Friday, September 10, 2010


Took the bus to Pokhara yesterday for what turned out to be a long and hot ride.
As there are still some quite heavy monsoon rains and no road maintenance the Kathmandu to Pokhara road is in quite a state of disrepair especially the first section from the valley rim down to the Trisuli river. Here land slides have reduced the road to a single lane and that combined with the usual lack of road rules resulted in the traffic jam from hell with trucks and buses backed up as far as the eye could see, and you can see pretty far when you are on the top of a hill.
It easily added three hours to the trip and that combined with the aircon not working on the bus made for a frustrating ride.
On the other hand the country side is lush and green and the river in full flood is spectacular, I am looking forward to starting my hike.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Kathmandu update

I have been wandering through the city and slowly getting organised for my first trek of the season. Yesterday I took an American couple and two Dutch women to the Tourist Information Office yesterday, it's on the other side of town and difficult to find for first time visitors. After we all got our permits and TIMS cards and were releaved of $40.00 for the privilege we walked to Durbar square and had a wonderful afternoon visiting all the temples and just taking in the scene.

As I now have my permits and a bus ticket I am off to Pokhara tomorrow and hopefully I will be on the Trail by Friday or Saturday. I will start at Nayapul then walk the Ghandruk loop and all being well I should eventually end up at the Annapurna base-camp. Total trekking time there and back about 2 weeks.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Back in Kathmandu

After three hours flying and an hour at the airport I am back in Kathmandu. Where it is warm and humid, although nowhere near as bad as Bangkok.
Apparently there has been plenty of rain in the last few weeks and everything is either green or muddy and the potholes have to be seen to be believed.
In the next few days I will decide where to go and hike and arrange my trekking permits and other paraphenelia. My sleeping bag will probably need washing before I set out so I'll have to find a place that can wash something that large and delicate and more importantly dry it again.
In the meantime I'll just have to hang out in the KTM Garden House and drink coffee.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cruisin aroud Bangkok

While hanging around, waiting for my flight to Kathmandu this Saturday I have been cruising through Bangkok courtesy of the public transport system.
Not far from my hotel is a wharf for the ferries plying the Chao Praya and for 50 cents you can go from one side of Bangkok to the other. When I did get off the boat and started on a walk through China town it took me only a few minutes to get lost though. Should have stuck with the boat.
Never mind there is always a tuktuk to get you back home again.

Today I hope to get on the monorail and look at the city from above. So maybe some more pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bangkok again

Well I am back in Bangkok after a trip hat actually went smoother then I had anticipated. A combination of share taxi and minibus saw me back in the Rambuttri village inn just after six in the evening.
I expect to spendt the remainder of my time in Thailand in and around the city before flying to Kathmandu next Saturday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Agni Air

Just hearing that an Agni Air flight between Lukla and Kathmandu had crashed. Agni Air is the company I had my flight from hell with a few years ago.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Four Seasons

After spending almost two weeks in Siem Reap the urge to move struck me again.
It was still dark when I woke up and a light drizzle came down while I waited for the bus to take me to the boat landing at Tonle Sap.

The choises on the boat to Battambang are simple sit inside and loose your hearing from the noise of an unshielded diesel engine and loose your lungs to the diesel fumes or sit outside, that is on the cabin roof, and take your changes with the elements. I climbed on the roof.
The drizzle steadily turned into rain and the number of people on the roof dwindled until there were just two of us left braving the weather. Although I had my raincoat on I still got wetter and colder by the minute. My watch has a thermometer and it revealed that the temperature had dropped to 25 degrees. I felt hypothermia was close.

We left the lake for the river leading to Battambang, the rain slowed down to a drizzle and occaisionally the sun came peaking out from behind the clouds. A few not so hardy souls started to venture out from the cabin and return to the roof suitably amazed that two of us had stuck it out there the whole morning.

Finally the rain stopped and the clouds disappeared. The roof top got busier all the time and people started breaking out the sun screen. An English couple went from pasty white to lobster red in about an hour and I dried out and warmed up again. The mercury rose to forty degrees and after twelve hours of travel I was happy to arrive in Battambang.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More ruins and a bike ride.

