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Posts Tagged ‘Nepal’

Thorong La Pass, at 5416m, is the highest point in the Annapurna Circuit, and offers 360° views of the Himalayas.

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The last week of the trek was hiking down 4000m, and the back up to Poon Hill for a spectacular view of the whole Annapurna Range.

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The second week of the Annapurna Circuit brings ice cold nights, steep climbs, and the infamous Himalayas.
We spent a few days in a city called Manang: resting, doing some side hikes, and spoiling ourselves at the only real restaurant/bakery on the trek.

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The paths in and around Manang were lined with with Mary Jane. The goats seemed to like it as much as the locals.

Ice Lake – named as such because of the reflections of the Annapurna mountains on the water – is a 1000m, tough climb from Manang but worth it since barely anyone makes the trek.DSC05082

DSC05065 The next few days were spent making our way to ‘High Base Camp’ to make the final 500m ascent to Thorong La Pass.

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High Camp

After one night at high camp, we headed out early the next morning for the pass.

(The Khalerias have been serious beach bums over the last two weeks – enjoying the sun, surf, and snorkeling in Nusa Lembongan and Gili Trawangan, Indonesia… I’ll hopefully be back to reality and online soon!)

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The Annapurna Circuit is a 230km loop through the Annapurna Range in the Nepalese Himalayas. The hike, taking anywhere from 12-21 days, commences with a 5416m pass and 360° views of the Himalayas. Spanning through rice paddies, deserts, tiny villages, and glaciers, the trek challenges the mind as much as the knees.

On October 7th, 2010, The Khalerias, along with friends Alex Parsons and Josh Phillips, took a 9 hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Besishahar, the starting point for the trek.

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A bridge on the way in. It took us over an hour to cross, as the bridge wasn’t able to handle the weight of more than one car at a time.

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Josh rode rooftop (among 10-12 locals, and all our luggage) for about half the trip – a much more comfortable option compared to the cramped seating.

(Thanks to Parsons for these first few photos)

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The start of the hike was surprising – I was expecting cold, ice, snow, mountains – but instead it was humid, green, lush rice paddies. After about a thousand feet of elevation and two days of hiking, the lushness started to mix with dramatic mountains and cliffs. IMG_0411

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Local kids wait for tourists to get to the river crossing, and quickly set up stones to lead you across. Then they ask for money.

**The only English words we heard a Nepalese child speak through our entire trek were ‘sweets’, ‘candy’, and ‘money’. At some point years ago, trekkers started bringing bags of sweets to hand out to the local kids. While this seems like a good idea at first, in reality it teaches the children to be beggars at a young age. If you head to Nepal, or anywhere in the Himalayas to trek, please respect the idea that children gain nothing from a piece of candy besides the expectation that anyone with a backpack owes them something. If you want to help, the tourism commissions in Nepal ask you to bring school supplies (pencils, notebooks) to hand out instead.**

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Herds

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A porter carrying at least 50kg on his back.

Since you hike from village to village, it is easy enough to carry your own supplies and a porter isn’t necessary. But every Coke that you buy, or Oreo that you eat, has to be carried in since there are no roads connecting the whole circuit. A guide we met told us that some porters carry up to 80kg, more than 125% of their own weight, up to 5000m elevation. They are undoubtedly some of the most amazing people I have ever come across.

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Next up: Part two. About a week into the trek, the weather started to shift from hot/humid to freezing, and the mountains went from dramatic and stark to snow covered…

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The Khalerias are back in Bangkok, and finally out of the internet-black-hole more commonly known as Laos.  Thanks for sticking with me.

More posts on our 3 week trek through the Himalayas coming soon… here’s a peek:

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Many, many more pictures and a few more posts coming before the new year. The Khalerias are spending a few days relaxing in Bangkok with a friend we met in Albania, before heading to Indonesia on Christmas day to meet up with The Parsonian.

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(India vs. Pakistan, round two)

I was officially denied my Indian Visa this morning… which puts to end The Khalerias week long ordeal with the Indian Embassy. Straight from the embassy, we headed to an internet cafe, and started researching where to head from here. About an hour later we booked a flight to Bangkok for tomorrow afternoon.

