Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nepal Trip November 2008

3.15 pm (8.00 p.m. Nepal Time)
20 November 2008

Dad has just rang. He’s arrived safely. Took him longer to get through the airport than expected. He knew he needed to get a visa but as his stay is over 60 days he had to get a 90 day visa which cost $100! He had arranged a pick-up from the airport and he had been told that the guy collecting him would have a sign saying “Jack Allen”. As he walked through the airport doors a guy ran up to him shouting “Jack, Jack”. Dad was just about to go off with him when he found another guy holding up a sign saying “Jack Allen”. The first guy had just read my Dad’s name off that sign and thought “I could make a quick bob here”!

Dad is presently staying in Marshyangdi Hotel (which I think could be this one http://www.marsyangdimandala.com/index.htm ) in the Thamel district of Kathmandu and at $40 a night it is making a hole in his pocket! He doesn’t even have any hot water in his room (I’m sure being a retired plumber he’ll soon be sorting that out!). Every day the electricity goes off for two hours … but it’s not always the same two hours! Today the electricity has been off between 3.00 and 6.00 pm (I make that 3 hours!!) … I’m sure Dad doesn’t have the worry of drying/straightening his hair though 

Today there is a strike in Kathmandu with schools and shops closed. Transport has ground to a halt with no buses, taxis or public transport and from what my Dad can make out all it relates to two men who have been murder (thanks for telling me this Dad!!). Found this story on the web about it and I’m not so worried now. http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Strike_shuts_down_Kathmandu_after_a_11202008.html

He says the people seem very friendly … he’s already been offered cocaine and when he refused that the bloke said “you want women instead” He’s only be there for two days crumbs knows what they will be offering him after a few weeks! Tonight for tea he’s had steak and a pot of tea – how civilised does that sound! He has even found an internet cafe but decided to ring me instead of emailing.

His plans for the next couple of weeks:
He has booked to go on a 15 day trek around the Annapurna Sanctuary from 24th November until around the 8th December.


This isn’t the trek he is doing but it will give you some idea http://www.greatwalks.net/itineraries/4_annapurna_sanctuary.html

There is only Dad and his guide doing the trek … so I hope he gets on with his guide seeing Dad is having to pay for the guides flights, accommodation, food etc! Dad will fly out to Pokhara which is classed as Nepal’s second city and one of the most popular tourist destination. More information on Pokhara can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pokhara

Dad is hoping to call again on Sunday before he starts his trek as I don’t suppose you come across many pay phones on a trek and he didn’t take his mobile but then again I don’t suppose you would get a very good reception in a glacial basin surrounded mountains!

So til next time .....

9.30 Sunday 23rd November

Dad has just rang .... he just caught me as I was just about to go out and feed the birds between snow/rain/hail showers. Anyway he is now in Pokhara. He nearly didn’t catch his bus this morning though. He needed to be away from the Hotel at 6.15 am so asked for an early morning call at 5.30 a.m. They rang and Dad looked at his watch and it was only 4.30, so he asked them to call back in an hour at 5.30. The guy on reception said “but Sir it is 5.30 am”. Dad had set his watch wrong when he got to Nepal – he has been one hour out for the last four days!

Anyway he managed to catch the “deluxe tourist” bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara. The journey took 8 hours to do just 200 km. It was a slow and very bumpy journey so he is glad he choose to go on the deluxe bus ... which Dad described as “like riding the Mad Mouse on Blackpool Pleasure beach”.

Yesterday Dad visited Pashupatinath Temple (http://nepal.saarctourism.org/pashupatinath-temple.html) which is one of holiest Hindu pilgrimages in Nepal. Dad described it as an old folks home where people are just waiting to die/a Crematorium! Sounds a wonderful day out! Whilst he was there two burial ceremonies were taking place and his guide was telling him that the bodies take three hours to burn and then the ashes are scattered in (or is that on) the river. Remind me on not to go swimming in that river!

He has also visited Bodhnath Stupa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhnath which is one of the largest Stupas in the world (if like me you have no idea what a Stupa is it’s a place of Worship). He was saying he took a taxi to get there as he wasn’t exactly sure which bus to catch and it cost £2.00. The bus back cost 10p! I think from now on Dad will be using the bus! I reckon he probably even tried using his bus pass!

He has meet up with his guide Sunile (or something along those lines) in Pokhara. Dad says he is a youngish lad (that’s probably anything between 20-40) who can speak English. Hope they get on as two weeks is a long time to spend with someone when you don’t get on!

