tiyul number 13 – India and Nepal – part 1

by Aviv Blum on July 22, 2011

Here it is – my complete trip report on tiyul #13 – to India and Nepal – divided into 2 parts! This is part 1

Day 1, Friday, April 1st, arrival at Mumbai, India

after about 1 and a half years of planning, we finally set off to our amazing trip to nepal. We left our home in jerusalem at 2:15 in the morning to catch the 7:05 flight to Mumbai, India. We got to the airport and slowly made our way to the plane. The flight was approximately 8 hours long, it was also an el al flight. We got to india at about 4:40 p.m and just as we were standing outside the entrance we understood how hot and miserable India was. Then we had to take an unbearable taxi ride from the airport to the hotel and it took us 2 hours because of the traffic!

Inside the taxi from the airport

We finally got to the y.w.c.a (like the y.m.c.a just with women instead). We settled in for a short and late friday night dinner at the hotel which was basically just spicy food and soup. Then we were very exhausted so we got our rooms and crashed.

Day 2, Saturday, April 2nd, shabbat in Mumbai, India

even though it was Shabbat we woke up fairly early because we had to get to the chabad synagogue. we first walked walked to the chabad house which was where we were eating lunch and which was where we thought we were dovening but then this guy in there told us we had to walk 15 minutes away from there to get to the synagogue where everyone was praying at. Luckily, because it was so hot the day before it was not hot at all that day so even though we were in the sun a lot it wasn’t hot at all. So we took that walk and we got to the synagogue and the dovening was about 1 hour and then all of us walked to the chabad house where we came in the beginning and then we ate a very delicious lunch. It was a house and we all sat around a table, it was about 15- 16 people. We made some friends but soon after lunch we went back to the hotel because some of us were really tired. At about 4 we all took a really nice walk which ended up on the beach and the cool thing was is that they had man made rocks all across the shore which look like a plus sign and there’s probably like 1,000 of them and they are pretty big. Then we went back to the hotel and settled in for the night.

Day 3, Sunday, april 3rd, touring day in Mumbai, India

today was our first actual touring day in Mumbai. Unlike yesterday, today was really hot, probably about 35 degrees. We were supposed to go on a boat ride to an island with cool paintings but because of the cricket game the night before it was closed. So we luckily found a guide who arranged a tour around Mumbai for us.

The largest hand washing laundry in the world

Our first stop was the biggest hand washing laundry place in the world where it’s basically tens of people washing other peoples clothes by hand and it was pretty cool. Our next stop was a museum all about gandhi which was pretty interesting, we stayed there for about 45 minutes. Then we went to this really cool temple where there are Monk’s and Buddhists praying and bowing in front of candles. Then we went to what was supposed to be the boat ride to that island but then we decided not to go because we didn’t know when the boat ride would’ve gone and and come back.

The train station where we ate lunch (it wasn't very clean)

So instead we ate lunch at the station where the boat was supposed to come to and then we went to this old city type of thing with tons shops everywhere and people calling to you every second β€œhalo i give you good price, just have a look in my store.” That part really annoyed me about India and Kathmandu, but what annoyed me even more was the honking, i don’t know why they would put signs on the back of cars saying “honk ok please” but it bugs the hell out of me.

Horn OK Please

Then we went back to the hotel and amir and merav went out alone to buy some stuff and then we all settled in for our last night in the y.w.c.a.

Day 4, Monday, April 4th, arrival in Kathmandu

today we had to wake up at 4 in the morning to catch the flight from Mumbai India to Kathmandu Nepal. The drive to the airport was much faster because it was earlier in the morning. We made it safely to Kathmandu and met our our guide who was called pasang temba sherpa who i loved as a guide. Then we settled in to our hotel and then we had quite a lot of shopping to do. I bought juggling balls and a coat. We also bought a sleeping bag and scarfs and we found this Tibetan food called mo mo which was amazing. Then we went back to the hotel and were done for the night.

