Kathmandu.

The time had final come for us to leave Sydney for and start our trip around Nepal.

Day 1.

The first leg of our flight was 14 hours long to Dubai. We only had a two hour gap between flights. After a bit of a rush to the correct terminal for our flight to Kathmandu we were hit with a delay for two hours. This two hours soon stretched into another two and ended up being a 10 hour delay in Dubai. Finally we got a call over the speaker that the Kathmandu flight was boarding. I was just so happy to be finally boarding the plane I never even thought ‘Why were we delayed for so long?’. The flight was smooth and empty, we stretched out to get some rest. The pilot let us know due to the delays in Kathmandu airport we could not land so we would have to circle. I was to tired to care about us circling. Looking out the window at the mountains it was just a relief to be so close to finally being in Nepal. All of a sudden a huge plane came from under us and up the left hand side of the plane. I have never seen two planes so close to each other in the air, it scared me to death. All of a sudden I was wide awake and just wanted to land. My wish was granted only a few minuets after our close encounter with a China Eastern plane we were landing.  The plane came to a halt, we had finally touched down in Nepal. When we were exiting the plane two men got down on there knees and kissed the ground. It was at this point MK let me know the reason for our delay was due to a plane crashing off the end of the run way that morning…Welcome to Nepal!

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30 hours later we were slowly making our way through Nepal immigration.  Immigration is slow and painful so just remain calm. It will be a long process. There is a line for the paper forms, then the electronic form and one for you to pay. After all that is complete you line up for the immigration desk. We were unlucky our immigration officer finished his shift. We had to stand and wait for the next one to come on duty. Once we were in the country we went through security again and collected our bags. As we exited the airport we were met with a crowd of people yelling names and holding signs. I spotted our name and waved. Our guide Raju came running up to us with a smile on his face welcoming us to Nepal. It was such a relief to see him as we thought with us being so late he might have given up on us. We got into a car and were given welcome flowers around our neck. Driving into Kathmandu at night was chaos, cars, trucks, people and motorbikes going in every direction. Exhausted from our travel it was hard to take it all in. We arrived at our hotel Kamuri Boutique Hotel in Thamel (tourist area). We arranged a time with Raju for the next day and we checked in. The hotel was lovely boutique hotel. Both of us were so happy to be safely in Nepal and at our hotel. We ordered some food and beer to the room. The night consisted of drinking our beers eating some great food and passing out.

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Day 2.

The hotel included breakfast, we made our way down to the dinning room. Breakfast was a continental style with all the favorites; tea, coffee, cereal toast and eggs.  Once we had food in our belly’s we went for a wonder around Thamel, which is a bit harder then you may think. The city is still recovering from the earthquake 5 years ago. The roads are dirt roads and there are no pavements. Buildings are still badly damaged or completely destroyed. Everyone seems to be working hard to get the city built up again. Walking down the small dusty roads you have to be alert as scooters and cars are just centimeters away from you. Electrical wires hang across the streets in mass quantity. We even saw two men trying to put one up and it was just hanging in the middle of the road. Most of the shops are hiking, tourist or food shops. There is such a buzz in this city it is beautiful chaos. After a small walk we decided to change some money and head back to the hotel. The only bit of dodgy trouble we had the entire month happened this day. Once we changed our money we did a quick count in the shop. As we counted the man at the counter was straight on the phone to someone and we heard him speaking Nepalese then say ‘Australian Dollar’. I assumed he was phoning the bank. We left the shop and not 30 seconds later a man came up to MK talking to him. When I turned around I saw another man very close to MK’s back pack. MK soon realized something wasn’t right when they complimented him on his Australian accent (neither of us are Aussie). We made a few quick turns and lost the two men. We figured the guy at the shop had tipped off his friend that we had changed a fair bit of Australian dollar. As I said earlier that was the only dodgy incident with people we had for the entire trip.

