Friday, April 24, 2015

Flora of Nepal

My most precious capture, the Blue Gentian. Very tiny that if you don't really look down, you won't find it. This is the reward of my slow climb up Dhampus village with Awang. Yeay!!!

In paradise, there are beautiful gardens and rivers flowing underneath it. It's been described many times in the Quran that heaven is a place so beautiful beyond our imagination; green in colour with gardens and rivers. In Arabic, heaven is 'jannah' which also means 'garden'. And what is a garden without its flowers. Of course flowers wither and in its place, there are fruits and from fruits, there are seeds, and from seeds there are new lives. The cycle continues until appointed time on Earth but in 'jannah', it is for eternity. The fruits are of the best kinds, in pairs created for the pleasure of the residence of jannah.

Yellow Flax or Golden Girl Flower found along the cliffs at the roadside as well as on treks going up to Sarangkot. One might mistaken it for Dancing Lady Orchid as it looks almost like it. 

This posting is dedicated to the flowers I stumbled upon my travelling in Nepal. It took me so long to write this one particular posting because a subject so close to my heart. It has to be perfect. I noticed many blooms along the way up towards the highland villages. The species and its beauty will be shared here as best as I could manage. Though I am not a botanist by profession, I am one at heart. Throughout the years, I have developed a habit of taking photos of plants and flowers, studying them in various means and ways, surrounding myself with world of plants and I have made a living out of these knowledge too. I am living my passion and loving it!

Yellow Himalayan Raspberry. Yup edible and only if I've known it during the discovery, I would've eaten it too. Huhuhu...

I repeat, yes... what is a garden without its flowers. Surely these fragile creations that wither in such a short lifespan are a glimpse of heaven for us to wonder. A bliss of senses. A perfume of delight and loveliness. Such a gentle existence that coexist with the rest of us animals and human beings. A world of knowledge that makes me wonder.

Marigold, one of the most commonly grown ornamental plants in Nepal

I am a sucker for all things green but more crazy I am for all things flowers. A sight of it is enough dose of endorphins for me. You call it, happiness and stress reliever especially for the ladies. Men should have known this a long time ago. Many a poet and artist get their inspiration from flowers. Such as the famous Vincent Van Gogh Sunflowers painting. 

"After women, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world". ~ Christian Dior

Red Cestrum, a tubular flower type, found in Greenland Guest House, Dhampus

Flowers and its wisdom. If you noticed, most flowers are bright and striking in comparison from its surrounding. This is natures intelligent to attract pollinators. Not just pollinators, us human beings too are atWe find Fibonacci number sequence in most flowers that bloom from a spiral middle. The number sequence is 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and so on. These phenomena is explained as nature's way of managing its efficiency in filling up spaces in one flower. You may find this easier to understand when you look it up in the sun flower for an example. It has the most obvious and easy to notice Fabonacci Spiral. Well, I am not going to discuss it here as many have known this. It's just an example of what nature could offer to the curious minds.

Pot Marigold/Common Marigold/Garden Marigold, found in Greenland Guest House, Dhampus. Planted as an ornamental plant around the guest house. Very beautiful and striking in colour.

Not all flowers follow Fabobacci spiral rules. Nature has its own supreme set of own rules, i.e. the Creator. Number of petals varies depending on the species. You may stumble upon a one-petal flower such as the Calla Lily, the two-petal flower such as the Crown of Thorns, a three-petal flower such as the Walking Iris, four-petal flowers such as the Radish flower you see in the picture and the Peacock Flower too has only four petals. There are five-petal flowers such as the Periwinkle and six-petal flowers such as the Amazon Lily, Tiger Lily and most lilies are. Some petals are arranged in many levels. Some have a corolla that are joined together to form a tube such as the Morning Glory.   These are just a few examples. 

Crown of Thorns, a two-petal flower found in abundance along the trek up Dhampus Village at a higher elevation.

Determining the morphology of plants can be a tedious process. It took me so long to write this posting because of this. I had to ensure the correct name and species. Many aspects of a plant had to be carefully studied. Plants have a vegetative (root, stem and leaf) and reproductive (flower, fruit and seed) organs, the study will take account of the physical features, arrangements, and relations of each organ, the shoot (above the ground part) and the root system (below the ground part) as well. Then all these information will be compared to a taxon (plants database) to match the genus of species. The more you are exposed to species of plants, this process become easier and more familiar. It cuts the process short.

Daikon Radish flower left in the field to mature for its pods which are edible too. The four-petal flowers are beautiful indeed.

