Sunday, 23 December 2012

Malacca Fridge Magnets

Celia was in Malacca recently for an episode of eating and shopping which you can read here.

And as usual, the thoughtful lady bought me some lovely fridge magnets which I love so much because it's part of my peranakan heritage.

The nyonya kebaya is the costume for peranakan ladies. Eventhough I'm peranakan, I don't have one, and the accessories that were handed down by grandma  are gone when someone broke into my apartment recently. Maybe it's time to get my own kebaya, which I think will turn heads if I don't wear a chemise ;-)

Beaded slippers are another work of art by the peranakans. Again, I don't have my own pair. Maybe because it's not practical to wear. 

 Malacca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the other place where peranakans reign - Penang.

These Chinese characters mean 'everlasting'. To Celia, everlasting can represent many types of relationships like love, friendship, parenthood, etc. To me, I only want to find everlasting love.

St Simon's Island & Philadephia Fridge Magnets

Received another package in the mail from Arthur, my fridge magnet fairy :-)

 First time I'm hearing of St Simon's Island. The historic St Simon's lighthouse is synonymous with the beautiful island. 

Tomtom Dezamond was telling me about the 3 Greek words for love - Agape, Philia, Eros and Storge. Apparently Philadelphia was named after Philia love.

Charlotte is the capital city of the state of North Carolina. 

Trek to Poon Hill (Day 4) - A Super View & Back to Pokhara

Click here for Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

In my last entry, I mentioned that we stayed at Superview Lodge in Tadapani. The lodge is aptly named because of its superb views of the Annapurna region like this:

Trekkers enjoying the view over a meal.

My favourite part of my stay in Superview Lodge is our room! 

When Kapil our guide showed us our room, my mouth was gaping at the view. Kudos to Kapil for getting this room for us. Don't know how he did it as it was the high season.

My bed is the one with the pink comforter :-) In the morning, I just lie on my right side and the view is already in front of me!

That night a school in the vicinity was organising a concert to raise funds for a generator. They invited all guests from all guesthouses in Tadapani. 

Since we had nothing to do, we attended the concert where the local folk sang folk songs and danced like there was no tomorrow.

It was fun watching Siva dance his heart out!

I woke up at 6.00am the next morning to witness the glorious sunrise, all from the comfort of my bed.

The sun peaking at Machhapuchhre (Fishtail Mountain) from the horizon. I snapped this pic while sitting on the bed :-)

As the sun started rising, a few trekkers had also woken up to capture the sunrise.

I didn't have to come down in the freezing temperature to position myself amongst the other trekkers. I just continued snoozing and waited for the sun to rise, thanks to our strategically located room :-)

 Pic taken from the comfort of my bed :-)

After breakfast at around 8.45am we continued our trek back to Nayapul.

 Looks like a scene from Lord of the Rings.

After passing Ghandruk, we reached Landruk and were dead tired.

When Kapil explained that it would be a couple more hours till we reached Nayapul where a taxi is waiting to take us back to Pokhara, we formulated a plan to take public transportation.

Apparently there's a base in Kimche (near Ghandruk) that has taxis and buses heading to Nayapul. So we sent Siva our porter ahead to Kimche to enquire. The good boy managed to book an entire taxi for the 4 of us for 2,000 Nepalese Rupees. I was a happy trekker :-)

We booked a taxi from Kimche to Nayapul for 2,000 Nepalese Rupees. There were a few other groups of trekkers who attempted to take public transportation too.

While we were in the taxi back to Nayapul I was thankful we made the decision to take the taxi. Reason is because it was already 1pm by then, the sun was scorching and the paths were not shaded by trees. If we had continued on foot, I think I would have been as red as a lobster by the time I reach Nayapul. 

From Nayapul, the taxi was waiting to take us back to Pokhara. Our stomachs were growling by then but since Nayapul didn't have much eatery choices, we decided to have lunch back in Pokhara.

The driver took us to Nepali Kitchen which serves one of the best dhal bhat, according to Kapil.

It was about 4.00pm by the time the dhall bhat was served and I whacked my heart out!