After a days rest I got back on the bike, and feeling a lot better then during my first ride tackled the "Grand Circuit" a trip that takes in most of Angkor's main temples. It turned out to be quite a day. In the end I cycled almost fifty kilometers over highways and byways visiting numerous temples and feeling yet again like death warmed up at the end of it. What is nice about being out on a bike though is the ability to go where you please and stop where you want. I've seen monkeys and birds, and people working in the rice paddies where all those in a tuktuk just raised by. I seem to get a better reception from the locals as well, who of course all travel by bike as well.

Another funny sign.

This one in the public toilets at Angkor Wat

Saturday, August 07, 2010

On yer bike.

I did something profoundly stupid today and rather then getting a tuktuk to take me to the monument zone I decided that I could easily bike it.
So I rented a bike and off I went. OK it seemed a bit further then what I remembered from last time but the road is level and the traffic not too bad.
By the time I got to the entrance of Angkor Wat I was both sore and thirsty so I was glad to park the bike, buy an exorbitantly priced bottle of water from one of the roaming vendors and do some exploration on foot.
The complex is magnificent and well worth spending a few hours to look at the murals that are literally hundreds of meters long as well as the buildings that are magnificent in their own right.
Then back on the bike and on my way to Angkor Tom. This time however the pain in my bum and creaking of the knees came back pretty much straight away. Luckily there are plenty of reasons to stop along the way, admire the scenery or a small temple and get a rest.
Angkor Tom is the site where one of the ruling kings had Buddha images carved out of the stone work that make up the temple and apparently there are over 250 of them.
I have always found this place quite eerie in spite of all the tourists. The enormous heads staring out over the jungle are more something out of an Indiana Jones movie then something you expect to see for real. Never mind I am happy enough to appear on a photo with one of them. By the time I have finished looking around this place it's nearing the end of the afternoon and I am back on my bike and peddling towards Siem Reap. Now I could tell you I just cycled back to town but the truth is I stopped five times to give my knees a rest. Don't think I'll be going very far tomorrow.

another odd bit of trivia.

In Siem Reap a small bottle of water costs one dollar. A big mug of beer fifty cents.
Not that I am complaining.

Sign at the hotel reception desk

And you know, it really works I haven't seen a single person carrying hand grenades in the hotel yet.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Just arrived in Siem Reap

Most of the day it's been absolutely pouring down with rain, to the extend that when I crossed the border the water was knee deep on the street and the immigration office was sand bagging their entrance. Anyway cleared customs and got a Dutch couple to share a taxi with me for the 150 kilometer ride to Siem Reap. The road has been greatly improved since I last made this trip and we got there in only two and half hours. A hotel was quickly found and right now I am enjoying a beer and trying out a Banana flower salad. Different!

Sunday, August 01, 2010


All being well I will travel to Siem Reap in Cambodia tomorrow. The travel agent tells me that the road has improved since I went there last time but it will still take all day.
Tell you more when I get there.

One day out cooking

Yesterday I spend another day cooking to make sure I can remember how to do things properly in the kitchen, and because I enjoy it.
The setup was a bit different this time in that rather then getting stuck in straight away the teacher would first demonstrate how to cook the dish, then we would have a tasting, and only then did we cook the dish ourselves. This helps you get an idea of what the various processes should look like while you are performing them as well as what the dish should taste like.
The school is run by a culinary school teacher and cook book author and she doesn't let people get away with doing things by half. I thought my arms would fall off from all the pounding of ingredients in the mortar and pestle. "That looks almost right Eric, just another five minutes of pounding or so".
I really enjoyed it and had a great day.

I'm going to fly away

But not yet.

I have booked tickets to fly back to Kathmandu on the fourth of September and back to New Zealand on ten November although I might still change that to the ninth.
In the meantime I will be doing another cooking course here in Bangkok and on Monday or Tuesday I will head off to Cambodia to have another look at that beautiful but troubled country.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back in Bangkok

The bus ride was long and unpleasant but I am back in Bangkok where my money was waiting for me. So the rest of the day has been catching up on sleep, I didn't even bother to try to sleep on the bus ride and just read a book for the whole way, and trying to figure out what I want to do next. I am still not sure on that count but am leaning towards flying back to Nepal and doing some walking in the cool clean air.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Finally on the move again.

