Trekking Nepal

March 26th – Taipei – Kathmandu

With spirits high, we boarded the plane bound for Nepal. Walking down the platform, I asked Scott, “What do you think will be the hiccups on this trip? You know what I mean, every trip has one or two things that don’t go as expected.”

We arrived in Kathmandu close to midnight on Monday. Tired from a day of flying, we walked up to the money exchange to change our Taiwanese dollars into Nepalese rupee (NPR). Turns out that Nepal doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a country, and thus making all of our cash worthless, at least for the month.

We slide to our right and pull out some rupee from the ATM and make our way to immigration. We are rejected from immigration due to lacking a passport size photo (amateur mistake) so we turn around and conveniently find a man overcharging for photos with a big smile on his face.

After purchasing photos, we start towards immigration again only to be denied once more. It is important to know that when entering Nepal, one can not use the Nepali rupee to pay for the visa. That’s right, Nepal doesn’t even trust its own currency. “Your American,” says the border guard, “where’s your dollar?” Screw you.

We then walked back to the money exchange to trade our new-found Nepalese rupee into US dollar, however we are disheartened to learn that the money exchange has closed for the day. After much debate, the guard unwillingly takes the rupee and slaps an over-sized visa in the center of my passport; I have made it inside.

We make our way down and exited the airport, where we are bombarded by taxi drivers. Unsure as to the rate or how far we are going we settle for 600 NPR and left for the hostel, which as far as we know, is “across from the B&B Hospital.”

About 10 minutes later, we arrive in a dilapidated section of town. The driver points across the road and mentions the B&B Hospital and then says your hostel is over there across the washed out dirt road. We get out of the cab, walk down to the pitch black building and knock on one of the doors. After waking up the owner, she let us inside and pays for our cab, since the driver won’t take our 1000 rupee note.

It was an incredibly stressful start to our trip, but I was happy to have a roof over my head for the night.

March 27th – Kathmandu

We awoke to the melody of construction, faintly muffled by traffic. Breakfast at the hostel was awesome – papaya, wheat cakes and potatoes all with delicious hot milk tea. After breakfast, I attempted contacting my bank to get my cards to work in Nepal.

Waiting for Ryan at the wrong white landmark….

Around midday we met up with Ryan. After having lunch, we wondered around Thamel  getting the necessary TIM’s cards and entrance permits for our treks. It was awesome to see Ryan, and he was such a huge help with finding and purchasing the few pieces of gear that we needed.  The rest of the day was spend roaming around Thamel trying to snag last-minute necessities and ending with dinner at Fire and Ice.

One of the many temples

10,000 Buddhas

One thing I will not miss from Nepal is the culture of haggling. It’s quite annoying, and if you are visiting, since you don’t know what anything costs, you might as well have “Rip me off, I’m an idiot” stamped on your forehead.

Chaos!

Me and Ryan

March 28th – Kathmandu (1200m) – Lukla (2850m) – Monju (2800m)

We woke up at 6am with the hopes of catching an early morning flight to Lukla, the beginning of our trek.  We hit a snag when we arrived at the airport sans tickets. Luckily, a man was willing to help us. At first, he seemed a little suspect, however after a few minutes, it was clear that he worked for the airport and was doing everything in his power to get us on a flight that morning.

Is that our plane?

About to board

Luckily, we snagged seats there and were able to get an open ticket back. The flight was awesome, and we got to see some great views of the Himalayas on the way up. It only took about 25 minutes and brought back memories of flying. The Lukla Airport is one of the most dangerous in the world, so we were more than eager to land. The runway was tiny and just after the plane touched down, it swerved into the loading bay. By 9:30 am we had arrived at Lukla and started out on our trek.

I miss flying

The runway… oh so short

The trail was wide and we were soon passed by men and women carrying enormous loads, sometimes up to 120KG! Rarely did we need to pull off the trail for another to pass, the one exception to this was when we met a yak train.

Downtown Lukla – This is the biggest town we would be in for the next few weeks

Just follow the path

We stopped to have lunch about half way and were surprised when we saw the cost. Food was more expensive than we had thought. Lodging was dirt cheap, all the way up the trail. However, food, since it had to be carried up by someone, meant as we climbed higher and further from civilization, as did the price of our meals.

The beginning

Sweet bridge!

