I Heart Nepal

22 May

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May 1, 2012

Kathmandu

As the plane descended from above the clouds to below we were treated with our first glimpse of the snow dusted Himalayas. After India we were really looking forward to the peaceful calm and fresh air we expected to find in Nepal.

From the moment we disembarked from the plane onto the runway at the Kathmandu International Airport I was in love with the Nepali people. Every last person we encountered was incredibly helpful and displayed the biggest, most genuine smile you’ve ever seen. We easily found a taxi driver that would take us to our hotel for a fair price and he chatted our ears off the whole way, telling us all about the trekking in Nepal in his excited yet broken English. (Hey, his English is far better than my Nepali!)

We arrived at Hotel Ganesh Himal, just outside the main pre-trekking tourist hub, the neighbourhood of Thamel, and were captivated immediately by the vibrant and well-kept potted flowers out front and green leafy tranquility of the outdoor garden that was outfitted with the soothing sound of a running fountain, a hammock and several tables and chairs. We were greeted by the very friendly and welcoming hotel staff and brought a welcome drink of masala tea as we waited for our room to be ready. As we waited trekkers were returning from weeks spent on the trails tiredly and excitedly recounting their adventures. I tried to appear as though I wasn’t eavesdropping by thumbing through a well-used coffee table book about Everest, but their chatter made me all the more anxious to hit the road and begin our next adventure.

The day was a blur, spent visiting a tourist office to find out about guide and porter options for the recommended 20-day trek along the Annapurna Circuit. It would be an expensive way to go, adding roughly $400 CDN to the budget so we abandoned the notion of having both a guide and porter with us and opted to instead purchase a map and carry all of our belongings ourselves.

Next we ran across town, stopping briefly at a number of banks until we found one that would actually dispense cash, and then to the tourist office to obtain the necessary permit we’d need in order to trek the Annapurna Circuit: a TIMS card (TIMS = Trekkers Information Management System) and pay our entry fee for the trails.

Our last couple of stops included walking through Thamel which is street after street of North Fake (like North Face but not) stores selling trekking equipment and apparel, book and map stores and the usual local souvenir shops. There I ended up renting a sleeping bag for me as I’m always cold and it was forecast to be between -5 and -10 degrees Celsius near the summit, and purchasing a pair of fleece-lined wool booties for me to wear post-trekking each day. (Both turned out to be excellent investments.)

Our final order of business was to meet with the gentleman from our hotel that manned the Information desk to book our transportation for the following morning from Kathmandu to Besi Sahara, where we’d start our trek. We ended up with a driver that would take us to Dumre and from there we were to catch the local bus to complete the final 3 hours of our journey.

Exhausted from having slept in the Delhi airport the night before and having spent the whole day getting our trek in order, we packed for the trek, ordered room service for dinner and fell into bed at an uncharacteristically early hour, knowing we’d be up and at ‘em first thing the following morning.

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