Apart from admiring this fine creation, namely plants and flowers, sometimes my curious mind will wander on what it could do to us. My late Mom had a great fascination towards usage of plants and flowers as an alternative medicine. She went to great length to discover rare plants and flowers and experimenting it with us. I regret not fully gather all her knowledge in the usage of herbs. However, all are not lost because I took after her. Still learning and practising whatever I know up to present time.

White Melastoma/Senduduk Putih, found on a trekk going up to Dhampus village. It has many medicinal values as known by Asians.

From time immemorial, civilisations have known the usage of plants and flowers and have incorporated it in their everyday lives. In many culture flowers play important part in spiritual rites. Such us in Buddhism and Hinduism. Flowers are an everyday offerings. In alternative medicine, flowers have been used for healing, cleansing and enhancement of aura. It has been used for bathing rituals in many cultures across the world. Reason being, flowers have many colours, distinct fragrance and character.  We can identify a flower simply by these traits.  

In Nepal, you may find lots of this yellow field of Mustard Plants. It's everywhere cultivated for its oil.

My trip to Nepal has definitely given me some satisfaction as I had managed to kill two birds with one stone. I got to satisfy my wanderlust and I had my plant list broaden for a tiny bit. The Blue Gentian flower was the winner of all. It was very precious. I feel happy to have discovered it in between the rocks.

This is the National Flower of Nepal. The crimson-colour Rhododenron. You may see this a lot in spring, as far as the eyes can see. Beautiful!

I had never seen a Rhododenron before and it was a great pleasure to see it aplenty in Nepal as its National Flower. It's beautiful and majestically grown in all the highlands. They are many colours, from red, yellow, pink and white. However it was not yet the blooming time of Spring. I will ensure to capture Rhododendron in all its glorious colours during my next trip to Gokyo. InsyaAllah...

The Nasturtium or Indian Cress or Monks Cress. It is edible from its leaf to its flower. Simply gorgeous colour. It's called simrik colour in Nepali.

We took Simrik Airlines from Kathmandu to Pokhara. I asked the guide, Ganesh to explain what does simrik means. He explained that its a kind of colour. And the colour is described as crimson red such as seen in the Nasturtium/Monk Cress flower above :)

Wheat is also one of the main crops in Nepal. Found this grown randomly in between the Daikon Radish and Green Peas plants in Sarangkot. 

It was also my first time to see the Wheat Plant. Very delighted I was. Like a child. Wheat was not our main crop in Malaysia, therefore we only see white flour not the plants. Hahaha!

Japanese Cedar, found in Sarangkot Sherpa Guest House. 

I got fascinated with this pine cones such as pictured above. Things like this makes me happy. Simply that.

The purple Billygoat Weed. We found it in an abundant field in Sarangkot. So beautiful still.

We went further to the abundant field in Sarangkot and found the unattended field was covered with colourful wild flowers. Such as the Purple Billygoat Weed pictured above. In quantity, it was a sight to behold. Beautiful in colour itself.

Behold the Pearly Everlasting Flower. So true to its name. This one was a dry one but look at it, so everlasting in bloom. Amazing!

This Pearly Everlasting Flower reminded me of the Bunga Cinta I once found in Mount Rinjani. It's everlasting even after all its leaves withered but the flowers remained beautiful. I think that's how it has gotten the name. Pearly white and everlasting :)

The Mexican Daisy, grown in between the stone steps going up Dhampus. 

Finally, these small white daisy, namely Mexican Daisy, captured my sight in regardless. Most of the plants in higher altitude become smaller in size due to temperature. Most plants can not survive altitude higher not because of the altitude itself but because of the temperature.  

"It appears that plants — irrespective of species wherever they are across the world — can't effectively build cells once the temperature drops below 7°C." ~ Associate Professor Mark Hovenden, Plant Scientist, University of Tasmania.

Even those surviving plants will be stunted as its way to adapting itself to the climate. There, it explained why most trees we found above the mountains were small and sturdy. 

Ok folks, I had enough writing this piece. I hope it gives you some new knowledge if not too boring to finish reading up to here :)

Yours truly signing off for now. Take care. Mwah! Mwah!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Sarangkot Fun

A trip to find sweetcorn for our BBQ turned out to be a photo shooting fun for all of us

Our time in Sarangkot mostly cloudy and raining in the evening. We didn't get the chance to go view the beautiful mountain scenes, however it didn't sour our spirit. We had fun taking photos of our beautiful surroundings. 