The rolling hills to Monju

We arrived at a small village called Monju around 4:30pm and called it a day.  We were the only people staying in the tea house that night, and we soon realized what we were in for: many nights and days packed full of reading, talking and cards. In other words, a lot of down time.

March 29th – Monju (2800m) –Namche Bazaar (3450m)

We slept in late til about 9am, and then strolled downstairs for breakfast. We were in no rush since the hike was supposed to take only a couple of hours, albeit straight up hill.

The first part of the trail followed a gorgeous river valley before ascending rapidly. The trail was relentlessness and  zigzagged all the way up. About 500m from Namche I began to feel the elevation. I was short of breath after only walking a couple of meters and began to feel slightly dizzy. We took a break at the TIM’s checkpoint and then slowly made our way into town.

The river valley

Pretty scenery

The first view of Everest

The porters were machines…

The trail got steeper

Still doing alright

Just outside of town, I became incredibly nauseous. Shortly afterwards, I threw up all over the trail and then slogged up to the first available tea house. After resting for an hour or so, we made our way to the clinic. Rita, the town nurse told me I had mild AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and to drink a lot of fluids along with some Diamox, which would help the body adapt more quickly. For those who don’t know AMS basically feels like being hung over, having the flu and diarrhea at the same time.

Me outside of Namche not doing too hot…

I spent the rest of the evening in my room. Scott was out, doing his own thing, however came upstairs a few hours later to me vomiting in a trashcan. All he could say was, “Oh God, you’re throwing up. I can’t help you; I have terrible diarrhea.” That right there pretty much summed up a lot of our trip.

Thankfully, my AMS was a straightforward, mild case and we didn’t need to descend. Good news too, I felt so weak and was perpetually dizzy after just a few steps I probably wouldn’t be able to get back down if i needed to.

Passing the time playing cards

Dying

At the corner of town… and seemingly the world

March 30th – April 2nd – Namche (3440m) and Khumjung (3790m)

We spent the next few days in Namche. Planning for one day to acclimatize, we decided for another just to make sure I was alright. On day 3 we hiked up to Khumjung to aid with acclimatization.

The roads in Namche

In the town

Overview

Being what we thought a short day hike, we didn’t take any gear and on the way back had to deal with some unfortunate hail for about 10 minutes. Seeing as we were hiking uphill out of a valley, and if we sped up we would get sick, we decided to walk slowly, often taking breaks, as quickly as possible….

First view of some mountains

Our day hike view

The closest airport

Day hike into Khumjung

The next few days I spent dealing with diarrhea and praying that we would actually get to advance further up the mountain. Spirits were low here, and we were both ready to move forward.

April 3rd – Namche (3440m) to Tengboche (3875m)

After climbing out of Namche, we followed a ridge for the better part of an hour. We were mixed in a large group of British teenagers for a large portion of this stretch. I have to say that I had imagined this trek to be less crowded, but as time went on I knew that more people would be crammed into smaller places.

The ridge

The beautiful view…

We finally got ahead of the group and stopped for a quick bowl of Sherpa stew.  While eating, the rain moved in. We donned our rain gear and continued onward. We rapidly descended down to a river before heading straight back up over 600m of trail.

Back down to the river

About 30 minutes from leaving the river, the rain began to mix with wet snow, which continued to the top.  Towards the end of the trail my stomach decided to have another round. Luckily nothing came of it, but my issues with altitude continued to persist, and with it my worries over the upcoming days. We were still pretty low comparatively.

Bring it rain

The beginning of the ascent

It’s snowing – that’s not a light on my head, it’s a giant snowflake

The weather gods have blessed us! Damn it…

Almost there

Tengboche

More cards

After eating some yak steak, we played a plethora of card games with a cool girl named Mansi, who had been separated from her friend the day prior and was hoping to meet up with her soon. That night seemed painfully cold, and waking up to snow on the ground and realizing that the only thing between me and that was some plywood, I knew I didn’t bring enough clothes for the trip.

April 4th – Tengboche (3875m) to Pheriche (4240m)

Mansi and I

The temple in Tengboche

Bye bye Tengboche

Scott and I

Yak

On the trail again

Local wildlife

Same old river

Starting to be barren

Right before the weather turned

The day started off well. We grabbed a quick breakfast before descending from Tengboche into a valley for the better part of the morning. The weather had cleared up without a cloud in the sky. After lunch, we slowly started climbing up often finding ourselves leap frogging what we called, “the door.”

