From America to Nepal
To start at the very beginning, I took a 13-hour flight from Seattle to Hong Kong that kicked off this journey.
The flight wasn’t so bad, even though it started at 1am. My anxiety before jumping on the plane, that’s a whole different story.
Before lining up to have my ticket scanned and wait in queue to get on the plane, I was super scared. This plane was actually going to take me to the other side of the world, and once I walked through the doors on the plane, there wasn’t any going back. Was I sure this was what I wanted? And was I sure I wanted to do it alone?
I wasn’t sure of either of those things to be completely honest, and while everyone was lining up I actually went to find a bathroom to be alone and chill out. I was SCARED and needed a moment to myself, but I knew I couldn’t be long. I filled up my water bottle, and looked myself in the mirror and told myself out loud that it was going to be okay.
I’d gone too far to turn back now, so just like anything else I’m often scared of, I just went through to motions and got myself on the damn plane.
I nearly had the entire row to myself. AND I had a window seat. Talk about the universe aligning the stars for you when you’re anxious as fuck. But then at the very last second some dude moved up and sat in the aisle seat of the row I was sitting in. Immediately, I was annoyed. But to be honest he was probably in the back of the plane crammed in the middle seat, so I decided to be kind instead of mad at him for not allowing me my own row.
The plane ride was the same song and dance. Except this time they didn’t have cranberry juice. I settled for a soda water and eventually fell asleep. To my surprise, I didn’t watch any movies. I had the map of where we were geographically on the screen in front of me the entire time and I really enjoyed watching the time clock go down from 13-hours to touch down in China.
I’d say my next layover was the worst part of the entire travel experience. I had a nearly 14-hour layover in Hong Kong. I seriously debated going into the city, but there’s a lot of political unrest there and I decided to keep my parents sane and stay at the airport. I read a little, bought a journal and wrote a decent amount while trying to keep myself busy in a foreign airport for over half a day. I called the fam, ate some food and walked arooooound. Finally I fell asleep on some chairs for maybe a few hours?
There was more people on the flight to Nepal than I had imagined. I had a window seat again, and my only goal was to try to fall asleep on the plane. No movies this time either, but the map was up.
I got into Kathmandu around 10pm (which would be around 10:30am for you Oregonians reading this) and transferred from the plane to the terminal via bus.
This airport was so different than any one I’d ever been to (I’m a noob with international travel). It was very small, had a lingering smell of mildew and was basically one large room with a few not so spread out departments.
Inside the airport was a mix of travelers alike, and we were all trying to figure out the next steps for the visa and immigration process. As usual, I should’ve done my research before but I knew going into this trip I’d pretty much be winging it, and I’d previously looked up enough to know I could get my visa at the airport as long as I had the correct documents.
There were several white, semi-tall machines everyone seemed to be using after they filled out a small card with basic info q’s. I assumed the machines were for visas, so I nixed the little forms that seemed unnecessary and stood in line and waited my turn to use this foreign machine. Hey everyone else was doing it, right?
I met an Aussie who was traveling to Nepal to do some trekking as well. We chatted while we waited, bonding over the fact that she also pretty much had no idea what she was doing, and we both hoped we were in the right line. This gave me a bit of relief to the semi-frantic mood I was in.
Finally, I stepped up to this strange machine and input the answers to the questions it was asking me. Thing like name, address, passport number, address of where I’m staying in Nepal, etc.
The machine was moving at a snails pace, and it was then that it really dawned on me that I wasn’t in America anymore where the high speed internet is such a privilege. The machine continued to stall with every typed letter, and all the other machines next to me seemed to be working so much faster.
There was a thick line of people waiting behind me, and I began to become very anxious. Another traveler came up to the machine to help me, and she also noticed the lag, and said she would get someone to help. Eventually, while the machine attempted to take my photo, it stopped working all together. So there I was, standing in line in a foreign country, not having the best idea of what I was doing, with a line of people waiting on me to figure this out and I had no solution. When things like this happen I try really hard to remind myself that the universe already knew that this was going to happen, and I am right where I need to be. I just needed to hold on, and like everything else, this too would work itself out.
About 15 minutes of awkward standing later, a Nepalese airport employee came up and reset the machine. From there, it was a damn breeze. I had my 90-day visa slip in my hand in under two minutes. Whew. Now, I just had to pay for it.
So I stood in another line that looked like it was right, handed over some cash and voila. Just one more line to go through and I was basically home free.