They will be starting the Trek tomorrow and it will take 15 days.

Places he will visit
Ghandrung, Tadapani Tatopani - which seems to be similar to this trek http://www.itreknepal.com/annapurna/annapurna-tatopani-loop-trek.html

Ghasa, Marpha and finishing off in Jomsom - some of which is covered in this trek http://www.nepaltrekstours.com/jomsom_muktinath.php

Today he is off for a walk around the Lake in Pokhara. Just found this on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyw_D0xcZbE&feature=related which will give you some idea of Pokhara and the people.... and I reckon by the end you too will be singing along that you love Pokhara sights.

Here is another ... not quite as catchy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-03Dz_pDZ68&feature=related

Weather has been kind with no rain yet ... a bit different from back home! Not expecting to hear from Dad now for a couple of weeks but if I do will post and let you know how he is doing.

10.00 am Monday 24th November

Bit of a crisis this morning. Dad rang when I was not at my desk this morning and as I was not expecting him to call it was an anxious five minute wait for him to ring back! He has had his money belt stolen with his cards and cash in. He had put it under his pillow in his hotel and started off trekking when he realised it was missing. Frantic phone calls back to the hotel to locate it but it had gone. Dad is back in Pokhara and the police have been informed. I've managed to stop his debit/credit cards but not much we can do about the cash! He has got some other cards .... but we might be sending the hat round for donations!

I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that his passport wasn't in there ... or that's a load more hassle to sort out! Phew just found out his passport wasn't in the stuff that has been stolen ... so that's one less thing to sort!

7.30 pm Monday 24th November

I'm so annoyed with the Nat West Bank. Dad tried to inform them before he went away that he would be overseas for two months. I rang them earlier today as Dad is now down to two cards, only to be told "the system will notice unusual activity and will put a stop on the card" .... but WE don't want you to do that! I tried to explain that if you notice activities from Nepal then it's Dad using his card! Nipped around my Dads tonight only to find a letter waiting for him from Nat West saying "we noticed unusual activity on your card and request you contact us URGENTLY". I tried ringing them to say - it's not unusual activity it's my Dad he's travelling in Nepal but they said they will only speak to my Dad even though I could tell them when he had drawn money out. No matter how many times I told the guy that he is trekking and does not have access to a phone .... the guy still said but surely he has a mobile! I think he got the message when I screamed down the phone NO - he is trekking and I doubt they have much of a signal in the Annapurna mountains!

Left messages everywhere I can think of for Dad to get in touch but if he starts off his trek early he might not get them. Lets hope everything works out ...

Tuesday 25th November

Well after I've had a sleepless night worrying how I was going to get money to Dad if he needed it (does anyone actually know how to "wire" money to someone?) I've been and talked to the folks in Nat West and whilst they will not tell me much about my Dad's account they put my mind at rest and it seems that the transaction when he withdraw some cash in Nepal has triggered the fraud squad and this is why they have put a stop on his card. Now once I manage to pass the message on, all he has to do is to contact them (he can do this reverse charges) and they will take the stop off! Now if only they had let him register the fact that he was going to Nepal all this could have been sorted and I wouldn't have grown yet more grey hairs overnight with the worry!

Doubt very much that Dad lost a moments sleep worrying about this !

He has only been gone a week ... 7 more to go!

Sunday 30th November

Had a very brief phone call with Dad this morning (it was costing him £1.50 a minute to call). By the time I had explained that he had to ring the bank and him replying back "not at £1.50 a minute I'm not" and me telling him he could reverse charge and then me reading out the phone number and him repeating it back (bearing in mind there is also a few seconds delay on the phones) we didn't get much time to chat for his £2.00 phone call. He did say he was doing fine and was in a place called Lepi (or maybe Lephi). I've Goggled it and can't find it so I have no idea how far he has gone on his walk!

Hopefully he will ring the bank and then sort out his card and next time we can have a slightly longer conversation!

'til then

Friday 5th December (9.30 am)

Dad rang this morning. He had rang me at work but I was having the day off. Luckily I hadn’t set out to see what bargains I could grab in Woolies. Anyway he is now back in Pokhara. He had just rang the bank to sort out his Nat West card and they told him his card would be re-activated in the next 15 minutes ... so hopefully he will be ok for cash!

