From Crap-mandu to Yak-land

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November 4th 2010
Published: December 12th 2010
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The last time I was in Nepal was 16 years ago, when I did a short 7-day Annapurna Panorama trek; and blimey a lot has changed since then. The pollution & air quality is so horrendous in Kathmandu (now nicknamed 'Crap-mandu') with all the taxis & motorbikes, that it's really hard to breathe. You develop this hacking smoker's cough, and feel the urge to spit like the locals (but hold back because it's totally festy). There's a loss of innocence too with the myriad girly bars, just like a mini-Bangkok. One thing in it's favour is that the food has improved considerably with lots of Western food choices - no more dal bhat for every meal.

The reason for my visit was to undertake a trek with my London hiking buddies to the Langtang Valley, north of Kathmandu and close to the Tibetan border. I was supposed to head over the Ganja La Pass, but my insurance wouldn't cover me if I used support ropes (considered mountaineering). Major bummer! Ended up spending my R&R downtime in Crap-mandu, waiting for my Indian visa to get approved, taking in the sights again with some of my fellow trekkers, gorging & tasting the culinary delights, and going on a spectacular Everest mountain sightseeing flight. Eventually the pollution (and boredom) drove me mental, so decided to escape to Pokhara.

Now for the Gus Good Food Awards for Thamel (drum-roll)

Best steak - Everest Steak House
Best pizza - Roadhouse Cafe
Best dessert - Sizzling brownie with ice-cream at the Roadhouse Cafe
Best Nepali thali (dal bhat) - Curry Kitchen
Best Tibetan - Hotel Utse with great veggie momo's & tibetan hot-pot
Best beer - Koblenzer (german darkie) at New Orleans Cafe
Best burger - New Orleans Cafe
Best roast veggie plate - New Orleans Cafe
Best juices & shakes - an awesome hole in the wall called 'Just Juice & Shakes'. They also do a nice cheese omelet & cheese toastie (good brekky).
Best coffee - Himalayan Java Cafe. Not the one in central Thamel, but the one upstairs near the main road with comfy lounges.
Best brekky - Pumpernickel Bakery; and Just Juice & Shakes.
Best sandwiches - Pumpernickel Bakery

Additional photos below
Photos: 34, Displayed: 23


meat fixmeat fix
meat fix

yummy (yak?) steak
I see the lightI see the light
I see the light

Patan - Durbar Square
holy stonersholy stoners
holy stoners

waiting for the next busload of tourists
mountain flightmountain flight
mountain flight

View of the Everest mountain range
Mount EverestMount Everest
Mount Everest

the peak in the background

10 hour bone-rattling bus ride to start of the trek at Syabrubesi
Lama HotelLama Hotel
Lama Hotel

1st overnight stop - the lodge was freezing and drafty. early dinner, wet wipes shower, and straight into the sleeping bag.
typical trek foodtypical trek food
typical trek food

Usual choice of dal bhat, veggie fried rice, or veggie chow mein.
top amenitiestop amenities
top amenities

toilet (not so) good; and luke-warm (bucket) shower
jungle walkjungle walk
jungle walk

The scenery was quite tropical and lush - you could almost imagine you were trekking in Asia. Even saw monkeys swinging in the trees.
himalayan honeyhimalayan honey
himalayan honey

the only way to reach it is to go down the rock-face by rope
autumn coloursautumn colours
autumn colours

Beautiful & rich autumn foliage

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