My last stop was the actual immigration counter. The gentleman was very nice and said “namaste” to me, where I replied with “hola”. WOW I’ve never felt like more of an idiot in my life. But focus on the present, not the past. Right? Tbh I was pretty stoked to get my Nepal stamp on my passport, and I was good to go.
Once I got out of the airport, a man from my hostel was waiting for me with my name on a sign, I had arranged this prior to my arrival through my hostel (look guys I actually organized something ahead of time!!).
He was kind, and we drove down the streets on Nepal for the first time in my life. Although it was dark, I wasn’t scared yet. I trusted this hostel worker and that we’d get to where we were going safely. The last turn into the hostel was barricaded in between two walls, and that shook me a bit. We backed up for what felt like an entire mile, and finally he said we were here.
I checked in, and was incredibly exhausted after 36-hours of travel. I tossed and turned a little bit, but finally fell asleep around 2am.
The next day came, and I realized that the sun rises much earlier in Nepal than America, around 5am. It was bright and I couldn’t sleep anymore, so I rolled over and began journaling.
I tried to sleep longer, but it just wasn’t happening. Around 7am I got up and went to the rooftop of the hostel. One of my favorite things about Nepal is the creative rooftops. So many awesome and colorful hangout spots!
This was my first real view of the city and I was amazed! A feeling of elation finally came over me, and I felt like I was where I needed to be for the first time. Man had I been waiting for that.
The rooftop was beaming with bright colors, and had prayer flags dancing all around. There were many green plants with big, palm-like leaves, and the view overlooked the city of Kathmandu. The structures here are alive with vibrant colors; reds, oranges, teals, soft pinks and yellows.
I enjoyed a breakfast of fresh fruit, watermelon juice, potatoes, toast with jam and butter, beans and some kind of white cheese. It was just enough, and I truly felt nourished once I was finished.
Later that day I spoke with the hotel manager who gave me a map and some information on the city. He pointed out where the temples were, and other happenings around the city. He also exchanged my currency, and provided some trekking information. I was super grateful for him, and he was my first introduction to the kindness of the Nepalese people.
I was pretty scared to go out and about alone, and still rather exhausted, so I spent most of my first day hanging around the hostel, sleeping and adjusting to the time change.
⁃ Similar to countries other than America, Nepal has the steering wheel for their cars on the left side instead of the right. They also drive on the left side of the road, or really anywhere that’s convenient. They also honk their horns constantly? At first I thought it was just because they wanted you to get out of their way, but I’ve learned that even when no one is in the way it’s still pretty common.
⁃ Cows are sacred here. On my way into town from the airport I saw two cows chillin on the side of the road, asked my driver about this and that’s what he told me.
⁃ I still haven’t completely figured out the shower situation, as I’ve had one shower in four days. But I’ve learned it’s pretty common to use a bucket and pitcher for your shower water, and it’s also common to have a cold shower. Also the soap here doesn’t lather nearly like the soap in America, but that isn’t a knock because s/o to you Nepal hostels for not using sodium laureth sulfate.
⁃ Music is usually always playing somewhere. Whether it is someone playing an instrument, or a stereo bumping songs, if you’re outside there is always a melody to jam to.
⁃ I’m not the biggest fan of foreign food, so I was a little worried about that. But so far I have been the upmost impressed with Nepalese food! It’s seriously amazing, and it’s pretty easy to at least eat vegetarian here, which I try to do whenever I can!
⁃ There are so many stray dogs and it literally breaks my heart.
More later. Thanks for following along ♥️
After my first day of really just chilling at the hostel and getting used to a new time zone, I was adamant about getting out on the town the next day.
So I got up, gathered my things and got ready (aka braided my hair and put on clothes). But when the time actually came to leave the hostel, I couldn’t get myself to move.
I kept telling myself that I was going to get lost, and there was no way I’d be able to get back to the hostel. I was afraid because my language isn’t native to Nepal, and I wouldn’t be able to communicate. I didn’t have a set plan of where I wanted to go, and that freaked me out even more.
I stood up and pulled the curtains to the window in my room to the side. I saw motor bikes wipping around the corner, streets bustling with life and the birds were singing. I wanted so badly to be apart of it, but I kept telling myself I couldn’t do it.
I had a terrible time at the airport in Seattle getting on the plane, and in a way, this was a mirror of that, but this time in Kathmandu. I just didn’t feel I was capable. And so many people were telling me I was strong for going on this trip, but I felt like the epitome of weak.
