ABC trekking during spring ( March to May)
Trekking from Ulleri to Ghorepani wasn’t as easy as how we expected, and wasn’t like Nayapul to Ulleri trekking, the pain began intensifying when the altitude increased . Initially, our literature showed visiting ABC during spring ( March to May) is the second best choice after October to November season. But sadly the weather pushed us to wear a poncho all the way until we reached Ghorepani. Most of the time the weather was drizzly and foggy. The continuous rain and cloudy weather also blocked the breathtaking mountain views we wished to see. So far, the journey wasn’t pleasant. The excitement started to fade from our faces.
We reached Ghorepani late evening, one of the biggest village in the Annapurna region, a long day trekking from Ulleri. The 2760m elevation from sea level had already triggered some altitude sickness fear among us, but at this stage we haven’t started to take Acetozolamide yet. The night was too cold and we hoped the sky to be clear as we planned to hike to Poon Hill the following morning. As we got up at 4.30 am, Rajan was unwell. He vomited more, found to be very weak and gloomy. Despite the poor health condition, Rajan was determined to reach Poon Hill with us without any problem.
Time to Check Oxygen level and heart rate
Time to time we didn’t miss to check our oxygen level and heart rate when we reached new elevation. We knew the complication of altitude sickness very well. The oxygen level of the whole team was on a average of 97% and the heart rate at 100 bpm. Since Rajan is an experienced paramedic, we had no issue on getting a definite diagnosis for symptoms we facing time to time. Additionally, Ganesan is an experienced Pharmaceutical staff, he advised us what medication we should take.
The best part about the Poon Hill was the panoramic view, even the entire Annapurna region were not to sight but the view of Machapuchare mountain was very prominent. Luckily the weather was better than previous days. Looking at the mountains under the azure tainted skies really gave me an impeccable amount of hope. Hope that we will reach our destination under any circumstances. I cannot stress how sophisticated the panoramic view was. You will only know the true beauty of it not by looking at photos but embracing it face to face. This place is a painters’ dream or paradise
Nature was our everything a this point
The snow caped mountains looked like a meticulously crafted dessert with powdered sugar on top. The cotton candy-like clouds covered it.(sorry if i made you hungry);). The sky was our friends, the moon our guide at night and the clouds were our roof. We were completely surrounded by nature. Nature was our everything a this point. On the dirt covered land, lies leafless bushes and dried leaves. flowers bloomed adding contrast and life to just a plain plot of land. The view was so spectacular. Although we were only halfway though our expedition, the view kept us motivated and kept me in euphoria. The sunrise made beautiful silhouettes of everyone. The beauty of the expedition even though were were only halfway though it gave me an indisputable amount of joy and satisfaction
The Rhododendron flower, national flower of Nepal bloomed elegantly and captured the eyes for a long period of time. This saturated red color flower only can be seen during spring, March to May every year, especially at high altitude area like Annapurna Region.
In a nutshell, staying in Ghorepani an extra night is a good idea. We were really tired and we reached Tadapani late in the evening which is risky. Ghorepani to Tadapani is one of the longest trail in this expedition. When the journey incorporated with Poon Hill trekking, it turned to be the toughest and painful trekking. Additionally, the altitude sickness symptoms started to appear among some trekkers. To be frank, the journey to the Tadapani on the same day hiking Poon Hill should have been avoided. However, we managed to reach Tadapani around 7.30pm with sluggish steps and exhausted faces.
Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trekking
Trekking in Nepal, especially the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) was completely a new adventure for us, in fact I will say the attempt was a little premature for us, because none of us has reached more than 1000m except Nuben who have reached Mount Fuji (3776m) and Ganesan, Gunung Tahan (2,187m). Most of us were travelers but not experienced trekkers. However, I had a promising instinct to reach ABC without any issue but little fear kept surrounding my mind, especially the 4130m altitude sickness.
Our preparation wasn’t much on trails but most of the time watching Youtube videos and discussing through a whatsapp group. We managed to get most of our gears from Decathlon and Sports Direct. But, we focused more on getting durable and quality shoes here before reaching Nepal, so most of our shoes were purchased from Columbia store in Pavillion, KL.
