The Hike In The Himalayas Part 3

Phedi: We got a taxi from Pokhara to the starting point of our ABC Trek ( Annapurna base camp). It cost around RS1300 for a half hour taxi ride organised by our guesthouse. I think we got slighty ripped off so look around and find a local taxi driver.

So I dont know if it was the heat, the dog barking, the lady trying to sell us stuff, the potential dangers of the hike, or the insane amount of steps we could see ahead of us, but Daisy had a slight breakdown/ panic attack. Thank God my Mum packed me some Rescue Remedy (a herbal remedy to settle nerves).

Remember when I told you about getting a Lifestraw, this is the kind of place you’ll need it. With the heat and the lack of places to purchase drinks, this bottle will come in handy straight away, particularly as there are plenty of streams, waterfalls, and local taps to fill up.

lifestraw beside a contaminated water tap
Lifestraw

In my opinion this was one of the hardest days (Daisy will back me up with this). If you haven’t done a multi day hike before, don’t let the first day put you off, it does get slightly easier (notice the slightly). And if you’re not on as tight a budget as us, you can get a Porter (someone who carries your stuff) and a guide. If you are cheap like us, the route is really easy to follow and you will see so many guides, porters, and local people along the way who will point you in the right direction.

a water buffalo we saw on the way having a cheeky little bath.
A water buffalo we saw on the way having a cheeky little bath.

After 8 hours of walking, we finally arrived in Tolka. Daisy wanted to find a guesthouse that was reccomended by Lonely Planet, a wrong turn left took us downhill 250 metres to what I could only describe as a building site. After huffing and puffing and a little argument on whose fault it was (Daisy’s by the way), we finally found the route and an hour later we arrived at Sunny’s Guesthouse. Thank FUCK they had a room for us. Looking back on the pictures though, the view of the mountains was kind of worth the stress of it all.

a picture of the restaurant at out guesthouse with a beautiful view behind.
Sunny guest house

The accommodation was only RS250 for the night; food was slightly more but they had a good menu . I had the veggie curry and while we was waiting we met a really nice couple who had done the Annapurna Panorama Trek. They also had the Lonely Planet guide and told us they thought the timing of the hikes were unrealistic. With that good news and my veggie curry eaten, I was ready for bed .

a view of the himalayas from our guest house in the morning
The view from our guesthouse in the morning.

Phedi to Sunny Guesthouse Tolka= 12 km distance with an incline and decline of 1010 Meters.

Tolka to Jhinu:

This hike was alot easier than the first day and on the plus side we made a friend along the way. His name was Toba (don’t ask me why, just thought it matched him very well). Toba seemed to know exactly where he was going so even though it seemed strange to follow a dog, at the end of the day it is his area and he knows it more than us. After a few kms Toba turned back and we was left to guide ourselves. He either thought that we were on the right track or it’s because we didn’t feed him. There is a reason why we didn’t feed him. We got told by a lovely couple in our guesthouse in Pokhara not to feed the dogs otherwise they bark and bite. How true this is we will never know because we didn’t feed them.

After three and a half hours (maybe more) and a few terrifying bridges, we arrived at Jinhu Guesthouse. The accommodation was slightly better than the last but still only 2mm thick plywood between you and the snoring person next to you. After a little relaxing time, just to ease the muscles, we decided to go to the hot springs. Bare in mind we had just done a hike to get to this village, we now had to do a hike to get to the hot springs. The sign post may say 15 minutes, I mean it may be if you run it, but it’s not. So after a long walk downhill and knowing we had to hike back up, we tried to relax in this over crowded manmade hot spring. It was OK (the stunning views along the white water river were incredible). The best part was sitting under the natural shower and actually recieving hot water for a change. For dinner I had not one but two portions of Dal Bhat, it was either the best Dal Bhat I’ve tasted or I was that hungry it just tasted so good. A full stomach and I’m ready for bed.

dal bhat, rice , papadam, bitter spinach, dhal soup, cabbage, and a side of banana
The best dal bhat.
a birds eye view of our guesthouse with the mountains in the background
Birds eye view of our guesthouse.

Tolka to Jhinu = 8.5km distance with an incline and decline of 358 meters.

Jhinu to Chomrong:

Ok guys no judgement here this was a very very quick hike so I’m going to say this was more of a stroll. Only 2km but at this stage Daisy’s toes had started going black and started blistering under the nail so we took a very short hike so she could rest up at the next destination (there were still hundrerds of steps uphill so it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park). Excellent View Top Lodge & Restaurant had the best room views we have had on this trip by far. You could see the Fishtail clear as day. We opted for a room without a shower as it was double the price to have a shower. The room was clean , solid brick walls, and a balcony with a stunning view.

an incredible view from our guesthouse
Guest house with a view

We went down for a dinner but what we didn’t realise was the wait for dinner was going to be over an hour and a half late because the guides had already pre-booked for their customers.