A man was carrying this up… when he stopped it looked like a door in the middle of nowhere

It wasn’t long after lunch that dark ominous clouds covered the entire sky and the temperature began to drop. Quickly after the sun went down and small flurries began to drift throughout the air, warranting another layer. By the time that we could get on our layers it seemed as it wasn’t fast enough to put on every article of clothing that we owned.

The snow began to fall harder and harder and before we knew it, we were out in the middle of nowhere in a whiteout. Knowing that turning around to go back to the last village wasn’t an option, we slogged forward. It became difficult to follow the trail, and before long, there wasn’t a “trail”. The only way we continued forward was by staying behind “the door”.

Eventually we had to pass him because he just stopped at the top oh a hill and sat down. We were freezing and figured we couldn’t be much further from Pheriche. We walked for a little while, until we wondered if we chose the right way. We glanced to our right, and saw a yak train.  We both decided to backtrack and follow them. After about 25 minutes the train finally arrive in Pheriche.

The white out at its early stages

Post white out

Following the yak train

We stopped at the first place and ran inside to get a room and warm showers. Unfortunately, our showers were outside in an outhouse with a warm bucket of water. It was an awesome end to our long stressful day, and soon after getting warm the snow abated, the clouds vanished and for the first time we had a good view of the Himalayas.

Starting to clear up

The rest of the day we spent eating dinner and huddling around the furnace fueled by yak poo. It was an early night, like most, but I was thrilled to have a roof over my head.

April 5th – Pheriche (Acclimatization Day)

That morning I awoke to our small window being frozen over and brutally cold. We finally decided that it would be best to leave the warmth of our sleeping bags for the main room, where they should have the furnace going. Unfortunately, when we arrived, not only was the furnace off, but they weren’t turning it on because, “the sun will warm us up”. It was below zero Celsius,  with no sign of warmth for hours….

It was a long day. Pheriche is a tiny little village that is nothing more than a good spot to make sure you doing get sick from altitude before moving onto the next stages of the trip. In the end, it was a good thing that we did as were supposed to. All in all, five people died on the trail due to altitude sickness and a handful of others had to be air-lifted back to Kathmandu. We didn’t want to contribute to that number.

The rest of the day we spent doing short walks through the town, stopping by a bakery for brownies and playing cards with a local guide named Razu. The night was fun and the time went quickly. We were both excited to move on.

Our first true views of mountains

Tiny, tiny Pheriche

April 6th – Pheriche (4240 m) to Dughla (4620 m)

At this point, the altitude had been taking its effects on me. I constantly had headaches and wasn’t sleeping very much at night, both of which are pretty common with being in high altitude. Just about every night since Tengboche I was awake at 4AM sharp and never went back to sleep. Just laid there thinking or listening to music until my iPod died.

The path covered in snow

Streams

By the time the sun had risen, we noticed that there was 5″ of snow on the ground and the fog was so dense that we couldn’t see the building 15 ft across the path. We were quite frustrated with the idea of having to stay here for another day, but neither of us wanted to move on in this weather.

The fog lifted after a few hours, and knowing that the trip to Dughla wouldn’t take long, we decided to move on. We packed up our stuff and made our way up to the two shacks that make up Dughla. We arrived by mid-day, had lunch and then read for the better part of the afternoon.

It was starting to be constantly cold. At this point we had been wearing almost everything that we brought with us on the trip at the same time. Multiple pairs of socks, undershirts, arm warmers, t-shirts, fleece, jacket, long underwear, pants, snow pants and gloves all being worn, even while inside. Laundry wasn’t happening until we got back down to Namche, seeing as the prior day that meant sticking your hands in the frozen stream to wash the clothes.

The comfort level was a solid zero and my stomach began giving me some issues. Nothing serious, but I felt like at any minute I would be vomiting or have diarrhea. Dughla only had one bathroom, and it was at an altitude high enough were everyone was starting to have the same issues. So if you had an emergency, you’d go wait in line with the other seven people who needed to use the squatter too. Fun….

This was probably the low point of the trip. I hadn’t been sleeping much, and my body felt like it was falling apart. We kept hearing news of people becoming quite ill and having serious issues, which only made me worry more and I knew it would be at least two days before we could try for base camp or Kala Patthar.

Quote of the day: “It feels like I’m paying a lot of money to be miserable.”

