Annapurna Base Camp Part One

Day 11 (continued)

We were on a flight and in Pokhara in the blink of a eye.
MK was very quiet, our guide was still smiling and I was trying to keep conversation going. It was just soul destroying after a year of dedication that we were not even going to attempt the Everest Base Camp Trek. After a short taxi ride we arrived at our hotel. In the space of our 20 min flight the travel company had changed all our arrangements. We were now doing a 10-day trek to Annapurna Base Camp.

 

In the hotel room we called home and checked in. We freshened up before meeting Raju in the lobby. Raju took us down to Lake Pokhara. It was very over cast and the mountains were hidden behind the clouds. The lake had lots of colourful wooden boats waiting to take people out on the water or transport them to the temple in the lake. It was a quick trip to the lake before Raju took us out to dinner. We asked a few questions about the hike and if he thought we made the right choice. After dinner we headed back to the room for our last night of comfort because the next day we would be finally putting our walking boots to the test!

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Day 12

After a lovely breakfast in the hotel we packed our duffel bags and headed back down to the lobby. We met our Sherpa who had caught a bus from Kathmandu overnight (8-hour bus ride) to be here this morning. He was a young lad wearing trendy clothes, skinny black jeans and a purple v-neck T-shirt. It was his first hike as a Sherpa. We all got into a mini bus and headed to the police station to collect our permits for the trek. Once all the paper work was done, we began our 2-hour car ride to the start of the trek. By this point we were not fazed by the road works, busses backing up along the edge of cliffs and cows in the middle of the road. We climbed all the way up to the top of a valley then began going down on a incredibly bumpy road. At one point there had been a landslide and a huge bolder was blocking the way. One car at a time had to slowly and carefully drive around it. We finally reached the start of the hike. We bought rope and a plastic sheet to cover our duffel bags. Our Sherpa tied up the duffel bags with the help of some more experienced Sherpa and carried them with the weight on his head. It is a sight to be scene. Raju explained to be a mountain guide you have to have at least 2 years’ experience as a Sherpa beforehand.

With all our bags secure we began. It was not long until the heavens open. Quick pit stop to put on our water proofs and collect our passes for the national park. We walked through a small village then on to a windy road which went up and down. We crossed a river and stopped for lunch. We were so used to eating big meals we had a sandwich each and a can of soda. Such a big mistake for me. I was so full after lunch I struggled to get going again. My day pack was also to heavy for me to carry. The next two hours were long and hot. It was incredibly humid and raining, it was very sweaty with the rain coats on. It was a slow incline all the way up to our first tea room. The scenery was rolling valleys rich green fields with small villages set in to the valley side. We had to climb up through the village we were staying in. It felt like it was never ending steps, but little did I know that tomorrow I would be climbing 1500 steps. Finally, I saw Mike and Raju sat outside a tea house, day one was complete. I sat down MK was laughing as I had steam coming off my head. I was so hot but as soon as I had sat for a few minutes the cold set in. Raju got us some water and a local tea. The tea was delicious and really warmed us up. The tea house was in our first stop of the trek Tikhedhunga. We went to our room which was a dark room with two single beds either side of the room. There were posters on the wall of places around the world. The beds have thin foam strips as a mattress and the bedding is dropped off in your room later. We both had a shower and got ready for the night. It wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be. We didn’t need thermals on. When we came out of our room the clouds had rolled in and the beautiful view had disappeared. We sat on the balcony with other guests. Raju came up to take our order for dinner and our order for breakfast the next morning. The choices for dinner are the same in every tea room. It is a choice between the local Nepalese food and western. MK chose the Nepalese food every night and I was not as brave and ate pizza every single night. I didn’t have to worry about any issues in the toilet area. Raju came back after dinner and gave MK and me a plate of apple and pomegranates. Whilst we tucked into the fruit Raju explained the plan for the next day. The next day was one of the toughest out of the 10 days. We would be walking uphill for 7 hours and conquering 1500 steps. At the top we were told we would have a fancy tea room. The owner of the tea room loved to share his jokes and stories with us about his guests. Once he had finished, we headed to bed. I was a bit worried about bugs so I had a bug proof bed outfit on in bed which consisted of sweat pants tucked into socks, t-shirt tucked into sweat pants and ear plugs. MK was not so fussed just sleeping in his undies!!