I sat on my bed and just started crying. The tears kept coming, one after another , for the longest time. I didn’t even know that I could cry so freaking much. And to some degree I wasn’t sure what I was crying for. I knew I was scared to be alone, and of getting lost, but once I started, it just kept on coming.
About 20 minutes later, my friend from college, Rachel, texted me on WhatsApp (a international texting app) and asked me “how are you doing on this fine day?”
She just recently got back from spending five months in Nepal, and six months in Sri Lanka. I told her I was having a rough time, and that I felt like fear was holding me back from exploring the town.
She immediately called me. She told me that on her first day in Nepal, she went to the front desk of the hostel she was staying at, because she had to get something at a convenient store and was asking for navigational help. The receptionist drew her a map, but she was still as terrified to leave her hostel as I felt that I was.
She said she made it to the store and back to the hostel, and didn’t go anywhere else the rest of the day. The next day she ventured out a bit further, and continued to push her limits until she was comfortable. She empathized with me about being scared, and said that it was totally normal.
Being in a different country is a whole different world. People say that all the time, but you don’t actually understand the meaning until you’re in the situation. Especially if you suffer from any form of anxiety, just about anything in a foreign country can trigger you, and all the sudden you can’t think clearly, and any faith you had in yourself quickly diminishes.
Another thing Rachel said to me, was that when you’re out and about in your home country bouncing around with friends (basically what I’ve been doing the last month leading up to Nepal) life seems so easy. But it’s trip like this that really expose us to ourselves, and holy shit I couldn’t agree with her more.
More than that, I’m sure there are other things within my soul that need to be patched up. It all just came out in a flurry of tears that day.
People say when you’re breaking down to really feel it. Not look for a solution, don’t run and hide. Just sit with it. Feel the pain, realize you’re in the thick of it, and when it’s over try to let it go. So much easier said than done, but I was trying my BEST.
Alright, enough emotional shit, back to the story.
Rachel recommended I switch hostels. She had some friends in town who’s family owns a hostel, and she called them and they said they’d happily pick me up.
Before I knew it I was riding on the back of a motor bike through the streets of Nepal, on my way to the Golden Buddah Hostel.
This hostel was a bit different than the first one I stayed at, in a good way. It was family run, and I really liked that. It was also a bit tucked away from the noisy streets of Thamel, a tourist district in Kathmandu, where my first hostel was. I like the peace and quiet these days and I felt much more comfortable.
My room had a small balcony, and I loooove balconies/rooftops, anything with a view to the outside world! Even a window works.
The Golden Buddah also had really amazing roof tops. I’m telling ya, this is my favorite thing about Nepal. One of the rooftops had a lofted mattress as a seating area, with a wood table in front. The porch was lined with potted green leafy plants, and during a tour of the hostel, one of the brothers told me the plants were all potted by his dad, who has a love for gardening.
The other rooftop was a floor higher, and had a black spiral staircase. The staircase led to a lookout over the entire city. I’d never seen anything like it. Buildings stacked above one another for miles. You could see a temple in the background, that apparently everyone calls Monkey Temple because so many monkeys live there. Many of the buildings were painted in bright pastel colors, and I could see other families just hanging out on the rooftops, laundry lined out to dry. I even saw a small group of young kids dancing around to Nepalese music.
I looked around and I was in awe of my surroundings. That day I wanted to see the world, and I finally was having the opportunity to. I felt like I was catching my breath, and I was content.
I spent some time on the roof with one of the brothers talking about my upcoming trek, Three Passes Trek, in the Everest region of the Himalayas. Although he lived in Nepal, he’d never been to these mountains.
But he did have some great advice on what to bring and where to get it. He gave me advice on the permit system, how to get a SIM card (a phone card for Nepal that would work in the mountains) and I needed a micro-USB cord for my external battery that he said he knew where to get.
Moments later, he stood up and said “let’s go!” So we spent the day rummaging through town, crossing some t’s and doting some I’s before the big trip. He walked very quickly and was certain of what direction he was going in. He was a local, after all. But for someone who was just scared to leave her hostel, it was exciting to finally be out on the town and in a way feel like I knew where I was going. We spent probably 4 hours exploring the city.
One of the first places we walked through was Thamel. Thamel is definitely the most vibrant area of the city that I’ve seen. I started calling it the New York of Nepal. Although NY has tourists attractions on a much larger scale, this area is booming with tourists and locals who’re trying to appeal to them with everything you could ever need. Shopping stores are jammed in every possible nook and cranny, with walls filled to the brim of colorful products. Everywhere you turn, someone is trying to sell you something, and there are all kinds of restaurants all about.