The lesson? Make sure to pre-order dinner at your guesthouse as soon as you arrive.

Once you’re at Chomrong make sure to ask the guesthouse to ring the town that you are planning on hiking to the next day and booking the accommodation. Beyond Chomrong, accommodation to ABC is extremly limited and we met people who slept in barns with the farm animals, so be prepared and BOOK AHEAD.

Jhinu to Chomrong= 2km distance with an incline and decline of 534 meters.

Chomrong to Bamboo:

We left early for this trek as the night before I was told that if you don’t arrive at the guesthouse by 2pm they will give your booking away to someone else (like I said the accommodation game from here on gets quite competetive in peak seasons). A way around it is if you stop at a town for lunch get them to call ahead and let them know you are on your way.

This trek was hard, I’m not going to lie.

A sudden steep incline was the killer part. Just bite your lip and do it. Don’t stop because that shit doesn’t get any easier until you are in bed.

It was lucky we booked ahead in Bamboo as every guesthouse was completely booked up. I weren’t entirely sure what had happened but a Chinese group with a guide and porters didn’t have accommodation and the only thing they could do was sleep in the dining room once everyone had eaten. We tried booking our accommodation for the next destination in Deorali but it was completely full. It was either stay here for another night or head down . We decided to head down and go back to Pokhara.

I know it sucks having to do this but imagine staying that extra night and still being told there was no accommodation . During dinner we met two really cool people, both working for one of my new favouite brands Salomon. On their trip they had been filming a famous Nepali athlete running an insane marathon. After a long chat and a full stomach, it was time to hit the sack.

Chomrong to Bamboo= 7.5km distance with an incline and decline of 651meters.

Bamboo to Chomrong:

Not much interesting to say really. The same hard trek back, slightly dissapointed with the fact we didn’t complete it. I guess there’s always next time.

Chomrong to Bamboo= 7.5km distance with an incline and decline of 651 meters.

Chomrong to Ghandruk:

This was a really nice hike passing alot of scenic places, bridges, waterfalls, and animals. Mules insanley running past with their bells bellowing us to move out the way, cows obstructing the path, yaks taking a bath, and dogs guiding us again.

After around five hours, we had arrived at the Trekkers Inn, Ghandruk. We decided to get a room with a shower and I got it down from 1000 to 800RS. It generally felt like a five star hotel with stunning views, hot showers, and a central location.

Ghandruk is a large Himalayan village with a few (very small) musuems about the Gurung people. We thought we would spend two nights here to avoid going back to the real world and it was definately worth it.

Chomrong to Ghandruk: 8.2km distance with an incline and decline of 706Meters.

Ghandruk to Pokhara:

If you’re quicker at going downhill then you will love this hike. It’s pretty much all downhill from here. You can either hike to the next town and grab a jeep or a local bus, or, continue hiking down to Birethanti or even Nayapul. We were going to get a jeep down but they were all booked up and I’m semi glad because we later heard some horror stories of major accidents due to overfilling the jeeps etc. After a four hour hike all down hill (991 meters to be precise) followed by a 45km 1-2 hour bumpy as hell taxi ride which only cost 2000RS, we waved goodbye to the incredible Annapurna region and arrived back in Pokhara.

My Top Tips for the ABC Trek

Bring a porter and a guide, or, buy a local sim card and try and book accommodation a day or two ahead, once you reach Chomrong

Dont rush , take your time, and don’t let the guidebook times stress you out

Make sure you have enough money in cash as there’s no ATMS or card machines whatsoever

Plenty of sun cream

If you are Coeliac bring snacks as most of the snacks on route aren’t Gluten free. My favourite snack I brought was Biltong

Lifestraw

Enjoy your trek guys and stay safe. x

Gluten Free Food in Nepal (Part 1: Kathmandu)

Hey Guys and Gals so it’s finally happened , me and the other half have started our long adventure.

First stop Kathmandu.

Now some people may have a cultural shock upon arrival to Kathmandu, but not me. Having already been to Mumbai, Kathmandu was so much more chilled out. Before I go into details, this will be a long three-part post filled with gluten free food, things to see, places to stay, and good old travel couple problems (aka meltdowns on the trek). I want to be as honest and open as possible so get comfy and pick up a pack of gluten free biscuits or two before reading.