Pristine Nepal Treks and Expedition
Our initial plan was trekking Annapurna independently. But after more literature, we decided to hire porters and guides. Luckily, we ended up with Pristine Nepal, a trekking agency which is well grounded in the Himalayan region. The reason for us to have confidence with Chin Tapa, wasn’t because of his reasonable price but because of his personal experience on trek. He started his career as porter at the age of 19 for 3 years. His life wasn’t easy until he upgraded himself to a guide. He worked as guide for 12 years and subsequently he obtained his Bachelor Degree in Humanities from a reputable university in Nepal. Chin Tapa established Pristine Nepal Treks and Expedition http://www.pristinenepal.com/company in 2017 and now he is one the busiest trekking operator in Nepal. The best part about Chin Tapa is, he only charges for what he says (no hidden charges), very reliable, caring and a very responsible trekking operator.
Nayapul to Brenthati
On 2nd April, 2018 we easily reached Nayapul – our trekking starting point at 5pm from Pokhara by van, The journey from Pokhara to Nayapul took about 2 hours. Nayapul is a little town/village where more drastic construction and development was seen. Our first day of trekking was only for approximately 1.5 hours and more on dusty roads. It was a pretty easy trek full of beautiful village scenes. We reached Brenthati, a village around 7 pm and spent a night there. Accommodation and food was sold for very reasonable price. A Single room only cost around 300 Nepal Rupees, around 4USD
Birethanti to Ulleri (1,960m)
Trekking the second day to Ulleri was significantly tough and tiring even though the trails just passing by some villages. The continuous staircases for 6 to 7 hours trekking approximately 12 km in distance was a really rough testing ground for our stamina and fitness. More ascending treks compared to descending. My knee and back never hurt this much before.
Next post will covering trekking from Ulleri to Phoon Hill which covers mind blowing landscapes especially the colorful Rodendrum flowers . Stay tuned. Thanks
Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong
The journey from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong was simply amazing. The rotating fan in the bus, manual ticketing, bumpy road, frequent stops to pick and drop, cramped goods, free natural air to ‘massage my face’and weird/surprised look from locals made the journey more meaningful and joyful. The journey really brought my younger age moments back to life. The frequent way I travel from downtown Rantau to Linsum Estate which I had lived 30 years back.
Interestingly the one travelling with me was a French gentleman, Julien. He sounded like a very passionate travel photographer and he astounded me with the breathtaking pictures that he had taken. He also guided me on many advance photographing techniques. Thank you Julien (picture below) . Additionally, there were two other travelers from Germany, Benjamin and his friend.
To Houay Xai (border town in Laos)
Foreigners are not allowed to cross to Houay Xai (border town at Laos) through the Mekong River. They will have to cross through the Friendship Bridge. Therefore, four of us were dropped by the bus driver at a junction to Friendship Bridge before reaching Chiang Khong town. The Only Choice available to reach Laos Immigration from there was by Tuk Tuk (100BAHT/5 minutes). Once I exited from Thailand immigration, there was a bus waiting to bring us to Laos Immigration (50BAHT/ 5 minutes).
Laos is very ‘rich’ in many ways even economically not boosted. The hospitality expressed by the immigration officer with her greetings and welcoming face really impressed me first of all, which hardly can be seen in any other country. What media and news portray about a country could be based on very poorly justified facts. So, I always prefer to keep the facts to be inconclusive until experience it first.
The journey to Luang Prabang via Mekong river (down stream) took two days. The boat was cramped with travelers from around the globe and also with local people. The boat seats were customized by using recycled van seats and it was not comfortable at all as the pain can clearly been seen on many faces after a couple of hours of the journey. Most of the helpers in the boat were children and teenagers.
The back side of the boat has been ‘designated and declared’ unofficially for smokers. So, the space was fully booked all the time by some travelers to smoke and drink. Some permanently stayed there until the end of the journey. Due to some safety reasons, slow boats were not allowed to sail at night. Therefore, the boat departed from Houay Xai at 9am and anchored for a night stay at a small town called Pakbeng.
Even though Pakbeng is a very passive village, BUT …………….( some random dramatic horror music playing from some random house up on that hill)
TO BE CONTINUED! thun…thun…..thun! ( again some random dramatic and tense music from a random and tense horror movie)