We also walked through part of the city that wasn’t so busy. We walked past a theatre, a run down political building and across several bridges. Many of the streets were lined with pictures of China’s president, who was visiting soon. There were also pictures scattered of Nepal’s president, and several banners that read “long live Nepal’s friendship with China”.
I ended the night watching a documentary on Everest and had a home cooked meal by the mother of the family. The hostel has a menu you can order from, and everything is hand made by the mother. Rachel warned me about how good the food she made was, and that it was so delicious, Rachel calls her “Magic Hands”. I too was SO impressed with the cuisine! I had a multi-fruit lassi, which is basically a fruit smoothie (this one was made of bananas and apples) a potato “roll” and noodles with veggies. The rolls were hands down my favorite part. They’re more like a thick mini pancake of potatoes, mixed with onions and “magic” spices, and served with a rich orange-curry sauce that surprisingly wasn’t too spicy for me.
I went to bed exhausted. It was an emotional day that turned out to be quite the adventure.
The next day I was determined to navigate the streets solo, and one of my goals in Kathmandu was to do a yoga class before I head out to trek. I found a reputable studio less than a mile away, and I gathered my things and was on my way.
I had my maps app out the entire time and within about 20 minutes I’d made it! Along the way I was approached by locals several times, trying to sell me things, asking where I was going or by beggars, but I kept my eye on the prize. This may seem like a small task, but it was my first big victory in the city alone, and I was so happy about that!
I arrived to the studio at 10:35am, and saw that a class was starting at 11am. I sat at a coffee shop close by and had a blended mint-lemonade. Doesn’t that sound delicious?! I’d never even heard of the combo before in a smoothie so I was all in, and I wasn’t disappointed!
The yoga class went well. It was beginners yoga, and focused on learning poses correctly, and at the end of class piecing them all together. It lasted an hour and a half, and in a way I was hoping for something a bit more unique but I was cool with it. After class, I was on my way to visit the garden of dreams that was just a block up the road.
The Garden is peaceful and has several beautiful pieces of architecture. There is a large palace-like building that you can sit to have lunch at, and I think I saw over 50 girls take a cute Insta pose in front of a camera there. There were several different flowing water features, and even a homemade swing.
I found a shaded bench to sit on, and started reading a book I brought with me, The Alchemist.
After about an hour I left. I was on my way back home, but knew I wanted to do some window shopping. I stopped in at several stores, and found myself looking for jewelry. A opal ring I bought in Mexico on my 21st birthday has began to tarnish, and I was eager to replace it with one I’d find in Nepal. Unfortunately I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I had fun trying things on nonetheless.
I made it back to the hostel and spent the evening making sure my gear was in line for the next day, as I was planning on taking a 12-hour Jeep ride from Kathmandu to Salleri, where I’d start trekking.
The hostel let me keep a bag of things I brought but wouldn’t need with me in the mountains. What a relief, to help make my pack a bit lighter.
The night ended with two more potato rolls and another multi-fruit lassi, and I was in bed before I knew it.
⁃ To get into the Golden Buddah Hostel, you ring a doorbell and the key is attached to a long string that’s thrown down to you. It’s a way of keeping the hostel safe, but totally reminded me of that (Disney?) fairytale where the princess throws her hair down to the prince. Maybe I’m getting the storyline wrong, but you get the idea.
⁃ The largest bill in Nepal is 1000 rupees, which is equivalent to a little less than $9.
⁃ The formula from feet to meters is __ feet x 3.28 = __ meters.
⁃ A momo is a Nepalese dumpling and it tastes exactly how you think it would.
⁃ Nepal is a place where you can bargain price with store owners (if you’re a tourist, you’re definitely bait for getting ripped off)
Salleri – Ringmu – Nunthala
My day started at 3am. I set an alarm every day, but I always wake up before it, anxious for what a new day will bring.
Today, the day would bring a 13-hour Jeep ride through Nepal. I went through my gear the night before and was ready to go. Lord knows I was ready to get out of the city and into the mountains.
Around 4:30am, the hostel owner walked me up the street to where I met the Jeep driver. I never learned the driver’s name, because neither of us spoke a lick of the other’s language. But he threw my pack in the crate atop the Jeep, and we were off.