He flew back in from Jomsom earlier this morning. Had an excellent time in the mountains. He had stayed in tea houses/lodges so had a private room and bed every night and at £1.60 a night well within his budget. Most had showers but it was a bit hit or miss whether they worked or not ... told him if he can’t get any cash then he can earn his keep sorting out their plumbing.

Some of the highlights were getting up at 5.00 am at Ghorepani and watching the sunrise at Pool Hill which at 10,000 ft sounded quite spectacular (doubt if he took any photos!). From there they then dropped down to Totopani at 6,000 ft where they had Thermal Pools (toto pani actually means boiling water in Nepali – might be useful information for all you quiz goers!). Dad stripped down to his undies (not a pretty sight) and for 30p he had a dip and his undies got a wash – bargain! Dad could only manage to sit in it for about 5 minutes ... but I reckon his undies must have had a quick boil wash and will probably be good for another week now! His guide managed to sit in there for one hour!

Dana Marpha was another highlight which at 13,000 ft was the highest point they visited. Whilst there they also visited Muktinath which is a famous pilgrim site. It is the only place in the World where you can find all the five elements – fire, water, sky, air and earth in the same place and at the same time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muktinath

Gave Dad the news from home in a 30 second blast ... it’s bloody freezing, we’ve had snow, Woolies has gone bump, Stoke are still out of the relegation zone and interest rate has dropped to 2%!

Dad is now going back to Kathmandu tomorrow to sort out what to do next.

Right I’m off to see what’s left in Woolies ... til next time.

Note: Found this blog by someone else who visited in 2005 which goes in to much more detail so for those who want a more in-depth look at the area Dad has walked in have a look at this http://www.pahrumpvalleytimes.com/2005/07/29/news/nepal.html

Monday 8th December

Just a quick update. Found a message on my answering machine off a friend of Dad's to say ... Dad is doing ok. He is now in the hills behind Kathmandu (doesn't mean a lot to me!). He is hoping to give me a call on Wednesday so might get a bit more of an update then.

Wednesday 10th December.

Had a phone call from Dad earlier this morning (about 9.30 am). He is now back in Kathmandu. He has moved out of the “expensive” hotel and is now staying down the road in a £15.00 a night hotel (that’s more like it!).

He has just had five days in Bhakapur which is a small city in the mountains behind Kathmandu and a World Heritage Site. The City is filled with palaces, temples, statues and squares connected by a maze of largely pedestrian-only streets and is therefore very quiet compared to Kathmandu! The five day trip cost £70.00 and that included bed, breakfast and evening meals!

Dad also took time to visit Nagarkot which at 6,00 ft is one of the most scenic areas of the Bhakapur district with good views of Mount Everest. He is now using local transport. The journey cost 30p so not quite a cheap as back home with his free bus pass but a lot more interesting! They are similar to large mini buses and have seats for about 30 people but there were at least 60 people on the bus and 30 people on top of the bus - hopefully Dad got a seat inside and not on the roof!

His plans now are to go on a trek to Langtang for 10 days (probably something similar to this http://www.greatwalks.net/pdf/langtang_trek.pdf ). Just Dad and a porter guide. The trip is costing £200 for bed and breakfast, evening meal and for the guide.

Here is a bit more information on the Langtang Trek

and more information on the Langtang National Park

He will be return back in Kathmandu on 20th Dec when hopefully he will meet up with Val.

He will then head back out to Pokhara for Xmas and New Year and into the Chitwan National Park (http://www.visitnepal.com/nepal_information/nepalparks.php#RoyalChitwanNationalPark)

Yesterday (Tuesday) Dad went on a guided walk to Dakshinkali Temple. On Saturdays and Tuesdays they sacrifice animals. All very blood thirsty …and not for the feint hearted (http://www.tomvater.com/kali.html). I think if I’m ever in that part of the World to remember not to visit on a Saturday or Tuesday!

Talking of food Dad is eating well with breakfast of fruit juice and cheese and toast and evening meal of curry or chow mein work (I’d love to see Dad trying to eat that!!) and these work out at about £2.00 each. Beer is £2.00 a pint so he is limiting these to one a night! However he has been sampling the apple and apricot brandy and at 40p much cheaper tipple!

Not really expecting to hear from him again until after the 20th December, so until then …..

