Happy New Year Nepal!

2073! Happy New Year!

The town has been really busy with people & festivities! There are celebrations & music along the streets & after parties advertised for the bars later in the evening. There’s even a display of these creepy fellows carved from fruit & vegetables!

A fairground & big stage have been set up to host the festivities. There’s a busy line up of singers & dancers throughout the night & all the locals cheer & sing along to the hits! There’s an abundance of stalls selling clothes, snacks, drinks & toys. The area is incredibly busy with people in a great mood!

We could smell the delicious food stalls before we seen them

Spot the children sleeping behind the stalls

The locals are going crazy for the games to win a bottle of pop or even a can of tuna!

I can’t keep away from the food stalls & had to try this spicy dish – the vendor took a small scoop from each of the preprepared different lentils, corn, nuts etc. In the end it was way too hot for me to finish!


I’ve come with my Brazilian friends & we are getting into the party spirit & dancing along having a great time. The locals are so happy & in the mood to celebrate. My friends are getting a bit drunk but I’m not interested – My party spirit has abandoned me & I’m looking forward to bed!

The kids are all dancing like crazy to the singers on stage & the atmosphere is electric! There is a countdown to midnight & everyone screams in amazement at the fireworks. Everyone is in a joyous mood.

The rain dots my face as I make my way home through the crowds. I feel like an outsider & an intruder observing from a distance.

Reiki course complete – what a relief….

After a week of Reiki, Shiatsu, yoga & dynamic meditation I feel…… Not any different to be honest. I was hoping to be much more centred, balanced & have a clearer head. I feel just as confused, distracted & overwhelmed as I did prior to starting the course. I don’t feel like I have gained any clarity or enhanced in any way. Was it a wasted week?? Why do I bother with this self improvement & continued professional development??

I feel like I’m striving for outward gains when what I need to do is look internally & focus on what’s inside & self discovery.

On completion of the course I am unsure how I feel about Reiki, my capabilities to facilitate it & my belief in it. I feel like I haven’t been led by optimal reiki masters. I have a belief & trust in Reiki but I think I’ve been let down. I’m disappointed by this experience & annoyed that my time & money hasn’t been channeled optimally. I feel like there’s nothing I can do about it now, but going forward I can be more selective about my teachers & be assertive enough to be able to stop a course when I feel like I’m not getting anything out of it. It’s a shame.

On my last day the people at the centre held a celebration party in my honour. I can be very shy & I was absolutely apprehensive at what this would entail. The party was a made up of my reiki instructor & a couple of people who ran the centre as well as 4 local children. I was presented with my certificates & wholly embarrassed with the fuss & being the centre of attention! After a few cringe worthy photographs we had a dance party where we threw our best moves to meditation music. I have never felt more awkward!!!! Sober dancing can be bad enough when you’re not in the mood, never mind to music you can’t dance to & an audience of people keen to see your western moves.

When I think of it I’m transported straight back to that room & what could well be a life peak of discomfort & embarrassed artificial enjoyment.

I managed 30 minutes of stiff swaying & more fake laughter & ‘smiling through it’ that I thought I could muster. The 30 minute mark came – but we didn’t stop. Welcome to my absolute hell! I was so uncomfortable. I was working down a list through my head of sudden illnesses I could feign to get out of this. If I was back in Ireland I could just should that I left the immersion on then flee.

After 10 more long, unrelenting minutes the ceremony was finally over. We gave each other awkward hugs. I was losing the will to live. I was so happy to leave. I have never endured such prolonged embarrassing discomfort of being uncomfortable in my own skin & exposed to unwanted attention.

Reiki Level 2, Pokhara, Nepal

After 3 days I’m starting to wonder have I signed up for a Reiki course or am I paying an old man to watch me sleep??

I’m unsure whether I’ve signed up to a Reiki course or I’m just paying an old man to watch me sleep…..

I had a dismal experience in India completing Reiki Level 1 so why I proceeded with a sinister looking Reiki master in Nepal for Level 2, I’ll never know. I feel really uncomfortable with my reiki master. I find his voice grating & his attitude & teaching dull & uninspiring. During our sessions I repeat words I don’t understand while etching symbols in the air that have no meaning to me. This is not the most productive use of my time I agree. I continue anyway, hating every moment.