We spent about two hours picking others up before we started making any ground. I sat in the second row back (there were three) and was closest to the window. The seats were made for three people, but each row was lined with four passengers. I was the only English speaking passenger.
Eventually we hit the highway. The driver was speeding like crazy, but I didn’t really mind. I trusted that this was his job, and he’d do his thing. I also learned that honking your horn is a means of passing the car in front of you.
Also, when driving through the mountains, honking is a way of letting a car coming the opposite way, who you can’t see yet, know that you’re there. This was especially helpful for sharp corners up passes.
I brought my journal and my book in the Jeep with me, figuring I’d have plenty of time to read and journal. Boy was I wrong. I spent the entire time bouncing up and down as we’d go over rocks, through rivers and up mountains. My Apple Watch recorded that I exercised for 117 minutes that day, when really I just sat in a Jeep. High heart rate, eh?
We made two major stops. Both in remote villages. It was my first time using a hole in the ground as a toilet.
I’d like to think of myself as a pretty flexible person, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the bathrooms here. After being on the PCT for so long, I’d seriously so much rather just going outside. But it wasn’t an option, there was no where to go and people everywhere. Not to sound prissy, but it was and continues to be the most foul smelling experience of my life.
Not to mention this culture don’t use toilet paper? There is just a bucket with a small pitcher for cleaning up.. and you clean up with your hands. Safe to say I’m stoked I brought my own TP, but it’s running out and I am determined to find more.
Without trying to be too critical, I am trying to embrace the different customs of a new culture. This is the way people live, and so many of them are probably so much happier than a lot of Americans. Any way to do things is a o k. Just takes some getting used to for a noob international traveler such as myself.
Wow I tend to go on tangents, don’t I?
So we were at the villages, I went pee. And then I didn’t really know what to do, how long we were staying there. Nothin. And communicating with anyone was out of the question. So thank goodness I had my book! I sat at a table and read. I was happy doing so.
Back in the Jeep we went, and through the jungle we flew. There was a beautiful, sky blue river rushing out one of my windows, and lush, green sweeping valleys out the other. The scenery kept me busy, and I watched the hours tick by.
I was a bit nervous I wouldn’t know what stop was mine. We unloaded and loaded passengers pretty often, stopping at random towns along the way. But I knew the town I was going to was called Salleri, so I figured I’d just ask.
At about the 13-hour mark we stopped in a small mountain village. The villages are lined with really colorful lodges. The lodges are often made of white or gray brick, and have green, purple, red or blue trim. They are often two stories, and the first story usually has a restaurant, ran by Nepalese women. This is where you eat, charge your devices, hangout, meet other travelers, etc.
The rooms are small and usually have two beds. The rooms often have a window or two. The beds are smaller than a twin size, and come with blankets. Sometimes. They always come with pillows.
The showers also gross me out a bit, but they’re usually warm. Made of some kind of ceramic tile, if they were cleaner they’d probably be really beautiful. The water pressure sucks, but that’s to be expected.
When I got out of the Jeep and gathered my things, I stumbled upon some nice English speaking ladies who were on vacation together. They pointed me in the direction of Hotel Everest, where I’d spend my first night.
I checked in, and was charged 200 rupees for the night. You guys this is less than $2. You pay much more for you food than you do for a night stay, and the closer I get to the Everest Region the higher prices are and the more you’re charged for things. Lodges will charge extra for charging devices, showers, using WiFi, a towel for your shower, etc.
I had mushroom curry for dinner and a bowl of fruit. I haven’t had any meat since I’ve been here and I and l o v i n g it.
I made my way to bed rather early, as I had been up since 3am.
The next day came and it was my first day of trekking. I woke up early and had an apple pancake and masala tea (kind of like chai tea) for breakfast. I gathered my things, talked to the English ladies again and some South American travelers who’d just finished a bike tour, and was out the door.
I knew where I was going and it was a bright, brisk day. I caught my first glimpse of the snow-covered Himalayas and I stopped in my tracks. I gazed at the majestic peaks and admired my first sight of tallest mountain range in the world. The mountains were breathtaking. They looked sharp, bitterly cold, and appeared to be just dusted with a frost of snow. The way my mom dusts powder sugar atop on her chocolate crinkle cookies at Christmas.
I was reminded of why I was there when I saw those mountain peaks, and I felt like just for a second I could feel their energy. Everyone that I know who’s hiked in the Himalayas say these mountains are the most healing range they’ve ever trekked in. Wooo I’m all in for some mountain therapy.