Saturday 20th December

Well true to his word Dad rang this morning. He had just got off the bus after an 8 hour journey! It wasn’t that he had been travelling miles (125 km ... not sure what that is in miles!) it’s just that the roads are SO bad! Mind you the return journey was quicker than the outward one – that had taken them 9 hours! He had to put his rucksack on top of the bus along with around 50 locals! He was grateful that nothing had been nicked – mind you would you go riffling through a rucksack of someone that has been off trekking! I think one whiff of his socks would deter most folk.

Phone line wasn’t particularly good (I think he was ringing over the internet). Nearly every time Dad spoke after about the third or fourth word he disappeared. Apparently he could hear me but I couldn’t hear him. So a 10 minute phone call – took nearly 20 minutes as he had to keep repeating himself! Mind you at 5p a minute we shouldn’t really complain!

He has just spent the last 10 days trekking in the Langtang Mountains. He had a brilliant guide this time and he enjoyed his company so much they are arranging another trip in the New Year. They stopped off in lots of villages on the trip. There are no roads – so no cars. The only transport you’ll find are horses. The highest point on this trip was Kyanjin Gompa at 12,000ft. Temperature dropped down to -6 at night! They had two nights accommodation here. Dad made a joke with the man that ran the place that he was very cold in the night and could he borrow his wife the next night to keep warm. The Nepalese folk are that hospitable that he said yes! Dad declined and said an extra blanket would suffice. Saw lots of wildlife on the trip and at one point there had been 100’s of monkeys and some with babies. Again I doubt he’s taken any photos. If it had been me I would have taken loads!

Dad made me laugh because he had noticed how bad English words are spelt – it must be bad if Dad had noticed!! He had walked past one place that was selling antiques but were advertising antics for sale!

To date his hasn’t had to call on much from his first aid kit. He has had one dodgy belly – the morning that he lost his money wallet the only other thing he has needed to use is the Vaseline and in Dads words “that was for my lips and my bum ... and I do them in that order”! Lovely!

He is now back in Kathmandu for a couple of days. Again there has been some trouble in the City. I’ve googled it and can’t find any reference to it so it must only be small scale this time! He will stay in Kathmandu for a couple of nights and then is off to Pokhara and the Chitwan National Park over Christmas and New Year.

He has arranged to meet up with the guide that he just done the Langtang Trek with to sort something for New Year. The guide has asked if he can bring along his wife too as she has never been on a trek!

Dad is hoping to ring again once he gets to Pokara so hopefully I will speak to him before Christmas and I’ll send on all your best wishes to him.

Found this link with photos and more information on the Langtang trek

24th December (9.10 am)

Dad has just rang to wish me a Merry Christmas. I did point out that it was only Christmas Eve but he thought the phone lines might be very busy tomorrow so was ringing today instead. If he gets the chance he will ring tomorrow as well.

He is now in Pokhara and has met up with his friend Val. She has put him in touch with some of her friends in Pokhara and yesterday he went out to one of the villages and spent an afternoon in the company of Val’s friends. He even got invited into their homes – he must have been on his best behaviour! Whilst in Pokhara he is hiring a bike for a £1.00 a day and cycling around on that! Dad says bikes are rubbish so I bet he is doing a bit of maintenance on them! Don’t suppose they wear cycle helmets over there either! He is now staying in the Hotel Crown in Pokhara which is on the edge of the lake in Pokhara. Dad even has a room with a view (and a balcony) over looking the lake. All that for just £7.00 a night!

Pokhara is holding a festival/celebration tonight and tomorrow so Dad is hoping to attend some of that. I asked him what he would be having for a his Christmas Dinner and he said Del Bar (which sounded like a pub from Only Fools and Horses!!) but it turns out to be rice, spicey vegetables, some sort of meat and soup and all for £2.00! Not many places you can get a Christmas Dinner for £2.00!!

On 26th December he is off to the Chitwan National Park. He has booked on a three night/four day Jungle Safari which will include going to watch the elephants, a jungle walk and a canoe trip which sounded fantastic until he told me that the park had tigers and crocodiles! Just hope he doesn’t come across any tigers whilst walking and crocodiles whilst canoeing. If he doesn’t get eaten and enjoys the safari he has the option to extend it to 7 nights.

He was telling me last night he’d gone out for a meal and it was Pizza – not one of my Dad’s favourite foods as he says it basically cheese on toast!!. The pizza was huge and he was unable to eat it all so instead of wasting it he wrapped it up and took it with him and feed the children on the street.

The weather is ok. It goes cool at night (but not like in the mountains) and dark at 5.30 p.m. At the moment the electricity can be off for anything up to nine hours a day. A lot of the hotels and businesses have their own generators but homes use candles – Ikea would do a roaring trade with candles out there!!