In the afternoon we met Raju in the lobby of our hotel and walked over to the trekking companies office. In the office we ran through our itinerary and paid the balance of our trip. We received a t-shirt each and a map for the route to Everest Base Camp. At this point it felt so exciting and nerve wracking to think we were so close to starting the trek. The trek did not start for another week but they really went over and beyond to look after us. We had booked to go to Chitwan National Park before the trek. Raju offered to take us to the bus the next morning and pick us back up from the bus when we returned. With all our questions answered we left the office and headed back to the hotel to get ready for tea. That night we walked around Thamel to a place called OR2K. Really laid back restaurant with a huge menu (veggie menu). Chilling on the pillows we tucked into different types of bread and dip along with a Everest beer. It felt great to relax and start to enjoy Nepal. Back at the hotel we packed a small bag for Chitwan and planned to leave our big luggage in our trekking hotel the next morning.

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Day 3.

Early start as we had to meet Raju in the lobby at 6AM. He pulled up on his bike and we popped our duffel bag on the back of the bike. We walked behind him with our backpacks. Our first stop was the trekking hotel were we checked in our backpacks. Next stop was the bus. We followed Raju down to the main road were about 10 buses were lined up. Everyone was trying to get us on there bus. Raju took us to our bus and sorted our tickets out for us. The roads were still busy even in the early hours of the morning. The buses have a unique way of reversing. The ticket boy stands at the back of the bus and bangs on the back to let the driver know hes fine to reverse. When he stops the banging the driver stops reversing and waits for the banging to start again. 7AM came and we were off on our 8 hour bus ride to Chitwan National Park.

Final…Nepal Health Update.

The countdown is on…..not long until we set off on our adventure. The packing list is getting smaller and we have ticked off our medical check ups as well.

MK and I both went to the doctors to seek advice on what we would need health wise. We have both been to Asia before, we have had a lot of injections between the two of us over the years. The end result was a few booster shots to keep vaccinations active and our typhoid injection again (they only last 3 years). My advice to anyone traveling abroad is to always go to the doctors to make sure you are aware of any health risks on the country you are traveling too.  On top of the injections I also was prescribed altitude sickness tablets and Malaria tablets. I do like to make sure all my bases are covered so I took everything the doctor said on board and feel pretty set for the trip.

MK and I went to the chemist and bought tablets for nausea, cramps, headaches, the squirts and muscle pain. When we are on the trek we are really dependent on ourselves, we need to be a walking chemist for those just in case moments. We also have electrolyte tablets for hydration and a lot of hand sanitize wipes and gel to keep ourselves as germ free as possible. Our wonderful friend who is a nurse sent us a few pointers to get the right stuff…one great tip was to have vitamin C tablets with us as there will not be any vegetables or fruit on the way and we need to keep are immune system up (Thanks for all the help Em).

Our traveling chemist is ready for our trip and we have all our injections…now all that is left to do is to just make sure we are in good health before we leave. Both of us have given up alcohol for August and we are eating as clean as possible. Over the past year I have been exercising and eating well. I even did Optifast to shock my stomach into loosing weight and signed up to a gym and have been hitting the stair machine hard. We have both been hiking as well and have discovered some great walks through out NSW.  I am super proud of the effort we both put in and believe we will keep going when we get back as we have loved all our outdoor hiking and feeling in better shape. Personally I am super chuffed with myself as I have lost a total of 12KG this past year. Here is the photo proof below…

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I have finally realized the trick to loosing some weight…you have to want to change and you have to change your lifestyle. There is no hidden trick to loosing weight just a lot of consistent hard work. I am not perfect I have eaten biscuits and enjoyed a pizza but I have learnt how to do it in moderation. I have also rediscovered exercise. This year alone I have been to the gym, boot camp, hiking, F45, kayaking, swimming, climbing and yoga. It does not matter what you do as long as you keep moving. I will share the things that helped me along this last year, support from friends and family, Optifast, reducing my booze intake, take photos so you can see the difference, set a goal weight and don’t put to much pressure on yourself. I still have a way to go until my goal weight but I am pleased with my progress and hopefully hit my goal weight early next year.

Ladies who…

Winter is half way through. It is actually unbelievable that back home everyone is melting in the heat and here in Australia it is cold, wet and miserable. I am not going to let the weather keep me in. I have a few activities on the social calendar over the next few months and I wanted to share them with you all.

I think the activities below are a perfect way to get together with your girls!

Once I have been to them all I will review them and add them on to the Sydney Social Page.

Little Succers

I found this company on Instagram. They build there own super cute Succulents. It is a great new idea for a gift and as the website says minimal effort in keeping it alive. On top of buying one of there plants you can also go to there work shop and build your own Terrarium Bar. I believe they still have tickets for there July work shops.