I kept walking. It was mostly road walking for the first six miles. A few jeeps passed me, and I was in a cheery mood. I was keeping my PCT pace of 20-minute miles and I was pretty stoked about that.
I heard there was a restaurant I could stop at about 6 miles in, in a town called Ringmu. I knew I must be there when I saw a smaller village that looked a bit like Salleri.
I dropped my pack next to several others and ordered lunch. I had the fried potatoes and soup. I had no idea the portion would be so large.
There I met a girl named Heidi, 44, from
Norway. She was another solo female trekker, and we shared lunch and talked about our ups and downs of the trail so far (literally and figuratively).
I took the food I couldn’t finish to go, and Heidi and I prepared for a climb ahead.
I’d say the next four miles were my first real taste of what was to come in the next couple of days. Similar to the roads, the trails are extremely unmaintained in the first part of my trek. I compare this trek to the PCT, and I really shouldn’t, because these trails don’t have an association that looks after them. I’d like to say they’re as rugged as it gets, but I haven’t been everywhere. Yet.
There are boulders and sharp rocks lining the thick, muddy trails. The incline is steeper than I’ve climbed before and I think I actually prefer the uphill to the downhill. If you know me, you know this is a BIG deal, I am your downhill gal, but maybe not in Nepal. Poles are definitely necessary for the decline, and yup you guessed it I fell on my ass numerous times.
Anyway, we made our way up, and it was another couple miles down to Nunthala, where we’d be staying for the night.
OH I totally forgot to mention! These trails have mules coming up and down, hauling massive amounts of supplies all the time. It’s extremely common to have to pull over & wait for a heard to pass you. That being said, the trails are also filed with mule shit in every direction. So on top of dodging sharp rocks, trying not to step in mud, keeping balance on steep trails, you are also dodging animal shit constantly. Sometimes I can’t believe that I paid good money to be here!
Also, my heart literally breaks for the animals. They look tired, and I bet if they could talk I bet they wouldn’t want to be hauling supplies up remote trails. Poor things. But in a way, I contribute to this cause by being a tourist in this area. In a lot of the villages, there is no other way in and out other than on foot. So to supply the tourists with food, etc, pack animals must be used. This is the ugly truth. I don’t have a solution for this, but thought it was noteworthy.
You also see natives carrying THE BIGGEST load of supplies on their backs! I can’t even believe it. The straps of the weaved baskets they carry are actually atop their head, not attached to their back. In addition to having crazy back muscles, their necks must be strong af. The most respect for these people & the work they do. Truly unbelievable.
Ok, tangent over.
Once we got to Nunthala we saw a heard of mules just hanging out. I walked over and pet them, telling them I was happy the were done working for the day. They are so stinking sweet. I’m such a sucker for animals of any kind. Except fuck mosquitos.
There were several lodges to stay at, but we picked one called Hotel Everest (there are a lot of Hotel Everest’s in the area). It was a tidy, white, two story building with forest green trim. It had a small courtyard in front that had tables and chairs, and a garden.
The stairs walking up to the second story, where I’d be sleeping, were so steep!! I guess the people who build trails and stairs in Nepal aren’t messing around. I set up shop and chilled out for a bit after my first day of hiking.
That night, Heidi and I had dinner together with another couple who are living in Switzerland. They were very kind and shared stories of their travels all around the world. They used to live in America, but moved out of the country in 1994. They’ve been working and traveling ever since.
It’s so nice to meet people from around the world and share like stories. It reminds me that living a life of travel and adventure is possible, because so many people do it.
After dinner I read for a while and then went to bed. I had no idea what the next day would have in store for me, but geeeesh I was in for it.
That story will be on my next blog 🙂
⁃ When you order food in Nepal, plan for it to take at least and hour. This is because everything is made from scratch by family members in the kitchen. The food is quality, but I don’t think things are prepped as they are in the US. Truly homemade. This is a good thing, but makes it so easy to get hangry!
⁃ I didn’t wash my pack between the PCT and this journey and ya it definitely wreaks.
⁃ Ketchup is used as widely here as it is in the US.
⁃ The pollution here is terrible. My jeep driver threw his plastic water bottle out of the Jeep as he finished it and I think my mouth actually hit the floor. All of the rivers are extremely polluted with plastic and other debris.
Nunthala – Bupsa – Surke – Phakding
I woke pretty early at Hotel Everest. Heidi, Karen Tom and I had planned for breakfast at 6:30am and I didn’t want to be late.