When the Reiki master gets bored of me he asks me to lie down while he performs Reiki on me. Or so he says. I quickly fall asleep. Every time. I wake to him informing me the session is over & I am covered in dainty little flowers. When did that happen!??

I thank him & pretend to be refreshed &, ‘like, totally attuned’…. He opens his arms to hug me & I shudder. I hold my arms open, mirroring his gesture, but holding my distance. I know this move has worked the last few days at deterring the follow through of a hug. He nods confused at his weird socially incompetent student. He presumes we don’t do hugging in Ireland. I don’t correct him.

I leave happy of my intact personal space but wondering how I always get myself into these situations & why I don’t do anything to break the habit. I turn up the next day for 3 painful hours & a creepy nap. This is my life now. I am a mere puppet to my hastened life choices.

 

Reiki & Shiatsu

I am always continually professionally developing no matter where in the world I am, keen to add a holistic aspect to my sports physiotherapy degree – what better than a spot of Reiki. How useful combined with pitch side trauma! Which elite rugby player wouldn’t be begging for a spot of Reiki along with a concussion assessment or a bit of pre match chakra opening whilst strapping an ankle…? Yes, I am currently an unemployed sports physiotherapist & no I can’t see myself gaining employment any time soon. I can only presume my confusing back catalogue of internationally obtained continuing professional development to supplement my wanderlust is not exactly catapulting my career.

I completed Reiki Level 1 in India last month, you can read about it here & here. It was focused on self healing. I would like to learn more about it & be able to incorporate Reiki into my treatments so I have been researching Level 2 courses. I found one in Pokhara & met with the instructor (obviously it turns out he wasn’t the instructor…). He is friendly, non creepy & has a positive encouraging energy.

Keen to expand my knowledge base I also signed up for Shiatsu.

I will be attending Osho Meditation centre for these courses. The cost is 32000NPR which also includes accommodation & food for 5 days as well as meditation & yoga every day. I am looking forward to starting this programme & hope the meditation & yoga bring me the peace I’ve been seeking.

Poon Hill Day 4: Terepani to Pokhara

My last day trekking arrived all to quickly. When I woke up at 7am my legs felt stiff & heavy for the first time on this trek. We said our farewells to the other group leaving for Annapurna Base Camp & started our descent to Nayapul. As we left Terepani my friend announced that she had a dream that I fell. Delightful. I walked with especial caution at the fear of her premonition.

The walk to Ghandruk was as lovely as the previous day. Cool forest, mostly ground & not many sets of epic stone steps. Bliss.

After Ghandruk I became quite hangry – a cereal bar & a litre of water couldn’t pull me out of this mood so it was earphones in until our lunch break. When we arrived our guide saw a bus for Nayapul & was pushing us to take it to Pokhara for some reason, I presumed it was cost efficient for him. He doesn’t approach these topics with a charming persuasion so I found his aggressive attitude uninviting & I felt we should stick to our original plan & finish the trek on foot as we had previously decided. It was only 2 more hours away he had said & I certainly had the energy reserve for it. My travel companion was also determined to finish the trek on foot so we declined the bus option feeling like our guide had just wanted to rush us back to Pokhara.

We had lunch & the guide was clearly unhappy with our decision. From that point when we set off he walked further ahead of us & I felt a very overwhelming negative energy from him. The bus option had never been spoken about before & I couldn’t fathom why he was so annoyed at us. The combination of his negative energy, the sun roasting me & my slow travel companion weighed on my mood so I put my earphones in, blocked them out & continued alone for 3 hours. Any time I asked the guide how much longer it would be his answers were inconsistent & different to his previous days debrief. I feel like he had made miscalculations & had wanted to make up for lost time with the bus.

It was 5pm by the time we arrived in Birepani & almost 6pm by the time we reached Nayapul. This was a much longer day trekking than the guide had told us we would complete. We sat at a cafe waiting for our taxi & after 20 minutes he told us the taxi would be another hour. Exhausted & desperate for a shower & bed I questioned this disorganisation & told him I was unhappy with this arrangement. He then he suggested I contributed to booking another taxi – despite already paying for the taxi inclusive of my package. He continually contradicted himself regarding the timing of the buses to make them seem like the better option despite previously quoting them as being twice as long & unpleasant when he wanted us to pay for the taxi in the package. He begrudgingly paid the extra money for the taxi & we all felt a bit deflated with fatigue & disorganisation.