Yesterday he walked up to the World Peace Stupa which offers fantastic views over the Annapurna range and Pokhara itself. Found a bit on The Stupa and other touristy stuff in Pokhara on this website http://www.landmarkpokhara.com/travel_guides/place_of_interest.html

So far he has taken 48 photos on his disposable cameras. He has decided not to send them back to me as he sent some postcards about three weeks ago and they have not turned up yet! So hopefully when he is back I’ll post some photos.

Not sure if I posted a link before about Pokhara but in case I didn’t here it is again. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pokhara

Well Dad wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas and he hopes to call again before the New Year. So until then it’s Merry Christmas from me and Merry Christmas from him. Merry Christmas everyone.

25th December (9.45 am)

In the words of Slade “It’s Christmas”. Hope Santa has been kind to you all. Dad rang this morning – he managed to get through which was really nice. He’d been out walking up the Saranghot Mountain which is around 5,000 ft. He’d walked up and had a lift down which cost £2.00! If that had been me I’d have had a lift up and down! He’d just had a quick lunch of pancakes and honey (which is making my mouth water!) and a cup of black tea which apparently he is getting quite accustomed to (I will not be telling his milkman!)

On Christmas Eve he’d been out for a meal and had had steak and a few beers but at around £2.25 a pint he’d limited the beer consumption!

Tomorrow it is an early start at 7.00 am to catch the bus off to the Chitwan National Park. It will probably be a four or five hour journey.

Weather is still fine and so far they’ve had no rain. There are quite a few tourists around and thankfully so far he’s seen no trouble. Whilst out and about the Nepalese folk always want to chat and walk along with you so Dad has taken to speed walking when he’s had enough chit chat!

Not expecting to hear from him now for a few days.

Tuesday 30th December.

Dad rang yesterday (Monday) but I was down in London for the day and missed his call. He left a message on the answering machine saying he was back in Pokhara and would try and ring again tomorrow. I hadn’t got in until 2.00 and was hoping for a lie in this morning but I got up around 9.00 just in case he rang. About 10 minutes after I got up he rang so that was lucky!

He is now back in Pokhara for a few days. Had an excellent time in the Chitwan National Park. They stayed just outside the park in a place called Saurha. When he picked up the bus from Pokhara to go to the Park he was weighing up the amount of luggage going on top of the bus versus the amount of seats on the bus and decided to stay close to the front of the queue in order to get a seat. Good job he did as they had over-filled the bus and people had to sit on little stools down the middle of the bus!

There had been some of elephant festival taking place whilst they were at the Park and there had been elephant racing and elephant football. However after about 10 minutes one of the elephants had stamped on the ball and there was no replacement ball so the game had to be abandoned! More details of the festival can be found here http://www.internationalelephantrace.org/

He had been on the canoe ride and seen lots of crocodiles and on a jungle walk where they had seen deer and a leopard in a tree with its “kill” which had been a baby deer. Sometimes nature is cruel! He also been on an elephant ride and having experienced it myself it can be quite daunting at the start until you get comfortable and relax into the sway of the elephant. On the elephant trek they had seen crocodiles, peacocks, rhino, wild boar and deer majority of which had babies with them. One evening they had had a cultural evening where Nepalese people entertain with song and dance. They also get the visitors up dancing .... reckon my Dad’s dancing would be a “cultural” experience to the Nepalese folk!

Dad is now back staying at the Hotel Crown in Pokhara. They had asked him if he wanted a room with a TV but seeing they are now experiencing up to 14 hours a day with no electricity there seemed little point.

His next trek will be on the 1st January when he will do the Sky Line trek which is also known as the Royal Trek as Prince Charles apparently did a short trek along this route (I think they should now rename it the Jack Allen trek!!). Here are some details of the trek http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/5fb52/ Dad will do the trek with a guide but as there are no tea houses to stay in Dad will be staying in village houses with the local people.

After the Sky Line trek Dad will head back to Kathmandu but maybe stop off a place called Ghokia (well I think that’s what he said but I can’t find it on Google!) as it will break his journey up.

Dad was telling me a tale about when he was staying in one of the tea houses. He had had a couple of glasses of the their homemade wine and whilst he was fast asleep he had woken with a real jolt ..... he had only turned over and fallen out of bed! They’ll be asking for a room with a cot next for him! He was also saying he had met several tourists with limbs in plaster. He’d got chatting to them and asking them what had happened. Apparently they had been in accidents paragliding at Sarangkot. Dad has promised he will not have a go at this!