I had an apple pancake, and masala tea. My regular for breakfasts so far! The apple pancakes are delicious! Similar to a standard American pancake, but a bit crispier I think. We didn’t spend too much time chatting in the morning, just ate and got ready for the day ahead.
We were planning on hiking to Bupsa, which was about 8 miles from Nunthala. Being from the PCT, where it’s common to hike 20+ mile days, I was discouraged a bit by this as I thought we should be able to make up more ground.
We figured we’d let the day go by and see how we feel.
Heidi and I started trekking around 7:30am. We started with some steep downhill, and my knee and calf muscle kept bothering me, but I pushed on. The downhill only lasted about 2 miles, and then we crossed a river via a suspension bridge.
This was the first suspension bridge I crossed in Nepal! I was really excited. I’d seen a suspension bridge on a YouTube video I saw about trekking in Nepal, and was so excited it was happening for me!
Underneath the bridge was a sweeping view of the river below. A pastel blue color, the river washed over black rocks and rushed downstream. I took a deep breath, breathing in the fresh air and felt lucky to be where I was.
After the bridge, it was basically all uphill, the rest of the day. The first part of the uphill wasn’t terrible, but we only went a mile or so before we stopped in a small village called Jubling for lunch.
We met up with Tom and Karen there, and I had my first serving of Dal Bhat. I’d heard of Dal Bhat via blogs I read about trekking in Nepal before I went. This meal is highly recommended for trekkers, as its supposed to give you heaps of energy.
Karen kept encouraging me to get it, one because you get free refills, and two because she continually recited “Dal Bhat power, 24-hour!”
So I did! And I didn’t regret it. The meal consists of some type of curry potatoes, rice, micro greens, and a lentil soup. You mix it all together. It was actually quite tasty. My fav part was the potatoes.
The meal took was longer than we had expected to break for lunch, almost two hours. By this time, the sun was beating down on us and I’d lost my hiking groove. A bad time for this, as we had the hardest climb we’d yet to do just ahead of us.
We started hiking again, and I felt okay. My energy was back a bit from my full belly, but the heat was getting to me. I was dripping buckets of sweat and there was no where to go but up, for the next several hours.
Luckily the trail was rather shaded. We pulled over several times for mules and yak’s to pass us by. I had a bad internal attitude but I was proud of myself, and I was trying to be the cheerleader for Heidi and I. If you know me, I’m sure you can see me shouting things like “we’re doing so good!” “I’m so proud of us!” over and over, trying to keep our spirits high.
Once we reached the top of the peak, I noticed a big, beautiful white thing lined with prayer flags, and several steep flights of stairs up. I’m not the best trail navigator, and because I thought there was no where to go but up, I climbed up them. Step by step this shit was steep, but I was seizing the day and making my way to the top. Every step we got closer and closer to a white building with rainbow trip. The building was lined with the largest prayer flags I’ve ever seen, and the grass was bright green.
It was the first montersary I’d seen with my own eyes.
There were a few children out front, and a couple adults. Everyone was dressed in red robes, and seemed to just be hanging out. There was a spout in front of the building, where I assumed the water cane from.
It was a breathtaking place. And it was then that I pulled up the map and realized that no, this was not the way of the trail.
Heidi followed me up the stairs anyway, and we spent some time gazing at the beautiful piece of art in front of us. She said she knew that wasn’t the way to go, but she said she wasn’t going to let me go alone. What a friend, right?
Eventually we walked down and saw another lodge where some hikers were hanging out at. We stopped there for a bit and had some tea after a long, hot climb.
I looked at the elevation map and it appeared that what was to come wouldn’t be so bad. We’d only had about 2 more miles until we’d reach Bupsa. No problem, I thought.
At this point in the day my energy really started to drain. I became a little frustrated with myself for not bringing any form of electrolytes with me, as they usually do the trick. On the PCT if I needed a boost I’d pop some ProBar Bolts or Clif Bar Bloks. I cant recommend them more! #sponsorme
We began hiking and with every step I kept telling myself, just two more miles and you’re home free.
We crossed the same river again, and from there, it was hands down, the steepest uphill journey I’ve ever climbed. The trail was about a foot wide, with a steep drop on one side, and consisted entirely of mud and rock. Every step was sketchy and the muscles in my body were aching.
My mind really got the best of me during this part of the day. I was tired, burned out from the heat of the day, and I wasn’t expecting such a harsh climb, or really any climb at all. I felt like I’d paid my dues in climbs for the day. God dammit. This one came out of nowhere and it was fucking hard.
