Friday, October 19, 2007


Kathmandu hasn't changed much from my last visit and neither has the chaos in Thamel. There are touts, beggars and carpet salesmen everywhere. You can't walk a meter without someone wanting to stop you and the rubbish still piles up on the street corners everywhere and still I like it.
Luckily if you want to get away from the hassle for a moment there is always the Kathmandu Guesthouse garden and it was here that we met up with Edwin, Ester, Jesper and Ria. It was great to see Ria and Edwin after such a long time and to meet Edwin's wife and young son.
We spend the next few days mainly in thamel with a site trip to Bhaktapur and Nagarkot, on which I will blog separately, as well as a visit to a paper factory on the outskirts of town.Young boy having an ice cream

Grocery shopping

Picture as promised

Mum and Dad on Orchard road

A classic tourist image of the Merlion

Flamingos at Jurong Bird Park


Ok better late then never but I will try to update you on our travels.
Form Whangarei we flew to Auckland and on to Singapore. The travels went well and the airport and airline staff everywhere were absolutely terrific with Dad, who walks with some difficulty. In Singapore they waited at the plane with a wheelchair and drove him with us in tow through immigration and customs and delivered us at the transfer counter for our ride to the hotel.
The hotel is pleasant and on Orchard road the main shopping drag of Singapore so quite convenient.
We spend our three days here with shopping, eating, visiting Jurong bird park, eating, looking for electronic gadgets, eating. Well you get the drift. This trip is going to be murder on my diet.
I Can't seem to get to my photos right now so that will have to wait untill my next visit to an internet cafe.

Monday, October 01, 2007

I am off again!

This time a trip with a difference. This morning I fly to Singapore with my parents, both in their seventies, then from there to Kathmandu and after a month in Nepal we will be on our way to India.
Total duration seventy days. It's going to be an adventure!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Home sweet home

The flight out of Kathmandu was delayed by over an hour so I literally had to run to catch my connection in Bangkok. Apart from that all went well and my luggage should arrive in the next day or so, it didn't make the connecting flight.
Now all there is to do is get over the jet lag and plan my next trip.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

On my way home

It's twenty to twelve here in Kathmandu and I have gone through the formalities of checking in with Thai airways and checking out of Nepal with Customs and Immigration. It proved remarkably smooth given that my visa expired a day ago. Not a word was said about it and no fees requested.

Now all that has to happen is for the plane to come in from Bangkok pick me up and safely fly me back to NZ.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

All is not well in Shangrila

As most of you would be aware for the last ten years Nepal has been in the throws of a civil war. This conflict started with a few slogans painted on the walls of government buildings, escalated to fights between army troops and Maoist guerrillas and now, with the inclusion of the Maoists in the government, seems to have by and large settled down again to the level of political squabbling.
Unfortunately after ten years of even more lawlessness then usual people have gotten used to a level of violence that is quite disturbing.

Every day the local newspapers are full of stories of murder, robbery and arson. The chief perpetrators seem to be the Young Communist League a group of would be "Red Guards" loosely encouraged but by the looks of it not necessarily completely controlled by comrade Prachanda the Communist party head honcho. Their actions in turn invite retaliation by the police and army as well as the local citizenry. And so a spiral of violence evolves.

Now contrary to what some people would like to believe Nepal was never a peaceful Shangrila where people lived in harmony with each other and nature. However the level of violent crime seems to have increased quite dramatically and while to the best of my knowledge no tourists have ever been on the receiving end of this it can be only a matter of time before somebody ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The upshot of all this? By all means go to Nepal, but be careful out there.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Trekking to Gokyo

In contrast with the Annapurna trek the Gokyo area of Nepal is roadless and relatively hard work to get to as well as get around once you are there.
As you will have gathered from my previous posts I flew to Lukla before walking to Phakding to recover from that particular trauma and then hiked up the hill to Namche Bazaar. Now I would have thought that my hike through the Annapurna would have given me some fitness but I am afraid none of that was apparent when I dragged myself up Namche hill the first real climb of the trek. The only thing that got me going was the thought of a soft bed and a hot shower at the end of the day which I indeed managed to get when I arrived.

Namche at last!

After a few days of acclimatisation I moved higher up first to Phortse then Dole, Machermo and finally Gokyo itself. The walk up slowly takes you from the green forests of the lower elevations through hills covered with Juniper until eventually you leave all vegetation behind and arrive in the rock and ice world of Gokyo.

Late afternoon light on the mountains.