Sweet view

April 7th – Dughla (4620 m) to Lobuche (4910 m)

That night wasn’t much better and I woke up feeling just as bad as the day before. I was at a cross-road trying to decide if I wanted to continue or turn back and head down. As we sat in the room that morning, a man came by and told us check out was in 20 minutes, otherwise we were paying for another night. Knowing damn well, I’d rather turn around and go back down than stay here again, we packed up everything.

Satan’s Den (aka Dughla) is in the background

And then something odd happened. Once I got ready and got some more water in me the headache seemed to vanish. For some reason, everything I had felt for the better part of the last 24 hours was subsiding, and we decided to move forward.

We were just going to take it super slow, and so the climb out of Dughla seemed to take forever. People passed us over and over, and being someone who is super competitive, I was getting frustrated watching people 20-30 years my senior, with an extra 100 lbs on them, cruise up this section. None of them were carrying their own packs, which made me feel a little better, but I also found out later that altitude affects younger people more than older people for some unknown reason. Either way it was a very humbling experience.

The hike went by quickly and we were in Lobuche by early afternoon. The rest of the day we spent chatting and playing cards with our newly acquired Kiwi friends, Beth and Francis. I didn’t have a headache until the evening, and I even wondered if it was due to altitude, or to the large amount of kerosene that was spilled in the main room to light the furnace.

Starting to feel like were actually in the Himalayas

The trail continues on

Above the clouds

Tomorrow was going to be the make or break day. We decided to pass on base camp, as we would have to spend another night at elevation. If we climbed Kala Patthar, there was a good possibility we could make it down to Pheriche the same day and most of our symptoms would be gone.

April 8th – Lobuche (4910 m) to Gorak Shep (5140 m) to Kala Patthar (5545 m) to Pheriche (4240 m)

Out the door just after 7AM headed to Gorak Shep, the launch pad for both Kala Patthar and Everest base camp. At this point we had both decided to forego visiting Everest base camp, a tent city with people who don’t want you to be there and no view of Everest itself.

Leaving Lobuche

Nothingness

Getting close

Trying to get through the tour groups

Almost to Gorak Shep

Gorak Shep at the bottom, Kala Patthar and Pumori behind it

Zoom in and see Everest base camp

The morning was beautiful, probably the best one of the trip. We followed a valley for the better part of the first hour before the trail began to get steeper again. It’s only around 200 m elevation gain from Lobuche to Gorak Shep,  and I’d say about a 100 of them are on a short steep little climb. After we crested the top, Scott and I devoured the cookies that we bought in Lobuche and then continued on the rolling rocky hills to Gorak Shep. We arrived in good time, and ran into Mansi and her long-lost friend Khoshnam.

Mansi was tired and started back down, however her friend Khoshnam decided to join us on our ascent to Kala Patthar. We managed to convince the lodge owner in Gorak Shep to let us store our bags behind the counter until we got back from the summit and then we were off.

It’s around a 400 meter climb and I must say that towards the top you could tell that you were high. Breathing became more difficult and I became fatigued very easily. Fortunately, every time I stopped I had an amazing view of the Himalayas to gaze over.

After what seemed like forever, we reached the summit. A 360 view of the Himalayas; Everest, Pumori, Lhotse, Nuptse, and countless other mountains seemed so close that you could reach out them and touch them.  We made it to an elevation higher than three of the seven summits and not too short of the next two in the list. Seven minutes, a number of photos and two frozen hands later, we began our descent.

Himalayas

Continued

Continued

Continued

The black triangle in the back is Everest – biggest “seriously, that’s it” ever

Everest

Himalayas continued

Scott and I at the summit of Kala Patthar with Everest in the background

Me with Everest in the back

The top

Our trusty map got us there alright

Heading back

The trip that took us forever to go up, took no time coming back down. We were at Gorak Shep by mid day, had lunch and then started the trek back to Lobuche. At this point, I had developed a solid headache, and the worst part about it was even though I was already tired, I knew that with every step, I would feel better.

And so we pushed on, and after a few hours we made it back to Lobuche within our goal; actually 7 seconds short of 3 PM. We knew that if we made it by 3PM to Lobuche, then we could make it down to Pheriche before dark. The long descent ensued and after about an hour and a half we had to don rain gear to battle hail and snow. Desperately trying to avoid falling into one of the streams that we encounters, we arrived back in Pheriche in good time, and spent the evening talking with the girls and playing cards before passing out at 10PM.