We weren’t alone on this trail, as there were many other trekkers and Nepalese natives carrying supplies. I thought to myself, if these men can carry twice their weight on their back up this trail, you’re gonna be alright.
We stopped twice up the climb to chug water and catch our breath, and ultimately it It took me over an hour and a half to finish this climb.
We made it to the top, checked into a lodge and I laid on the bed. Put a fork in me, I was done.
I didn’t have a shower that night because I was too lazy to do anything really. I did have dinner, which was fried noodles with veggies. My energy continued to dip throughout the night and it’s safe to say I just needed a good night of sleep. That 8-mile trail kicked my ass, and I thought we’d be able to make it further. Pshhh.
The next morning was simple, woke up around 5am, breakfast at 6:30am, and hit the trail about 7/7:30ish. We had a bit more climbing to do, but my energy was totally restored and morning is often the best time for a climb.
We were stuck behind a large group of trekkers who had a guide, and like three heards of mules. My negativity was crawling back, and I could feel the energy taking over my mental game. I tried to think of the things I was thankful for and count my blessings.. I was lucky to be here I kept telling myself. This is a once in a lifetime adventure, I kept telling myself.
One thing that’s been difficult for me about this trail is the lack of solitude. I love putting my body is cruise control and busting out miles, on a well maintained trail. I sound like such white privilege. But lemme tell ya, this has brought me so much peace and happiness in my life. I hadn’t found that yet here.
On this trail, you’re constantly walking through villages filled with natives, and there are trekkers everywhere. You can’t blame the villagers, they literally live here and the other trekkers also want to see the same things you came here to see.
This is really only my second long trek and it is vastly different from my first. Learning new customs of a different trail is part of the process.
Eventually I found my way through the mules and the other trekkers and kept on keeping on.
We stopped at a village called Puiya and had lunch at Beehive Restaurant. It was a bright, sunny day and the clouds were keeping away from the mountains rather nicely.
If you want to see the snow capped Himalayas, your best chance is early in the morning. Otherwise they’re usually covered by clouds. It was a blessing that the clouds were staying away for the most part this day.
We were staying at Surke that night, which was a bit of a decline into the town. We did see a small village with baby goats on the way!!! My heart melted. They are so cute.
We stopped once more for a cup of tea as we were ahead of schedule, then climbed down into the village.
The next morning we were heading to a village called Phakding.
This was the chillest day of hiking so far and I really enjoyed myself. We trekked past several rocks that had been carved with a native writing on them. This culture has some pretty cool customs and extremely hard working people to create such art on this scale.
We stopped at a small guest house along the way. We stopped and had some tea and enjoyed the view. The woman who owned the home was the sweetest I’d met of the Nepal people. She saw that I was sitting on the ground, and came and brought me a pillow to sit on. Little acts of kindness like this warm my heart.
We actually hung out here for quite a while. The view was stellar and it was a short day of mostly flat-ish hiking, so we took our time. The bathrooms were so clean you guys! I was thrilled about this.
We met some of our friends we’d been leap frogging with on trail, Nacho and Nuri, from Barcelona. Nacho is fluent in English, and Nuri is still learning. Since I’m still learning Spanish, we practiced with each other back and forth.
Eventually we pushed on and had a chill day into Phakding.
We stayed at the same lodge as Nacho and Nuri that night, and it was probably my last night of having a room solo on the trail, as the further into the trail you get, the steeper prices get. I enjoy my solitude so I spent the night reading, writing blogs and relaxing.
We had a big climb the next day, but I was fully prepared and aware of what was to come. We were starting at about 9,000ft, heading to 11,500ft.
We were heading to Namche Baazar, which is kind of like the Mecca of the Everest Region. It’s the last “city” before you enter the remote mountain areas and villages. If you need anything, this is your last chance to stalk up.
I’d heard of Namche well before I started the hike and was eager to get there.
More on that in my next blog!
⁃ We’ve began to see several manes. A mane is a Nepal is a wishing wheel that when you spin it one full circle, is supposed to purify your soul.
⁃ I have been reading The Alchemist since I’ve been traveling, and if you’re looking for a good read, I highly recommend it. It has some crazy life lessons in it, told through the story of a young boy in pursuit of his personal legend.
⁃ The tables in Nepal restaurants are often set in a circular pattern, encouraging conversation among guests. I really like this tradition!