Island time Malaysia: Langkawi

After our recouperation break in Kuala Lumpur, it was finally island time. Malaysia has some incredible beaches, and it was hard to choose just where to go first. But, as we were heading in the general direction of Thailand, we decided to go north. Our plan was to go to Penang – a colonial island paradise with Georgian architecture, white sandy beaches and a killer street food culture. However, Penang had just flooded a few days before, and news reports looked pretty awful. So we opted to go one island further to Langkawi, which would likely have been stop number […]

Kuala Lumpur: Taking a break from our break

After a month of hardcore travel in Nepal, it was time for a break. Our loose travel plan had us going to Thailand next to soak up the sun in a beachside hut, and swim in crystal blue waters. But all flights out of Kathmandu routed through somewhere else…India or Kuala Lumpur. Mark had worked on a project last year in KL, and we came within an inch of moving there, and I thought it was time to go see the place I had agreed to move to sight unseen.  So we detoured to KL, which set us on a […]

Leaving Nepal…for now

As we leave Nepal, I’m filled with mixed emotions. I’m ready to leave. The pollution and dust have given me a painful asthmatic cough that keeps me up at night, and I’m ready for some clearer, warmer air. But on the other hand, I’m not ready to leave at all. I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface of this grand little country that seems to have captured the imagination of the world. By all accounts, Nepal should be irrelevant. Its resources are natural beauty and tolerance. While they have monetised these attributes, it’s not something that can be exported. […]

Kathmandu: The spiritual side

The shops, restaurants, signs, traffic, noise, colours and perpetual motion of Kathmandu can be so in your face that you forget there is a quieter spiritual side to this city. The thousands of temples, shrines and stupas intermingle Buddhist and Hindu cultures and practices so seamlessly here that you might not even realise that one holy square can be spiritually significant to two distinctly different religions. You can’t walk to the end of a street in Kathmandu without stumbling upon a thousand year old temple or a tiny stupa glittering in the sun. Many go unnoticed, and unless you take […]

Annapurna Trekking: The day I was done

Day 12: Dobato to Ghandruk (The last day) We froze all night in our thin walled little room at the lodge in Dobato. I was fully dressed, in my sleep sack, sleeping bag, and heavy wool blanket over everything, and still never got warm. The cold can get you going in the morning, and once I got up the courage to crawl out of my ineffectively warm cocoon and  put my feet on the icy floor, I was up and ready to go check out those spectacular mountain views we had heard so much about.   They didn’t lie.  There, […]

Annapurna Trekking Days 9-11: The nasty (and cool) trip down

Day 9: Khopra to Chistibang: 4.5 hours, 650m elevation loss What goes up must also come down, and after a freezing night in the community lodge at Khopra, some spectacular sunrise photos, and a rough idea of the trail we wanted to take, we set off, aiming for a village that wasn’t on our map, on a trail that was only a red dotted line. We had another mutinous Austin on our hand for at least half an hour he woudn’t budge out of the surrounds of the lodge. We were still on the main trail for this part, but […]

Annapurna Trekking Days 7&8: Altitude gains and mutiny

One week into our trek, we were at the bottom of the valley, on a road, with buses.  We could have gotten ourselves out of there via motorised transport, but we’re more masochistic than that.  It was only natural that we decided to go back up,on foot, to a lesser travelled to ridge, higher than we’d been so far.  I thought we were crazy for following a trail that was little more than a red dotted line on our map, but this turned out to be my favourite part of the trek overall.  We worked hard for it – very […]

The tough descent to a fantastic break

Day 5: Khibang to Tatopani: 6 hours, 850m elevation loss What should have been a 2.5 hour downhill stroll turned in to a 4 hour ordeal down terraced fields, sandy roads, across landslides, over the ridge of a mountain, and down, down, down switchbacked stone steps on a tiny ridge, culminating in two long suspension bridges over a roaring river and a 20 minute walk up a dusty dirt road, dodging jeeps and buses as we went — all in the blazing hot sun. I thought I would be completely freaked out by the suspension bridges.  They were high, long, […]

Trekking Day 4: The day we were treated like gods

Day 4: Ghorepani to Khibang: Down, Down and Down some more (8 hours, 1,050m elevation loss With our rest day over, we left Ghorepani after numerous goodbyes between Austin and his gaggle of friends, including Rihanna, the girl about his age whose father is a Gurkha in the British Army. She’ll be joining him in London in a few months’ time, and she and Austin formed a special bond. He even gave her some of his lego as a parting gift, and I’m sure their fast friendship won’t soon be forgotten. The trail started off well enough — a newly […]

Annapurnas Day 3: We came here for this

Poon Hill: 3 hours, 3.5 miles, 350m elevation gain We woke up at 4 am on a chilly and clear morning in Ghorepani, ready to start our 1.5 mile climb up to Poon Hill. This viewpoint is the “money shot” of the Annapurnas, with Dhaliguari, Annapurna Soutn and others, all coming into perfect view, one by one as the sun rises to the East, and striking their faces as it climbs higher in the sky. The view is breathtaking, and the mountains reveal themselves piece by piece with each new ray of light. We followed the single file trail of […]