I was pretty happy to finally have accomplished our goal and make it to the top. I definitely learned a lot in the process, such as my body handles altitude very poorly and I would not do well if I ever had to live in extreme cold for any amount of time, but overall I was quite happy with the experience.

April 9th – Pheriche (4240 m) – Namche (3440 m)

We awoke shortly after 7AM and packed our stuff up. It was going to be a long day, but nothing too bad. After an awesome breakfast, we started on the trail. We quickly caught up to Mansi and Khoshnam and hiked the rest of the trail on and off with them. There were two solid climbs going into and out of Tengboche. The day was pretty draining and I must say that I’m happy it was over.

The way back

Khoshnam, Scott, Mansi and I

Lunch

Back to Namche

Once in Namche, we ate some apple strudel and I roamed around one of the book stores. All in all, it felt really good knowing that would be reaching civilization soon and I couldn’t wait to be back in Kathmandu; hard to believe considering how disappointed I was with it when were first arrived to Nepal.

April 10th – Namche (3440 m) to Lukla (2850 m)

Happy to start our last leg before reaching Kathmandu, we prepped all of our gear for the consistent heavy rain that had been pouring all night. Lucky for us, just after we finished eating breakfast, the rain subsided and we began our hike without having to worry about being drenched.

The trip down from Namche starts with a steep hill for the better part of the first hour and my legs were definitely feeling the burn from the long two prior days. Once down, we crossed the TIMS Checkpoint and began the arduous rolling terrain to Lukla. It probably felt that way because my quads were on fire and I was ready to have the pack off my back, but it wasn’t too bad.

Peace out Namche

Back down to where vegetation can actually grow

We stopped for lunch towards the end of Monju around 11AM and shortly after Khoshnam and Mansi stopped for another break. Scott and I continued on because we didn’t have reserved flights, and seeing how the weather wasn’t looking too good, we wanted to make sure our names were high up on the list.

After arriving in Lukla, we booked our tickets and grabbed some pizza. Shortly after Khoshnam, showed up and we all chilled in a coffee shop for the rest of the afternoon. That night, we played some pool (it’s embarrassing how bad we were) and cards before calling it an early night. I was exhausted from the prior few days and ready to leave in the morning for Kathmandu.

April 11th – Stuck in Lukla 

I woke up in the middle of the night, my usual routine for the past week and a half, but this time was slightly different. The dinning hall was directly above our room. I spent the better part of an hour listening to the cat upstairs successfully hunt down mice. First there was scurrying, followed by the thud of the cat pouncing, and the soft cry for help from the mouse. I pretty sure he got three in total.

Scott and I spent the entire next day trying to get a flight out of Lukla. Our original plane was number 23 on the day of flights leaving, and as the weather deteriorated, so did our chances of making it to Kathmandu. We all relocated to the Everest Coffee Shop where we met two Swiss girls, Anya and Iris. The six of us ended up playing cards and watching movies inside the cafe all day.

By mid day we knew that there was no chance of leaving, seeing as they closed the airport. So we booked a room above the coffee shop and chilled there for the rest of the evening. As much as I wanted to leave, sitting in that booth all day was probably just what the doctor ordered.

April 12th – Lukla (2850m) to Kathmandu(1200m)

The weather had cleared up and we knew that we would probably be leaving just after noon. We spent the morning sipping on coffee and watching more movies before packing up our things and walking 5 minutes to airport. We ran into Khoshnam and spoke with her briefly before making our way to the joke that was security.

Unzipped the bag, asked if I had anything flammable and waved me through. We waited for about 30 minutes at the airport and the first plane arrived. Everyone in the airport had 1 of 4 tickets saying if they were on that respective flight. No one knew which flight the new plane was, and Scott and I lucked out when they called our number. Some people had been waiting for hours in the airport while we chilled at the coffee shop.

We quickly boarded and did a short field take-off, dropping into a giant valley between massive mountains; it was awesome. It made me reminisce about my past flying experiences and realize how much I want to finish my license.

Twenty-five minutes later we were in Kathmandu negotiating a taxi for a fair price. And since we knew what that was, it wasn’t too difficult to tell all the crooks to go screw themselves and find the honest guy. I am not a fan of haggling, but if you know the price, it sure does make a world of difference. We made our way back to Sanus House, but unluckily for us she was all booked up. She was too nice though; she fed us lunch and gave us some milk tea and coconut cookies on the house and let us use a laptop to search for another hostel closer in town.

