Nepal (Mis)Adventure Day 3: Bhulbule

To be able to go to the Annapurna Circuit trek, you have to ride a bus to Besisahar or to Bhulbule which is farther into the trek. Some tourists opt to go to Pokhara from Kathmandu because tourist buses only go through that route. Should a hiker choose to do that, he should stay the night in Pokhara and then ride a bus the next day from Pokhara to Besisahar/Bhulbule. So, you would actually waste a day for the sake of comfort.

I chose to ride the local bus and go directly to Besisahar originally. However, the ride took longer than I expected and walking from Besisahar to Bhulbule would take 4 hours. I did not want to risk walking in the dark on my first day so I chose to ride farther.

How does the bus that I was in look like? If you have ever been to Manila or are familiar with the place, you would know the killer buses. No AC, really old, driver drives like crazy, that kind of bus. That’s almost exactly how their local buses here are like.

So today, nothing much happened except the Japanese roommate decided to go ahead, she woke up super early! I woke up at 5:30 am and she wasn’t there anymore. We agreed on it the night before though. So, here I am, trekking alone. There were two people in the bus with me earlier, a Spanish lady and an American guy. We were the only ones who did not have guides.

I checked in immediately upon arriving so that I can relax early and leave early tomorrow as well.

I realized that the signs here are in number of trekking hours and not by kilometric/mile distance like the next village is 1.5 hours. That realization is making me scared because the landlady in this lodge said that my food will be ready in 30 minutes and it’s been more than an hour since and my food is still not here. I plan to walk the 5-hour destination tomorrow. How long would it possibly be in real life?

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Nepal (Mis)Adventure: Day 1 Kathmandu

I arrived last night at around 8:30 pm. My flights were Manila(MNL)-Kuala Lumpur(KLM), Kuala Lumpur-Kathmandu(KTM). First, can I just say how jealous I am that KL airports are easily accessible by train and there’s a trip every 30 mins. My transfer from KLIA2 (Air Asia) to KLIA (Malindo Air) only cost RM2. *Side eyes NAIA airports*

If you have a long layover, mine was 7 hours, it is better to spend it in KLIA2. It’s newer and it has more shops. It’s practically a mall. You could also go to KL Central if you’re not carrying a 9-kilo backpack. Ugh. KL express round trip ticket would be RM20.

Malindo Air, by the way, is an excellent airline. No, they did not pay me to say that but just between you and me, *whispers* it’s way better than United Airlines MNL-ROR flights. The leg rooms are spacious, more choices for inflight entertainment, and a legit meal. They also have a 30-kilo luggage allowance. They are strict in implementing the 7-kilo limit for carryons…which almost cost me trouble.

This is where my story of misadventure begins.

Air Asia allowed me to hand carry my backpack. I put a few dollars in the small pocket in my backpack’s belt and the rest of my tour money, I put in the deepest, darkest place of my backpack. Then, when I checked in for Malindo Air, they weighed it and it was 9 kilos, limit is 7 kilos. Because there is a long line, I just hurriedly opened that small pocket and grabbed whatever amount. Thinking that I would be able to get my backpack in Kathmandu anyway before I would need to pay anything.

I had several currencies in that pocket, Philippine pesos, Malaysian Ringgits, and US dollars plus my ATM card and my work permit. I took out the work permit earlier, while still in Manila, just in case the immigration officer would ask me for proof about my job.

I was wearing basic tropical weather clothes. My jacket was at the top portion of my backpack for easy access.

That was my first predicament.

When we landed in KTM, I was the only one wearing a thin shirt. I was just so glad that the temperature was 18deg Celsius and not 11deg as forecasted in my Weather app. Then, my second predicament, do I have enough money to pay for my visa? I haven’t checked which currency or how much I was able to get from my backpack’s pocket. They had a sign that they accept credit cards and I felt relieved because a card was in my pocket. When I took it out, it was my work permit! I thought that the visa would cost $50. I checked my bills and there was $40 dollars and I was already trying to figure out if the RM50 I also had in my pocket would be enough to cover the rest. When I came closer to the visa payment counter, the sign said it’s $40 for a 30-day stay. *Insert sigh of relief *

When I got to the immigration officer, he asked me about my job. Since I have a Philippine passport, he asked if I work in the Philippines. I said I work in Palau. He just nodded his head, but I can see by the distant look in his eyes that he doesn’t know where that is. He asked me what organization I work for. I said, “Surangel and Sons”. He nodded again and said, “okay, but where do you work, what organization?” I was a bit confused and then I remembered that my work permit is in my pocket. So, I just handed it to him and let him read for himself. Then, we understood each other (MU na kami, charot!). I got my passport stamped and out of the airport I went.

