Thirdeyemom

The Weekly Photo Challenge: Journey

When I first saw this week’s topic I could not think of a better picture or story for the meaning of journey than my trip to the start of the Annapurna Trail in Nepal. Not only was the trip itself a journey, but it was the journey that changed my life and brought me to start this blog. Perhaps I’m cheating by reposting this one again. Yet, it was one of my first posts when I first began my blog with no followers. I don’t even know if it has ever been truly read. So without further ado, here is that post titled “The Trials and Tribulations of Travel in a Third-World Country” which was posted back in February 2011, a few weeks after I started thirdeyemom.

Here is that journey.

Photo along the Annapurna Trail where we hiked over 100 miles, village to village, in rural, Himalayan Nepal. By far, the longest journey on foot I’ve ever done. A journey that changed my life.

Rajan, the owner of Earthbound Expeditions (who organized our trek) met us at the hotel in Kathmandu upon arrival and laid down the details of our trek.   He was amazingly thorough and very personable, giving us a customized trip and top-notch service.  The drive from Kathmandu to the Besi Sahar, the start of the Annapurna trek is “supposed” to take 4-5 hours.   We were scheduled to take the $5 per person tourist bus the next day.   However, Rajan mentioned, kind-of as an afterthought, the other more expensive option.  For $125, we could hire a private driver to bring us, our guide and our porter to the start of the trek in a Land Rover.  For Americans, this was a no-brainer yet for most Nepali people $125 was not an option given that the average salary is less than $2 a day.  For them $125 is a lot of money. 

We opted for the driver and this ended up being a very good idea and worth every penny.  Having never been to Nepal, we had no idea the dire, dangerous situation of the roads or the incredible amount of traffic.  Leaving Kathmandu, there is only one highway out and it has only two lines, one per direction.  Thus the drive is notorious for huge traffic jams, which we instantly experienced.  We moved out of Kathmandu at a snail’s pace, being surrounded by three-wheeled carts, motorbikes carrying entire families, buses (with people riding on the top, out the sides and holding on the back), bicycles and rickshaws.  Plus there was the usual amount of cows living in the streets and other livestock. 

Apparently it was a holiday week in Nepal and everyone was returning home on the one and only route to their villages
.  As we drove out of the congested, polluted city, the traffic somehow managed to go, but in no order whatsoever.  We arrived outside of the city and into the immense, lovely green Kathmandu Valley and finally got a visual of our situation.  One look at the rows and rows of traffic dwindling down the curvy, windy roads of the valley made me realize that this was going to be yet another long day (it was only our third day out of the States and the first two were spent flying).  Instead of 4-5 hours, it ended up being 9 long hours of hell.  The traffic was jammed up all the way the mountain on each side and the drivers had to do their best to move around all the old, broken down cars and trucks on the narrow, mountainous road.  Feeling quite restless, at one point, my father, our guide and I all got out of the car and actually walked a few hours.  It was faster than driving however the pollution was intense and the road conditions were dangerous.  I actually twisted my ankle an hour into the walk (what bad luck at the start of a 100-mile hike) and it swelled madly.  I kept walking since there was nowhere else to go.  (Thankfully the swelling stopped and I was fully recovered in two days!  I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to come all this way and have to go back!).

When we finally arrived in Besi Sari, we were utterly exhausted, dehydrated and famished.  We were also behind a day in trekking that would have to be made up.  Here are some great photos of that daunting drive from hell:

Leaving Kathmandu:

One of my favorite site:  The eye-catching,crazily decorated trucks.  Not only were they colorful and decorated to the max, their horns were hilarious sounding and used often.

A common site:  How people get from place to place in Nepal when cars are expensive.  Any way works…even on top of the bus!

This is why it takes so long.  What happens, as often does, when a truck or car breaks down and you have to try to pass?  A huge traffic jam.

The road conditions were pitiful.  At points the road was washed away by landslides or there were big huge potholes.  No wonder all the breakdowns!

When all else fails, walk.

Or ride…..

Yet we were rewarded by all the lovely views of the countryside and what was to come.

And, the beautiful smiles of the children dressed in their school uniforms, waving at us joyfully and yelling out “namaste”.

The first sight of the mighty Himalayas in the distance instantly calmed us and made our frustrations disappear. 