Today my visa for Laos runs out and although my Visa card still hasn't arrived I will have to call it a day and leave for Thailand.
Once in Thailand I should be able to replenish my funds via Western Union money transfer and then rearrange my onward travels.
I am considering flying back to Nepal straight away but a visit to Cambodia is also still a possibility.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Plan B

Today I tried plan B and failed miserably.

After wandering across town I visited the main post office here in Vientiane and asked various people there for their help in locating the letter with my visa card that has now been in transit from NZ for over a week. Like good civil servants they all listened politely and then told me they couldn't be of assistance and went back to drinking their coffee.

Ah well it was worth a shot.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Getting bored.

Today marks my first week in Vientiane and I am getting pretty bored. There is still no sign of my visa card and I am trying to come up with a plan B.
Meanwhile I am settling in a routine of breakfast, walk, read, read some more, dinner, watch tv and go to sleep again.
If nothing else my attention has been focussed on my spending and I manage to make do with $15 a day for accommodation, food and entertainment. Not a lot of entertainment though other then walking around town.
Anyway hopefully that card will arrive soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I walked for hours around town yesterday and visited a number of temples and monuments, figured out where the market was and generally enjoyed myself.

Plenty of temples.

The victory gate looks good from a distance.

The Sign is correct though.

And the view is pleasant indeed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Penniless in Vientiane

I spend another twenty minutes on the phone to the ASB bank in NZ this morning. The upshot of it was that they will mail out a new card to my hotel here in Vientiane and all going well it should arrive in about three days time.
I am not holding my breath but have worked out that I can stay here for another two weeks before my money runs out as long as I spend no more then twenty dollars a day.
Somehow I suspect I'll be doing a fair bit of reading over the next few days.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Money problems

I am currently in Vientiane the capital of Laos where I am trying to sort out a problem with my bank and Credit cards. When I checked my account two days ago I realized that somehow someone managed to get access to it and had transferred almost four thousand dollar to an account in the UK.
It would appear that this was done after I used my credit card to make an online payment in Bangkok a few weeks ago. Somehow my card number must have been intercepted and three transactions were made against it.
Yesterday I rang the ASB bank in New Zealand that issues my card and they have now canceled it. While that is all well and good it also leaves me without any method of accessing my funds, so apart from the two hundred dollars in cash that I have on me I am literally stuck. If all goes well they should contact me today in an attempt to sort out how the fraud occurred and hopefully how to get a replacement card to me.
I'll keep you posted.

Plain of Jars

The plain of jars is an area in the North West of Laos where a large number of stone jars have been cut out of sandstone boulders and then transported to fields surrounding them to, most likely, be used as funerary urns.
As the area is wide spread I decided to join a tour for the day and it turned out to be a good option indeed. We visited two jar sites as well as one of the villages nearby and a cave that was used during the Indochina war thrown in for good measure.
The other rather nice part of it was that I met some very pleasant people who I have now been traveling with for the last five days or so, including a Nepali guy and his English girlfriend as well as a Singaporean Historian who is gathering material for a book. As Michael from Singapore is closer to my age then most we have spend a lot of time talking, eating and drinking coffee together.

A collection of Jars.

Drying Chillies.

Grandmother and Granddaughter.

Mother and Child.

Fence Post.


If nothing else life is pretty relaxed out here.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

What's Cooking

Today I tried to come to grips with a small part of Lao cuisine by cooking it.We did the obligatory market tour in the morning led by an English lady who's Lao partner runs the cooking school. She gave excellent descriptions of the various ingredients and the seemingly endless herbs that are used in the local dishes. Then it was off to the cooking school and straight into the food. First up was the preparation of sticky rice and Jeow Mak Keua, a spicy eggplant dip. while we were snacking on that we made preparations for our next dish, Mok Pa or Fish steamed in banana leaves. This was an interesting challenge to me as I never eat fish but under Joy, the teacher, his guidance it turned out well and to my surprise it didn't taste fishy at all! As you can't have just one or two dishes for lunch we continue our lunch preparations by preparing a combination of minced chicken and herbs and proceeded to stuff this in a basket made out of lemon grass which is the deep fried. The result is a lovely lemon tasting chicken dish. Last but not least we made Orlam a traditional Luang Prabang stew and finished it all off with purple sticky rice in coconut sauce. I just love those sweet coconut dishes. Our group had the diverse make up that you only seem to get when you travel around with the range running from a carpenter to a Harvard professor. I still was the oldest one there though.

