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!

IMG_7372

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.

7524909184_IMG_2306

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.

IMG_7436

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. 

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.

7583921760_img_1655

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

7583921760_img_1668

 

 

InstaTravel

Like everyone else I follow a lot of travel accounts on Instagram. When I am at work wanting to escape the desk for a minuet or looking for some travel ideas this is where I go. I think there amazing all of them…but it is always on the back of mind, how real are they?
I have traveled a lot and I decided to try and stay in Australia which meant finding a job, visas and saving money. My travel list was put on hold. I also have student loans to pay back and just general living cost. I am so baffled on how these young people travel around the world for most of the year in what looks like the most glamours way. I think it’s a great life they have but just wonder how they keep it up with the pressure of daily demands.
I have a month off work to explore Nepal and I can’t wait but it has taken a few months to save for airfare and deposits. The rest of these months I am working I will be saving up the remainder of my trip. It also uses all my annual holiday as well. I would like to know how people do so much travel and keep a job?
I do admire how glamours the photos are and the person in the photo looks flawless. I have to say when I went round South East Asia I was so far from flawless more just sweaty and hoped my clothes did not smell.
I would love to know how people do this please get in contact.
Shout out to the instagrams who are working the 9-5 grind but love the travel.
Any information on how that lifestyle works would be great.
Below is me and my not so Instagram flawless photo covered in mud and possible elephant poop!

Nimbin and Lillian Rock

The end of our Easter break was spent visiting Nimbin and Lillian Rock. I had not planned to go to Nimbin but as it was on route to Lillian Rock we decided to stop off. Leaving Byron behind us we headed up into the hills. It did rain most of the drive to Nimbin but it did not ruin the views looking over the valley.
Nimbin
Before I arrived at Nimbin I had in my head that this place would be a hippie, earth loving town which had cookies to share. I’m not into drugs so was not fussed at all about the cookies. I was however excited to experience the laid back hippie town after having such a good time with Byron’s vibe. As soon as we parked up we were straight on to the main street which was full of colourful rainbow and in your face shop signs. The shops looked very hippie but when you walked in they were owned by your average Joe and the shop all of a sudden turned into a novelty gift shop. On one part of the main street people would walk up to you whispering “magic cookies” it felt very dodge as we were just searching for a bottle-o to  purchase a bottle of wine for the night. When we had done a quick sweep of the main street we had seen enough and headed back o the car. In the car park we found a man wondering around the cars peering in and holding a narrow metal rod in his hand. This place did not give me any good vibes at all. Maybe I am old and boring now, Nimbin I will not be going back to visit.
Lillian Rock
We had the afternoon in Lilian Rock. We were staying at a Air BnB which was a farm called Whisingwell Farm. We turned down a dirt track and made our way to the house. We met our host who was lovely. Jenny showed us to our room and around the house. We had an ensuite room and access to a deck with a big BBQ and sink. We settled into our lovely rooms with no TV or internet just the mountain fresh air. The room was full of board games, we played a few rounds of ‘Guess Who?’ At 4PM we joined Jenny and the other 2 gusts for a tour of the farm at feeding time. If you stay at the farm this is worth doing it was a lovely thing to do especially when you live in the city. On our feeding tour we fed the ducks, ponies, goats and held baby ducklings. It was a lot of fun meeting the animals and hearing about how they came to be on the farm. MK and I took a stroll around the farm down to the river…it was short lived as MK saw a snake so we made our way back to the house as the sun set. Once we had made dinner we settled into bed reading and writing before having a early night. It was very relaxing and exactly what we needed before the big drive home the next day. We had purchased a breakfast off Jenny for $5. We were supplied bacon, eggs, tomatoes and bread in a basket. The next morning we cooked our breakfast on the deck and packed up the car. There were a couple of things we did not get to see in Lilian Rock as it rained on and off the whole day and night we were there.
 The last day of our Easter break was spent on the motorway driving back to Sydney. It was a pretty smooth drive with minimal traffic and one giant thunder storm just outside of Sydney. I think we both came back very refreshed from the weekend and ready to hit the city life once again.