 Day 13

It was a early start. I was a bit anxious about the challenge that lay ahead on this day. It would really test my training. Breakfast was great and with a full belly we packed up our bags and set off. There were a few groups walking the same way as us and the whole day we just kept passing them. We soon realized that a few of the groups were like us an had changed their plans as they could not get to Lukla for the base camp Everest trip. The morning was spent slowly making our way up the never-ending steps. They were very uneven which made it hard for me to get into a rhythm. I was super slow but Raju kept saying ‘ slowly, slowly’ ‘bistarai, bistarai’ to us which did keep me going. MK was fine and walked a lot faster then me. We would take breaks as the sun in the morning was incredibility hot. Raju provided us with a cucumber at one of our stops, freshly picked from a farm we were walking through….so fresh and delicious! We passed through marijuana farms as we carried on climbing up through the valley. After lunch we only had 2 hours of walking left. I could not believe it we were nearly there. After lunch I pushed on and kept up with MK and Raju I just wanted to get to the tea room. The village came in view and just like the night before we had to walk up the entire village as our tea room was right on top of the village. I had exerted all my energy on the last stretch of the walk which meant it took me 30 mins to get up to the tea room. It was a big building and it looked more like a hotel. There was lots of construction going on in the village getting all the accommodation ready for peak season. This village seemed like it was built for tourists. This village was popular because of the trek we were doing and because this was the last stop before Poon Hill. Poon Hill is a popular shorter hike. MK was already checked into the room and chilling. I did some stretches as my legs had begun to ache slightly. It was so cold in the room we took off our wet clothes as we waited for the Sherpa to catch up with us. Obviously, this day was so tough for every one and it took our Sherpa another hour to reach our tea room. By this point i was wrapped up in the spare bed keeping warm. We had an ensuite in the room which was very fancy. There was a pair of little shoes in the bathroom for us to wear. We soon realised why when we flushed the toilet and it flooded the bathroom. After a warm shower (my last shower of the hike) we went downstairs. The dining area had a huge fire pit in the middle of it. It was lovely and warm in there and people had all there walking gear hung around it. I began to journal and MK was on his phone. We just relaxed and reflected after a long day of uphill walking. Same routine for dinner, we would eat then the fruit came out and a cup of tea. Raju explained about the next day and taught us how to play a local card game. This card game became very important to us all throughout the rest of the trip.

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Day 14

We were up at 5AM in the pitch black. We would be using our head torches this morning as we did a short hike up to Poon Hill to watch sunrise. We had to bring our big down jackets as it would be cold at the top. It was also our first taste of walking at high altitude. Torches on we started to walk up to the top. It was very busy with lots of other groups going up hoping to catch a glimpse of the mountain range. I again was back to a slow pace and focused on my breathing. We saw a peak for the first time walking up and MK got excited and rushed up to the top which did leave him short of breather due to the high altitude.  Everyone was gathered at the top looking around at all the clouds. I didn’t really know what to expect. Then for about two minutes the clouds parted and a entire mountain range of peaks appeared.  I have never witnessed anything like it in all the traveling I have done. Raju was as excited as we were. He had my camera and was snapping away while explaining to us all the different mountains. We took lots of pictures and soaked up the view. In a blink of an eye the clouds rolled back across and it was gone. We had so much adrenaline from the morning we quickly descended back to the tea room talking about what we just saw. We learnt later on we were very lucky to see the whole mountain range as the weather is very temperamental. A couple of hours later after a feed we were back in the walking boots and heading off for our next 7-hour day. The day began with a steep incline up out of the village and then we walked downhill until lunch time. We walked next to a river the whole way down the valley. Along the way we came across a section of the path covered in small rock formations which from first glance looked like grave stones. Raju explained that hikers staked the rocks on top of each other as a symbol of luck. We walked across a very old looking wooden bridge to our lunch stop. The heavens opened and we did feel a little smug being inside while we watched other hikers get caught in the rain. Well as you probably guessed we started to walk after lunch and the rain retuned in full force. This part of the day we had to climb up a step path which was now slippery and in some small areas had a waterfall hitting your face from the rain bouncing off the rocks. I had a break with some of the Sherpa’s, one of them told me it was his first and last trek. He did not like the walk at all and was exhausted. I noticed he had blood on his clothes, he had been bitten by a few leeches along the way. The rain got heavier and the path got steeper. I decided that not looking down or behind me was my best option for getting to the top. I trekked on until I saw the tea room. Raju as always was waiting for me and as always MK was already in the room. MK did have his first leach on him which we got off and out of our bedroom. We spent the whole night in the dinning hall as the rain continued. There was a huge fire pit covered in clothes drying from the days wet walk. The room kept us nice and warm until bed. I did not shower as MK had spilled my shampoo in the last tea room which meant my hair for the next 8 days took on a life of its own.

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Day 15

In the morning at this tea room we woke up to the clouds parting and an incredible view of the valleys and one mountain peaks called ‘Fish Tail’.

