Travel Tuesday: Pokhara & Dhampus

Let me start this post off by saying… I have regrets. I didn’t take that many pictures and it kills me. This leg of the trip was strenuous for me mentally and when I’m mentally down, physically down ain’t that far behind haha! Sigh… I’ll have to work on that.

I arrived in Pokhara after a 12 hour flight from JFK to Qatar, a 5 hour flight from Qatar to Kathmandu, then a 30 minute flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara. From there, I met up with my guide provided by Anupam, dropped my bag off with most of my stuff at Lake View Resort where I would be staying after my mini-trek, and then off we went.

In my bag was a change of clothing for the next day, something to sleep in, a sweater for the morning, my Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f1.2, and 24mm f3.5 TS, a couple bags of Sharkies, and a big bottle of water. The next time I do this trek (which I will), I’m bringing about half of that and I’ll tell you why shortly.

At the base, there was a restaurant. I wasn’t hungry and chose not to eat. Not the brightest idea but I just wasn’t thinking and was a tad jetlagged.

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This cool sign was at the beginning of what turned out to be 5 hours of this…

Pokhara_Dhampus_Nepa_Astami_Photos-15Stairs, stairs, and more stairs…. all the up to Dhampus. If you’re in shape, or your’re a local, it would normally take 2.5 hours. I was somewhat in shape and definitely not a local… oy. It took me 5 hours lol

Pokhara_Dhampus_Nepa_Astami_Photos-2When we got to the top, the original hotel we were supposed to stay in had no one there. It wasn’t closed, all the doors were open… it was just unattended. I laughed hysterically and the guide thought I was nuts but the thought of an unattended hotel in NYC is… well, it just wouldn’t happen.

Started chatting with some kids who were probably laughing at me and not with me… they probably thought “who gets that sweaty after a little walk up?” Either way, I loved them dearly.

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After a nice hot shower and a full night’s rest in a bed, I began to be able to really take everything in. For the first time ever, I was travelling (albeit only two days), in a country far, far away, with no one I knew. It was peaceful, it was exhilarating… and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

The early morning view was spectacular…

Pokhara_Dhampus_Nepa_Astami_Photos-6Pokhara_Dhampus_Nepa_Astami_Photos-11Pokhara_Dhampus_Nepa_Astami_Photos-10Room for one night at Anu Guest House with hot shower + dinner + breakfast = $7.20
Can’t beat that…

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Needless to say, the way down was much easier.

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This is the public bus they neglected to tell me existed. I guess at least I can now say I’ve walked up to the top to see the Annapurna Circuit.
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The trek was stunning. I mean really… the views were amazing, there are rice plantations all around, and nice villagers living in cozy huts all throughout the way. But overnight, we got a lot of rain and the path we took down was covered by tall trees. As I walked down with confidence and pure glee from the fact that we weren’t going UP, I noticed my leg felt a little… wet. It was a weird sensation considering it was the middle of the side of my calves and yet my feet felt completely dry. At first I ignored it but the wetness was moving… upward. Finally I stopped, pulled up my pant leg and I got me a couple nice little presents… small leeches on my legs! I almost died I tell you. Almost. Died. I was about to smush one with all my might when my guide said “Don’t kill. Karma…” I looked at him and I think he may have seen that I was on the brink of an absolute breakdown because he started speaking oh so softly, trying to calm me down, grouped together a bunch of leaves and began to slowly brush the leeches off my legs. Looking back, I really wish I took some pictures but in reality, I was damn close to losing my mind. Leeches… blegh!

Once we got into town, we drove around Pokhara.

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This next photo is for my friend Jonathan…

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Random cows in the street are an everyday thing here in Nepal…

Pokhara_Dhampus_Nepa_Astami_Photos-39The Regional Museum of Pokhara is nice visit if you’re ever in town. It provides a nice insight of how the people of Pokhara live as a community.

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And here’s the view from my hotel room at Lake View Resort. She one of the peaks toward the right?

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My room key…

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Pokhara and Dhampus are lovely towns to check out. Very mellow with plenty to do. Despite the leech ordeal, I’d definitely love to go back. Cheap accomodations, chai all day, good food, kind people… yup, definitely coming back here.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop a line!

Happy Tuesday!

xo,
Astami

 

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Travel Tuesday: Kathmandu

My father and I spent a total of one day in Kathmandu earlier this year. Because of the short amount of time, we decided to hit up the main attractions.

One side note… my father, he’s awesome. Travelling with him was so much fun! Kay, back to Kathmandu…

Pashupatinath Temple: the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. It’s quite large and as we walked through, we saw several cremations in progress. It’s about a 5km (3 miles) drive from the airport. Tourists can pay 500rps (about $5USD) to walk around the outskirts of the temple complete with encounters by monkeys and cows. Keep your belongings close, like all monkeys… they’re curious little fellas.

Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-3Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-4Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-7Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-8Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-9Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-12Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-13Some remnants of holi powder from the holi festival…Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-16Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-39

One thing I loved about Nepal… where there was a flat surface, ping pong was played. Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-17

Kathmandu traffic… all. day. long.
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Boudhanath stupa: a must see! Located in the midst of all the chaos, it feels like you’ve entered another realm. It’s so surreal… I could’ve spent all day here! This stupa, said to be one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world, is located about 5km (roughly 3 miles) from the airport. I’d tell you what that meant in minutes but that depends all too much on the congestion whether it be because of rush hour, lunchtime, or maybe a cow blocking the road… you just never know (I love Nepal). Back to the stupa, you’ll notice plenty of people walking around the stupa three times, chanting Om Mani Padme Hum. This area has plenty of hotels and yummy restaurants… be sure to check out the ones with rooftops which provide a stunning aerial view of the stupa itself. My father and I enjoyed some yak momos  (nepalese dumplings and you guessed it… with yak meat) at Himalayan Cafe (free wi-fi).Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-22Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-23Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-24Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-25Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-26Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-27Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-28Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-29Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-30Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-31If you need to buy souvenirs, this is the place to do it. The shops just around the stupa carry so many pretty blankets, fancy locks, and tons of bracelets. Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-33Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-34Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-35

I’d suggest wearing sneakers when walking around Kathmandu. The garbage removal situation is um, yeah…Traveling_Kathmandu_Nepal_Astami_Photos-36

The most awesome way to get your mattress home…
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There is no wi-fi at the Tribhuvan airport (KTM) and a sparse selection of food. Here’s how I’d gauge my time:

  • If you have at least 4 hours before your next flight, I’d say take a cab to Boudhanath Stupa. Leave yourself ample time to get back to the airport. While it is a short distance, the traffic is highly unreliable.
  • If you have at least 5 hours, go to Pashupatinath Temple for about 30 minutes to an hour, then to Boudhanath Stupa.
  • If you have more time… roam some more. There’s plenty to see in Kathmandu though I hear 2 days is more than enough.

If you need a guide in Nepal, contact Anupam Dahal at anupam.dahal@yahoo.com. Kathmandu is one of the three towns I visited on my trip to Nepal. More to come soon!

xo,
Astami

People of Nepal

The people of Nepal… bar none, the nicest people I have ever met. There was no cat-calling, no one was ever rude, and always welcoming. I always felt safe, walking the streets of Pokhara, Dhampus, and Chitwan. The laid back vibe is contagious and I found my New-York-self slowing my own pace. There was no need to walk in a rush… my feet and soul were on vacation. I chatted with a lot of folks but the most fun were the kids. They were living a gloriously full life, filled with laughter and love. Going through these pictures was hard… it made me miss the land of namaste oh so badly.

Enjoy…

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Have a nice weekend! And if you’re on the East Coast… stay dry.

xo,
Astami

Nepal and Qatar Trip Preview

Recently got back from a trip to Nepal and Qatar and I absolutely cannot wait to share the photos. I’ll be going into detail for each city so bear with me… these posts are going to be spread out quite a bit. There’s so much to share and frankly, I hope to be able to share information I, myself, was not able to find online.

For now, enjoy these previews…

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ubud

one thing i love about bali is that it feels like there’s something for everyone. upon my last trip, i stayed over in ubud and discovered a fascinating world where culture and nature harmoniously collide.

ubud is located toward the center of the island. while the thought of being a couple of hours away from the beaches may not appeal to you, rest assured, ubud is definitely a must-see.

chan and i stayed at the champlung sari on monkey forest road. the hotel was a perfect. it is so serene, with rooms in separate rows often times parted with quaint little pathways lined with fragrant floral bushes.

(a note to those who are handicapable or guests who have trouble walking up and down stairs, please make sure to tell the hotel and request for a room close to the lobby. )

here’s a pano shot of our room…

one morning we woke up to this right on our front porch…

after they were done monkeying around 🙂 , we left to walk around town. it’s lined with beautiful arts, brilliant colors, and filled with the most content people… you’ll see what i mean.

the impromptu backcountry trek left us parched and we chilled at the cafe and sipped on some es teh manis (sweet tea) and enjoyed the view.

heavenly…

ubud is not known for its nightlife and unlike its rowdy neighbor Kuta, ubud’s restaurants and bars close around midnight. chan and i frequented cinta grill where we got know our main man bedu. awesome bartender, originally from java and was such wonderful company.

i’ll post up photos from the monkey forest tomorrow.

-astami

Ridin’ West Coast

A snowboarding trip planned months ago was quickly thought to come to a halt with the humongo piles of snow we got here on the east coast. As I spent the better part of the yesterday morning shoveling, I wondered if maybe my snowboard seeing the west coast just… might not happen. I hate that often times, I overexcite myself but I felt that for this trip, I simply couldn’t help it. I’ve heard wondrous tales of the pow-pow out west. Ironic how the thing that’s keeping me from flying to my snowboarding trip… is snow.
I packed my new giant Burton Locker Bag (my review on that later) and hoped. Funny, but to be honest… I was really pushing it. I felt that if it happened, cool. But if it didn’t… That’s okay too. There are worst things that can happen in life.
After my friend JT dropped me and Chan off at the airport, we checked in and found out there was a two hour delay. It was like music to our ears. Delay…. puh-lease! I can totally handle that! And so we did. Found a nice comfy table in terminal 4 of JFK and brought out the big guns… my Vogue, InStyle, and Lucky magazine and that darn David Sedaris book I have yet to finish while Chan took out his Kindle.
As promised, after a 2 hour (and a teeny bit more) wait, we’re off to the west coast.
Hope everyone has an awesome Friday.

 

Me packing lightly

My amazing magic bag that fit all my stuff…

Chan and his kindle…

Airline of choice…

-Happy Friday-

astami