The Rock Christmas Markets

The markets are on the weekend of the 15th July. There will be mulled wine, Christmas carols and market stalls. It looks so festive on the website. It will be a great excuse to get wrapped up and head down to join in the festive vibe at the rocks. Even a trip now to rocks feels festive with the fairy lights around the trees.

 Paint and Wine

Book in for a painting lesson. You will drink wine and come home with your very own master piece or your attempt at one. I received a pair of vouchers for my birthday. I can not wait for a night of painting and relaxing. When you book you get to see which picture you will be attempting as well. My vouchers are for Cork & Chroma in Surry Hills.

New Coffee Spots

Avoiding nights out means I have been on the hunt for a few new coffee joints. I have had a lot of coffee dates with my girlfriends so we can catch up. So far I have been to the Lindt Cafe in the CBD, The Ruby Diner in Waverly and The Tea Cosy in the Rocks. All serve a amazing coffee and I have seen my friends eat a great breakfast at each cafe. The Tea Cosy is ideal for afternoon tea, the pancakes are a must in the Lindt Cafe and I would try the Nutella on toast in Ruby’s Diner. I do love going into the city on the weekend its so peaceful and quiet. Try somewhere new for a coffee this weekend with your mates.

 

Nepal Prep Update.

77 days now until we leave for Nepal (less when this blog actually posts) so thought I would give you guys a bit of a update.

I am still on Optifast having the two shakes a day and a low cal meal for dinner. I have had a few nights out with drinks but very few in the past few months. I also feel I am in control of myself more. If I do go out I do not go crazy. The weight came off very fast at the beginning but now its crawling off so really need to put my best foot forward exercising. I have set myself a goal to have another 6KG off me by MK’s birthday, lets see how I go. MK has also given up carbs until we go now so as you can imagine our fridge is just meat and veggies at the min…the healthiest our fridge has ever looked.

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Exercise wise it is still running, swimming and hiking. Since the last update we have completed two more hikes Mt Kosciusko and Ruined Castle. We have noticed our bodies are not in pieces after the hikes and we can keep exercising. I have a few more hikes I would love us to get done before we go. I really enjoy the winter walks at the moment its great to be outdoors in the cold breeze and even see some snow. A lot of stretching is being done at home as well we are both being careful the last thing we want is to pull a muscle after our exercising. I also did my first F45 class which was so tough but so good and something I will look into after Nepal. I do have City2Surf in August as well which will be a cool challenge to complete before we go.

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I got a list from the travel company on what we need to bring and wow it is a lot longer then I imagined. At first it was a bit over whelming looking at all the items we need to take with us. After studying the list its not a lot of stuff its just a lot of stuff you would not normal need on a trip. I think I am going to hit up Ebay for a few items and also the Kathmandu store in our local outlet mall, it always has a great sale on. I currently have the list typed out in Excel and once complete I shall share it with all the prices and where I bought the items. I do find every time I buy something I want to go out walking to try it out, which is going to keep me exercising. Started to look for travel Insurance which is a bit tougher then I originally thought. Most sites I have been on so far only provide for EU residents. I am struggling to find a Australian company. I think it will take a bit more research to find the right cover for us. July we are off to the doctors to get all the jabs and pills we will need for the trip. I will blog on what we get once that has been completed.

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Blue Mountains Ruined Castle

Over the July long weekend we stayed in Sydney to save some pennies and to do a hike. As you all well know we are training for base camp trek in September. We have already done a few hikes over the past few months. The hike we did this weekend was to the Ruined Castle via The Golden Staircase.

The hike is located in the Blue Mountains just outside of Katoomba. You can actually hike to the Ruined Castle from Katoomba. We started from the Gold Case Staircase car park. It took a hour and  half to drive to the starting location. Setting off a bit later then planned in the morning  the car park was full when we arrived. We ended up parking up the road about 1KM from the carpark. The road down to the carpark is very bumpy and has huge pot holes I would not take a low car down this track, we saw a few people struggling with their cars. The weather was suppose to be dry during the day… do not do this walk in wet weather with the steep inclines it gets slippy.  Be careful and please read all the information provided on the NSW National Park website (link at the bottom of this blog). It had rained the day before making the ground still a bit wet.