Plenty of greens

and plenty of meat

The cooking school

Friday, July 02, 2010

Moving around

Since my last entry I have been pretty much continually on the move first from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai about a four hour ride in a comfortable air conditioned bus. Then a two and a half hour ride from Chiang Rai to Chiang Kong in a clapped out old bus to the border. After clearing Thai immigration a ride in a longtail boat across the Mekong to Hua Say in Laos then from there two days on the slow boat to Luang Prabang where I arrived last night.
The slow boat trip was greatly enlivened by all the other travelers that make this journey. The locals probably take the bus these days as apart from the crew there were only a handful of people that joined the boat at various riverside villages then disembarked again a few hours later.
The travelers contingent on board alternately make me feel old, I must easily be twice as old as most of them, and still young enough to join in. Two days on the river gives ample time and opportunity to talk and I managed to practice my Dutch with a beautiful young thing from Utrecht, discover that there were two other people from Auckland on board and listen to an impromptu violin and flute performance by two Irish musicians who were taking a break from touring with the River Dance ensemble. There were also Poles a Brazilian and of course some English on board. Funnily enough no Germans who you can normally find just about anywhere.

I was going to load some pictures but this connection is so slow it times out before I can get even started. So maybe tomorrow .

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

another day cooking

Yesterday I spend another day in the classroom cooking a great number of Thai dishes. This time it was just me and two teachers so plenty of time for questions and answers. I wont bother you with all the details but here is a photo of me and Jo cooking and one of a sweet and sour prawn dish I did.


Last Monday I did one of the most touristy trips I have done in a very long time.
Together with nine others I visited an elephant camp, a Karen village with a few women in traditional costume weaving cloth, a waterfall for a swim, a jungle walk, well rice fields really, then another village this time with a Hmong man in costume and finally a ride on a bamboo raft down the local river. Nothing really new or exiting but it kept me busy for the day and the people that were on the tour were pleasant enough.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cooking Class

I spend yesterday at a cooking course here in Chiang Mai. We started out with a visit to the market where we were shown and got taste all the weird and wonderfull things that grow in Thailand. Including ten or so varieties of egg plant, more herbs and spices then I can remember and a colossal selection of fruit where the unwary got to smell a Durian. ( Tastes good but smells like a sewerage plant on a bad day.)

We then proceeded to the actual kitchen, a well layout and roomy place with lots of shade to keep things cool. And then we went at it first up how to make green curry paste from scratch then on to "Green Curry Chicken"

Followed by "Steamed Chicken Souffle in a Banana Leaf Basket" the chicken was actually because I don't like fish the others were making fish souffle.

Then it was time for Cashew nut and Chicken stir-fry
Fish cakes with a cucumber sauce or in my case more chicken.

And finally Tom Yam soup with prawns, Yes I do actually occasionally eat prawns.

And that was just for lunch. Needles to say to much to eat for any of us.

After lunch we proceeded to make sticky rice in sweet coconut milk with mango. Followed by spring rolls and PhatThai with egg.

All in all a good day I learned lots and am looking forward to trying out some of my newly learned skills when I get home.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chiang Mai

Thirteen hours on the bus and of course no sleep. However I am here and I have found a room in a funky little hotel that's tucked away in one of the little lanes in the old part of the city. The hotel is in a converted Thai farm house and chock a block with art, antique and knick knacks. It reminds me of a place I stayed in a few years ago in Pondicherry with Mum & Dad. Only the rooms are a lot smaller but they do have air conditioning and free Internet access as well as breakfast included in the price. Not bad for ten bucks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bold decisions

Forgot to mention. After I had my haircut yesterday I decided it wasn't really short enough. Half an hour in front of the bathroom mirror with a fresh razor blade solved that problem and now I have as much hair, as well ah, a guy with no hair.