There was another drama related to the taxi ride to my hostel but I’m already sleepy to type that story.

So today, I went around Thamel. This was how I looked like in the taxi going to Thamel.

And this me going back to the hostel.

I went to Thamel as a bank robber and came back as an Abu Sayaff.

The roads are so dusty! So much road construction not going on. Confusing? Well there are some materials on the road for construction but no one is working.

What did I do in Thamel? I bought some hiking equipments. I bought a daypack backpack (a Deuter knockoff), a pair of trekking poles, a wide brimmed hat, knitted mitts and the head thingy (I don’t know what they’re called). I also bought an Annapurna Circuit map, a charger adapter, a sim card with data subscription. I know I might have overpaid a bit for some of the items but I don’t have energy to haggle. I just wanna it to be over and done with. I just think of it as helping the local tourism industry.

I ate in a very unassuming place that is top rated in TripAdvisor, the Thamel Doner Kebab. I had the Chicken Kebab Doner Shawarma because I love, love Persian food!

That big piece only cost $2.80! I want to go back tomorrow and have the falafel wrap.

I had a snack at the Brotchen Bakery cafe and had a lemon cheesecake and a masala tea. It was my first time to eat a warm cheesecake. They actually reheat that stuff before serving.

After that, I went back to my hostel and chilled (I love how appropriate this word is to me right now. Lol) with my roommates.

The lady in white is from Hongkong and she’s leaving tonight. She did the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek. The guy is British who I have to say “say that again please” several times before I actually understood his first sentence. My ears had to adjust to his accent, no matter how beautiful it was.

On a side note, I love what the cold weather does to my hair! I did not even need to use a conditioner and it still looks a lot better than when I use tons of it in a hot climate.

A Guy Named Ana?

Me: Hi, aren’t you the guy from the other night?

Guy: Yeah. Can I join your table?
Me: Sure.
Lebuh King (King St.), Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. 
used without permission from scoutfai.blogspot.com
It was the last of my 3-day stay in that place. I packed my stuff earlier as I was required to checkout before lunch. I decided I would have a brunch in the Indian restaurant right across my dorm. As my order was being taken, I heard a guy behind me, talking to another waiter. I took a quick glance and I thought he looked familiar. I realized he was the guy my roommate and myself had shared a table with a couple of nights before when we ate at a very crowded street. 
Georgetown is a place full of backpackers. I love the vibe in that place. You can talk to almost everyone, share your backpacking stories and share notes about your next destinations. Hangout and dinner places are usually full at night. If you are traveling solo, just as I was, you have to exercise your social skills. 
Guy: Sorry, but what was your name again?
Me: OJ. Like…juice. What’s yours?
Guy: Ana.
Me: Ana? That’s a girls name in my country.
Guy: Good. It would be easy for you to remember it then.
OJ: Right.
We talked for about 2 hours while having our brunch. It was also his last day in the place and he’s going back to Germany once he gets to KL. 
Ana: I’m actually excited to go home. I’ve been backpacking for three months. There’s a lot of stuff waiting for me at home. I moved to a new pad, I got cool roommates, and I have a lot of research to do.
OJ: You don’t have that “researcher aura” in you.
A: Why? What do you mean?
O: Well, you seem to take research seriously and the people I know who are serious in research look nothing like you (like he has a lip-piercing, hair is a bit long, cute rugged look).
A: Well, I’m a geologist so my research is Indiana Jones kind of stuff. I did my thesis in Oman.
O: Wow, that’s impressive. I wish the work I’m going back to is as adventurous. 
A: Where do you work?
O: Palau.
A: How long have you stayed there?
O: 3 years now. I’m thinking of where to go next after a year. I might move again. 
A: Where are you going next?
O: I don’t know yet. Honestly, I’m a bit scared.
A: You’ll be fine.
O: You think?
A: I’m positive about it. (eye twinkles)
That’s what I love about the trip. Whenever you meet backpackers, they each have their story to tell why they went out and left everything to explore the world. Just like my roommate Renee, she quit her job, and just decided to go backpacking for a year. She said she does not know what’s going to happen to her when she gets back to US. She just decided to leave. My other roommates are a Russian couple. They left Russia, decided to explore the world and try their luck in youtube (search and subscribe to their channel if you want, their handle is “goodbyenormals”). The guy said they have a TV offer already but they declined because he does not want to be limited to what the producers want. He also suggested that I try Russia when I’m done with Palau. 
That is why I love Georgetown. It is full of people who have decided to explore and I felt like I was absorbing their positivity and sense of adventure. I look at their decisions and I feel a little bit braver to let go of the things that are stable, that are comfortable. 
A: I’m good in cooking too. (smile)
O: Oh, really now? (laugh)