It was a disappointing end to our expedition. He didn’t pay for all our meals as planned & was visibly angry at having to pay extra when it was his fault for not arranging the timing of the taxi with his friend. I obviously felt bad & even guilty (damn you catholic guilt) but I feel I was right to press him on getting us home.

We were happy to get back to the friendly faces in Little Buddha, have a long hot shower & get a hot meal in our bellies before bed.

Despite the less than ideal end to our trek, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love a fitness challenge (with epic views) & this was perfect. The toughness was the perfect level for me. I was tired & I had to really push myself at times, but it was achievable. I adore being outdoors in the fresh air & nature. I really want to spend more time doing these activities.

Poon Hill Day 2, Ulleri – Ghorepani

Day 2 Ulleri – Gorepani

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With a belly full of porridge, bananas & honey & a ginger lemon honey tea I skipped up the mountain steps at 7am. The cool morning air was a welcome change from the heat of the day before. My legs felt surprisingly fresh! We passed by various tea houses ‘namaste’ing everyone we seen & admiring the cuteness of the small children. I flitted between discussing everything from childbirth to Nepalese politics to popping my earphones in & getting lost in my music. Bliss.

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The walk was not an easy one with continuous up & down hills (to be expected when trekking in Nepal) & plenty of sets of steps – in case we needed to be weaned off them after the epic 3200 steps yesterday. We met a lot of trekkers on their return from seeing the Poon Hill sunrise that morning. They were the happy ones who were mainly going downhill! They confirmed it was beautiful & spurred us on when we were feeling fatigued.

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We reached Gorepani for lunch & I had a Dal Bhat 24 hour, full power! This is what most Nepalese eat twice a day, everyday. It has rice, a curry, pickle & veg plus it is bottomless! While you’re eating you will continuously be offered top ups of everything until you tell them enough. I didn’t even get that far! The portion was huge!

After another TIMS check in we climbed steps for 15 minutes to reach our hotel for the evening – Hill View Hotel. The majority of the hotels & restaurants feature the word ‘view’. We passed numerous places called Hill view, mountain view, super view, annapurna view, nice view, etc, etc.


Our guide booked us into the hotel closest to Poon Hill to make for an easier climb the next morning. I was exhausted & had a cold shower then a nap. I love a sunset & was keen to climb Poon Hill to enjoy it but the cloud cover & my heavy legs made me opt against it. Big mistake! Just before dinner the clouds dispersed to reveal a beautiful sunset on Mount Fishtail. Glorious!

In the evening we sat in the restaurant/lounge area & chatted with other trekkers. Everyone was feeling tired but exhilarated at making it this far. For dinner I had some slices of pizza, my body keen to take on any fuel I’m feeding it.  After dinner I went straight back to bed & read my book before going to sleep again. I feel like I spent all afternoon sleeping since arriving at 1pm. My body must need it – clearly in shock with all the work it’s doing. Good work body! Sorry I didn’t prepare you better! Next time I will, promise!

Poon Hill

The Himalayas look so impressive & I simply couldn’t go to Nepal & not do some trekking. I am desperate to trek to Everest Base Camp but it is working out really costly & I can’t afford is this trip – never mind my fitness levels not being at their optimal!

My friend & I have decided to conquer Poon Hill & do a 3 day trek with a sunrise 3210M summit along the Annapurna circuit. This seems to be a beginner trek which is quite challenging yet manageable at your own pace. My friend has never done any hiking & one of the agents we were speaking to put it very simply – If you can walk you can trek. He’s quite right. It may take you weeks, but you’ll manage it if you take it easy.

I read a few blogs & priced around Kathmandu & Pokhara unclear about what to do. My friend & I decided we wanted a guide (even if we could manage without one) as extra confidence, for more local information & general peace of mind. We decided we could do without a porter. If I was more organised I would be happier to go without a guide as I believe the route is simple to navigate. This takes the added stress out of the trek. If I was to do a longer trek I would definitely hire a porter primarily to give someone work & an income for a few days.