Off to Chiang Mai

This afternoon I leave for Chiang Mai on an overnight bus ride. I hate these all nighters with a passion but short of flying it's the only way to get there.
Yesterday was fantastically hot here in Bangkok and I spent a great deal of my time inside my hotel room with the air conditioning on high. Today seems fractionally cooler and hopefully in Chiang Mai it's cooler still.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back in Bangkok

All roads lead to Bangkok and yesterday I returned there as well.
The trip was long, slow and a lot less comfortable then the outward bound journey with heavy rain and a lot of traffic on the road but we got there again.
Today is "getting things done day" and so far I have booked a bus ticket for the overnight bus to Chiang Mai on Wednesday and had a haircut. Still to do; buy some toiletries and a wallet. As you see travel can be rather mundane.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

quick update

My cooking course got canceled, not enough participants, bit of a disappointment but such is life.
Tomorrow my beach adventure ends, for now anyway, and I will return to Bangkok to arrange further travel north.
Stay tuned to this channel!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Perfect Day

There was some heavy overnight rain but by the time I got out of bed and wandered over to the restaurant it was dry and the sun had come out and the weather with a little sea breeze blowing was perfect again.
So what to do as they say in Nepal. I had an email from dad asking me more or less the same, what else is there apart from a beach? Well the island is quite large and most of the interior is a national park that has plenty of opportunities for hiking and swimming in streams and waterfalls, there is an elephant camp where you can get a jungle trip on the back of a pachyderm and of course there is diving and snorkeling. Oh and there is a cooking school where I will be taking lessons tomorrow.
For me right now the attraction remains sun, sea and sand though the water temperature is just right not a hint of a chill when you get in and by judiciously exposing myself to the sun I start to get a nice tan. Then there is the opportunity to sit back and read a book as well as writing my blog posts and slowly starting to write down the outline of my autobiography, working title "The rat ate my bar of soap and other things I hate about this place"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

It's a hard life.

Yesterday I busied myself with; breakfast, walk along the beach for ten minutes, drink coffee, swim, have lunch, read a book, swim, have a few beers, eat dinner, read some more, go to sleep.
Not to exhausting a schedule.

There was another huge downpour last night with fairly high winds but this morning the weather is back to it's tranquil self. I measured the temperatures over the last 24 hours and it's consistently around 31.5 degrees Celsius during the day falling to 28.4 during the night. Very nice indeed.

My fellow travelers are the usual bunch ranging from the mundane to the plain odd. There is a family with two young children, eight and ten or there abouts, the mandatory Dutch guy (No not me, another one), some British and Americans ( Who are stereotypical loud and talk about "back in the day..." which can't be more then five years ago for them as none of them looks old enough to have left college.) There are people with dreadlocks and beads and virtually all women and most men have tattoos. Then there are the inevitable white guys with a Thai "girlfriend" in tow. One of them a thirty to forty year old French guy with a solid physique, obviously spend a lot of time in the gym, with a girl about half his size and the body of a twelve year old.She didn't look to happy when he wanted to go back to their room. Don't blame her.

And then there is the staff. The "resort" is run by an extended family that follows the principal of "if people really want something they'll ask". Ordering something in the restaurant or paying for it means waking up the nearest likely looking person and putting in your request which will get a nod of the head or some grunt and then some time later your food or drink will miraculously appear. The food by the way is very nice. Curries that are hot enough to bite without obscuring the flavor of the underlying ingredients and plenty of it. I had a quick nosy through the kitchen at the back of the place and was impressed with how clean it was the kitchen staff even wears disposable hair nets and gloves.

Enough writing for one day, back to lazing about.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Ko Chang

Yesterday I traveled all day. First as pillion passenger on a motorbike while being pulled of balance my backpack and net book satchel. Then on a bus, a sorng taa a ferry and again a sorng taa. A sorng taa by the way is a pickup truck with two benches in the rear tray and, if you're lucky, a roof of some description to keep the sun the rain or both of your noggin.

