Trekking in Nepal: Days 1 to 2 and Fainting in the Mountains

When the wind calls, you know, that somewhere in the mountains, it has found the answers that you were looking for. The pull of the horizon overcomes the inertia of reason… And you just have to go. -Vikram Oberoi

Previous Post: How to Prepare for the Annapurna Base Camp Trek

The Nepal Snowstorm Disaster

Although Kathmandu is just a 5-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, we arrived at around 8pm in Tribhuvan Airport really exhausted. We didn’t get enough sleep because of worrying too much about the recent snowstorm disaster that struck the Annapurna region. Days before our flight to Malaysia, an unusually severe snowstorm on the mountains of Annapurnas caused injuries and fatalities. The incident was said to be Nepal's worst trekking disaster. We closely monitored the news and even considered postponing the trek because of this unfortunate event. If the trail would be closed, we would probably just explored Kathmandu and its surrounding area.

Our Arrival in Tribhuvan International Airport and the Longest Baggage Reclaim and Immigration Delay I’ve Ever Experienced

After going through the seemingly endless immigration line, I stood by the conveyor belt watching it go for an hour. Endlessly. Seriously, it took me an hour (or so) to reclaim my one and only backpack. While some foreigners stood in the waiting area to catch a glimpse of the situation, I was sitting on a steel pipe attached to the wall staring blankly to all bags on the conveyor. There were no chairs or even food stalls around. I was terribly hungry. But what choice do I have.

Ugh. Because yeah, travel isn't all about good things and there will always be bad days.

tribhuvan international airport
Waiting endlessly for our backpacks

Getting Out of the Kathmandu Airport

Before you leave the airport, there’s a small currency changer booth where you can get some Nepalese Rupees. The rates were bad and they imposed a $1 commission at that time so I changed just a small amount - enough to get us to Thamel. We shared a taxi with 2 Filipino travelers we met while lining up for the immigration. The roads were bumpy and dusty on the may to Thamel. So dusty you can see dusts rise up even if the roads are so dark. We reached (the shady part of) Thamel at around 10pm. Not sure where to stay the night, we checked in at the nearest and cheapest hotel we saw - Hotel Backpackers Inn. It’s the worst room you’ll get for paying 1,200 Rupees. The room was so dark, the light bulb looked like it’s almost busted, there’s no outlet where you can charge your gadgets. I was so annoyed, I didn’t bother to check out the toilet, not even once. So, if you’re in Thamel, try to arrive early and avoid this hotel at all cost! If you can even call it a hotel.

Kathmandu to Pokhara

Still unsure of the general condition of the mountains, we relied our decision (to go trekking) from the locals who assured us that it was already safe to trek in the Annapurna Base Camp. And we were already there anyway! So we checked out very early the following morning to catch the bus from Thamel to Pokhara (cost: $10). It’s officially our first day in Nepal! The weather was good. I was so excited to leave Thamel and see the countryside and the snowcapped mountains! The bus journey to Pokhara was a bit slow and it took us around 6 hours to get there. The view was beautiful nonetheless, you can see the peaks of the Himalayas from afar. Upon arrival in Pokhara, we checked in at Snow Leopard Inn, a hotel that had a view of the snowcapped mountains from its rooftop. Actually, almost all hotels in Pokhara have the same view because the Himalayan mountains are really tall, you can see them everywhere in Pokhara!

pokhara nepal
View from our room in Pokhara

Day 1: Pokhara to Nayapul to Ghandruk

How is it like to rent / buy trekking equipment and clothes in Pokhara?

The owner of Hotel Nirvana (a famous hotel in Pokhara) recommended his friend’s shop to us. They had a complete set of trekking equipment and clothes you’ll need for your trek. You can rent trekking poles, sleeping bags, even down jackets and trekking boots for a very low price - about $0.50 to $2 a day for each item you borrow. The owner was so nice he did not even ask us to sign any “in case of damage or loss” waiver nor asked us for a deposit fee. There are many shops along the main road of Pokhara where you can also rent and buy gears at a very affordable price. We didn't have any problems with the gears we rented as they were like brand new!

Meeting our porter/guide

We were introduced to our porter, Tup who’s been trekking in different trails in Nepal (including Langtang, EBC, AC). He’s in his late 30s and he works as a porter every year during Nepal’s trekking season. When there’s no work in the mountain, he does oats and rice farming. He’s very nice and speaks an acceptable level of English - enough to enjoy the 7-day trek with him! He was also recommended by the owner of Hotel Nirvana. Ah, that guy! Also, Tup was in Manang (one of the highest elevations in the Annapurnas) when the snowstorm struck the Himalayas. He told us stories of how terrible the experience was. Many people died because of the blizzard and that there weren't enough food to serve to trekkers and locals who were stuck in the teahouses. His face was almost burnt because of extremely cold, icy temperature in the mountains. Good thing he was able to survive the storm and left the mountains unharmed! It was nice meeting Tup :)

annapurna base camp trek
Tup Lal Ale in the house! :p

Taxi from Pokhara to Nayapul to Ghandruk

The jump off point of ABC trek is in Nayapul, a 1 hour drive from Pokhara via taxi. We shared the ride with the same cools guys we met at the airport. Actually, we’ve been with them since we met that night! We shared the taxi with our porter and shoved all our backpacks in a very small car (like a Celerio). It was a cramped but very pleasant ride with 4 folks in the backseat. Upon arrival in Nayapul, we took our lunch and then separated ways because our new friends had a different itinerary. They will trek independently and included Poon Hill in their plan. We road an old bus from Nayapul to Ghandruk, while passing through the Annapurna Security office (where we registered for the trek). We saw many beautiful streams and bridges that were decorated for Diwali festivities.