What to Pack

First things first, when visiting Nepal, you will stop in Kathmandu as it’s the only international airport in the country. Before arriving, I advise you to pick up a pollution mask or bike mask preferablly. You can buy them here but how good they are, I’m not too sure. The reason why is because of the large amount of pollution and dust. I learnt the hard way after two days in Kathmandu by catching a cough which became a very bad cough/ cold. Don’t worry about looking silly with a mask, a lot of the locals wear them including taxi drivers and motorcyclists.

Other things to pack are shampoo bars, diarrhoea tablets , vitamin tablets, a first aid kit, oh, and how did I forget the most important item; a Lifestraw. The Lifestraw allows you to drink the tap water and even lake water. The bottled water is cheap in Kathmandu and Pokhara but if you are planning on doing a hike, everything becomes more expensive the higher up you go, including water. You’ll thank me later.

Kathmandu:

Expect to pay around about RS 800 around $8 from the airport to your hotel in Kathmandu (the only reason I’m doing it in dollars and not pounds is because it seems like dollars is a currency that hostels will take in both Kathmandu and Pokhara). You can bargain with hotels (hostels) but just book it on Agoda as it’s sometimes cheaper than just turning up. Most times you will pay directly to the hotel so change your payment into dollars and just take dollars to pay with .

Nirvana Peace Home:

The Nirvana Peace Home is the hostel we stayed in in Kathmandu. It consisted of a double room with private shower and toilet. The shower was not so hot but that wont really bother you as most hostel showers are cold, and for $6 a night you can’t really complain. The owner was lovely and very friendly so it made the stay much more enjoyable.The Nirvana Peace Home is in an ideal location, only 720m from Thamel .

Thamel

In Thamel you will find supermarkets, pubs, hiking shops (literally loads of hiking shops), where you can buy everything for your hike. I suggest you buy your boots and backpack at home as most of the items are fake, good quality but fake. The prices aren’t set. There’s a tourist price and a local price. So whatever they say the price is, half it. If they dont except it and go down in price just say too expensive and walk away. If they don’t come after you then you know the price was too low. You will know for the next shop.

Breakfast:

Most of the time I ate gluten free cereal which I bought with me from home. I also ate fruit quite often, just make sure the fruit is in its skin as they sometimes wash the fruit in tap water .

Boiled eggs, omlettes, ect are avalible but there’s only so many omlettes and eggs you can eat . I found out later on in the journey that you can get steak and eggs in a few restaurants in Thamel.

Lunch:

I didn’t eat lunch too much at the beggining of the trip but when we returned I ate lunch alot more.

Pho99: Vietnamese food. Most Vietnamese dishes are gluten free but just make sure you say no soy sauce. If you’re not heading to Vietnam like me, make sure to try a Vietnamese Coffee – very sickly but tasty as hell. I went for the Shrimp Pho and a Shrimp Curry the second time.

Cafe de Patan: a cafe in Patan, slightly overpriced but still cheap compared to the UK. I opted for a mushroom curry and rice , it was ok but a tad bland and not enough curry to rice.

Garden of Dreams Cafe: The menu is expensive and extravagant but it does look incredible. As we are on a budget and daisy is cluching on to the money belt, I have no chance of eating luxury. So we ordered chilli chips from the snack menu which came with chips in a garlic chilli sauce, peppers, and onions. It was very simiular to salt and pepper chips just without the soy (I hope, ill let you guys know later) (all fine), and a coleslaw garnish. Really tasty but super spicy.

Dinner:

Ying Yang: A Thai restaurant but like most restaurants in Thamel they offer a wide range of food. When it comes to cross-contamination just stay clear of fried food and Western food.

We ordered..

2 cokes

vegetable green curry and tofu

rice

and a rice dish with tofu and veg (not gluten free but this was for Daisy)

Total= RS 1789 = around $16 (this is slightly more expensive than a backstreet restaurant hence why we did this for dinner as a one off)

Third Eye: Indian food. Now this has been one of my favourite restaurants. I gave over my gluten free translation card and the manager catered very well for me and talked me through the menu. The only thing about the translation cards is that they are not completely accurate and no (sauce) can literally mean anything .

We ordered…

2 Litre mineral water

Newari meal vege x2

2 ciders

total= RS 2310

We also got a complimentary starter with a rice based wine that is very similar to sake which I stupidly poured all over my starter which wasn’t the worst thing as it still tasted reallty good lool .