I priced a few places for full packages or guide only while my friend updated her instagram & flirted with boys. I wanted to go with Three Sisters Adventure Trekking & on our way there I insisted on stopping at a few agencies so she could have a comparison as well & not rely so heavily on me. One guy charged us $70 per day for the full package & the second agency quoted $40. The second guy seemed really straight to the point, was realistic about what we would need to take as opposed to encouraging us to buy a lot of kit & was patient answering all our silly questions e.g. regarding the monkey population, the meaning of his upper ear piercing & where I could buy a bottle of Baileys. We felt we got on well with this guy & booked him for a 4 day Ghorepani/Poon Hill trek.

In hindsight just hiring a guide without going through an agency would have been much more affordable but as first time trekkers we did the best we could to get a decent deal within our budget. This cost included taxi transport from our hotel to Nayapul & back, accommodation for 3 nights, the guide & 3 meals a day with a hot drink per day for 4 days.


The previous day we visited the Trekking permit office to obtain the necessary documents required to hike in the Annapurna region. These are TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) & ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project). The TIMS document is regarding your safety & whereabouts as you check in at various points on the trek & ACAP is to support the area & maintain the routes. Be sure to get the correct TIMS card as one is for trekking without a guide & one is for trekking with a guide/via an agency. This wasn’t explained clearly to us & we had to go back to the office to plead our case for a refund & correct document. You need to have 2 passport photographs for your TIMS card, many places in Pokhara offer this service. The office had about 7 other trekkers completing forms when we were there & it only took us 20mins to fill out the forms & get our documents (albeit one was incorrect).

In addition to this we would have to pay for all our water, snacks & additional food we wanted as well as entrance to Poon Hill (50NPR) & electricity for phone charge (100NPR), fee for hot shower (150NPR) & wifi connection (150NPR) if required. Prices vary from place to place.

Accommodation ranged from 200NPR to 500NPR for a double per night & meals were between 150NPR to 600NPR depending on what you got. Hot beverages were averaging 100NPR for a cup & filtered water was between 60NPR to 110NPR per litre. Chocolate bars were about 200NPR & beers 500NPR. Generally prices increase as you ascend. All prices are set per village as well with no haggling tolerated.

Digesting all this information we set about assembling the kit we needed for our expedition.

Digs: The Little Buddha Hotel

The Little Buddha Guest House is a cute family run hotel in Pokhara. We came to this hotel from a grubby one we got a poor deal on & this accommodation was a massive improvement! It is family run & they are so friendly, making the small hotel feel very homely.

The rooms were standard & basic, but enough for what we wanted. There is a garden area, a sofa & bookcase upstairs to chill out & a rooftop to see the mountain peaks on a clear day. A rare clear day. Stunning!

They offer a food & drinks selection & it’s lovely having breakfast in the garden, playing with their adorable, charming son, Buddha. We grew quite attached to the family & I would love to recommend this guest house.

The location is in town, on the bus station side. It’s a block from the lake & it was very close to the New Year festivities. It is also walking distance to town & quite near to the trekking permit agency where you can obtain: Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) & Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). These 2 items are required to go trekking in the area & you can either get them from here/in Kathmandu or if you book via an agency they can organise this for you.

When we went trekking they kept our bags free of charge & always accommodated us when we requested additional nights. You can book activities & taxis from reception & they are happy to offer advice.

Lovely people & nice place.

Pokhara, Nepal

When we arrived in Pokhara we downed our bags, lay down to revive our bodies & got ready to venture out for something hearty to eat.

People had told me it was a blissful area of peace & beauty. In reality I found it to be less so this than I had hoped for. The weather was hazy so I couldn’t see the majesticity of the lake & mountains & the streets were dirty & very much aimed at tourists. It didn’t help that I seen a man taking a shit in the street when I was enjoying a cup of tea.

Pokhara caters exceptionally well to its increasing tourist population. There is a wide selection of restaurants including western cuisine. Some are quaint & tradition while others are more modern or backpacker kitsch. Pokhara has a lot of shops selling souvenirs, kit for trekking as well as numerous agencies to book trips & activities. There’s a lot of accommodation available – Pokhara has it all!

It is beautiful, I don’t know why I’m being twisted

It was less busy than Kathmandu of course but not the place I had conjured up in my head based on how people described it to me..… I hope I talk it down so if you ever visit you’ll be impressed in comparison!