It was still raining when we left the tea room. It was a slow decent as there was lots of mud and slippery surfaces to contend with. We walked through a forest then across a farm until we reached a steep part of the valley and walked down a windy path. The best bit about this walk is you can see where you are walking down to and then the steep climb up waiting for you on the other side. Once at the bottom of the valley we started to climb up again. We had lunch at the top in a tea room and we even saw a line of horses carrying goods up to the villages ahead of us. It was either by person or animal that anything and everything would be transported up to the villages from this point on. We passed a primary school and some children hanging around outside the school. Raju asked them why there were not in school…they just giggled and asked MK and I for chocolate. On this day there was a section of the path which split into two levels I went on the lower level and Raju yelled for me to go back on to the higher one as the ground was weak and it would slide from beneath me. It did scare me a little but also made me thankful to have such a experienced guide looking after us.We were so high at this point all you could see was clouds. Our tea room came into view at the top of the village. It was the best tea room we stayed in. We were told we got the honeymoon suite, which I think meant double bed. They also had a barista machine so for the first time in the trip I had a great coffee half way up a mountain! When we arrived in the tea room there was a bit of panic from people. We later found out a hiker had fallen down a waterfall and died. The mountain police where searching the river for her body. The thought of what happened to this hiker stuck with me the rest of the trip. I also could not work out how she fell and at this point no one knew any more information. It was a terrible tragedy that happens a lot on these mountain tracks. Raju walked us down into the village. Along the way the dogs of the village decided to join us which made my day. Raju told us to wake up early in case the clouds moved over night as at this point in time there was no view. 

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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Head Space Review

I have used the Head Space app now for a week. I wanted to really try meditation and see if this could help me on my mindfulness journey. I did also ask on my Instagram story if people had used the app…and 25 percent of you had. I downloaded the app and picked the program that focused on anxiety.

I had talked to a few friends and some people at work who had used or were using the app, it seems to be the most popular choice. I decided to do it in the morning before I went to work. The first morning was a bit of a disaster as I was late to work as my jeans had tried to make a quick get away over the balcony. I did do my first meditation that day but it was in the evening.

Each day you do a 3 min meditation. A mans voice guides you through the 3 mins helping you focus on your breathing and your body. Despite the first day every other day I listened in the morning. I found it a really calm way to start the morning and 3 mins out of your morning is really nothing at all. I have even listened to the app on the train to work it really does set you up to face the day. I also turned on the mindful notifications. The app sends you a few messages through out the day of some simple mindfulness tips.

After a week of mediation and mindfulness reminders I do feel different. As already mentioned I feel like my day has started in a calm way. Even if I have a morning where I feel I have been running around and then do the meditation on the way to work it still brings  my mind to a peaceful state. I feel like I am more in tuned with my body doing the meditation and really listening to it. Listening to my body and being in tuned with it is helping me push forward with my fitness and knowing my limits. The mindfulness tips are all simple to perform during your average day. Even if I don’t do them just seeing the tip on my phone reminds me to take a minute and then return to what ever task I am doing. I always find when I stress at work I do not perform as well but if I keep my mind focused on the tasks I will perform to my best. I actually had a really busy day at work today and I did notice that I was a lot calmer then normal. I did not let the stress cloud the task. I am going to stick with the app for now and keep growing my meditation skills.

I would highly recommend this app if you have ever thought about trying meditation. It is easy to use and I found it very affective at showing you the way to get into meditation.

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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.

 

 

To Ski or Not to Ski

Taking a break from Nepal blogs this week and decided to talk about snow.

Winter hit this weekend, the sweat pants came out and the summer wardrobe was packed away. Not going to lie, it was very nice leaving the house Saturday night not in a ball of sweat from blow drying and straighten my hair in 34 degree heat.

Only 5 hours from Sydney in the Snowy Mountains they have already received there first sprinkling of SNOW! I have been skiing twice in Australia and both times it has been with the same company…Oz Snow. Both times have been such a blast. Its a great weekend with friends and minimal organisation on your part.

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This year we have friends going again and its so hard to say no…but we have to do some hikes and think about our month off in Nepal. It is amazing how hard a two lettered word can be …no! Personally I know I could go but then later down the line I would really be struggling to hit my goals money wise before we head out in September. It is a no ski zone for us this year. We both would really love to go to New Zealand but we have no holiday for a while, so that will have to be a trip we do in the future.

Link to my to blog on my Ski Trip 2016.

Never fear we might be seeing snow in a few weeks. We have booked our weekend to Jindabyne at the end of May. We are hoping the weather isn’t to bad and we can complete the 20KM Mt Kosciusko hike. The original plan was to go up on the June long weekend but that is the opening weekend of Ski season and accommodation was pricey to say we were not skiing. By bringing the trip a few weeks forward we have saved over half on accommodation. Full blog of our weekend in the Snowy Mountains will be up a week after our trip. I am actually excited to experience the other side to Jindabyne, see what it has to offer and to get a decent mileage hike complete.

Snow boots out, winter jacket and woolly hats at the ready!

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