I’m really upset/sad/frustrated with the whole Visa situation – but on the bright side, I’ll be having Pad Thai for dinner tomorrow night. I know many of you have been to Southeast Asia before, so please send us any recommendations! Neither of us were planning on heading there until 2011, so we’re going in blind.

One giant thank you for all the messages and words of encouragement I’ve gotten over the past few days. The ordeal has really shed light on how lucky we are to be Americans – almost everyone else in the world has to deal with ethnic-based discriminations trying to travel anywhere abroad. Like I told a good friend Zoey this morning – we’ve got it easy, so I quit my whining right now!

And one more special thank you to The Khalerias travel companion for the past two months – we are really going to miss you Parsons! Please stay tuned on The Parsonians Blog to follow ATP’s travels through India (and the Camel Fair in Pushkar)… sadly without us.

Talk to you all from Thailand tomorrow night!

(And, I promise, more blog posts coming soon – including pictures from our Himalayan trek)

 

 

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Since The Khalerias are (still) stuck in Nepal , I’ve been reading a little about the Pakistani-India conflict.
These race/religion/land disputes are the cause of decades of hatred, three wars, thousands of innocent lives lost, and one little White girl who can’t get an Indian Visa because her Dad is from Pakistan.

A brief history:

With the end of the Second World War bringing the dissolution of the British Indian Empire, the intention was to split the region by religion. Muslims were to head to the North (what later became Pakistan as we know it today) and Hindu’s were to stay in Indian territory. This partition forced the displacement of millions of people, who were violently uprooted from their homes in order to split the land mass. This included my Grandfather, whose family moved from India to Pakistan during this time.

While maybe initiated with good intention, the results of this split were catastrophic. Not only did this create an air of hostility between the parties, it left some princely Indian states up for grabs. The rulers of these states were to decide if they chose to secede to India or Pakistan. The ruler of a now-famous province called Kashmir, chose not to pick sides, claiming that his people could remain independent from both countries.


The Kashmir Province, between India and Pakistan

Both parties claim relation to the people to Kashmir, and rights to the land because of their religion. Since the Kashmir province is also in a convenient location bordering China and the former Soviet Union, tensions started to brood even more. Months later, the first war broke out between India and Pakistan over the region. The Pakistani army invaded Kashmir, forcing the prince of Kashmir to ask India for help. India promised help if Kashmir was signed over to them… but the war resulted in the UN dividing the province into two equal parts.

In the decades since, both sides have claimed rights to this land and three subsequent wars have been fought over the territory, the latest being in 1999. Today, all relations between the Indians and the Pakistanis are met with suspicion. These hostilities carry over into a host of other problems. In 2002, Osama Bin Laden said that one of the reasons he was fighting against America was their support of India regarding the Kashmir Province.

I’ve been at the Indian Embassy in Nepal three times over the last few weeks, the first two visits resulting in a denial of my initial application to enter India. Yesterday I spent the morning at the embassy on the phone with the Indian Foreign Ministry – answering questions to the best of my knowledge about my family. I’ve been told they will review my case and get back to me on Thursday for a final answer. When I got off the phone, the manager of the embassy told me my chances were slim to none – but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Stay tuned for the drama!

If India is a no-go, The Khalerias will fly to Southeast Asia next week!

(PS. YEAH GIANTS!)

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We are officially back from our three week, 225km, trek through the Annapurna mountain range in Nepal – with some blistered feet, sore calves, and spectacular photos of the Himalayas. More on our trek to come once I have reoriented myself with my laptop…

My return to Kathmandu has been a little less than pleasant – a pretty gnarly case of Montezuma’s revenge has left me laid up. I apologize for not getting back to anyone in the last few days.

This morning I was the only one of our group of four denied an Indian Visa (apparently having the last name Khan is only cool when making Star Wars references, not when trying to cross the Indian border. Ugh.) Will be trying to remedy the situation over the next few days… during which my Nepalese Visa will expire. All in all, a crummy situation.

On the bright side… more time in Nepal means more Mo-mos! (In case you aren’t aware, mo-mo’s are pretty much the same thing as potstickers, except filled with way yummier curried veggies/potatoes/chicken/buffalo. BRILLIANT!)

momo (Momo photo street cred to Parsons)

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