Byron Bay (Finally!!)

Easter weekend 2018 MK and I went on a road trip to Byron Bay. I have been in Australia 3 years and had not made it to this famous Aussie Coastal town. I was hoping to bump into any type of Hemsworth whilst up there …but no such luck.
We decided to drive up, which is a 9 hour drive plus a little Easter traffic. MK picked me up after work and we left from out West at around 5:30 and in true English and Irish form we had packed sandwiches for the route.
The first stop of the trip was Coffs Harbour….MK’s old stomping ground last year. We reached our hostel at midnight. We stayed in Central Backpackers and I can’t stress how lovely they were here. There check in closed at 10PM and one of the staff stayed up. They also provided us two numbers in case he was not reachable…these guys where brilliant cos after 6 hours in the car all we wanted was a bed.
Up early the next day we arrived in Byron Bay for 10AM and out first stop was The Farm.
The Farm
img_5088
Just before you get into the heart of Byron Bay you come across The Farm. The guys that own this place are the people behind the famous restaurant’s called “Three Blue Ducks”. There is a Three Blue Ducks at The Farm along with a cafe “Bread Social”. Everything is open plan and you can see them baking the bread fresh. We had lunch and a breakfast here…the food is delicious. Along with a good feed we also walked around the farm met the animals and cracked some nuts in the macadamia orchard. The land is so pretty and it’s really well put together. Great place for any type of meal.
Our AirBnB was just out of the main section of Byron. It was very cosy and the finishing touches instantly gave you the Byron vibe. Bathroom, bedroom with a sofa and eating area also a little kitchen as well. The space was perfect and our host was easy to communicate with. The space was actually a converted garage. We got an Uber into Byron’s main street every night which cost us $8.
After we had refreshed ourselves we headed to the beach. Traffic was crazy but we found a parking spot. After strolling the Byron markets MK took me on a walk. We walked along the beach to Fisherman’s View Point then around to Wategos Beach and up to the light house. The views all along the walk are beautiful. It is well sign posted as well no need to worry about getting lost. Not much parking by the light house so if you can manage the walk up its worth it. We also watched the sunrise from Fisherman’s View Point surrounded by the ocean and surfers it was lovely.
The first night we did not eat out as we had bought bread and cheese from the farm and treated ourselves to some nice cheeses. We did go to the Beach Hotel. It’s a huge venue with a few bars a big dance floor and outside area. After a few drinks we called it a night as the drive had caught up with us. We did return to the same place the next night and it was packed. Great atmosphere and DJ. They also had a guy on the drums playing with the DJ which really got everyone going.
We checked out a few sites on the second day.
Killen Falls

7516815056_img_0729

These falls are about 25 mins out of Byron. I had looked online and these falls were not as well-known as the others near Byron. To avoid Easter crowds we went to check them out. On route you drive through a really cute town called Newrybar. It’s worth a stop to check out the shops and Harvest Deli. There was plenty or parking at the Falls. It is about a 15min walk to the base of the falls. There were a few people around in the water. I forgot my swim suit so MK was the only one of us who got to have a paddle. Lots of sharp rocks so be careful and no jumping it’s too shallow….be safe! One more sight we checked out that day was Crystal Castle.
Crystal Castle