Somewhere along the way I grabbed some lunch and immediately got caught out by the language barrier. I thought I was ordering a chicken dish to go with my rice but ended up getting a combination of beef, chicken and squid. Nothing wrong with that you would think, and there isn't really, except that I never eat seafood of any kind. As it was the dish was heavily spiced and after the first bite the difference in taste between the various bits became academic.

It was almost five in the afternoon when I arrived at my destination. The Nature Beach Resort is a grand name for a collection of huts on the beach but as a hut on the beach is what I was after it'll do nicely. My room has a mattress on the floor, a pedestal fan that blows a hurricane, a western toilet with a bucket of water to flush it and a cold water shower that sprays brackish water but at a good flow.

The weather is monsoonal at the moment and the sea is churning and there are signs up in various places warning about rips. In spite of that plenty of people are in the water and even a number of sun bathers are stretched out on the beach. This last bit seems funny as it's overcast and there is hardly any sun. Seeing them run for cover when the next squall comes through is always good for some entertainment too.

In the evening competing discos where trying to out do each other in the volume stakes. I was worried the racket might continue all night but around ten the rain started to pour down, and pour down seriously this time, and that either drowned out the sound or short circuited their electrics or maybe their customers just went home. It went quiet all the same and I slept until eight the next morning.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Island Hopping

All being well I will be off to Ko Chang tomorrow. Ko Chang is an island to the east of Bangkok close to the border with Cambodia and I hope to spend a few days swimming and snorkeling. I might move on from there to some of the other islands or start going North towards Chiang Mai.
We'll keep you posted.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Been unwell

I have been in bed feeling sorry for myself the last few days. That is the time I was awake. The first two days I must have slept for close to twenty hours every day and on day three I had the trots. However today I felt finely good enough to get out of bed and went for a breakfast of fruit and yogurt.
Let's see what today brings!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


The flight went on time and was half empty, three seats for me to stretch out over, and at any rate it is only four hours. Before you can say inflight movie we landed in Bangkok.
Customs and immigrations went smoothly too, that the longest stretch was just about he taxi ride into town.
And with that afternoon's trip you go forward in time by about three centuries. Now I am sitting in a nice restaurant having green chicken curry and sipping a beer. Kathmandu and Dal Bhat is nice but my old body is starting to rather enjoy these little luxuries.

A Change of scenery

To me there is such a thing as post hike come down. After flying out of the mountains and into Kathmandu there is 24 hours or so of euphoria, good food a decent room, coffee in the hotel garden. And then comes the crash; the heat, the noise, the unbreathable air, the hassle. At that point in time I normally settle in a routine of planning the next trip or get homesick.
This time however was something slightly in between. I couldn't go on another hike because I'll need my allocated visa time to go hiking with Dave later in the year and going back home for a few months didn't really appeal either.

So plan B.
The situation in Thailand of Reds vs Yellows vs who knows what seems to have settled down for the moment and I know that a bit of swimming, snorkeling and plenty of good Thai food will do wonders for my mood. A trip to the airline office confirmed what I suspected, no problems getting seats to Bangkok, and thus this afternoon I am off to the Thai capital. See you there!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Some photos as promised

Monjo vilage on the walk in to Namche Bazaar

First view of Mount Everest

Getting closer
A yak having a well deserved rest

Gokyo at last!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Back in Kathmandu

The trek to Gokyo has been a great success. The weather has been terrific everyday with great views and just the sort of right weather to trek in ,neither to hot nor to cold. As a matter of fact the temperature never dropped below freezing even in Gokyo during the night.
From Namche bazaar the increase in altitude is sharp but the walking itself quite short, and while I am going quite slow these days, I like to blame residual injury but it's probably more like lack of fitness, I still can leave late in the morning and still get at my next destination well before the end of the day.
The knees have been holding up well although especcially on the way back when there are days that you go down over a thousand meters they did complain a bit.
All in all a very pleasant way of recuperating and assuring myself I can still cut it at altitude when it counts.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Namche Bazaar

Just a quick update on my trek so far.
The flight to Lukla was better then last time but still pretty exiting all the same. After arrival there I walked to Phakding a three hour largely undulating stretch without any serious climbs and you guessed it I was exhausted.
The next day I made my way uphill to Monjo where the entrance to the National Park is and then walked a little further to Jorsalle where I stayed for the rest of the day. I must say I was starting to feel better already.
On day three I did the climb to Namche Bazaar, three hours of unrelenting uphill slog. While it sounds like hard work, and it is, the views were spectacular with snow capped peaks, including Mount Everest whenever you looked up.
The last few days I have been here in Namche and doing some acclimatisation walks and tomorrow I'll be off in the direction of Gokyo that I dont expect to post any further updates for the next week to ten days.

