Apr 042012
 

It has been an experience trying to hire a guide/porter for our 21-day trek (we’re planning on doing Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Sanctuary/Base Camp.  We’ve talked to 5 total companies in doing our research and getting good points of comparison. 2 we found on Trip Advisor, 1 through our hotel, and 2 through personal contacts.  In the end the Trip Advisor companies won out; you can’t really compare with 200+ reviews and a 5 star rating.

There are different kinds of guides/porters you can hire.  Usually it’s the lowest price for a porter who speaks little to no English, mid-price of a guide/porter who can speak a little more English, and then highest is the guide who doesn’t carry your pack but is just a guide who finds tea houses for you to stay in, etc.  Between the two of us, we combined our gear to fit into one backpack, so we just needed one guide/porter.  The range we found was between $14-$30/day which covers their fee, lodging, food, and insurance.  A big range and today we found out a good reason why.

The most important thing to do is to meet your guide/porter before you commit.  We were talking to Earthbound Expeditions when one of their guide/porters happened to be there so we got to talk to him.  Right away the English was a problem and we could tell he couldn’t understand some of our questions.  Big question mark.  So we met with a potential guide/porter from Himalayan Glacier Trekking and it was much better.  You could actually have a conversation.  So always check!  Even though Himalayan Glacier Trekking was $5 more a day, we felt this was worth it and key since you’ll be spending every day for the next 3 weeks with this guy!

 

Annapurna Circuit Map

Annapurna Conservation Area Map

We leave tomorrow and will be without Internet access for the next 3 weeks.  We promise the next post will be filled with beautiful photos from our trek!  You can subscribe to my blog to get an email update when I publish the next post.

Apr 042012
 

Every city we visit, I take photos that capture the everyday magic of a place.  Even though we didn’t spend many days in Kathmandu, I got some good shots of daily life here.

All in a Day's Work

Flowers in a Cafe Doorway

Eating Momo To Go

Selling Carrots

Trinkets Galore

Sidewalk Tire Stack

Trinkets Galore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 April 4, 2012  Posted by at 3:49 pm Everyday Magic, Kathmandu, Nepal Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Apr 032012
 

Fire and Ice in Thamel was recommended to us by a couple of friends, so we decided to give it a shot tonight.  It’s an Italian place known for their pizza.  I know what you’re thinking, pizza in Nepal?! Yes, pizza in Nepal.  The food here is actually quite indistinctive, and largely influenced by its neighboring countries, India and China.  There is Tibetan food here and the most popular dish is momo, which are essentially dumplings.

So that’s how we ended up getting pizza in Nepal.  It was actually not bad!  I mean, we are kind of spoiled after NY pizza, but you know, it was good for being halfway around the world.

Kathmandu Thamel Fire and Ice Pizza

Mushroom and ham pizza - not bad!

I’ve also gotten lassi two days in a row here; it’s a yogurt type smoothie that’s delicious!

Kathmandu Thamel Fire and Ice Lassi

Enjoying my Banana Lassi

 April 3, 2012  Posted by at 5:12 pm Food, Kathmandu, Nepal Tagged with: , , , , , ,  No Responses »
Apr 032012
 

After the dust apocalypse and mosquito-feeding last night, we spent this morning looking for a new place to stay and finally settled on one that’s slightly south of Thamel, so we could get away from the craziness.

Kathmandu Hotel Ganesh Himal

Garden at our new hotel: Ganesh Himal

Thamel is one big backpacker mecca with tons of hostels, souvenir shops, and restaurants and you feel like you’re going to get run over by motorbikes or pedicabs every 5 seconds.  Backpackers all look the same, kinda like we’re all going camping, and I started wondering how shaggy me and Mike are starting the look.  Reminds me of Berkeley ha!

We walked around the city today organizing our trekking permits and checking out agencies to hire a porter/guide.  You have to get a TIMS card ($21/person) and an ACAP permit ($25/person) in order to get access to Annapurna Circuit.  Was a fairly easy process and you just have to bring 4 passport photos.

It rained a ton, so it was good that we were doing errands versus sightseeing.  it was actually nice to walk south to the permit building since we got to see more of the “real” city away from the touristy Thamel.

Kathmandu City View

Bustling Crazy Streets of Kathmandu

 

 April 3, 2012  Posted by at 5:09 pm Kathmandu, Nepal Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  1 Response »
Apr 032012
 

From Beijing, we took a short 1.5 hr flight to Seoul and then had a monster 8 hour layover.  We landed around midnight.  The Incheon Airport: we could not have asked for a better airport to have an 8 hour layover.  They have a separate “Rest & Relax” lounge with long lounge chairs and plenty of cushioned benches for you to sleep on.  Free showers and Internet.  So we cozied up on some lounge chairs and slept in the airport.  Wasn’t too bad—huge step up from those sleeper trains!

Flight from Seoul to Kathmandu was 7 hours, but it flew by since we had a good movie selection on the screens in front of our seats.  Nepal is 3 hours and 15 minutes off from Seoul, funny that there’s an additional 15 minutes difference.  I looked it up and the reason they do this is to optimize the time of day with how high the sun is in the sky.

We arrived and it was 75 degrees!  Hallelujah!  We then checked in at Bodhi Inn, booked by a friend of a friend.  Turns out though that Bodhi Inn hadn’t opened for business yet, so when we got there it was still under construction and we were the only hotel guests.  Oops.  Super dusty and cracks in the windows.  The sheets were dusty so we slept in our sleep sacks, but my face was still exposed to those mosquitoes that love me so much.  5 on the forehead!!! ACK.  I mean, anywhere is better than the face.  Plus 1 on my left arm.  I’m going to get killed, I know it.

 

 April 3, 2012  Posted by at 5:07 pm Kathmandu, Nepal Tagged with: , , , , , ,  No Responses »