I had a great time travelling through South East Asia, but I have been itching to get out into the mountains and do trekking, biking, and rafting. So I booked a flight to Nepal and began my solo travels. Arriving in Kathmandu was a bit of a culture shock. The landscape is dominated by dusty earth tones, crammed stone buildings, and exotic looking characters in colorful gowns staring at me with intensity. The immense poverty was highlighted by the thick pollution and the overwhelming number of hustlers that bum-rushed me the second I got out of my taxi. To make things more surreal, I arrived in Kathmandu just after sunset and was told by my shadowy candle lit guest house manager that Nepal only receives electricity from around "8pm to 11pm...maybe." The maybe part was right as there was no set schedule. Sometime the power didn't come on until 10pm sometimes not at all. So everything is dark and eerily lit by candles, except for some shops who just run generators all day that seemed to be connected directly to my lungs. I got super sick my first 3 days here which sucks cuz I couldn't do much for myself and the city works hard against you. As soon as I got better I bussed it to Chit wan NAtiona l Park where I got to ride elephants and see rhinoceroses on a jungle safari. Then I headed to Pokhara to get ready for a 3 week trek in the Himalayan mountains around the Annapurna range. Pokhara was much more chill that Kathmandu and I was able to buy a few things for my trek. My dilemma was that I didn't want to buy a bunch of trekking gear, that I would only use for 3 weeks and then have to carry around for the rest of my trip. So I limited myself to a down vest, gloves, running shoes, long underwear, and shorts. How cold could it get anyway right? Well it turned out it gets freezing cold when you are above 10,000 feet. Ooops. I met a group of cool folks on the bus and hooked up with them. We all agreed to trek without the recommended guide and porter services. Turns out you don't need either and it 's more of a scam than anything unless you are old, lazy, or actually climbing mountains like Everest. It helps to have a group though and the group I was as with were all from Europe- 3 from France, 2 from England, and 1 from Holland. One of the girls from France was a mountain guide who usually set the pace of the trek at like 3-4 miles per hour, which is super fast. We hiked an average of 15 miles per day and I was last everyday, but I was taking alot of photos with my 5 lb. camera and actually looking at the awesome scenery. The trail was steep from the start, but it was gorgeous and I was so happy to be in the highest mountains in the world. Along the trail there are small villages every 2 hours or so where you can stay (for free) and eat (poorly). The whole trek, people were talking about altitude sickness and sure enough once we hit 12,000 feet my head and stomach started to hurt and I thought I might have to go down. Luckily I was able to buy a blood thinner called Dimox that cured my symptoms instantly! My lack of cold weather gear became an issue at 13,000 feet when a storm came in and dumped a foot of snow everywhere. Our course my European counterparts were all decked out in the latest Gore Tex, hiking poles, and titanium lip balm. Luckily the morning after the storm we woke to brilliant blue skies so the snow on the trail melted pretty quickly. What a way to see the mountains though-with fresh powder everywhere. It made me appreciate the fact that I was freezing. We pushed hard and made it to the high camp in 9 days. The next morning we hit the icy trail at 6am and made it to the top of Throng La pass at 17,881 feet. In 10 days we climbed over 15,000 feet and 85 miles in 10 days. Ridiculous! But what a great feeling of accomplishment to make it to the top. We celebrated with a snow ball fight and then of course we still had to go down, but that was alot easier. The total distance for the trip was 123 miles. "Wow" said I. Glad to be done for sure.
Next I bussed back to Pokhara and did a cool 3 day rafting trip on class 4 rapids. We had a cool group of rafters and crazy river guides who were intent on taking over the steepest rapids possible. They managed to flip our raft (on purpose) 3 times for fun. One girl hit her face on a rock and bled everywhere (so dramatic). Later, the same girl got bitten by a scorpion at night...twice. At the end of each day we camped on the sandy river banks and played cards. The river was beautiful and we got to see several Nepalese funerals where they burn the body of the deceased on the river banks. Unfortunately I think our river guides were using that same water for our drinking water and I got sick again as soon as I returned to Pokhara. I decided then to not travel to India like I had planned and instead plan to go to Sri Lanka to join the Tamal Tigers fight for independence...just joking...I need to friggin surf man! Nepal was amazing and I'd like to come back, but the lack of infrastructure makes it somewhat challenging solo trip.