Saturday, May 08, 2010


In spite of the strike I have already managed to get a trekking permit, TIMS card and cash from the bank to go trekking. I got my airline ticket this morning and I'll be off on Monday to Lukla and then very slowly towards Gokyo. Hopefully I have a better flight then last time.
As I still suffer daily from sore knees it is my intention to use 3 days rather then the usual 2 from Lukla to Namche Bazaar, then stay for at least 3 nights in Namche to acclimatize before taking 4 to 5 days to walk to Gokyo. I'll then stay there for a few days while making day trips to the lakes and glaciers that dot the landscape in this area.
After that time and state of my body permitting I will walk back to Lukla and fly to Kathmandu or spend an extra week walking to Jiri and take the bus from there to the capital. Either way I have to be back by the end of May to extend my visa or leave the country for Tibet or India.


A sign I spotted that tackles conservation an procreation at the same time.


The strike to end all strikes has ended with a whimper.
Comrade Prachanda and his merry men have decided to end the strike for the good of the proletariat, and pursue other "peaceful" action to overthrow the government. It was quite clear to most of us that the Communists weren't getting any traction and in fact the citizens of Kathmandu were more then fed up with the whole situation.
(For those that aren't familiar with strikes in this part of the world. Participation is mandatory, and those that open their shop or drive a vehicle can expect to be beaten up by strike enforcers.)

Power (2)

The Communists are still doing their level best to overthrow the government but so far without much luck. And while they are succeeding in ruining the economy even further,if that is at all possible, the nett effect of their actions so far has been annoyance rather then hardship. Shops and restaurants are closed, there is no public transport and the ATM's have ran out of of money and while I have gotten a few walks around town and out to Swayambutnath in a lot of my time right now is spent sitting in the hotel garden drinking coffee.


" Thanks to the UCPN (Maoist) indefinite strike since May 2, consumers across the country are enjoying uninterrupted power supply."
According to the headline article in the Kathmandu Post.
The idea being that as business and industry comes to a grinding halt there would be enough power for regular households.
Needless to say we had NO power for the next twenty hours.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Red shirts and Revolutionairies.

My original plan was to travel to Thailand and then on to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and China. However protests in Thailand that seemed to get more violent by the day made me change my mind at the last minute and fly to Nepal instead. Funnily enough that meant I still had to fly to Bangkok and stay there for the night before flying to Kathmandu.
As it turned out apart from a few extra soldiers at the airport lazing about with their guns and riot shields stacked in a corner there were no signs of impending doom and my hotel fifteen minutes down the road was undefended. Never mind I just dropped my luggage, swallowed a sleeping tab and slept till the next Morning.
Then it was on to Kathmandu where things are rather more askew. I was greeted at the airport by nothing really. There is currently a general strike enforced by the communists and nothing is moving. After sizing up the situation I started a conversation with a driver from an official looking vehicle and indeed it turned out he had just dropped of some UN personnel and was willing, for a small fee, to take take as far as the royal palace which is only a five minute walk from my hotel. So there I went happily being waved on by the protesters.