While in Gokyo I spent a few days hiking up the nearby hills and the glacier lakes which the area is famous for and while the ever present clouds prevented me from getting a good look at Mount Everest I did enjoy the scenery on offer very much.

Gokyo village in the lower left corner with both the second and third lake visible.

Another flight

Yesterday I flew back from Lukla to Kathmandu and while the flight was delayed by five hours because of low hanging clouds it was a lot smoother then the flight in. In spite of that I was still happy to be back on the ground in noisy polluted Kathmandu.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The flight from hell.

I should have known that the vulture sitting on the airport fence was a bad omen.
The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla departed on schedule at twenty past six in the morning and while the cloud cover worried me a little everything went as planned for the next fifteen minutes. It was then that I noticed that the pilots were peering out of the cockpit window and pointing at the ground the plane suddenly veered left and descended through a hole in the clouds just when we came out from there a rock wall appeared right in front of the aircraft the pilot jerked the plane violently to the right and straight towards another rock face. He then tried going left and up and while this avoided an immediate slamming in the mountain this maneuver caused the plane to run out of airspeed and the stall alarm started going off. We virtually looped back down and managed to get up enough speed to stay airborne and depart this valley for the next one. This was again a dead end requiring the plane to turn so sharply that the G-force pushed on me so hard I couldn't lift my arms to go in a brace position. By this point the locals on the flight were crying or praying as indeed were some of the tourists and the rest of us tried to remember what to do in an air crash. Then as sudden as it had all started it stopped again the clouds parted Lukla airport came into view and plane bounced down.
When we came to a halt and got off the plane the airport staff applauded when I got on my knees and kissed the ground

Thursday, April 19, 2007


One of the things that has changed over the years is the amount of noise pollution in Thamel. It used to be that whatever bars there were pretty well shut up shop around ten in the evening. People came to Nepal to hike or climb and while they might have a few drinks after a successful trip in the mountains they didn't specifically come to party.
This has changed with Kathmandu well and truly established on the gap year circuit there are now a rising number of people who arrive and do nothing more adventurous then getting drunk buying a few tie-dyed T-shirts and then moving on to Bangkok for a rinse and repeat.
What this means is that high volume sound systems will now blast out music until two or three at night and if you have a hotel anywhere near one of them you wont get any sleep before then.
Yep you're right I made that mistake. Can't wait to get back to the mountains tomorrow and will look for a place away from Thamel on my return.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Looking good.

While I already know what a good looking fellow I am it always helps the ego if someone else tells you.
I was having lunch this afternoon in the garden of the Pumpernickel bakery when to my surprise Marie a very good looking twenty three year old student from Germany showed up. We had last met just before Manang on the Annapurna Circuit.
I must have told her at some point during the hike that one of my aims is to lose some weight while I am here because totally unsolicited Marie commented "You have lost weight, you're looking good!"
Now I don't think I have lost all that much weight but I am happy to take any compliments as they come.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


This morning I have bought tickets to fly to Lukla and return.
The plan is to leave on 20th of April and return on the 8th of May. In between those dates I hope to walk to Gokyo, Climb Gokyo Ri then traverse the Cho La to Lobuche and Kalar Patar and if there is any time left after that walk to Island Peak or Ama Dablam base camp.
As always time weather and general mountain conditions permitting.

The Annapurna Circuit

Here is the long delayed report on my trek around the Annapurna.
It was my intention to start the trek from the village of Besisahar on the East side of the circuit then follow the trail anti clockwise crossing the Thorung La and eventually finishing in Beni.
Unbeknown to me quite a few things had changed on the Annapurna Circuit in the last few years. For starters the road now reaches as far as Kudi although the section from Besisahar onwards is unpaved. My bus actually stopped still terminated in Besisahar and rather then spending an hour or so lurching from pothole to pothole I decided to walk. It only took me to hours to walk the distance saying something about the speed of the bus or more to the point the lack there off.
The first real days walking took me first gradually then more steeply up the trail to Bahundanda then a plunge into the valley to Ghermu and Jagat. By the time I arrived in Jagat I had walked nine hours with only a single break for lunch I was knackered.

Farm houses just on the way down from Bahundanda

The second day I took a bit easier took longer rests and made sure that I had a good breakfast before setting off. The trail now starts to steeply climb towards Dharapani and then in the following days to Chame and Pisang where it flattens out into the Manang valley and eventually to my acclimatisation stop at Braga.

Some of the first mountain views on the trail.

More great scenery.

