In 2012, I spent the month of October in Nepal. I trekked the Annapurna Circuit over 17 days with my cousin – Stephen (YYW), who I regard as being a life-long friend, as well as a cousin.
The Annapurna Circuit trek takes you right into the heart of the mountains and up to an elevation of 5416m (almost 18,000 feet, and 51% oxygen) as you cross the Thorong La Pass (where, in October 2013 – the same month that we had been there only the previous year – a freak blizzard blew in and killed 39 trekkers, porters, and guides).
Despite the dangers of the Annapurna Circuit, I loved the trek. Every time you turn your head in Nepal you are confronted with another spectacular photo opportunity. And the people are amazing. Most hardly have a pot to piss in but their generosity knows no bounds and they welcome you into their humble homes for food and refreshments and smile with their eyes.
I had been to Nepal before, back in 1999, and knew what to expect. For a first-timer (Stephen) to Nepal, the Capital City – Kathmandu, looks like a dirty, grey, apocalyptic nightmare with its crumbling and decaying infrastructure. I can see Stephen is totally overwhelmed by it as he stares from the taxi window, a bit shell-shocked after being pounced upon by a pack of screaming Hyenas (taxi drivers) as we exited the airport. ‘It looks like a f#cking war zone FFS, or the epicenter of an earthquake or something,’ he comments, as the driver negotiates potholes and sacred-Hindu cows lying in the middle of the road.
The air pollution in Kathmandu is the worst I have ever experienced anywhere in the world – you can taste the unregulated exhaust fumes – they hang heavy in the air and burn your eyes. And the driving is nuts -a load of old ‘scrappers’ jostling for space on crowded roads as they pump out black smoke and noise pollution – organised chaos at best.
But Kathmandu is a ‘must-visit destination’.
In Thamel, the backpacker/trekker/hippie section, the streets are narrow and are designed mainly for walking, although bicycles and rickshaws rattle down the cobbled streets, as do taxis and small cars and vans (beware). Thamel is full of mountain-gear shops, too (owned by proficient hustlers who are experts in relieving from you ‘good money’, in return for ‘low-quality, counterfeit goods’ – although there are some bargains to be had if you look hard enough and know how to barter).
We stay in Thamel for a couple of days at the Hotel Buddha checking out the sights (the Monkey Temple – Buddhist; and Pashupatinath – Hindu), and then we stock up on supplies before catching a bus to Pokhara (6 – 8 hr away) to organise our trekking permits for the circuit.
Mount Kailash Resort, Pokhara
The Annapurna Circuit begins at Besi Sahar (a two-and-a-half-hour backtracking, taxi-cab journey towards Kathmandu from Pokhara) and ends approximately 150 miles away at Nayapul, The Circuit goes counter-clockwise, back towards the direction of Pokhara.
Within a couple of days we’re in the heart of the mountains. I love the simple mountain living, an opportunity for escaping the ‘rat race’ and quietening my frenetic, internal chatter – no TV, no phones, no internet, no distractions – chill time; wood-burning stoves, and solar showers; no cars, no buses – hoofing it – always, on foot, and a good book to bunk down with at the end of the day, reading by headtorch.
It’s an uphill journey all the way to the Thorong La Pass. After walking for a week, we kick back in Manang (3,510m) for a few days to acclimatise before going any higher. It snows as we head off in the dark at 4.00am for the Thorong La Pass; a kilometre or so beyond the high camp we come across a French group – one of their group is suffering from altitude sickness and a rescue helicopter is called in (a reminder for me on how important it is to have High Altitude Travel Insurance). We continue on to the Thorong La Pass, and then it’s downhill all the way to Nayapul (except for the Trek back up to Ghorepani, and Poonhill), and then downhill again from there.
Nepal is an unforgettable destination and that’s why we’re planning another trip – the Everest Base Camp Trek (EBC Trek) – for October this year, 2017…
The following pictures are from the 2012 trip
More info to come on Nepal soon…
See here for Pokhara post
The first Part of my book/novel (novella – approx. 25,000 words in Part 1) is available for download at Amazon in Kindle format.
Only Raising Dust On The Road
Only Raising Dust On The Road
By Raymond Carroll
A novel set in Thailand
Part 1 – ‘Buckfast, Lager, & Fags’
‘Only Raising Dust On The Road’ is a novel set in Thailand. The book has been serialised into 4 novella length books.
Part 1 – Buckfast, Lager & Fags (approx. 26,000 words), follows a group of friends from around the globe as they embark on a money-making enterprise to Thailand.
Micky, is a heavy-drinking, drug-using Scotsman who has been hired by his friend ‘Slim’ to manage a bar on a tropical island on Thailand’s eastern gulf coast. Slim’s business partners: Sanjit – a South African-born Indian, and Connie – a white, Afrikaner Durbanite and Sanjit’s girlfriend, have recruited Winston (Sanjit’s South African Indian – ‘hood-rat’ – cousin) to be bartender. Can the mismatched motley-crew make this venture work? Nothing in Thailand is ever as it seems and dangers abound along the way.
The story is told from a multiple character first person point of view and takes place in the late 1990’s.
‘Only Raising Dust On The Road’ is a work of fiction.
Lots of profanity throughout. 18+
Part 2 – ‘Same-Same But Different’ on sale at Amazon…
Buy Part 1 of Only Raising Dust On The Road on Kindle and paperback at Amazon
‘In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.’
Copyright © 2016 Raymond Carroll