The delicious meal was a delightful end to our 4 day trek to Poon Hill.

Dhall bhat served on brass cutlery is common in Nepal. And it's bloody heavy, the bass cutlery that is.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Trek to Poon Hill (Day 3) - Poon Hill Finally!

Click here for Day 1 and Day 2.

This is the day we will finally see Poon Hill!

We left See You Lodge at around 5.00am and started our trek in pitch black conditions. The trek was extremely tiring. Maybe because we were trekking in the dark, the air was thin and the weather chilly - all conditions to make the steep climb even more torturing. Along the way we stopped many times to catch our breath.

Silly me forgot to bring a torchlight which is extremely important in a hike. Thankfully Kapil our guide had an extra one. 

Soon we reached the arch that led to Poon Hill. Here we had to pay 25 Nepalese Rupee entrance fee.

This photo was taken on our way down the hill as nothing could be seen in the darkness on our way up.

The 25 Nepalese Rupee entrance fee will be used for conservation and development of the area 

After 45 minutes trekking, we reached the submit of Poon Hill.

It was still dark and the sun was barely piercing across the horizon. But the trekkers were already gathering in position to witness the breathtaking sunrise.

Soon the sun peaked over the mountains and lit up the magnificent landscape. 

If Sir Edmund Hillary had Tenzing Norgay when he climbed Mount Everest in 1953, we had Kapil and Siva (in blue) on Poon Hill :-)

Having a guide who is patient, easy going and able to crack jokes is extremely important, especially when I can get grumpy and snappy thinking of the miles to go before checkpoint. 

Kapil and Siva played songs on their mobile, danced and sang along the way that made me forget the pain of the long and sometimes torturous trek. And before I even know it, we're already there. For that, I must say that Kapil and Siva did an extremely great job!

This is the famous lookout point that you could stand and snap pics.

After cam whoring and clicking our cameras non stop, it was time to descend back to See You Lodge in Gorephani.

Back at See You Lodge, we had a hearty breakfast of pretty much the same thing:

 Fried eggs, Tibetan bread and potatoes.

Because the trek up Poon Hill was torturous, and also because I was greedy, we ordered apple pie for breakfast.

 Looks good, but it's not. I found it lacking sweetness, probably because I have a sweet tooth. Kapil and Siva had to help finish it for me.

After that hearty breakfast, we hit the trek again, but this time we were descending back to Nayapul on a different path.

Within 5 hours we reached Tadapani where we put up the night in Super View Lodge.

In my next post I'll tell you why it's called Super View Lodge.

Next post: Trek to Poon Hill (Day 4) - A Super View & Back to Pokhara

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Trek to Poon Hill (Day 2) - Tikhedhunga - Ulleri - Ghorepani

Click here for Trek to Poon Hill (Day 1): Pokhara to Tikhedhunga

Day 2 began early with a delicious breakfast set:

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially before a tough climb! The odd shape bread is Tibetan bread which I like!

The first part of the trek was a steep climb up a never ending flight of stone steps. I nearly died in the 2 hours of steep climb.

Along the way we met many herds of goats that were walking to Pokhara to be sold and slaughtered for the Dashain festival. I've never seen so many goats on one trek and we had to make way for them whenever we bumped into them along the trek. Unity is strength :-)

The white goat in the front looks as if though it's smiling for Angie's camera.

This herd of goats got stuck in this spot and their shepherd was trying to get them back onto the right path.

Some shepherds paint their goats in bright colours to identify who the goat belongs to, or which herd it comes from.

Whenever it was time to move aside for the goats to pass, we took the opportunity to rest our legs.

After 2 hours of steep climb, we reached Ulleri:

This guy whose arse I snapped had a problem with this leg, yet he had the energy to climb the rocky hills of the Annapurna region. Admirable indeed!

Lunch time was my favourite part of the trek, for obvious reasons :-) We had lunch in this cosy restaurant:

After lunch we continued our trek and after 4 hours we reached Ghorepani, which is the base for climbing to the peak of Poon Hill: 

Arch to welcome tired hikers to Ghorepani.

