Annapurna Circuit & Tilicho Lake

Sunday, September 1st 2013

I just came back from 22 days trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, with a few side treks including one to Tilicho lake.

Before this trip I’d never been on a mountain (at least without a snowboard and a chairlift) so certain parts of the trek seemed pretty scary to me, one in particular on the way to Tilicho lake where a permanent sign said “Landslide” and you walked across about a foot-wide trail on a face of broken rock, with about a thousand meters of rock above you ready to fall on you, and a few thousand meters of the face below you that you’d roll down if you lost your footing (I wrote that it was 1,000 meter drop in the section below, but later learned that it was quite a lot more). I don’t keep a diary, but I’ve got a book to draw website designs in, so when I got to the other side I wrote this down so that I’d remember the experience:

I just came through the scariest climb yet, walking through what seemed to be a gravel mountainside, with warnings of falling rocks from above and the reward of a 1,000 meter drop below should you fall. The trail was barely a foot wide, and in some places only wide enough for a single step, forcing you to walk tight-rope style for over an hour while constantly listening for falling rocks from above. I could see this section of trail long before I reached it, which meant building up the tension and nervousness. Luckily, just before entering the section I saw a French man, alone like me, emerging from it. I’d met him a few days earlier and he assured me that if I went slow and steady, I’d be fine. Because he’d just done so, his advice calmed me right before entering. I tightened up my backpack and hunched over to keep my centre of gravity right over my feet. I spent the next hour walking over the section like this, and though I seemed to get altitude sickness halfway through (I felt a bit lightheaded and my vision lagged), I made it to the other side alive. I’m going to spend the night at Tilicho base camp to make sure I’m fully acclimatized, then make for the lake tomorrow.

It actually only turned out to be scary because I wasn’t use to it, and really wasn’t that bad. The next day when I had to walk across the same section, now that I was use to it, I pretty much just walked across the same way I’d walk down a sidewalk.

Nagarkot, Nepal

Saturday, July 27th 2013

I spent about a week and a half in Nagarkot, which is on the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. You can see Kathmandu and it’s neighbouring city Bhaktapur from the mountaintops in Nagarkot, but it’s a world away. Before going to Nagarkot I was in Kathmandu trying to use Google to find the best next stop, but when it came to Nagarkot I couldn’t find much info that wasn’t related to trekking (actually it’s hard to find any information related to Nepal that isn’t related to trekking). So, now that I’ve been there, I wanted to share what you can do in Nagarkot that’s not trekking-related.

So, what can you do in Nagarkot? Not much, but that’s kind of the point. Nagarkot is a small village at the top of a mountain, and it’s likely one of the most relaxed places I’ve ever visited combined with some of the nicest people. My days primarily consisted of hanging out in my hotel, The End of the Universe, which is a group of cabins on the edge of the town. The staff there were amazing, several different people happened to be staying there for an extended time just like myself, and along with the staff we became friends. When the staff’s workload lightened at the end of each night, they more often than not started playing music, singing with the guests, and teaching us Nepali dance. I now know that to dance like a Nepali you just have to either pretend to unscrew lightbulbs or pretend to ride a motorcycle.

This video gives a good idea of what a night in the hotel was like more often than not, and you were always invited to join.

Around the town of Nagarkot you’re just going to want to spend your time relaxing, and maybe head out for a walk each day. I’m not an expert on trekking, but around Nagarkot I’d say it’s more like a nice walk than trekking. There are trails around the town that you can take which have been specifically built for tourists (though there were not many tourists there when I visited in the off-season), but there are also many many roads and trails that the locals use to get around, and these were always my favorite.

A quick video from one of these roads is posted below to give you an idea of what to expect.

Yonggungsa Temple

Monday, October 1st 2012

Spent my day here today; it’s a Buddhist temple on the far corner of Busan, which is a city on the southern tip of South Korea. Almost every temple in most Asian countries looks pretty much exactly the same as every other temple (at least every other temple within the same country), but this temple is one of the exceptions. You can read more about it here: http://visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SIEN311_1.jsp?cid=264404

The video above was made by (and originally posted) here: Yonggungsa Temple