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.