Today he has been out on the bike with a few people he had met on the Chitwan trip. There was a South African, Canadian and one from New Zealand – all women I might add!. They are meeting again tonight for an evening meal.

Pokhara is gearing up for the New Year with festival and street parties planned ... sounds far more exciting than back home!

Well I gave him the news from home .... it’s FREEZING and Stoke had lost to Man U and West Ham and were now in the relegation zone!

He’ll probably call again on either the 4th or 5th January, so until then Happy New Year.

Tuesday 6th January (9.30 am)

Well Dad rang … was starting to worry slightly (you tend not to worry too much) as he said he would ring on Sunday or Monday and now we are on Tuesday! If he hadn’t of rang today I might of worried a bit more.

He had just finished the Skyline Trek. Not only had Prince Charles done part of the walk but also Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones! Must have been some years ago as I don’t think Ronnie Wood could walk a couple of hundred yards now! Dad was very impressed with the walk and rated it higher than some of the others he had done. The route is un-commercial and the walkers stay with the locals in their homes. Someone is “kicked-out” of bed to make way for the visitors. Dad also ate with the locals and breakfast would be noodle soup with an egg on top and Delbart (which is some sort of Nepalese food) for dinner and tea. Dad being Dad was getting fed-up eating the same food day in day out so he showed them how to cook eggs and chips – well fried potatoes! I can picture it now …. a sign outside a Nepalese house “now serving eggs and chips” !

They finished the walk yesterday and for the last night of the trek he stayed with the guide in his home. His guide had built his home on the edge of the main road from Pokhara to Kathmandu … so probably one of the busiest/nosiest places to stay! The house was FULL …. there was the guide, his wife and son, his wife’s sister and her children but they still made room for Dad.

Dad said at times he felt like the Piped Piper whilst he was out in the villages. Kids would appear from everywhere to see “the strange visitor”. They would follow my Dad on his walks wanting to learn some English from him (I wonder if he tried teaching them some Pottery dialect like "Cost kick a bo againt a wo an' then 'it it wi' thi yed till it bosses?"). Dad would also sit with the children looking through his guide book whilst they showed him things. However once school started all the children disappeared off to school so Dad could get some peace and quiet.

With going to stay at the guides house Dad had missed visiting one of the lakes which is at the end of the Skyline Trek. So they decided to take the local service bus to the lake. As I’ve said before the buses are always very full and this was even fuller as someone had taken a cow onto the bus! No one batted an eye-lid … it was as if it was the norm! However everyone was trying their best not to sit at the back end of the cow.

Today he had been out on his bike. He had headed off to visit a bat cave. Entrance fee was 10p and £2.00 for a guide to show him around. Dad decided to leave the guide and as he had his own head-torch he headed off into the caves. He’d been gone a few minutes and he realised he had NO IDEA where he was or how to re-trace his footsteps to get back out! He decided to go no further and to sit it out until someone else came along! Thankfully after a short time he noticed a speck of light in the distance which got closer and closer and there appeared a group of students! He did start thinking he might have to spend the night in the cave … and said perhaps he should have paid the £2.00 for a guide! He had also been and visited on one the Ghurka Museums.

Weather has been warm seeing it is their winter-time. At high level there is snow but not in Pokhara. Weather was good enough to wear shorts but Dad has stopped wearing his as he looks to “obvious” wearing shorts. Even now he gets pestered by people all the time. Every time he sits down someone will sit next to him and start talking to him asking where he was from, his name and do you have any spare money! As Dad says you can’t give to everyone that asks … but he is off to spend a bit of money in one of the local shops where the people have been helpful and friendly to Dad whilst he has been in Pokhara. Dad said he will try and bring me an elephant back …. I’m hoping it’s a real one – well if they take cows on local buses surely you can fit an elephant on an aeroplane!

Last night Dad had been out for a meal with a Chinese girl from Australia who he had met on one of his treks. They had swapped email addresses and once she returns back to Australia she will send Dad some photos.

Dad will leave Pokhara tomorrow and head off to Bandipur (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandipur) where he will spend a bit of time before he heads back to Kathmandu.