You can buy anything in Kathmandu

Day 5, Tuesday, April 5th, touring day in Kathmandu

today was basically a temple day. Because all kathmandu has for touring is temples and these other types of temples called stupa’s. Our first stop was this huge white solid rock dome with some type of holly golden thing with a face drawn on it. But the dome was huge, it was about 59 meters up i’d say. That was a really cool part of the day in my opinion. The dome was also built in the 4th century. Which is awesome.

The "stupa" at Boudha

Then we went to a place where a lot of dead people get burnt. I know you think i’m crazy but all of the people in nepal get burnt when they die. We also saw them burning actual dead people when we were there which was pretty disgusting.

Burning the dead in Pashupatinath

After that we took a 45 minute drive to a city outside of Kathmandu called Bakhtapur which is basically the coolest old stuff i ever saw. There were a lot of towers with levels of squares going up. There were also lots of statues and birds. We also ate lunch there.

Me and Merav in Bahktapur

Then we drove back to Kathmandu which took us over an hour and then we we went out to eat mo mo’s in a mo mo restaurant then we went back to our hotel, the tibet guest house and we settled in for the night.

Day 6, Wednesday, April 6th, flight to Pokhara and start of trek, from Phedi to Pothana

today we woke up at 5:30 again to catch the 8 o’clock flight to Pokhara. Luckily, breakfast at our hotel opened at six so we got to eat breakfast before we left. Once again there wasn’t that much traffic because it was pretty early. We got on a teeny tiny plane which can hold 20 people but the flight was amazing. Everywhere you looked there were mountains and when you looked down you could be so close to the ground you’d think the plane would crash, but after all the flight was awesome.

Getting off the plane in Pokhara

We got to a main city in Nepal called Pokhara which had a huge lake, unfortunately, we were not going to stay in pokhara, instead we drove 45 minutes away from there to a place called phedi. We saw a huge mountain while we were driving and i was praying that, that wouldn’t be the mountain we were climbing but sure enough we stopped on the side of the road and facing us were stairs leading up the mountain. But before i go any further, i just want to say that if you go trekking in nepal 70% of the trek will be downhill or uphill but mostly it will be stairs. In fact i can’t even remember a flat path or a path at all.

Steps everywhere!

So as i was saying, we started climbing, and this is not like one of the hikes in israel where you climb for like 20 minutes and then you’re flat for the rest of the hike. This was a staircase which you think you see the ending but then there is another hill of 200 steps.

Resting on a particularly steep staircase

We climbed for about 2 and a half hours and gained about 300 meters in altitude but then we got to a part where the forest cleared up and boy was it a view. And it was basically like that the whole trip on every corner we turned. we got to a less steep part for about 20 minutes and then it went up again, we finally got to damphus which was where we ate lunch. After that we kept walking uphill for about an hour and a half but this part was more gradual. We got in to our hotel just before the rain started to fall, or should i say the hardest hail i’ve seen in 5 years! We literally got in and five seconds later it started to hail for about half an hour.

View from our tea house in Pothana

We ate dinner a couple hours later and they also made us a fire to sit around. Then we settled in for the night and got into our sleeping bags knowing we would have to do this every night for the next 11 days.

Day 7, Thursday, April 7th, trek day number 2, from Pothana to Landrung

today was probably the easiest day we had on the whole trek. Every day we woke up at 7:15 and were at breakfast by 8:00 and out on the hike by 9:00. that was the schedule for most days. We started hiking and we went up a hill with lots of stairs (why would we expect otherwise?) It was a little tough for me because my feet were still aching from all the stairs from the day before but i was o.k overall. We climbed for about 500 meters but then we went down for 800 meters! The whole first part of the day before lunch was with stairs.

Welcome to the Namaste Tea House

We got to our lunch spot and ate at a tea house called namaste which is also the welcoming word for the nepalese people to each other. After lunch it was a relatively flat trail all the way to landrung which was our second night on the trail. We settled in and after dinner we were invited to this festival there right outside our room with dancing and booming music, so we decided because there was no way that we could could sleep we might as well just watch this.