Photographer group had fun with their subjects of local kids. The yellow mustard field gave us the right kind of mood. It creates some kind of a romantic ambience. I fell in love with the colours. 

We really enjoyed our short walk down to initially looking for farmers to buy sweet corn for our BBQ and it ended to be a shooting spree.... Hahaha!

21st February 2015 (Saturday) - Leaving Sarangkot with a Happy Note

Leaving Sarangkot. It's time to say our goodbye to the beautiful village.

We woke up really early to watch sunrise at the View Point but unfortunately the weather was against us. It was raining the whole morning till daybreak. At 8.30am we made our move down to take a private vehicle going to Phedi. We are will be leaving for Dhampus.

Despite of all the bad weather and failed attempt to view the sunrise and the Annapurna mountain range via the View Point in Sarangkot, we were still leaving Sarangkot with a happy note. It's such a wonderful team bonding experience. We had our BBQ, Ice Breaking Session, and Photo shooting spree. So things turned out to be fantastic nonetheless. Weeeee..... Going down really fast.


Monday, April 06, 2015

Ice Breaking - BBQ and Campfire in Sarangkot

Local Nepali chicken.

20th February 2015 (Friday) - Sherpa Guest House, Sarangkot

Who would have thought that we had a campfire in Sarangkot. Well, we did and it was awesomely memorable! It was the best night of our trip in Nepal. Here goes the story.

We realised that the weather was a challenge. The Annapurna mountain range can not be seen after 3.00pm. The clouds covered it completely. I was not clear who, but Mahfiz asked us if we would like to have a campfire that night. I jumped up and down by the mere suggestion. Then someone suggested a BBQ as well. Wowee! I love the idea.

Photo contribution by Hamidi, Mahfiz and Rahman
We planned to have our ice breaking session during the camfire. It got even better. Yes. We hadn't had our ice breaking session with our travelling members since arriving Kathmandu. In such a large group, we didn't really know everyone in person. We were split into smaller groups most of the time. Couples stick with their spouses, photographers always with their own clique, best friends with their own BFF like Awang and yours truly. Whomever travelling alone, will follow whomever they feel comfortable with. So, everyone welcomed the campfire idea.

It didn't come free of course, as it was not in the original itinerary. We agreed to chip in for the cost. First we need to find a live chicken and we found out that we had to buy the firewood as well. In Sarangkot, they are not allowed to cut down trees. So firewood is an expensive item to their household. The guest house owner managed to find two chickens and firewood supply for us. Total cost was about USD58 and our friend Hamidi paid for all of us. Thanks Hamidi!

Najmuni did the slaugtering. As a Muslim, we can only eat Halal food. It means foods that are in compliance with the Sharia Law (Islamic Law based on the Quran and the Sunnah). We can only eat meat that has been slaughtered the Islamic way. There are wisdoms behind why we slaughter the animals in such a way. You can read it all here. Not every Muslim man could do it. Being human, some are soft-hearted and probably some would faint at the sight of blood. However, every man has his own special skill and Najmuni had it in him for this task. Surprisingly Awang assisted him. Great! Matters about the chicken settled. I helped with the seasoning and again Awang, who's known for his cooking skill, handled the BBQ till it's all done. He did really well.

Introducing all the partners in crime in Nepal (Photos belong to all of them)

The ice breaking finally took place after the chicken was long cooked and eaten. The photographers were busy taking photos of the milky way, busy with their pro cameras and such. We were totally from a different interest group. The only common ground is travel. Awang and myself almost wanted to go to bed because it was very late but Mahfiz finally urged everyone to gather closer to the campfire to start the ice breaking at 12.00 midnight!

Yup, finally we got to know each other better. All 16 participants were asked to talk and share stories. We were of diverse age and occupation. However the spirit of wanderlust brought us together. It was adjourned at approximately 30 minutes passed 1 in the AM.  

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
Saint Augustine

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Sarangkot that sounds like Love

Trekking up to the guest house in Sarangkot. Looking up to the sky full of paragliders and Mahfiz with his hangers.

20th February 2015 (Friday): Arriving in Sarangkot, Kaski District, Gandaki Zone, Nepal

I fell in love with Sarangkot. A small village above Pokhara. The name reminds me of  'Saranghae' which means love or a way to say 'I love you' in Korean. Hmm... something about Korea. I had a nightmare that lasted a lifetime. Okay, the name suits the feel of this place. I am writing an introduction to Sarangkot and shall write it slowly in phases. So much detailing and sentiment to be carefully put into words for my own record sake. This blog is more like a life journey. Old readers would know :) 

As for the new comers, hope you will find something educational and worthwhile. Well...

