Monthly Archives: November 2013

Kathmandu-day1

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Arrived here last night around 1030pm (2230pm). Kathmandu is 14hours ahead of Austin.

My first surprise was how many people were at the airport at night. It seemed like a 100 people were waiting outside for family, smashed up against a large window and big smiles of expectation. There were also another 100 milling around: cab drivers, police, and guides with signs picking up tourists like me. I had someone meet me at airport since I was traveling by myself.

It was quick drive to hotel it’s very charming. It has beautiful courtyard. Today I will get to know neighborhood and will meet my fellow trekkers tonight.
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Nepal Facts_Food

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cookbook

Of course an entry about food. I already have a Neapl Cookbook that I have been reading through and look forward to seeing if I can find the dishes included.

Most of my meals on the hike will be Dall Bhat with Tarkari (Lentils and rice with vegetables).

Most Neapli are vegetarians either by Religious requirements or due to economic situation.  Cows are not eaten so most meat dishes are water buffalo or goat and cheese products are from buffalo milk.

From what I have read,  chutney or pickeled food called Achar is served regularly. I love pickled food so I am looking forward to trying this.

I plan to look for spices at the market in Kathmandu. These include :

Black Cardamon/ Alaichi
Fennel Seeds/ Saunf
Fenugreek/ Methi
Jimbu (Dried grasses)

Some food rules that I have to make sure I follow:

1. Don’t drink the water. Water must be boiled for at least 10 minutes to be safe to drink. So one of my few purchases for this trip was a water purifier. I bought some tablets also as a backup.   It uses UV light to purify the water. Technology is so amazing.

waterpurifer

2. Eat with my right hand. Also only pass food and other objects to others with my right hand. It has to be very challenging to live in this world as a left handed person. It is so easy to forget how much things are designed for right handed people.

3.  Many Nepli people do not share food.  I believe that most of the Hindu food customs like those of Jewish faith and eating Kosher, come from the attempt to teach people back in the day about how to protect themselves from food pathogens. I love to share food and we call one of my best friends, “The splitter” because she loves to share dishes when we go out to eat.  I love sharing meals with her.

I am not sure what the Nepali say when it comes to the beginning of a meal; I’ll find out and let you know.

For now, Bon Appétit, ¡buen provecho!, Salud, and Cheers!

Nepal Facts_Religion

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ImageMost people of Nepal are Hindu (>80%), the remaining population is Buddhist, Muslim, Shamanist/Animist, Jain , or Christian.  The people of Nepal are very tolerant of other religions and the blend of Hinduism and Buddhism makes it sometimes difficult to clearly identify if something is one or the other.

Buddhist stupas, Buddha eyes (like image above), prayer flags and prayer wheels are displayed throughout the country. Boudhanath in Kathmandu is one of the largest stupas and one of the holiest Buddhist sites.  And probably most importantly, Prince Siddhartha Guatama was born in 560BC in Lumbini, Southern Nepal. He became what most Americans know as Buddha.  (FYI, there has been more than one Buddha and he was also not the first.)

My knowledge and spiritual path is greatly influenced by Buddhism; as it is not a religion but a personal journey to enlightenment. And my knowledge of both Hinduism and Buddhism grew as I studied yoga.  I am very excited to experience the culture that is influenced by these religions and to add my prayer flags to Thorung La pass to spread good will and compassion to all.

Om mani padme hum

Nepal Facts_ The Start of Trekking in Nepal

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I assume most of you know about Climbing Everest as a quest and that many start in Kathmandu.  What you may not know is that Nepal did not open for foreign travel until around 1950. Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa,  and Edmund Hillary, a New Zealander, summited Everest in 1953 as the first people confirmed to reach the summit.

In the 1960s, Col. Jimmy Roberts, a military attache to the British Embassy in Kathmandu, thought it would be good to provide local guides and tents to trekkers. Thus began Trekking in Nepal and some also consider this the start of “adventure travel” for the general public.

Nepal has eight of the 14 highest mountains on Earth and many consider the Annapurna Circuit to be the best hike in the world.

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The Annapurna Circuit is usually a 16-21 day hike, with days included for acclimatization for the altitude.  I will be hiking for 13 days with 2 days for acclimatization.  There were be 2 days were we drive from one town to another.  We start at around 2,493 feet in subtropical forests and work our way up to go through Thorung La Pass at 17,769 feet.

For this trek, I will wear or carry in my day pack the following:  1 camel back, 1 water bottle, 1 down sweater, 1 outershell, 1 wool sweater, 2 pairs of gloves, 1 pair arm sleeves, 1 wool hat, 1 ear muff, 1 neck gaiter, 2 bandanas, 1 pair hiking pants, 1 pair flip flops, 1 short sleeve shirt, 1 pair hiking boots, 1 pair hiking poles, 1 headlamp, binoculars, sunglasses, 2 pair wool socks, 2 sock liners, small hiking safety and med kit, tp, lighter, antibacterial spray, 2 nutritional bars, journal, water purifier, camera, and batteries.   My day pack will weigh about 15lbs, this includes both the camel back and water bottle filled with water.

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Nepal Facts: Sherpas

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Nepal is about the same size as Iowa. There are 92 different languages spoken and 102 different caste and ethnic groups.  This includes the ethnic group called “Sherpas”.

Many of you may recognize the word “Sherpa” as most Americans now use this word to describe the guides or porters that carry extra equipment or luggage for trekkers.  Sherpas are actually an ethnic group from Tibet who have lived in Nepal for more than 300 years.  I’ll share more about how we came to use the word Sherpa in this context in a later post.

On my trip, there will be porters, who could be Sherpas, that will carry a bag for each person in the group. The bag can weigh no more than 16.5 lbs.  Below is a photo of 4 of the porters from my hike of the Inka Trail.  They were amazingly fast and many only wore a flip flop type shoe.

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And here is what 16.5 lbs looks like. My bag includes:

1 sleeping bag, 1 sleep cocoon, 1 pair of shoes (Tom’s of course), 1 pair of hiking pants, 2 pairs of long underwear, 2 long sleeved undershirts, 1 long sleeved shirt, 2 short sleeved shirts, 1 sarong, 1 swim suit, 1 bra, 3 pairs of underwear,  2 pairs wool socks, 1 pair liner socks, 1 pair fingerless gloves, toiletries and first aid stuff (forget 3oz, I aimed for 1.5 or less),  supplements (probably an indulgence), nutrition bars, electrolyte packets, 1 book, paper mandalas and some colored pencils.

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Namaste!

Nepal Facts_Climate

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125px-Flag_of_Nepal.svgI will be in Kathmandu a week from now. I thought I would share a few facts about Nepal over the next week.  One of the first questions that I have been asked is “How cold will it be?”.

Nepal has 5 seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring and has five climatic zones.  I will be there during winter and will be hiking through several climatic zones as I will be going down into valleys and up into the mountains.

The temperature will fluctuate between 25F and 70F. In the higher altitude sections of the trail, it will be between 25F and 45F.

The coldest time will be at night at the tea houses as most of the houses do not have heat.Namaste!