The start of the walk takes you 800M down the Gold Staircase. This path is steep and has steep inclines and steps to tackle. There is a railing around most of it but there are parts without so please be careful. MK did slip on our way down as one of the rocks was slippy but luckily he didn’t slide anywhere. The views as you go down are beautiful ,I didn’t get my camera out as I was to busy looking where my feet where going. Once at the bottom of that section you walk 3.5 KM to Ruined Castle. This is a easy path its flat most of the way and no sheer drops. It goes through a rainforest type environment, it looks like how you would picture a enchanted forest as a child. When you reach the Ruined Castle camp site there is a toilet. After the campsite its a 600M steep incline up to the Ruined Castle Rock. There were lots of walkers on this path and on top of the rock . The rock was extremely busy with people having there lunch.

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We completed 10KM in 3 hours but I would advise 4/5 hours as we did not stop for lunch and were rushing to get back. Lucky for us as we got back to the car the heavens opened, so we missed the downfall. If you are a experienced hiker and good with heights you would enjoy this walk for sure. Below is the link to all the official information you need to complete this hike.

Hiking is getting easier for us and our legs are not hurting the next day either which is a great sign. Our hiking boots are getting warn in and no blisters which is another good sign. I have a fear of heights and I have been working to conquer this and control my fear. If you read the Mt Kosciusko blog you will know I froze when I had to climb over a snow bank…well I made sure on this hike I fought through all my fears and had no wobbly legs. I am extremely happy with how I handled myself on this hike as I was way out of my comfort zone height wise but kept a good strong grip on my fear.

information on the walk CLICK HERE

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Solo Travel

I don’t think I have talked about Solo Vs Group travel before I arrived in Australia. It is the famous question among backpackers is it better to travel on your own or with people?
I have traveled both ways. I went to the Dominican Republic on my own and met up with  people I had never met before when I got there. I went around Europe on the trains with my friends and I went around South East Asia on my own. I have done most of my Australia travel with people as well. I don’t think one is better then the other but I do think that both make you a better traveler. 
Why Solo Travel?
Solo travel helps you build your confidence. You have to make the move or start up a conversation to meet people in hostels. There were a few points in South East Asia were I felt I was a stuck record and I was just saying my name and everywhere I had just been on repeat. But once you have the whole introduction done you can usually tell with in a few minuets if people are looking to make friends or not. I did have one guy tell me he didn’t want to talk to anyone, I respected his bluntness and left him alone…so yeah don’t be to offended when you meet people who just are burnt out. I met some incredible people when I was traveling on my own. I have kept in contact with them and met up with them when ever they are in Australia. Some people you meet and actually bump into them again which is always nice. You cant beat seeing a friendly face in a foreign country. Being on your own you do become a independent and better traveler. You do not have anyone but yourself to rely on. You become very aware of your surroundings and making sure you are safe. All your travel arrangements and research is done by yourself which in turn makes you a savvy back packer. I have only ever had one experience when I did not feel safe on my own in Kuala Lumpur. A man was following me and would not leave me alone. I used my common sense and went into a shopping center with lots of people around and found the information desk. As soon as I approached the desk the man backed off into the crowd and waited for me. I told the lady behind the desk the man behind me was following me and she said to wait with her until he left. The woman behind the desk pretended to get a map out and point to things. When the man finally had enough of waiting for me he left and I went straight back to the hostel. I tried not to be affected by this but it did freak me out and i did not really relax in KL. I just used common sense and would never go out on my own at night or go to dodgy areas….do you research on where you are going. Things go wrong when you are back packing and when you are going solo you just have to adapt and sort something out…it makes you more resilient and adaptable to all situations. When you do join a group of travelers for a day trip or for a few days you also become a lot more open to all sorts of people cos you miss the human contact and enjoy having some company. I did 3 days in Singapore and no one was friendly at all in my hostel and I didn’t meet anyone. When I went back to Thailand after those 3 days I was so excited to speak to people in my hostel and hang out with humans and have some conversation.  Solo travel is a great way to find out how much you will push yourself. I really built up a lot of confidence on my solo travel trips and I became comfortable at putting myself out there to meet others. It does sound so cliche to say solo travel really helps you realize who you are but its true. 