Green Organic Cafe:

I had the chicken sizzler, chicken laid on a bed of cabbage with chips, vegetables, and a cream sauce. By far the best chicken I’ve had in my lifetime. The chicken was tender and moist, the veg was seasoned really well and the sauce was incredible. It was all served on a hotplate hence the name sizzler. For dessert I had a homemade icecream with fruit and nuts, it looked like a piece of art and was very afordable.

New Orleans Cafe & Restaurant:

This place is rammed and I kept seeing an American chap walking around talking to the waiters telling them what to do etc , so maybe it’s owned by a true Orleans man. probably why the food really resembles true American style cuisine.

I went for the 100% steak whatever that means lol, with chips and veg. I know as a rule of thumb coeliacs shouldn’t eat chips, but I only order them when i think theres less risk or no risk of contamination. Touch wood so far I’ve been ok.

I was slightly sceptical about eating the steak as it cost RS 580 with veg and chips (around 3GBP). That is really cheap and if you saw that somewhere in the UK you would really question it. It was a really tender bit of steak. P.S. it comes with a sauce so just ask without sauce as it’s better to be safe than stuck on the toilet.

OYO Tibetan Peace House:

Next time we visit Kathmandu I will defintley book this hostel way in advance , not even fussed about price. The owner and his wife and all the staff are the kindest, sweetest most lovable people (yep thats alot of cheese in one section but its true). The food is tasty and cheap and if you’re there during a hindu celebration hopefully you will get the chance to try their homemade sel roti (a gluten free rice doughnut), very tasty .

Things to see and do in Kathmandu:

Thamel:

Most people stay in or near to Thamel, so you probably will come across it. This is the place you will get all your hiking gear from and the random bits and bobs that you really dont need. Prices will vary and there is alot of room to haggle. The main people you will get hassle from are the guys selling instruments, jewlerry, and tiger balm. Oh and the “smoke hash”, weed guys. There’s lots or restaurants, bars, and even supermarkets.

Patan:

This place is beautiful in parts, other parts very congested and you want to bring your dust mask. We did go to see the Patan musuem but unfortunately the musuem was closed during the festival so we opted out of paying RS 1000 PP to go into Durbar Square as the musuem was closed and that fee included the museum.

Bouddanath:

The area where most of the buddhas live. The entrance fee was RS400 pp. Bouddanath is home to the largest Stupa in Asia and it is mind blowing how big it is and how little damage was caused during the 2015 earthquake . There are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops inside. Nearby there are a handful of monastries to visit and if you walk to the Hyatt Regency hotel (10 minutes from the stupa) there’s a free musuem and a beautiful hotel. If it’s a hot day take your swimwear and see if you can sneak into the swimming pool lol .

The Garden of Dreams:

A five minute walk from Thamel is a garden which literally is the garden of dreams. It costs RS 200 to enter or RS1500 for 10 entries. There’s some Nepali influences but mainly British inspired architecture. Step over the paving slabs through the water feature and there lies a beautiful seating area where you can enjoy a pic-nic (just becareful of the cheeky little chipmunks waiting to snatch your food). Its suprisingly peaceful even though it gets really busy in the afternoon.

A heads up, most restaurants in Nepal charge a 10% service charge and a 13% vat on top of the bill.

Restaurants:

The Temple: :Third eye :Cafe De Patan :Oyo Tibet guesthouse :Veg MoMo :

Phat Kath: :Ying yang :New orleans :Sarangi :Pho99 :OR2K

Sites:

Durbar square: The garden of dreams: Boudhnath Stupa: Thamel: Patan:

Flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara:

The flight was delayed which supposedly is the norm, it’s a very tiny airport so don’t expect to get anything food wise unless it’s snacks.

P.S. Snickers aren’t glutenfree.

We got on this tiny plane and it’s the first time I’ve been on a plane with propellars. We sat in our seats on the right hand side so we could see the Himalayas when we flew over them . Just before the plane was about to take off, the stewardess called Daisy over to make sure that the lugguage they put on was actually hers (it wasn’t ) so all of our documents for New Zealand, Daisy’s laptop, and all her clothes were lost. So during the half hour flight she was stressed which was understandable, but there was nothing we could do at that time, so shut up Daisy and enjoy the views from the plane. When we landed the inevitable happened the bag wasnt there , so Buddah Air lost Daisy’s bag but lucky enough the kind guys that handle the lugguage called the airline and the backpack was dropped off to the airport the next day. A short taxi ride and we arrived in Pokhara to begin the next phase of our journey in Nepal.

Happy Diwali Day:

P.S theres a part two…