First Formal Trek!

We were offloaded I think somewhere near Ghandruk already and we had to trek for 2 hours to get to the teahouse where we will stay that night. It was a pleasant late afternoon to trek with light drizzles. It wasn’t hot and there was no view because of the thick fog. It gets easily dark in the mountain so our first day was basically just about getting through the day - no view of the Himal yet.

on the way to annapurna base camp
The view halfway the trek

Day 2: Best Way to Celebrate My 25th Birthday!

The only person in Nepal who could greet me on my birthday was definitely just my boyfriend. There’s no wifi in Ghandruk and I wouldn’t know if anyone else in the Philippines remembered that it was my birthday haha! Though I’d love to get hugs and hear happy greetings on that day, I still had the best birthday so far! Waking up with a view of the snowcapped Himalayas against a clear blue sky was the best birthday present I had. Where else can I see such beauty on my birthday? Plus, I shared it with (next to my dad) my favorite person in the world. I wished my family was also there to witness the beauty of Nepal. But I can’t bring them there all at once. Anyway, I woke up 5am, did my morning routine and had breakfast at 7.30am before we pull off for our first 8-hour trek!

ghandruk nepal
Celebrating my 25th birthday with my favorite person on earth!
breakfast be like in Ghandruk
When you have this view all to your self!

Freakin' Milestone: How It Feels Like to Pass Out in the Mountains

I was helpless, I had to blame the breakfast menu we had that morning, hah! Ghandruk to Khimrong Khola was hell. The trek was mostly going up a steep slope. It felt endless. There were countless sharing of smiles and Namastes in the trek, and it somehow alleviated my fatigue. We’ve been trekking for 3-4 hours already when I started to regret the idea of going on this trek. It was sooooo tiring, I didn’t even bother to look at the view anymore. All I wanted was to go down the mountain, take a rest and eat. It was already noon time and it’s very hot in the trail. My sweat was already cold when I pulled out a Snicker bar to eat while walking the steep steps to our next stopover. I started to feel unsteady that I cannot even swallow that freaking chocolate bar. I knew it can’t be dehydration as I definitely drank enough water along the trail. Shortly after a quick break, I felt wobbly, I can’t stand on my own. My sight slowly turned pitch-black and my ears, I cannot hear anything anymore!!! I panicked as I tried to say “I cannot hear/see anything” to my boyfriend even though I barely myself. I collapsed eventually. The next thing I know was waking up in a small house with Dal Baht in front of me. I was knocked out for maybe 5-10minutes. My boyfriend told me that our guide, Tup carried me all the way up while I was unconscious. When I woke up and saw food, I was like, “Where are we and why am I lying here?” I was so hungry I finished all the food in front of me, all the Dal Baht at once. I figured the reason why I fainted was that I didn’t eat much for breakfast. The menu from the restaurant was in Nepalese, and the English translation wasn’t that clear that I had to order an unfamiliar food. I said I’d have “Muesli” even though I didn’t know what that is. Only to find out that it’s just basically a small bowl of oats with fruits and yogurt. It was delicious! But it didn’t have much calories to sustain a 4-hour trek til lunch. So after that experience, I learned my lesson, I always ate something heavy, mostly rice and potatoes for breakfast and lunch.

What an experience on my birthday in a foreign land! Definitely, one for the books!

dal baht in nepal
"Dal Bhat Power : 24 Hour" Catch phrase in Nepal! Well, it's my survival food

The Importance of Eating Right While on a Trek

No matter how fit you are, you must not forget to eat the right food while on a trek. As advised by trekking pros, along with proper hydration, eating high-calorie food is the best way to endure fatigue. You must eat a healthy wholesome breakfast with lots of carbohydrates, and no caffeine as much as possible. Some friends advised to bring chocolate bars and candies to boost energy. I didn’t like it personally. It felt like when I'm already tired walking, sugary food tends to suck up the fluid in my mouth, which made me felt more exhausted. One must really tweak her eating habits when on this kind of trek, and I sucked at it!

Day 3: Ghandruk to Chomrong

The first two days were the hardest for me. Maybe because of the adjustments I had to have when it comes to fatigue, temperature, altitude and food. For some reason, it didn’t feel as complicated from day 3 onwards even though the trail was still mostly going up. I was already enjoying the views while trekking despite being tired. I gained so much positivity to finish the trek because of the rewarding views. I cannot quit now. I must be there! I must reach the 4130m elevation by all means! I did, eventually. Thanks to Tup and my boyfriend - though they thought of leaving me in Chomrong, they adjusted our pacing so I won't pass out again!

Summary of Trek Expenses So Far

Visa Fee
Taxi from airport to Thamel
Less than 1 hour
Hotel Backpackers Inn
Rs 1200
Bus to Pokhara
5-6 hours
ACAP/TIMS permit
Rs 4000
Snow Leopard Inn
Rs 900
Taxi to Nayapul (shared)
Rs 1800
1 hour
Bus to Ghandruk
Rs 200
1-2 hours
Food and lodging from Ghandruk to Chomrong
Rs 5080

annapurna base camp

Stay tuned for more on the Annapurna Base Camp Series!
How to Prepare for the Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Trekking in Nepal: Days 1 and 2 and Fainting in the Mountains
Day 3 and 4: Climb That Goddamn Mountain
Day 5: The Himalayas I Wished For
Days 6 and 7: End of Trek and Celebrating Diwali Festivities in Nepal
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