Finally, we were in the countryside and traffic moved!

And we drove alongside villagers going about their daily business.

Nine hours later, we finally pulled into the dusty, dirty village of Bhulbule. That was when the first major dose of severe culture shock hit me. Our $2 a night teahouse with no running water, electricity or bathroom save a hole in the ground. Yet ironically enough it was this kind of basic, pure way of life, that changed mine forever.

Here is a photo of my first Nepali teahouse called “The Heaven Guest House” but there was definitely nothing the least bit heavenly about it. I found the name to be so ironic that I laughed despite myself. The teahouse ended up being one of many along the trail that would be a journey I would never forget.

One of my favorite quotes of all times is this:

Life is not a destination. It is a journey.

For me traveling is a journey in itself; a way of discovering and directing your life in ways you never thought possible. This is the true meaning of journey. To be free. To see the world. To live. To  

16 comments

  1. I had to post this in the forum column after returning from our trek since my boyfriend and I had the absolute best time trekking in the Everest region!

    His name is Sanjib Adhikari and his email is sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com, he is licensed by the country of Nepal and has been a trekking guide for over 12 years.

    I found him through the posted forums when I was inquiring about trekking since my boyfriend and I only had 5 days to trek and really wanted to see mount Everest. He was able to customize a plan to get us as close as possible. We had a blast!!! I’d love to send you photo’s of our trek and trust me there was a part when we were climbing the hill to get to Namche and I thought I was going to die!!!!! Sanjib was so patient and his knowledge of the mountain area and all of Nepal is commendable! We met up with a couple of other people trekking and had a blast hanging out in one of the places to stay and even the other people were asking Sanjib about routes to take and length of time it would take to get to base camp.

    He is a smart, honest and genuine person and guide! Even after the trek we met up in Thamel and hung out for 2 days seeing the sights around Kathmandu and Patan. Sanjib not only knows the Everest region but all around Nepal and I highly recommend him!!!!

    Please contact me if you need more info or would like to see pictures from Facebook-:

    Sanjib-adhaikri@hotmail.com

    My boyfriend and I also used this guide whilst we were out in Nepal – we were recommended by a friend who used him when she did Everest Base Camp. We decided to do the Annapurna Circuit plus base camp.

    We met with Sanjib in Kathmandu when we arrived in Nepal and we told him what we wanted to do and how much time we had etc. He told us about a few trips that were possible and we eventually came up with this one.

    It was the most amazing trip and wouldn’t have been the same without him and Ram our porter (

    We spent 20 days trekking in November 2011 and Sanjib was able to answer all of our questions from the birds to the trees to the mountains and religion. It was a very cultural trek with so much history.

    Some people say that it is possible to do the trek without a guide, which may be true but you miss so much when you are on your own and we learnt such a lot from Sanjib which meant that we understood so much more of Nepal when we visited different areas.

    We paid all of our money to him up front, which we were dubious about at the start as we didn’t know him but I wouldn’t say that this was a problem at all.

    He made sure we were happy and safe and had full bellies at all times and made sure that we knew everything about altitude sickness which we didn’t get in the end thanks to his slower pace higher up and aclimatisation walks. We also took Diamox, under his recommendation and we were both fine and only suffered a bit of tingling in our faces (a side effect of the drug)!

    I would recommend Sanjib to ANYONE that was thinking about going trekking in Nepal, I would love to go back and visit him and do another trek with him when I have the time! There are so many guides out there that claim to do everything that he does but I wouldn’t choose anyone without a recommendation because you hear so many stories about dodgy guides and it would be so sad to lose your money and have a bad experience.

    Feel free to email me if you have any questions and enjoy your trek!

    Email to him-:sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com

    http://www.nepalguideinfo.com
    http://www.nepaltreckingguide.jimdo.com

    • Wow, thanks for the comment! I would love to go to Everest! I don’t know when that will be but I will keep your guide in mind and share this information with anyone else who may be interested in going. THanks again!!!! I would love to see your pictures from Facebook too!

  2. Pingback: EASTER SUNDAY : TAKING A BREAK ON THE JOURNEY « 2012 – ON THE BENCH

  3. ahmadtadi

    Wow., It’s incredible journey. Maybe you want come to my country in Indonesia, Rinjani Mountain or Semeru Mountain.. 😀

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