Monday, February 05, 2007

Dhanyabad Nepal - Namaste India

I spent my last 2 weeks in Nepal in the beautiful lakeside town of Pokhara, a big tourist destination spot in Nepal. It's easy to get stuck here with the clean air, warm weather, and beautiful lake overlooking the Himalayas.
Fewa Tal (lake) in Pokhara

In the fall, after monsoon season, the air is so clear, you can see the Himalayan Annapurna Range reflected off the lake. Unfortunately for me that is not the case right now.....but maybe for you, if you came out in the fall, you can rub it in my face as to how beautiful the reflection looked while you were here. But that's neither here nor here.
I climbed up to view sunset on the Himalayas above this Chhetri village and farming terraces. You can't really see it, but down the center of this hillside is a trail that I thought would be a shortcut back into town. Instead it led into a dense forest where I had to walk down a dry river bank and hop 6' terraces to get back down. Luckily I made it back before dark before machete wielding villagers got suspicious.
The area is known for perhaps, the best trekking in the world. Originally, I wanted to do the Annapurna Base Camp Trek, but didn't have enough time....but maybe that's a good thing I didn't since it's absolutely freezing up there right now at the Base Camp's 13,000 feet+ elevation. **does anyone read this blog anymore?** And we all remember my Everest debacle a couple months ago. I spent the first half of the trip with a friend who **or is it whom?** I volunteered with at the Tibetan Refugee Center. We did some biking, hiking, watched the sunset over the Himalayas with bottles of wine (she's French, it's a national requirement) and general rest and relaxation. All this was impossible to do in Kathmandu **hey, I made a rhyme** with the dirty polluted air and motorbike crowded streets.
sunset over Macchapuchhre (Maccha=fish, Puchhre=tail, henceforth Macchapuchhre=Fishtail). It's called Fishtail, because when viewed from the other side, there's another peak right behind it, making it look like a Fishtail....or a Macchapuchhre if you're Nepali.
One afternoon we biked out to a Tibetan Village just outside Pokhara, and visited some weavers and a monastery. The village didn't feel very Tibetanesque, and a good amount of the villagers were of other ethnic descent such as Pubar below.
before shot
Gaelle getting the hard sell
monastery shots

mani stone
meet Pubar. This kid was great, he followed us around the weaving village dressed in his school uniform. Then he turned up 30 minutes later outside the monastery dressed in normal clothes that I didn't recognize him. He followed us around and practiced English with us. It's good since I need to brush up on the Anglo language myself.
he asked to get his picture taken, then he gave me this thugged out look.
I had to make him laugh on this second shot to get his true personality out.
During my last week here, I did a short 5 day trek to Poon Hill **he he he** which at sunrise gives you an incredible view of the entire snowcapped Annapurna Range as the sun rises **well, it doesn't actually give you anything, but it's yours for the taking if you want I said, is anyone actually reading this** These photos of the trek don't do it justice.
sunrise the first morning in Ulleri with Annapurna South in the distance
the sun rising above the fog over the valley

you can view over 30 peaks from the top of Poon Hill. My lens couldn't capture all of them at once. Here's part of the Annapurna Range in the distance.
the tallest peak in the range, Dhaulgiri, from a distance
and zoomed in
I kept shooting Dhaulgiri since it had the best light. But if you were to look to the east, you'd see Annapurna South and Fishtail. I'm such a photographer-wanna-be.

Some day I will return to Nepal (and spend as little time as possible in Kathmandu) to do some more trekking besides Poon Hill and Everest. The country, the Himalayas, are some of the most incredible things you'll ever see.
the morning teahouse view where I stayed in Ghorapani the second night of the trek
I've seen many mountain ranges in my life, but none are as immense or impressive as the Himalayas. They are just simply gigantic. If you are a trekker, it's a dream playground. It's amazing that you can trek here at any time of the year with the summer actually being the worst time due to the monsoons. **wow, so the colts won the super bowl. didn't realize it's still football season. who won last year? i've been out of it for so long** But even in January, you can do some treks around Pokhara, see massive 8000 meter (multiply by 3.3 to calculate into feet) Himalayan peaks, and still be wearing shorts in some areas.
Tibetan prayer flags in the front and Dhaulagiri chillin' in the back
met this Colombian couple (the first Colombian travellers I've met outside of Colombia) who we trekked with for a bit. They were really nice, we shared lengthy conversations, and I got to practice so some Spanish which was muy interesante. Annapurna South in the background by the way.
yep, photo wanna-be, that's me. Annapurna South and I can't remember the name of the one on the left.
January is also nice since it's the off season, and there's hardly any tourists on the trails, just mostly villagers, donkeys, and yaks. October and November are the best times to visit weatherwise, but high on tourist traffic. ** what's a diarama?** On my next visit, I want to do the Annapurna Circuit Trek (180 km trek that circles the entire Annapurna Range) combined with the Annapurna Base Camp trek (which goes right up the gut into the heart of the Annapurna Range) for a 28 day, 245 km trekking stinkfest. **double wow, it's the 10th anniversary of tupac's death....where has the time gone** Hopefully I'll do this someday soon while I can still walk.
the area around the Annapurna Range has a series of microclimates, including this lush 100% humidity (the percentage is a guess not based on any scientific data, but based on this photo) cloudforest section with moss growing on all the trees. Walking through this area felt moist.
prayer flags and Macchapucchre (Fishtail) in the hazy background. Weather was cloudy or hazy at times, but if you look close, you can see the two peaks forming a fishtail like profile.
a farm with a view, at comparably lower prices than comparable real estate back home. Annapurna South and Hiunchuli.
But for now, I'm preparing to head to Delhi for a chaotic couple of months in India. I'm not sure if this is the best time for me to go to India since mentally I'm craving a bit of ease, comfort and more laid back travelling after being a bit worn out from the last 14 months. **did you know that tupac amaru shakur was named after the last inca ruler, tupac amaru, and then the spanish inquisition changed the continent forever** Everything in India is difficult and hectic and overwhelming, but at the same time mind-blowing and spectacular. I know at this stage after being on the road for so long, the one place I'll avoid are the dirty, congested cities. I've seen, smelled, and have had my pores penetrated by enough of them for one lifetime. **pac has released more albums post-mortem than when he was alive. do you think he's recording with elvis?** But nonetheless I'm heading to India with no expectations, an open mind, a clear heart, and a lot of anti-diarrhea pills.
c'mon China, admit it, you were wrong. Me and my homeboy Pubar and the all too familiar cry.
I know one day I will return to one of my favorite countries in the world Nepal, **wow, are you still here?** just as someday we the flock of pilgrims, will return to our shepherd, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?


At 9:07 AM, Blogger anders said...

great photo's ren.

At 7:25 PM, Blogger morgan said...

Yeah, still reading. When I have the time. Damn boy, you're going to break Blogger with the length of these (and my mother still reads).


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