I spent three days in Braga to get my body used to the altitude. It's almost 3,500 meters high and even small hills seem like an effort. Braga is a typical Himalayan village with flat roofed houses that blend into the hillside and with only the Gompa and Chortens having any color on it.

Chorten between Braga and Manang

Interior of the Braga Gompa

View from the top of Braga Gompa

From Braga it's a short almost level walk to Manang and then a steep climb to Yak Kharka. Then the next day it's on to Thorong Phedi Base camp at 4500 meters altitude. As I didn't fancy the long hike up to the pass from there I spend another night at High camp which is close to 5000 meters before getting up early next morning and making the final ascend to the pass.

Preparations at Base camp

Hikers slowly making their way to the pass.

I have made it to the top yet again!

The way down the pass is steep and hard on the knees but once in Muktinath you know that all the hard work is over. The trekking is now in the rain shadow of the mountains so there is far less snow and ice to contend with and the scenery at times looks as much as a stony desert as it does like the Himalaya.
Unfortunately on this side of the mountain is also a massive road building project going on and already you have to share what once was a track with motorcycles and tractors. In another twelve months when work looks likely to be finished up here you can take a bus all the way to the foot of the Thorung La. So enjoy it while you can.

A desert with realy pretty views.

New Year

It's New Year in Nepal or maybe it has been New Year a few days ago. People are a bit hazy on this as the reckoning is by lunar calendar and observation of the new moon is different depending on location.
Anyway in Pokhara this is celebrated by among other things something between a fair and a carnival. After paying twenty Rupees you can ogle at the stands of generators, water purifyers and organically grown coffee or as most people do go to the ferris wheel, the hand powered Merry go Round or the House of horrors. However by far the most popular attraction, certainly with the kids, is the elephant.


After a week of R&R in Pokhara where I didn't do anything more strenuous then eating chocolate pancakes and drinking coffee I finally got up enough energy to buy a bus ticket and yesterday afternoon around four I arrived back in Kathmandu where it rained, hailed and thundered.
Ever get this idea someone is trying to tell you something? Anyway I am here and ready to start a new adventure.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Return from the Annapurnas

I am back in civilisation after my hike around the Annapurnas. In the next few days I will post a full account and some photos

Monday, March 19, 2007


Tomorrow morning I will leave for Besisahar and the start of the Annapurna Circuit. I anticipate that it will take me around twenty five days to complete the circuit and for that time there will be no blog updates as I don't expect to find affordable Internet access or for that matter Internet access at all.
So until then stay healthy I know I will try to do the same.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Rafting the Bhote Kosi was awesome.
(Just check out the photos)


The main reason for coming to Nepal for me is always the great beauty of the landscape and in particular the mountains, so I was more then a little pleased when I saw the first snow capped peaks appearing.

Yours truly with the Langtang Himal in the background. I am not sure why I am squinting at the camera, must be the sun.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


The weather is a lot nicer today. The sun has come out and a breeze from the mountains keeps in optimum temperature for walking so off I went to Swayambudnath, popularly known as the monkey temple.

The walk there and back is about two hours and includes two hundred stairs to get to actual temple complex so if nothing else it is good exercise for the body and with all the monks and pandits in this place it srely must be good for the mind as well.

Entrance to Swayambudnath
One of the monkeys giving the place it's name.

First view of the Stupa

The real reason for the temples

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


At two minutes to One local time the plane touched down in a rainy Kathmandu.
It's now a few hours later and I have checked into the Kathmandu Guest House where nothing has changed since my last visit more then five years ago. Same people still doing the same jobs.
When I ventured out in Thamel it became rapidly clear that although it's the high season tourist numbers are still, well down. It isn't quiet but it isn't the full mind blowing three ring circus that it used to be either.
I will start to check out what the possibilities for rafting are and how they fit in with my other plans and make a decision on what I am going to do next sometime tomorrow.
In the mean time watch this space for further announcements and some photos.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

New trip coming up!

Just a quick update to fill you in on what I have been up to lately.
After returning from South East Asia at the end of December I have spend most of my time with Bronwyn and the children. However now I am getting ready for another trip. This coming Monday I will fly out to Bangkok and then the next day on to Kathmandu.
Once there I hope to go white water rafting as well as hiking for a month or so. My initial plans are to raft the Sun Kosi then trek to everest or do he Annapurna Circuit followed by another rafting trip, possibly the Karnali.
As usual I am sure things will change once I get underway but that is part of the excitement. So stay tuned for photos and stories from Nepal.