Category Archives: 2017 – Nepal – Trip Log

Nepal 2017!

Nepal 2074 Trip Log

This is where the 2017 trip to Nepal trip log will be.  Starting June 24th, the team will be traveling to Nepal for what we think is shaping up to be an epic adventure.  We hope to be updating this log daily so everyone back home can follow along with the team as they trek across the rural countryside, work in local schools, visit some World Heritage sites, learn to cook like a Nepali, and generally explore and experience the people and culture of Nepal.

Nepal Itinerary

Nepal Itinerary

Here is the tentative itinerary for the trip:

Day 1 – Leave Bainbridge to fly to Kathmandu via Dubai

Day 2 – continue traveling to Kathmandu (it’s a long way)

Day 3 – Arrive in Kathmandu, eat and freshen up in the hotel then off to sightseeing in Kathmandu

Day 4 – Fly to Pokhara, get our health and safety briefings, look around in the local area to get our bearings.

Days 5 and 6 – Continue the GVI orientation, visit some local landmarks, try some Nepali foods and get ready for the trek.

Days 7-10 – Trek through the countryside staying at tea houses.

Days 11-14 and 17-19 – Work at a government school getting the classrooms ready for students.

Days 15 and 16 – Take a cultural tour: learn how to make momos, visit the Peace Pagoda and Tibetan Refugee camp, cross a really long suspension bridge, and generally explore the area.

Day 20 – travel back to Kathmandu

Days 21 and 22 – Tour Kathmandu visiting World Heritage sites, local markets, etc.

Evening of Day 22 to the afternoon of Day 23 – Fly back to Seattle via Dubai (it’s just as far but we cross 12+ time zones).

Afternoon of Day 23 and Day 24 – sleep.

All of this is subject to change based on weather, road conditions, etc.  We will have a much better idea of what we are doing after we do it.  We’ll try to keep a good log of it all right here on the trip log.

BI-K Nepal 2017 Send-off!

Well, it’s officially here! The send-off for the Ambassadors and Chaperones was this afternoon. The group has boarded the plane and are settling in for a very long flight to Dubai, where they will have a 5 hour lay-over and then continue on a flight to Kathmandu in Nepal. We will continue to keep you updated of the progress of the group as it becomes available.

In the meantime, here are some images from our send-off event.

In Dubai

In Dubai

We are in Dubai waiting for the next leg to Kathmandu.  Everyone is a little out of focus due to the 14 hour flight.  (It really wasn’t all that bad.)  Next flight is Monday at about 1:00 am local time.

We went through 2.5 security checkpoints, took a 30 minute tour of the airport (inter-terminal transfer), and tried out all the restrooms along the way.

As I write this the team is checking out Bambay Chowpatty for a late snack.

Arrival in Kathmandu

Arrival in Kathmandu

After about 34 hours of travel we finally arrived in Kathmandu.  Getting to, though and around the airports was relatively uneventful.  Getting our visas was painless and all of our luggage showed up!  That makes it a very successful travel “day”.

Kathmandu is, in a word, chaotic.  People, cars, scooters, trucks, motorcycles, rickshaws, bikes, the occasional cow and other stuff competes for very limited roadway.  The roads are often unpaved and, since it is monsoon season, muddy.

Kathmandu from the Monkey temple.

We got picked up at the airport by our GVI group leaders who took us to our hotel where we had breakfast, were briefed on some essential information like water and food safety, and we got to take a shower and hang out for about an hour.  We needed 7 more.

Then we headed out to the Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath).  There we learned about the temple and the symbolism of its various features.  We spent about an hour there and then went to lunch.

There were monkeys (lots of babies).

The Temple itself.

The girls try out the prayer wheels.

After lunch the team went back to the hotel where some opted to hang out (take a nap) while others (Scott, Loretta and Faydra – one of our GVI leaders) went out exploring some of the area around the hotel.

A typical street scene around the hotel.