From where we started our trekking.
Back to Sarangkot Village, we took a private bus instead of a public transport. The road was a long winding road and sometimes we had to stop to give ways to other approaching vehicles. The bus stopped middle way, then we trekked up the remaining distance of 30 minutes going up to Sherpa Guest House. The guest house was located right on top of Sarangkot Village. Our itinerary was to watch sunrise the next morning at the View Point where supposedly you could catch the glorious sunrise and to capture the breathtaking view of Annapurna mountain range. We paid USD1 each for the experience but did we make it? A different story. 

The view during trekking itself was spectacular. My heart was jumping out of excitement and anticipation. The sky was beautifully decorated with colourful paragliders. They almost looked like a flock of birds. We missed our chance to go paragliding in Pokhara because it was fully booked. Many wants to do it as it gains popularity. And I had it in my bucket list! What a luck. I shall do it one day before I die. A note to self.

At some point during the trekking, we were lucky to capture, the Annapurna mountain range although it was cloudy. The weather was our challenge. Heavy clouds as you can see in the photos and the weather forecast said it might rain. Huhuhu... I managed to snap the famous Mount Machhapuchhre or better know as the Fish Tail Mountain right before reaching the guest house. See the picture above, it was almost covered by the clouds.

We passed by houses and many guest houses along the way. Our destination was Sherpa Guest House almost at the very top of Sarangkot Village. But it's worth our pain and sweat because the view was worth every penny paid for this trip. I snapped a photo of Mount Annapurna III from the window of my bedroom in Sherpa Guest House. A view you could die for, right. I've got the best side of the guest house overlooking the mountain scene. However, most of the time it was cloudy as you can see, heavy cumulus clouds. The photo was just a pure luck. Within a few minutes, it was gone hidden by the clouds. 

View from the back of our guest house.
We reached Sherpa Guest House in the afternoon. The cook was busy preparing food for us. It smelled amazing as everyone was hungry after the bus journey and trekking. We had our lunch around 2.00pm. Cooking in this side of the world was really really a slow process. Probably they were not used to cooking for large amount of people, i,e, 16 of us plus two guides.

The guest house is managed by a very nice and polite family. They were friendly and very helpful in all our needs. We have our guide, Ramji that constantly and diligently helping the family in all their cooking and serving for our group. Thank God for his efficiency. At first I thought he was one of the guest house's hand. Didn't even know that he's one of our guide until later when we departed and he was with our group. Hahaha!

From the bedroom window. Awesome!
After lunch, there was little to do but hang around took great photos and acclimatised a bit with the surrounding. Awang wanted to rest, so I wouldn't want to explore alone without my best friend. While resting on bed, I updated my travelling journal, then I saw a beautiful scene of Awang with the cattle. Lalala...  

The life in Sarangkot is pretty much peaceful. It has a population of about 5000+ of a variety of ethnicity that made up the population. Among them are the Magars and the Gurungs. Lots of agricultural plots we've seen along the way. The villagers made their livelihood via agriculture and tourism contributed a lot, obviously. Most, have their own livestock of poultry and cattle. They planted their own vegetables for daily use. I saw dried corns, plots of peas and many planted mustard for its oil. Yes mustard oil, not the mustard sauce that we are so familiar with. Nepali use a lot of mustard oil in their cooking. They put it on their hair as well and as a massage oil for body ache and other ailments. 

 We had a Chicken BBQ over a campfire at night. That was when had our very first ice breaking to get to know the whole team member for real. Hahaha! 

I shall reserve the story in the next posting. Till then, take care :)

Saturday, April 04, 2015

World Peace Pagoda, Ananda Hill, Pokhara

The World Peace Pagoda on top of Ananda Hill. 
A symbol of peace. You can just sit there, contemplate for awhile. The view was spectacular too.

The World Peace Pagoda or Pokhara Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist pagoda-style monument situated on top of Ananda Hill. The name Shanti means 'peace' in Sanskrit. This is only one of 80 Peace Pagoda that have been built all over the world initiated by Nichidatsu Fujii (1885–1985), a Buddhist monk from Japan and founder of the Nipponzan-Myōhōji Buddhist Order. 

19th February 2015 (Thursday): 

It's a hot hot day. Applying sunblock, crossing over via a boat ride and taking breaks playing with children. Here are some of the scenes. 

