that set my mind at ease a bit, but I was still nervous about the drive.  And as it turns out, I had nothing to be worried about.  The roads are in fact shitty, but the bus travels really slowly.  It took us close to 8 hours to travel 170-ish miles.

Pokhara:

Pokhara is a cute town by a large lake and surrounded by mountains.  Several treks start and end nearby so it is a popular destination with a lot of things to do as well.  However, we did not do much of anything leading up to the trek.  We walked around town, we met our guide and porter, we worked on the scheduled Indian blog posts that went up while we were trekking, we purchased last minute items for the trek, aaannnd that’s about it.  Oh and we found an awesome sandwich shop in town that we ate at almost daily until our trek.  Seriously, I am not a huge sandwich person, but we hadn’t had a good one in a while and there is something about someone else making a sandwich for you that makes it better.  It.was.soooo.good. H – the sandwich shop had real bacon. I almost cried.

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Pokhara Street Shot
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Phewa Lake View
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Hot Sandwich Corner & Cheese Shop = YUMMMMM
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Hoch getting a haircut
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Last minute Trek shopping

ABC 10-Day Trek Packing List:

For the last part of this post, I figured I’d share a little bit about what we packed for the trek in case anyone is interested in doing something similar.  Ask Hoch, I was doing all kinds of research leading up to our shopping trip in New Delhi and had a full blown list on my phone.  The key to hiking in cold temps is layering so my list below is geared towards that.  Overall, I think the planning paid off and we were well prepared without over packing which was the goal.

Kimberly’s List (Hoch’s is similar):

2 – pairs of wool socks (I also brought 2 pairs of my non-wool socks in case I needed more, but since my feet don’t sweat that much, I was OK with the two) H – I brought 3 pairs because I am not as lucky.

3 – quick dry t-shirts (rewashed when possible)

1 – pair of trekking pants

1 – pair of wind proof pants

1 – set of thermals (used as pajamas)

1 – long sleeve quick dry shirt

1 – long sleeve fleece (a must)

1 – down jacket

1 – large rain jacket/poncho (thin is preferable so you can use when it is hot or put on top of your down if it’s cold)

1 – hat/neck combo thing (was going to get a scarf, but didn’t and was OK without)

1 – pair of comfortable hiking boots

1 – pair of warm gloves

1 – pair of glove liners (when it isn’t freezing, but you still want something)

1 – fast drying towel (towels aren’t provided at the lodges on the trail)

1 – sunhat

1 – swim suit (for the hot springs)

5 – undies and tops (rewashed when possible)

1 – pair of flip flops (to shower and change into at the end of the day, however I wish I had brought slippers for the latter.  My feet were cold so I always wore socks with my flops.)

1 – pair of sunglasses

1 – 1-liter water bottle (needed more water so ended up using and refilling a plastic bottle as well)

1 – headlamp

1 – sleeping bag (we only used it at the base camp along with the blankets that were provided)

Passports

A book to read (a deck of cards would’ve been good, but we almost always seemed to find some at the lodges)

Snacks – we brought Snickers bars, granola bars, peanuts, almonds, and trail mix

Toiletries (miniature size is better) – my list: body soap, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, moisturizer (I used coconut oil), sunscreen, lip balm, baby powder (for feet), hand sanitizer, wet wipes, toilet paper, medications, contacts, ear plugs, first aid kit

Hoch’s toiletries – bar of soap, razor

Cash

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Trek Packing

We signed up for our trek right at the end of the rainy season/beginning of peak trekking season so the weather was a bit milder than I was anticipating.  In the end I could’ve done without the wind proof pants and even the sleeping bag, but I would rather be safe than sorry. H – on a related note, we are selling used sleeping bags. Enquire in December. I also wish I had brought a pair of shorts either to sleep in or hike in since it is still warmer at the beginning/end of the trek.

Well that is it for this post.  Hoch’s trekking post will be up soon so be on the lookout for that!

Until next time!

Kimberly

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