We were scheduled to meet in the lobby at 6 to go get some dinner but none of the Ambassadors showed up – they were all still passed out.  We were able to get them up and moving to go have dinner.  Back at the hotel by 8:00 and everyone went to bed.

Tomorrow is an early start to fly over to Pokhara.  I’ll hopefully post more tomorrow when I am not as tired and the network is better.

To browse all of my picture from this day go here.

Arrival in Pokhara

Arrival in Pokhara

Greetings from Pokhara!  This morning we got up early to catch our plane to Pokhara.  Kathmandu was crazy as ever including the road to our hotel being closed due to construction so we had to take a several block (approximate distance – there are few “blocks” near our hotel) walk to get to our ride to the airport.

The bus that took us to the airport. All the bags on top!

The airport was busy but efficient.  Within 90 minutes we were in the plane and taxing out to take off.  The flight was about 30 minutes and featured great views of the countryside and some of the Himalayas in the distance.

Pokhara airport is tiny.  Ours was the only flight arriving at the time so the luggage was essentially handed to us.  We stopped to take a photo at the main exit.

In Pokhara at last.

It had rained all night but was clearing up when we got in.  The temperature as about 90 with humidity right around the same.  It was hot and steamy.  We went straight to the hotel to get settled in our rooms and a briefing about safety and what we could expect over the next couple of days.

Then it was off to lunch.  Pizza.  GVI is trying to keep us away from exotic foods before our trek so we can stay in top shape.  Some of the local foods can cause gastric issues because we are not used to them.  So, we had pizza.  GVI is very careful about where they take us to eat.  The food supply chain, preparation, and handling is not well regulated like we have in the US so they work hard to vet where we eat.  For example, they won’t accept ice cream from a place unless they have a backup generator to keep their freezer cold during the frequent power outages. Same goes for ice.

Next we took a walk around Phewa Tal or Fewa Lake.  It is the largest lake in Nepal and is surrounded by mountains.  It is very pretty even with the saturated air making visibility limited.

Fewa Lake (Phewa Tal). Some boats are less expensive to rent.

We stopped at a place to have something to drink.  Some of the team tried some of the local drinks which was very adventurous.  The GVI leaders are very impressed with how adventurous the team has been in terms of eating local foods.  They have adjusted some to accommodate by taking us to place with a mix of local and Western foods.

Stopped to get a drink. It was hot.

The team with Brooklyn, one of our GVI leaders.

After some time back at the hotel (Loretta and I took a long nap and I suspect many of the Ambassadors did the same) we headed out for a 20 minute walk to a place called the Crazy Gecko for dinner.  It is situated right on the East bank of the lake and is a beautiful spot to hang out and eat.

Dinner at the Crazy Gecko.

The sun set as we ate.

After dinner it was back to the hotel for a quick briefing on tomorrow and reminders about drinking lots of water but only from bottles provided by GVI. Tomorrow is expected to be just as hot and humid.

To browse all of my photos from this day go here.

It Rains Here – Pokhara Day 2

It Rains Here – Pokhara Day 2

Overnight it rained and it continued into the morning.  Still, some of the girls went for a run with Faydra (the GVI group leader) before breakfast at the hotel.

Akshobya gets wet.

The front patio of the hotel was wet, too.

The forecast was for more rain in the afternoon (real monsoon type rain) so we went to Plan “C” which was to visit the International Mountain Museum which is dedicated to all of the climbers who have died on the mountains in Nepal.  Nepal has 8 of the 8000+ foot tall mountains in the world.

The entrance to the museum.

Loretta gets a group shot in front of the museum.

The museum featured lots of artifacts from early Nepal, information about all of the peaks found in Nepal, artifacts from the first assents of many of the peaks and a lot of information about what has happened on the mountains in terms of trash left behind by climbing teams over the years.  It was very interesting.

Some of the team climbed up the “mountain” outside of the museum.