Phewa Lake is not very far from where where we stayed in Pokhara. It's just a 10 minutes walk away. We headed there straight after having lunch at Lazeez Halal Food Restaurant around 3.00pm. It was scorchingly hot afternoon. At that time the lake was abuzz with activities. We saw a banner saying Jungle Festival was going on. No wonder everyone gathered in joyful festive spirit. We saw people going for peddle boats, as well as those who are crossing over to pray at a temple on a small island within the enclosure of Phewa Lake, namely Barahi Bhagwati Temple. It took us less than 20 minutes by boat across to the other side to start our trekking up Ananda Hill. Obviously boat motor engine of any kind was not allowed in the lake. You have got to peddle it slowly; row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, if you see an alligator, don't forget to scream. Hahaha! Good for nature. It breaths out air of relief I guess :) 

The hill was unique as its prime vegetations are naturally grown lychee trees. Yup... lychee fruit that we often eat. Amazing that the trees grow there naturally spread by birds and other animals, according to the guide. Not surprising to see a restaurant, a resort, and what not, all were named after the sweet juicy fruit :)

Unfortunately, we didn't see any lychee fruit at the time of our visit. The guide said, it's not fruiting season. I wish to see it with my own eyes. Huhuhu... According to the guide, the public are allowed to enjoy the fruits during its season. I wonder if it's really fruiting. Hmm...

Back to trekking up to Peace Pagoda, it's fairly easy to climb. Normal fitness level will take about 30-45 minutes. There were visible pathway you could easily follow. Some ladies we found hiking with their heels. So it can not be that hard. Hahaha!   

Let the photos tell the story. The view and experience were priceless. Sometimes, it's not the place but the people you are travelling with that make it great. In this case, both place of travel and the people made it great for me :)

Places you can go up here

Himalaya View Point

Awang and yours truly finding our peace here.

Our friend, Nasrul flew his drone to capture the scenic surrounding of World Peace Pagoda
Thousands of photos but I can only show a few in this blog. I made it into collages to compress the feel of our journey and sharing it here. Next posting will be about Sarangkot.

Dhanyabad (thank you in Nepali language) for dropping by here.
Namaste and subha din (have a nice day)!

Beautiful Pokhara Lakeside

Phewa Lake in Phokara. Famous for it's reflection of Annapurna Mountain Range on its water.
I didn't get the shot. It was cloudy and hazy at the time. I didn't bother to try again at other times. My bad.

Day 3 & 4: Pokhara Lakeside
19th-20th February 2015 (Thursday/Friday)

The beautiful Pokhara Lakeside. A place so attractive it captures my heart. I can start writing poems if stayed there longer. I love the weather, the flowers and the Himalayas scenes. I can just be there observing the locals, appreciating the flowers and sit at cafes for hours writing a book probably. Breathtaking and surreal Pokhara. 

Wake up to the real world, Pokhara is the second largest municipal council after Kathmandu located about 200km away. The town itself is at the elevation of 742m and it varies in places to a maximum of 1,740m (according to Wikipedia). It's very clean and again, beautiful! I love it!

How to get to Pokhara

Just arrived in Pokhara via Simrik Airline.
Top two pictures on the right are courtesy of our friend, Zukra Effendi (he's not in any of the photos above).

Beautiful Pokhara can be reached via land and via air from Kathmandu. Going there via land will take about 6-7 hours depending on the traffic. The road was winding along undulating terrain, crossing villages and very close to the ridges sometimes. However, it was dusty and the road could be jammed with lorries and other vehicles. You might easily get tired, headache and road-sick. We experienced this on our way back to Kathmandu. Hahaha! 

Going to Pokhara via air is the best. It takes only 30 minutes. Saves a lot of time. There are a few airlines to choose from. We went there via Simrik Airline. The fare is about USD117 one way trip. It's just a small air-plane, a twin otter that can fit not more than 19 passengers with one stewardess and two friendly pilots. The view going to Pokhara was spectacular. Worth every penny :)

Activities in Pokhara 

Shopping was fun and you must know how to bargain to get a good price like we did.
Awang, Hidayah and yours truly. Smart shoppers :)
These are among the things you can do in Pokhara city itself:

  1. Shopping 
  2. Boat ride in Phewa Lake
  3. Hiking up Ananda Hill to visit World Peace Pagoda
  4. Seat and dine (some restaurant have live performances)
  5. Sight Seeing
  6. Paragliding 
  7. Laze around doing nothing
We stayed 1-Day 1-Night in Pokhara, Lakeside area at a place called the New United Hotel. More like a guest house to me. Nice and cosy with lots of yellow and red poinsettia flowers. Thanks to Kimbari Lakeside an NGO that oversees the beautification and cleanliness of the Lakeside area. For this effort, I am so grateful and appreciative. I am a sucker when it comes to flowers. 