His next trip will be to Helanbum (which I can’t seem to find on Google as it keeps asking “do you mean Helen bum”!!!). Again this will be more of an un-commercial trip where he will stay in little villages. It will be a six day trip with the guide he has used before and his wife! That will take him up to the 16th January and he will then start thinking about his return back to the UK on the 19th January.

Not sure when I will hear from Dad again … but when I do I’ll post the latest news.

Quick update - I’ve found out where Dad is off to its Helambu (thanks Carol for the correct spelling). Easy to find once you get the right spelling http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helambu

Friday 9th January (9.30 am)

Dad has just rang. He is now back in Kathmandu. He spent just the one night in Bandipur. It was very nice but not a great deal to do. However stopping off broke up the 7 hour journey from Pokhara to Kathmandu. He bumped into an English guy on the bus journey that Dad had christened Big Beard … Dad had seen this guy previously – I don’t suppose there are many bearded English men trekking in Nepal!

He is now staying at the North Field Hotel in Kathmandu. Double en-suite room. Just one problem there is only electricity for 10 hours a day and Dad hasn’t quite timed his shower right … so each time he goes for a shower there is no electricity! The double bed was an added advantage as well … no nothing like that. It’s quite cold at night in Kathmandu so he was able to double over the bedding for added warmth! In the restaurants the electricity can go off in the middle of a meal but it doesn’t seem to faze them. They just put candles on the tables. So Dad has been enjoying romantic candle lite dinners for one.

Tomorrow he will start the Helambu trek http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helambu with Umesh and his wife. The trip will be six days so he should be back in Kathmandu for the 16th January.

Today Dad had visited the Garden of Dreams http://www.explorehimalaya.com/kathmandu-garden-dreams.php an oasis of tranquillity in the middle of Kathmandu. Dad had a wander round the gardens and then sat for a couple of hours reading his book. A security guard came and sat next to Dad to chat and to learn some English. The Nepalese folk seem to love to chat and learn English. Dad was telling me about a lady who sat next to him on the bus. They always start off with the same questions “what’s your name”, “where do you come from” … but this lady went on to ask Dad if he was married! You would have to pay a fortune to go Speeding Dating in the UK … in Nepal you get it included in your bus fare!

I don’t expect to hear from Dad now until the 16th January which will be very close to the end of his two months in Nepal. So until then.

Friday 16th January (11.00 am)

Dad has rang. He is back off his Helambu trek. He really enjoyed the trip. In the end it was just him and the guide – the guide’s wife decided not to go along as well – sensible woman! The trek was a circular trek. He finished yesterday and they had a bed last night in one of the lodges. They had thought the journey back into Kathmandu would take about an hour. It took 5 hours. Dad said he was glad he hadn’t had an extra cup of tea that morning or he would never have last 5 hours without a toilet stop! The trek is not a very popular one so the route wasn’t that busy. He did meet up with some Koreans and they all happened to be staying in the same lodge. So that evening after a few Raski (Nepalese whiskey http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raksi) they had an evening of singing. Dad was racking his brain thinking of what he could sing …. he was going to sing Good King Wenscles but plumped for I’ll take the High Road instead. I wonder if the Koreans actually understood the song! The next day while trekking Dad was “rehearsing” what songs he could sing that night! Thankfully the Koreans where not in the same lodge so he didn’t have to perform that night.

He is now staying at the Kathmandu Guest house (bargain at £3.00 a night – you can tell it’s near the end of the trip) so hopefully they will have working showers when the electricity is on unlike North Field! He managed to catch a bit of TV today and saw it reported about the plane that had come down in the Hudson River in New York! I did point out that everyone had survived.

He’ll spend tomorrow mooching around Kathmandu picking up a few bits and pieces. Sunday he’ll need to be at the airport four hours before his flight. The flight is due to leave at 9.10 pm and he’s due to arrive back at Manchester at 6.30 am Monday! So early Monday morning, cold and bleary eyed, I’ll be there to pick him up.

I’ll give you a final update when he’s back to wrap up his trip. Til then.

Monday 19th January

Well Jack is back! Picked him up from Manchester earlier this morning. His flight was due at 6.20 am but it arrived at 6.05. I'd arranged to be in arrivals at 7.15 as it takes time to collect luggage, etc. He was waiting for me just after 6.30!

Well I suppose that's brings to an end this blog but if you want to stick around I'll try and get some photos to post to show you where he has been. I've given Dad a copy of this so he knows what tales I've been telling you all!

Thanks for joining in this bit of fun.

K xx