It stopped raining while we were there and it actually got quite nice in the afternoon.  We went to lunch at a very local Nepali food place that served big batches of Nepali foods like fried pakodas, momos (fried and steamed), chili fries, fried noodles, and fried rice.  All very tasty.

After lunch we picked up some laundry (100 Rupees – about $1 – per 1kg) and most of the group went shopping.  Lots of things were purchased including knock-off Ray Ban sunglasses and other stuff (most a secret).

The Hotel Crown

Our home away from home for the next couple of weeks is the Hotel Crown.  It is a small place tucked behind some other buildings and off the main road. It has a nice little garden with places to sit and a small water feature with the statue of Akshobya watching over the front yard.

There are a bunch of decks to hang out on and the roof has a pretty good view of the lake.

After some down time in the hotel we went out to dinner at a place where we sit on the floor.

Dinner at OR2K.  The guy in the beard is Ollie, another GVI staffer.  He is next to Faydra in the hat.

While we were there the peak called Fishtail appeared and then in a couple of minutes it went back behind the clouds.

Fishtail from OR2K.

Everyone is doing really well.  Most people are over most of the jet lag.  To the point where I just had to tell them to go to bed (it’s 10:00).  Yesterday they voluntarily went to bed at about 8:30.

To browse all of my photos from this day go here.

Prepare to Trek!

Prepare to Trek!

Early this morning Loretta and I went out to find her a decent cup of coffee.  Most of the coffee served here is of the instant variety.  Most Nepali people don’t drink it so it is not something they might obsess over like some other cultures that we know of.  Early in the morning the main street that runs past the hotel and is the main drag for the shopping and tourist area is very quiet.  We were able to cross the street without risking our lives.

The coffee shop is a couple of blocks from the hotel and has a really amazing view of the lake, the Peace Pagoda and some mountains when the clouds allow.

The Fishtail and some other parts of the Himalayas.

 

The Peace Pagoda is the little white dome on the left side of the last photo.  We will visit that in the next couple of weeks.  We got Loretta’s coffee and went back to wait to have breakfast with the team in the hotel.

Most of today was set aside to prepare for the trek which starts tomorrow.  We had a meeting with the guide who said he had done the route we are doing 600 or so times.  The team will be carrying the things they need for the day and porters will be carrying the rest of our stuff.  We went over all the tings we would need and set some expectations about what it was going to be like.

Seems like we are always eating.

After lunch some of the team went out to buy a few last minute things that they need for the trek.  While we were out shopping a couple of cows wondered by. Cows are holy here and they get to pretty much do whatever they want.  This includes laying down in the middle of the road.  A group of four wandered by – one on the sidewalk and three in the road.

After shopping and some time for packing we went to a language and culture class. One of the phrases we learned was “pani dinuhos” which means “Give me water, please.”  It is hot and humid here.  Sweating is a constant so we try to drink a lot of water.  The water here is not suitable for us to drink so everything that we drink or use to brush our teeth, etc., comes from bottles.  We drink a lot of it, too.

The pile above is from just Loretta and me for the time we have been here (about 2 full days when this was taken).  It doesn’t include water we drank at meals, in meetings or when we are out and about.

As I said above, we will be trekking for the next four days (returning Monday) I don’t know if we will have any internet connection in the tea houses so I don’t know if we will be updating the trip log as we go.  If we go silent for a few days (or all four) you know what is going on.

Trek – Day 1 – Updated

Trek – Day 1 – Updated

[This post was updated with photos and more information.]

Our first day of trekking was very hot and humid.  Even though some on the team were feeling less than perfect due to stomach problems everyone did really well.  It was probably the most difficult hike I’ve ever done because of the heat and humidity.

We started out in a little village called Nayapul at about 9:00 am. The path was actually a road of mostly rock and dirt.  It was deceptively flat for the first 3 miles or so raising up only about 300 feet.

Lots of small villages along the route.