We headed back into Thamel, found a hostel and chilled on the roof for the rest of the evening trading stories, and after the sun went down, we watched an awesome lightning storm before calling it a night.

April 13th – Kathmandu – Nepali New Year – 2069

That morning after having some difficulty acquiring breakfast due to power outages and one place running out of gas, we called the Mansi and Khoshnam and met up with them to bring in the new year. We started it off with an Indian brunch, which was awesome and then headed to Bhakdapur to see the big celebration. We took a tiny bus that was difficult enough to squeeze in, and each time it stopped I was dumbfounded as to how more people could actually get on. It got to the point where I couldn’t hold on to anything, but it didn’t matter because whenever the driver hit the brakes, it was so cramped, that I couldn’t budge from people pressing against me on all sides. Awesome experience.

I don’t remember what this was called, but it was awesome

Crazy bus

In Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur

We wondered around the city and had some jasmine tea and curd with cinnamon and nuts for a snack before heading back into Kathmandu. We then went to visit a famous stupa called Boudhanath, which overlooked the city. We saw a ton of monkeys on the way up, and poor Mansi, who is terrified of all animals, had her Sprite stolen right out of her hand by one. It was hilarious…. The stairs it took to reach the top made us all feel like we were back in the Khumbu region of Everest.

Heading up to the stupa

One similar took Mansi’ Sprite

Moving up the 5 million stairs….

Scott and I chilling

Overlooking Kathmandu

Stupa

The crew at the top

After seeing the top and spinning some prayer wheels, we headed down into the center of Kathmandu and had some momos and milk tea. That evening we went to an awesome vegetarian Israeli restaurant in Thamel called or2k before calling it a night and getting ready for the second part of our trip. Mansi and Khoshnam were awesome and I’m really glad that we got to hang out with them for a few days on our trip.

In Kathmandu

Mmmmm momos

Hanging out in Kathmandu

Khoshnam and I at Or2k

April 14th – Kathmandu (1200m) to Pokhara (820m) to Nayapul (1070m) to Birethanti (1025m)

I was hoping that waking up at 4AM would stop since we were no longer at a high elevation, but that didn’t seem to be the case. Unfortunately for Scott I was starving, with nothing but extra crunchy trail mix in the room. Shortly after waking, I woke up Scott munching on the only food I had and we began our early day to Pokhara.

It was a 6-7 hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara and I would learn after I got back that it’s infamous for wrecks and making more than one tourist lose their lunch. Luckily for us, while I wouldn’t call it smooth, we did arrive in Pokhara by that afternoon intact.

Immediately after stepping off the bus we were bombarded with taxi drivers pulling our bags and trying to drag us into their respective vehicles. Seeing as I don’t really deal well with the pulling aspect, I basically told them to screw off and I’d find my own way into town. Once we got our bearings, we found a driver who wasn’t being pushy, haggled a price and went into town. We wouldn’t be staying the night, but we couldn’t seem to convey that information to the driver who kept trying to force a hostel onto us. Finally after he dropped us off at his buddy’s place, we were able to walk back to the center of town.

Once in the heart of Pokhara, we went into a local shop for internet to look up how to get to the next town. Luckily, the owner had been leading tours for the better part of 20 years and had plenty of honest advice for us. Knowing that we didn’t want a guided tour, he set us up with a map and got us a ride to Nayapul, where we could start our trek.

Breakfast stop

Getting to Birethanti

Starting Annapurna

About an hour later the driver pulled off next to a little shack in the mountains and was like, “we’re here”. Um, okay. He gave us directions to cut through a few small pieces of land and just around the corner was the TIMS checkpoint for Annapurna. Sweet! We stopped at the first village as it was already getting dark and found a tea house.

Tea House

Hanging out before dinner

Our spirits were much higher than the past week or so in the Khumbu region and I think a lot had to do with a fresh start, oh and it was a lot warmer. Can’t wait for the next day.

April 15th – Birethanti (1025m) to Banthanti (2210m)

We had a good breakfast which overlooked the river and we both were in great spirits for the days ahead. However, towards the end of breakfast, a very strange man came up to us, mumbled something and then walked away while staring at us. It gave both Scott and I a bad feeling, and after reading about the likelihood of being mugged on this section of trail and the 3 day Maoist’s strike which shut down the majority of the country, we were both a little on edge.