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Why travel with friends?
Traveling with your friends just creates the best and funniest memories you will make. Even the times when you travel and fall out or get on each others nerves will turn into a funny memory. Solo traveling is great to find yourself and realize what you are capable of by pushing those boundaries, but traveling with your friends just has the best buzz. I did Europe with my oldest friend from America and we still to this day talk about that trip and all the crazy stories that go a long with it. I did the East Coast of Australia with my two best friends from the UK and neither of them had ever back packed before. A few times it was very intense but also one of the best trips we have ever done together. I was glad I got to show them the backpacking way. They both really embraced it and when something was not what they expected they really just got on with it. MK and I have done lots of little trips away and had our holiday to Fiji but in September we will do our first bit of traveling. I am excited to see how we work together over the month and enjoy Nepal together. Hopefully be the first of many travel trips for us. I also believe because I have traveled on my own if I am with my friends and there is friction or something is not right I have a calmer approach to it and can easily take charge to solve it. Also if I am with friends and they want to do something different to me on a trip, I am okay to go do what I want on my own as I have done it before. I love taking photos and keeping a record of everything I do. Sharing those experiences with people who are special to you is the best feeling in the world. I think that is why I do love traveling with friends and family. 

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I think overall I enjoy and like to solo travel and its not  big deal to me to go on my own….but if I had a choice I would choose to travel with friends or family in a heart beat. Sharing memories and experiences with those closest to you  for me is one of the best feelings in life. 

Getting In Control of Your Money

If you feel every month you are over spending or you have not put anything away in savings then this blog post may help you out. First of all I am no money genius and in fact I know I’m to tight on myself with savings and money. I do feel like I know a few good steps for anyone who struggles to manage their money.  Its not really anything ground breaking but it worked for me.
1.Look at Your Spending
You can either do it the good old fashioned way with pen and paper or create a spread sheet in Excel. Write all your monthly outgoings first; rent, food, gym membership, petrol etc. Include everything, go through the month and make sure even the small outgoings are captured (that morning coffee….etc). After everything is written down you can see how much of your pay has to go on your outgoings and how much you have left for the month.
2.Savings
Next step is to decide how much you put away into savings from what is left after your outgoings. This is obviously completely personal choice, just don’t do what I do and skint yourself because I end up putting to much money away. I always transfer the amount I wish to save into my savings account as soon as I get paid. Once you have done this for a few months you wont miss that amount of money at all and it will build up for a rainy day.

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3. Pocket Money
Pocket Money is what I call the money left over for my social life. If you want to increase the amount of pocket money then you can put less away for savings or decrease your outgoings.  Getting a rough idea on what you spend socially Vs what your outgoings are is a really good way to make sure you are making good choices when it comes to money. I was shocked at how much money I spend on food socially.
4. Cut Backs
If you want to make changes to your out goings you need to look at what can be adjusted. Usually rent in Sydney if anything just goes up so that can not be reduced.
Food shops can be reduced if you like. I find planing my meals for the week, writing a list, shopping at Aldi and shopping on a full tummy always results in a cost effective shop. Otherwise I buy snacks I don’t need cos I am hungry, over buy products as I don’t know what I need for the week and spend more if I enter Woolworth’s.
Gym memberships can also be reduced by shopping around and finding the best deal. I stopped my membership and I am lucky enough to have a gym at work and I run outside for the rest of my work outs. Also look at how much you use the gym membership maybe paying to use a gym casual would actually be more beneficial.
Petrol can be reduced by just making the effort to fill up at the cheapest petrol stations. Around us in the Inner West it is the Speed Way. Have a look at the local petrol stations around your neighborhood to see which is cheapest.
Social life spends can be reduced by taking a look at Groupon or Scoupon see what deals you can pick up. Make sure you sign up to local cinemas and websites which often have offers on. Arrange to meet your mates for a meal deal in the city or happy hour drinks. You can also check out this page which has lots of things to do in Sydney on a budget. 
Please remember this is if you would like to be putting more money away and handling your money better and is purely just my view. I know there are many different ways to save and the ones above have worked for me so maybe they will suit you. Being in control of your money and feeling secure is also part of  mindfulness life. By knowing you have enough money and where your cash is going it reduces stress and anxiety in your life. Let me know how you get on if you try any / all of the tips above.