7516815056_img_0826

Located 40min drive out of Byron is Crystal Castle. If you believe in crystals and spirituality this place you will love. Also if you like really nice gardens it’s worth a look. Tickets are 30 bucks in. You walk around all these different gardens and there are Buddha’s and crystals everywhere. It was really peaceful. Somehow MK and I lost each other and did the gardens on our own and it really is a good way to do it. This is a quiet place for mediation and reflection.  I loved taking photos in the gardens and MK had a go with one of the crystal mazes. On our last night in Byron we went out for dinner at The Bolt Hole.
The Bolt Hole

img_5222

The Bolt Hole is a cocktail Bar and smoke house. They smoke all their own meat. I had booked us a table (recommend a booking). We tried a few of the cocktails all where amazing and we ate the meat sample dish for two. The meat was unbelievable it was insanely tasty. It was a great night I just feel they might have needed more than two waitresses on as between drinks we had a long wait and it kind of lost momentum. Overall I enjoyed it and would go back again to try a few more cocktails. After dinner we headed to the beach and watched the full moon with lots of other people. Once we had our full moon fill we headed to Beach Hotel.
On our last morning before heading up to Nimbin and Lillian Rock we hung out at Wategos Beach. It’s such a beautiful little beach. The water temperature was lovely and we had a paddle whilst watching the surfers. Such a good beach for photos.
Byron Bay was worth the wait. It had the best vibes and positive atmosphere I oped it would. We seem to do a lot but also relax as well. Chilling out was incredible up there lots of reading and journal writing surrounded by epic scenery. Highlight was watching sunrise and a pod dolphins swim by during sunrise.

 

Next blog will be about our trip to Nimbin and night on The Wishingwell Farm.

Jervis Bay Long Weekend

For the long weekend September 2016 MK and I went down south to the Jervis Bay area. We rented a lovely AirBNB in Berrara. It was a house in the back of a property with a outside area to eat and cook. The town is a 30min drive from Jervis Bay The weekend was the first bit of summer weather we had that year.
14517599_10103719280259649_8696859143053952000_n
We explored the coastal town and we had dinner at The Huskisson which is great pub food and is set looking over the water. The days where spent laying on Hyams Beach or exploring the different areas around the National Park. You can drive round the park in a day and see all the beaches and walk up to the view points. When we went in September it was whaling season and we did see a few from one of the view points. It was a very relaxing weekend we did stumble into a country fair where I held a snake and we got some good food.
14479815_10103719279561049_8611654271570654542_n
On the drive to and from Jervis you do go through a town call Berry. It is worth a stop to grab a drink at the local pub and grab a bag of the famous Berry Doughnuts. Be prepared to sit in traffic on the way up and down from this place it is never a clear road.
14484707_10103719279880409_7381840705504351828_n

Hunter Valley

I have been to Hunter Valley three time now and all three trips where very different.
Hunter valley Gardens
I did my farm work not far from the Hunter valley region. I met a friend for lunch at the Hunter Valley Gardens one weekend whilst I was farming. He was on a tour for the day and this was their lunch spot. We ate at one for the cafes and had a walk around the beautiful grounds. There are a few shops to browse and of course wine shops. I did call in at the British Lolly Shop for a few treats to take back to the farm with me. All year round the Hunter Gardens has lots going on the best source is there website with all the up to date information.
Wine Tour
When my Mum and her partner visited us we booked on to a wine tour. We booked with Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour. They picked us up bright and early from central Station. After a pit stop we were at the first stop the Chocolate Shop. If you have a sweet tooth you will be in heaven in this big shop full of goodies. After the chocolate shop we did two wineries before lunch.  Also at lunch you can check out The Smelly Cheese Shop. Each winery had a tasting and there own unique twist or story to tell. We had lunch then headed off to our last wineries. The great thing was we did not feel pressured to buy wine but were more stressed about choosing our favorite as they were all so good. They always change which wineries they visit. The tour guides really looked after us and it was a great day out with the family.
Weekend Away
The weekend away in Hunter was for a Hens Do. We stayed at the Crown Plaza Resort in a apartment. Bring your swimming gear if it will be warm enough, there is a lovely pool. We had a leisurely lunch at the Broken Back Bar. It was beautiful tapas style lunch with a amazing view and tasty wine. After a tasting we headed back to the apartments to get ready and head to Harrigan’s. The night was spent in the pub which had a live band. A few sore heads the next morning we had breakfast at the resorts cafe and had to head home. It was a great weekend with the girls and not to long of a drive home.