Lots of water, too. The monsoon is definitely here

The porters were often far ahead of us but here they are in the back.

Then came the stairs.  Ishwar, our guide, estimated that there were 3700 stairs to our destination.  He didn’t tell any of us that until the end.

The start of the stairs.

The scenery along the way was spectacular.  Everywhere there are terraced plots where the people living in these mountains practice mostly subsistence farming.  The corn was mostly ready and making way for rice.  The nightly rains were quickly flooding the paddies.  It was all quite beautiful.

The rains also produces a lot of running water along the route. In some places the road was the creek bed and in many places there were waterfalls and swollen creeks to cross.  Some even had bridges!

Across the valley we could see the villages that we would walk through the next day and the trail (and steps) that we would have to climb.  Just before arriving at our first stop – the village of Ghandruk – we ran into one of our most talked about challenges – leeches.  It was just a taste of things to come.

The place where we spent the night was quit luxurious with bathrooms in the room – complete with showers, and a dining room that looked out over the valley and the mountains (which we would not see until the next day).

The courtyard with the dining room top center behind all the glass.

In the dining room, the team (Ambassadors, porters and guides) all played cards.

Along the way I recorded our route so I have some statistics and a chart showing elevation and speed (mine).  I used a relatively slow recording rate so there is some error likely in the stats.

Here are the stats:

And a graph showing elevation and speed.  This is my speed – the Ambassadors were faster.

Click on any image to make it bigger.

To browse all of my photos from this day go here.

Trek – Day 2 – Updated

Trek – Day 2 – Updated

Day two was the second hardest hiking day of my life.  It was hot, humid and lots of steps. We had a little rain right after lunch but most of the time we were walking it was dry.  And hot.  Did I mention the steps?

Essentially, what we did was walk down one side of the valley and back up the other.  The valley is very steep-sided so the going down was really challenging (see the graph at the bottom).  The day started with some spectacular views of the mountains including Fishtail.

The team ready to start day two.

Walking down the steps to the river.

Only two people had any problems and they were Faydra our GVI team leader and me – the old guy in the group.  Faydra actually left the path headed towards the river but she only got a couple of feet and was entirely unhurt.  Ishwar, our lead guide, was pulling her up before I even realized she had gone missing.  I managed to slip on the wet rock steps (twice!) and fell onto the steps.  I suffered only some scrapes and bruises.  Nobody died.

At the bottom there is the river and a nice bridge that seemed a little out of place.

Loretta models the bridge for us.

After the bridge is it was back up hill.

Loretta models the hill for us. The rest of the team is further up the hill.

When we got to our “basic” tea house it started raining.  A lot.  Pokhara got so much rain there was some significant flooding.  It rained hard all night.

The rain was nice and cool after the hike.

Most of the team slept well that night despite the hard rain.  Loretta not so much.  First, she woke up when she thought she felt something on her ankle.  She got her flashlight and saw that she had a leech on her in her bed.  She woke me up so I could help.  It turned out that she had holes in both ankles so it seemed like there might be two leeches.  We found one and evicted it.  We then thoroughly inspected her bed and found more offending objects.

An hour or two later she went to the outhouse which was through the hard rain and was greeted by a giant frog.  Harmless but surprising.  After a trip to the outhouse a full inspection for leeches is imperative.  Nothing found so back to bed.

An hour or two later, we both woke up when we heard a very loud “meeeeow”.  One of the local cats had climbed through the window and taken up a position on Loretta’s bed.  “Scott!! The cat is in my bed!”  I held the light while she wrapped the cat into her sheet and took it outside.

About an hour later the cat was back.  This time just on the window sill but on the inside. Again, Loretta wrapped the cat up with her sheet to evict it.  She closed the window and we both tried to go back to sleep.

Here are the stats for today’s leg of the trek:

And the Elevation/Speed chart for me – the slow one:

Again, click on any image for a bigger version.

To browse all of my photos from this day go here.