Nepal has been a place I dreamed of for more than a decade and now that I am living in Asia I managed to organize a trip and visit this amazing country. I have spent there only 9 days but definitely not enough to see many places, so I have decided to visit Kathmandu for 2 days and the rest to do a portion of the Annapurna circuit trek.
Kathmandu is dusty, dirty, noisy but bursting with colors and life. I fell in love immediately with the vibe of the city and its people. This was a love at first sight, Kathmandu is a city that you either love or hate. It is bold, loud and full of visual contrasts.; Kathmandu is intense, there is no doubt, the traffic is crazy, the dust from the streets will cover your skin and clothes, a constant noise from cars and motorbikes…but the genuine love and kindness of its people it is what make this city so special!
The whole trip has been a constant contrast, from the buzzing streets of Kathmandu to isolated places in the mountains near Annapurna.
This is a short summary of each day of my trip including the days I have spent trekking.
Arrived in Kathmandu in the evening. Malaysia Airlines (again) changed the time of my flight; well they kept changing the flight time each week for the past 6 months ending up wasting an afternoon as my flight was postponed. Kathmandu airport was a bit chaotic and not so organised with long queues nearly everywhere: queues to get a form to fill in for your VISA, a queue to pay for the visa, a queue to get your visa stamped, a queue to collect your luggage (luckily I had only carry on luggage), a Queue to exit the airport and finally a queue to get a taxi.
I stayed at the Shankers hotel in Kathmandu for one night, a nice treat before sleeping rough in the mountains. The hotel was fairly cheap (40 USD) and it is from a walking distance to Thamel.
I have spent most of the day in Kathmandu, getting trekking permit in the morning and exploring the city in the afternoon. Trekking permit is very easy to obtain at the tourist office in Kathmandu at a cost of nearly 10USD. Kathmandu was a real surprise, the scars of the earthquake are still visible but the city is still bursting with life. I took a night bus to Pokhara (11USD), it was a tourist bus with fully reclining seats (Similar to the ones I hate taken in Latin America)...although the bus was very comfortable the roads in Nepal are terrible so impossible to get any sort of sleep.
I arrived in Pokhara around 5 AM and I went straight to the mountain with the guide that I have organized through the hotel I stayed in Kathmandu (Guide's contacts at the end of the blog post). We started the trek from Naypul and to get there we took a public bus (2USD).
Before starting the trek you have to go through a checkpoint where an official will check your trekking permits. For the first day, we had a short trek of only 5 hours and we reached Tikhe Dhunga where we spent the night in a tea house. Tea houses are very cheap for spending the night and for meals. The first challenge of the trek was the toilet 😨...mostly public squat toilets! yes 😨.
- Single bedroom 2 USD
- Chicken noodles 5 USD
- Cup of coffee 0.9 USD
- Bread and Honey (Breakfast) 3 USD
This was a full day trek. it was supposed to be a 6-hour trek but we completed within 5 hours and we reached Ghorepani which is the closest village to Poon Hill. The trek was mostly uphill but I was rewarded with a warm shower (at an extra cost of 1.5 Dollars) once I reached the tea house where I was spending the night. They also had Wi-FI ( at an extra cost of 1 USD), stupidly I decided to try it...forget it if you try to upload a picture on Instagram or try to send an email; it took me at least 10 minutes to send a message containing an emoji!!!
- Double bedroom single use 3 USD
- Cup of Coffee 1.1 USD
- Shower 1.5 USD
- WiFi 1 USD
- Mixed Fried Rice 4.5 USD
- Purified water refill 1 USD per liter
To see the sunrise at Poon Hill I had to wake up at 4 AM (this is not good already!) and I still had 1 hour up hill before reaching this place everyone is raving about. Of course, this was the biggest disappointment of the whole trek. 100s of tourist squeezed together to see a sunrise, some people called it magical, I called it underwhelming. I strongly suggest to avoid Poon Hill, the view you see further down the trek are seriously magical and breathtaking.
After breakfast, we started another long day trek (about 8 hours) to Ghandruk. The villages and the views on this stretch of the trek were absolutely stunning and worth the strenuous trek. In Ghandruk I stayed for the night in another tea house with an amazing window view of the mountains ( way way way better than Poon Hill). As the day started super early I was already in bed at 8 PM.
- Red Bull can 3 USD (the higher you go the more expensive things get)
- Chicken curry rice 6 USD (with bonus amazing view of the mountains)
- Cup of hot tea 0.6 USD
- Room 4 USD (Including shower)
- Mixed fried rice for dinner 6 USD
Another super long day trekking to Pothana. At this moment It was more painful to trek down hill compared to going up; I then realized, after speaking with a couple of other trekkers, I was trekking nearly double what we would have done normally (apparently my guide wanted to show me more places!). This was another gorgeous day with blue sky, no clouds and lovely villages where I met many locals. As it was a weekend of celebrations because of Diwali, the villages were all festive. I spent the night in the village of Pothana. The tea house was another good choice form my guide and the view of the mountain was absolutely gorgeous. My room was the only room to have weird paintings of some religious figures like snakes above the door. In the evening different groups of kids came in the street to play music and dance to celebrate; this was super nice except for the group that decided to come at midnight in front of my door with loud speakers -_-
- Nepalese dumplings Momo 4 USD
- Lemon hot tea 0.6 USD
- Bottled water 1 USD
- Chocolate bar (Mars) 1.6 USD
- Accommodation 4 USD
This was my last day trekking so we kept it as a short trek of only 3 hours (YAY!) We passed by the Australian camp to then reach our final stop to get the public bus back to Pokhara. My guide (his name is Lalu) has been super nice during the whole trip, I couldn't have asked for a better one, suggesting more things to do on the trek while still giving me space to be on my own.
We went back to Pokhara and Lalu took me to his place where he cooked me a meal. The kindness of the people I meet during my travels always amazes me. People with so little, not only are way happier than we are but also they are always offering of sharing the little they have. I have spent the afternoon around Pokhara and then Lalu managed also to get me a seat on a night public bus to get back to Kathmandu ( this experience will deserve a blog on its own).
The night bus arrived in Kathmandu around 5 AM so I went straight to my hotel to get the sleep I didn't manage to have during the journey. Kathmandu was beautiful, all illuminated with fairy lights for the Diwali festival, again another surprise from this incredible place. I stayed mostly around Thamel before catching a taxi at 11 PM to go to the airport and fly back home to Singapore.
"A Journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step"
Thank you Nepal for being so good to me!
If you need to contact Lalu (the trekking guide I have used):
- Whatsapp: +977 9816141646