Our first day of Annapurna

We packed up our stuff and heading off. The trail was already exponentially more beautiful and lush than that leading up to Everest. Quickly after exiting the village, the trail began a series of rollers and then turned steep. It began raining and after a few minutes we pulled of at a local tea house. Our mood was declining rapidly. The weather had not been good for the entire trip, and all we wanted was a reprieve.

After the rain began to lessen, we begrudgingly put on our rain gear and headed back on the trail. Not long after we decided to pull off for lunch and chill for a little while. Right after lunch the trail turned straight up hill and there was nothing but big rocks making a seemingly endless staircase.

Already lush

Stair master

All in a days work

Rainbow

We finally pulled off in Banthanti and called it a day. It was a nice place and the view was great. Scott and I both felt amazing and spirits couldn’t have been higher.

April 16 – Banthanti (2210m) 

I woke up around six in the morning feeling a little off. I had to use the bathroom, so I got up and walked out of the room to the community toilet. While inside, I started feeling dizzy and passed out. I woke up completely drenched after knocking the bucket of water over on top of myself. I stumbled back to the room and fell face first onto the bed. I rolled over and said, “Scott, something’s wrong.” His reply, “Are you sick too?” Damn….

We both spent the rest of the day in bed. I passed out one more time trying to use the bathroom, and was incredibly nauseous and dizzy all day, while Scott had terrible diarrhea. As much as we both wanted to leave that place, neither of us could go more than a couple of feet without something going wrong.

Quote of the day: “Whatever rule we missed, we broke it… it’s all bad.”

Team morale rapidly declining.

April 17th – April 19th Banthanti (2210m) to Pokhara (820m)

We spent the net few days trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with us. Some of the symptoms were similar to altitude sickness, however we were low. Super low in fact, especially compared to were we were just a week earlier. That couldn’t be it, but whatever it was it ruined the rest of our trip.

We took a few days slowly descending what took us a day to go up. By the time we got back to Pokhara we were just hoping to save a few days and maybe go rafting down the river or mountain biking. Something to make this part of the trip worth it. I was doing better, while Scott was maintaining is status. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that we weren’t any where near being healthy.

Disappointed

April 20th – April 21nd – Pokhara 

The next few days in Pokhara did not go well for me, while Scott seemed to recover a little. I woke up a few hours after going to sleep and spent the rest of the evening alternating between diarrhea and vomiting in a squatter while running a fever. In between bouts, I would just lay on the concrete sidewalk outside of the bathroom trying to cool off.

This continued for the entire next day and most of the following. Luckily, Scott was doing much better and was able to find a pharmacy who was able to help me out. After some tests, he gave me the necessary medications to remove the parasite, Entamoeba Histolytica, that I had acquired somewhere over the past few days.

The dark days in Pokhara

Pokhara

Ready to go home

April 22 – April 23rd

We hopped on the bus back to Kathmandu. I was still doing poorly, however things seemed to improve somewhat slightly. Still the idea of being on a rocky bus for the better part of 6 hours without a bathroom was a little bit terrifying.

Did I say 6 hours? Because I meant 9 if you include the accident on the mountain road which stranded us for about 2 extra hours plus traffic in Kathmandu. Luckily, no huge issues and we finally made it back to Kathmandu.

Once back we returned our sleeping bags, donated our warming layer to a non-profit who helps clothe porters who can’t afford the warmer gear, and then found the hostel that we stayed in the last time we were in Kathmandu.  The next day we had our flight back to Taiwan around 11PM. It couldn’t seem to come fast enough, and just as I was starting to recover, Scott began deteriorating.

That afternoon we went to the Pashupatinath Temple, a very important temple to both the Hindus and the Buddhists. We were both dumbfounded that such a holy temple could be so littered with filth. We walked by the river where they were burning the bodies and then made our way around the area. It was very interesting to see, but quite sad at how disgusting and poorly maintained it was.

Last day in Kathmandu

Afterwards, we found a coffee shop in Thamel to hang out in. We stayed there for the rest of the afternoon and then made our way to the airport. Scott wasn’t doing well at all. The trip back was long and full of delays and other issues, but we were both stoked to be back in Taiwan.

Overall, the trip was full of ill luck. It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did. But in the end, I am very thankful that I did the trip. I saw some amazing sights, and learned a lot about myself. I’d recommend visiting Nepal to anyone. Sometimes that’s how traveling is; it’s not perfect, but it’s those imperfections that make the experiences all worth it.

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