Merav and Imma dancing

It finally finished 3 and a half hours after it started, i was asleep but my sister told me that they played Shakira and Green Day in the end.

Day 8, Friday, April 8th, trek day number 3, from Landrung to Ghandruk

today was a tough day in my opinion. Ever since we got to Landrung we saw a view of a huge hill facing us and a tiny little village twice as tall as we were, and this whole time we knew we were going to have to climb it.

Looking back at Landrung from Gandruk (see the red arrow pointing down) - we had to climb down to the river from there and all the way back up! Merav seems happy.

As usual, at 9:00 o’clock we set off down into the valley below to climb 500 meters of a steep stair mountain. The trail down to the valley was steep and hurt my knees a little bit. It took us 45 minutes or an hour to get down to the river where we had to cross a average size metal suspension bridge.

From the bridge it was straight up!

After we crossed it we rested a bit, looked at what we climbed down and at some cool bee hives and then we started our 3 hour climb up the big mountain we’ve been waiting for. The first half an hour was easy for me but as the trail went on and seemed never ending as it did i started to lose energy and the trail began to take it’s toll. We climbed for about 2 and a half hours and we stopped at a little house knowing we only had 30 minutes left. So we rested for 15 minutes and kept climbing the long climb. We finally reached a part where the trail flattened a bit and we knew we were almost there. And then, there it was, the wooden arch with a sign on it saying Ghandruk! We climbed for another 5 minutes and we got to our lunch stop and ate. After lunch we climbed for another 10 minutes in the village of Ghandruk and we got to our hotel. We had to wash clothes too which was unusual for me because i’ve never washed my clothes by hand before.

Washing my socks

Then we rested in our room until dinner and then we had a very nice friday night dinner and then we settled into our rooms for the night.

Day 9, Saturday, April 9th, resting day in Ghandruk

today was a very restful and relaxing day. We slept in, had a nice lunch at 12:30 as we usually do on normal Shabbats back at home. Then after lunch we took a nice little walk a bit out of Ghandruk. We crossed a cool bridge, got to a very pretty view point of Ghandruk, and then we headed back. At that point of the trek we were already like 2000 meters above sea level. We got back to our hotel and enjoyed the rest of our evening.

Part 2 of my report will appear next week. Stay tuned!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen van Stelle July 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm

So glad you’re writing up this last tiyul, Aviv. It’s so fun to read it from your perspective.

When your Uncle Dave & I went to Vietnam, it was just like what you described in India & Kathmandu — people calling to you every second to sell things, and all the honking! What is the honking about?!? We thought maybe it was like reverse sonar or something, you know, giving off sound to let other people know where you are.

Dave & I like momos almost as much as you do, it seems! Love the photo of Bahktapur — that place looks amazing. How funny that the airline you all flew to Nepal was “Yeti Air,” but your plane was really tiny — do you think the planes are big enough to transport Yeti? πŸ˜‰

The views from the trail seem like they were just incredible. Your photos are wonderful — looking forward to part 2!

Papa Mike and Safta July 28, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Aviv- FANTASTIC and we loved your commentary. Very funny – some of the things you mentioned. You did a Great Job and it was a trip to remember.
Love Safta and Papa Mike

Rick Skurow July 29, 2011 at 1:41 am

Memories for a lifetime, and the really cool stuff that family is all about. Thanks again for sharing; you help all your readers feel as though they vicariously travelled with you.

lynne August 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm

aviv, so fun to read your blog entries and hear what you did day by day – i’m so impressed with all that hiking you guys did – esp. your parents!!! what an adventure of a lifetime you guys shared – such an amazing family experience to treasure forever…and thank you for sharing it with your friends and family!

Safta August 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Finally got a chance to go to Napal without hurting my knees on the hike!
I really feel like I was there with all of you, between the pictures and your fabulous descriptions, Aviv, it was a wonderful armchair experience!
One day you may want to write and get paid for it! Maybe, travelogues.
Looking forward to reading the next installment.
With love,
Safta

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