After a month or so of personal problems that needed sorting. I am now back on the road and of all places in Kathmandu.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kauri Coast

Today it was the day of the big trees. And boy are they huge. I had forgotten and was quite astounded how suddenly this Hollywood sized tree can appear in amongst what up till that point had looked liked a reasonable sized forest.
An hour later I witnessed an elderly Maori gentleman singing a welcome to the "Father of the Forest" an equally giant Kauri. While I am normally quite sceptical of performances like that, this looked completely natural. The guy had a good voice too.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


After packing up the tent I headed for Kataia to use an internet cafe then drove to Ahipara where I spent a few hours on the beach and was entertained by some tourists in a beaten up old camper-van who were obviously unfamiliar with such things as tides and the fact that sand, water and camper-vans don't mix. They did eventually manage to get loose before their van turned into a submarine but it was a close thing.
From Ahipara I went the scenic route through Herekino and Broadwood marveling at the rural scenery before eventually takeing the ferry from KohuKohu to Rawene where I promptly ran into my old friend PJ.
Paul and his partner have a house overlooking the Hokianga Harbour and some of the best views you could wish for so most of the evening was spent on the deck looking at the view and reminiscing about the good old times. A very pleasant day again indeed.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Sand and sea.

I am camping in Pukenui and from here it's only a short drive to the various beaches that dot the area. I found Henderson Bay a magnificent and magnificently quiet beach with white sand that goes on for miles and no one on them. On the other side of the Peninsula there is Te Paki stream with it's huge sand dunes and giant west coast waves and of course Ninety Mile Beach that goes on for well sixty miles or so.

Cape Reinga

Well I made it to Cape Reinga and it's famous light house. While not quite the most northern point in the country it's as close as you can get without a five hour hike.
My last visit here must have been something like twenty years ago and while the country side and sea views are as spectacular as ever the road to it has improved a great deal and bar a three kilometer stretch is now completely sealed. The light house and surrounding area itself has also had a makeover and now has ample car parking, modern toilets and a beautiful trail with explanatory signs leading down to the light house itself.
Outside the entrance was the opportunity to sponsor a native tree or flower to assist with the replanting of the surrounding area. So I handed over twenty dollars and got to choose what plant I wanted to have, a Hebe Stricta in my case, and then with the help of a lovely Maori lady plant and water it. I also received a certificate with the coordinates on it so I can come and visit it when I am up next and a postcard of Cape Reinga that I have mailed off to Daniel and Laura.

Telephone on the blink.

The title says it all. My iPhone which I also use to post my blog updates has died. All I get is a black screen and nothing else. I'll have a go at fixing it when I am in Whangarei next Wednesday but it will probably have to go back to Apple.
It was an expensive toy and I am not happy about it but that's life.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Today I gave in and went on a hole in the rock and dolphin watching tour. It was money well spent. The sun was shining bright and we saw several pods of dolphins. To me the highlight was the bay and the islands itself though. Blue sea and green bush is really New Zealand at it's best.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Today I made a pilgrimage to one of the more controversial places in the country. Waitangi and the treaty are guaranteed to get people talking, some love it some loath it, everyone has an opinion.
As for the place itself I enjoyed it probably more for the views then for it's significance but I did pick up a book on the treaty for a bit of further reading on the subject.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A day in Russell

Had coffee and muesli for breakfast before setting of for Russell, I took the ferry across from Pahia then walked up, slowly, to flagstaff hill. The flaggstaff is unimpressive but the views are fantastic. It was also a good try out for my knees who held up well. Back down in Russell I visited the oldest church in the country. A rather simple affair completely surrounded by a cemetry.
Had lunch at Hone's Burger & Beer bar a funky place in someones backyard with pleasant seats under shady trees and reggea on the sound system.
After another stroll along the waterfront I got a ferry back to Pahia and by 4 I was back at the campground where it's a bit more overcast then yesterday. It looks like there might be some rain in the air.

Russell from Flaggstaff hill

High tide

Woke up this morning to find the water lapping at my tent door. So while others moved their belongings I checked the tide-time table and made myself a coffee. Not a thing in my tent got wet.
Another high tide at 10 o'clock tonight though and possibly a little higher.

Monday, March 01, 2010


The weather was down right dreary when I left Whangarei this morning and at times it rained hard enough to make me slow down to a crawl. But the closer I got to the Bay of Islands the better it got and by the time the ferry carried me across from Russell to Opua the sun was shining again.
Right now I am sitting in front of my tent watching Haruru falls cascading in the lagoon below and a few young kids jumping from high up in a tree to the water below. Life is good.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Some bits and bobs

I went around Whangarei picking up a few things for my trip including a Coleman folding stove and some plates and mugs. Just some groceries to add and I am as organise as I am likely to get.