I think blue must have been the official colour of Ghorepani as all the houses and guesthouses are painted blue. 

We stayed at Hotel See You Lodge & Restaurant which is also painted in a nice shade of blue.

It was freezing in Ghorepani, especially at night. We huddled by the fireplace in the dining area and chatted with Sit and On from Thailand who is one of the loveliest couples I've met.

Unlike Laxmi Lodge & Restaurant where we stayed the night before, Hotel See You Lodge & Restaurant had hot water and a good hot shower at the end of a tiring day felt really good. 

Unfortunately there was a leak in the pipes and they had to cut off the hot water supply later in the evening. The next morning before climbing to Poon Hill, we didn't shower because the water was freezing. But we were not bothered because we were going to sweat like pigs anyway :-)

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Trek to Poon Hill (Day 1): Pokhara to Tikhedhunga

We left Hotel Himalayan Inn in Pokhara at 9.00am and headed to Nayapul, which is about 1.5 hours away by car.

Rooms at Hotel Himalayan Inn were clean and comfortable. Each room has ensuite bathroom with hot water.

Along the way to Nayapul, I was excited to see the Annapurna Range that loomed in the distance:

The peak sticking out on the right is called Machhapuchhre (6,998m) or Fish Tail mountain. It's a sacred mountain and not open to trekkers. You will see more beautiful pics of it in my next posts.

Upon arrival at Nayapul (1,070m), we immediately began our trek.   

I was excited and worried at the same time - excited to see what lies ahead and worried I may not make it to the top of Poon Hill, despite training on Bukit Gasing.

The trek began by passing muddy roads lined with little houses and shops.

Soon we passed the Birethani checkpoint where Kapil our guide produced our trekking permits to the officer there. 

All trekkers need to be get a permit to trek in the main regions in Nepal. Your hostel or guesthouse would be able to help you apply for it. 

 Costs 2,000 Nepalese Rupee to apply for a trekking permit. Apparently the permit to climb Mount Everest is a whopping USD 15,000 for 10 people!

We continued our journey, and along the way we saw valleys like this:

... and rushing rivers like this:

Soon the weather became so hot that we stopped at one of the streams to soak our face towel and cover our faces with it. The cool mountain water was refreshing indeed!

At approximately 12.30pm, we stopped for lunch at this teahouse in Sudame:

This was my lunch:

A simple lunch of instant noodles and fried egg. Some of you may say, "What?! No rice? Especially after all that trek?" :-)

As we were eating, we saw a herd of mountain goats approaching:

These goats were on their way to Pokhara to be sold for the upcoming Dashain festival. Apparently the goats could fetch about 18,000 Nepalese Rupee each. 

I rushed out to see the herd and couldn't help it but inched my way to the middle to see whether any goat would bump into me :-)

 View from my camera as I stood in the middle of the herd. For the record, no goat bumped into me :-) But little did I know that these goats would be the highlight of our trek the next day.

Soon we reached Tikhedhunga Hile (1,500m) and put up the night at Laxmi Lodge & Restaurant.

This was our room in Laxmi Lodge. It was so small we had to be careful not to bump into each other.

 Don't expect luxurious rooms and amenities when trekking in Nepal. 

Laxmi Lodge had only one bathroom with no hot water and no lights. So we had to take turns to shower in the freezing water and in the daytime. It's not a wonder some trekkers and guide choose not to shower at all!

Since it was only 4.00pm and too early for bed, Kapil and Siva our porter brought us to a river nearby to soak our tired feet in the freezing waters.

Kapil trying to outdo Angie's smaller pile of rocks. 

When we arrived back at Laxmi Lodge, one of the girls rushed out to inform that one of the cows had just given birth.

We went to the stable to see this wonder of nature and I managed to snap a photo of the newborn calf:

 Welcome to the world, little calf. I know you're shy, that's why you're hiding behind mummy who is being protective of you. 

After all that trekking, playing in the river and witnessing the birth of a calf (well, technically we were not there when the little fella came into the world), it was time to retire for the day.

Next Post - Trek to Poon Hill (Day 2): Tikhedhunga - Ulleri - Ghorepani

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