I am a botanist at heart. I travelled to capture God's given beauty on this earth. 

Pokhara was just a transit point for our itinerary trekking up to Sarangkot but while we were there, we took the opportunity to really explore and did some shopping. Pokhara can be cheaper than in Kathmandu. I like it as their wares are not dusty and looks amazing as foreigner flocked the town. The traders really know their market. Most travellers staying here to proceed for trekking in the Annapurna mountain circuit. Many restaurants catering to tourists' taste buds. You can choose from Nepali food, to Italian, German, Thai, Tibetan, Indian and lots more. It's pretty much international in Pokhara. 

These are only a few scenes of life in Pokhara Lakeside area that I managed to capture. It's a buzz of activities.

Eating was our most bonding time. In fact we collected money so that we could eat together and only one designated person settle the payment. We appointed our leader to act as our treasurer, i.e. Mahfiz. We celebrated our team mate's birthday at Lazeez Halal Restaurant. The food was delicious and freshly prepared. They served quite a variety of Nepali, Western and Middle Eastern cuisines. We met a few Malaysians as well having meals in Lazeez and while walking around in Pokhara as well. One thing to take note though, restaurants in Nepal delivers a very slow service. However, you can't really blame them because they do their cooking from scratch. Nothing is pre-prepared. All had to be done there and there the moment you place your order. They neither have a systematic way in taking orders nor serving the orders. Huhuhu... We were patient enough to wait like almost one hour. It's more than one hour if it's in Dhampus. Ooopss... 

I shall reserve The World Peace Pagoda story in another posting. Till then, take care. Mwah! Mwah!

"Eat and drink from the provision of Allah , and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption." ~ Al-Quran, 2:60

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Romancing Kathmandu

Arriving in Kathmandu, the areal view was spectacular squarish buildings spread all over as far as the eyes can see.
 There were 16 of us embarking on this trip. However we met everyone only on our second day in Kathmandu. Not everyone arrived from the same flight as we were split into three different Airlines, i.e. MAS, Air Asia and Malindo. Myself and Awang (my partner in crime for this trip) were among the first group from Air Asia Flight. The rest were from MAS and Malindo that arrived a day later. 

We were the earliest to explore life in Kathmandu. Many of us were strangers met on an adventure that bonded us together. I knew half of the team and getting to know another half. It's a challenge and a long process, I would say. In regardless of our diverse age, background and character, thank God, we survived the trip and got on really well together.  

17th February 2015 (Tuesday):

7.15am: Meeting Awang in KL Sentral and together we took a ride on an ERL Express to KLIA2. My first time via ERL. Very stress-free, enjoyable, super fast ride. 33 minutes @ RM35/pax. Thumbs up ERL!

7.45am: Arrived KLIA2 very early as we planned to have breakfast after luggage drop off. We've checked-in earlier via the web. Saved a lot of time this way. 

8.00am: Managed to be the first to check-in luggage and saw Mahfiz and his gang from afar.  It took them awhile longer than us to drop off because of weird Air Asia staff on duty said that the counter was still closed. Funny, ha.  Well... it's luck :) 

9.30am: Breakfast at LG, KLIA2 the cheapest meal, i.e. Mamak Restaurant. 

10.30am: Went in boarding hall and waited patiently for our flight call.

11.20am: Boarded the plane with heart full of anticipation and happy song. Lalala,,,

11.50am: Very on time. Excellent! Nepal here I come....

Kathmandu, I Love U

Day 1 & 2 in Kathmandu
We arrived in Kathmandu at approximately 2.00pm Nepali time. Nepal Standard Time is at UTC+5:45. The difference with Malaysian time is +2,15, i.e. Malaysia is ahead by 2 hours and 15 minutes. Forget about time zone, measuring by hours alone, it was about 4½-hour journey. Okay, I got rid of my own confusion there, I guess.

It was fascinating when we were almost reaching the city of Kathmandu, we saw the Himalayas Mountain Range summits reaching out above the clouds. I could not tell which one was Mount Everest. The mountain range was magnificent. It blended with the cloud and all was white as it was covered with snow. February was still winter time in Nepal, so it was snow covered peaks. 

As my feet touched the airport tarmac, I could feel the cool weather. It was so breezy. The temperature was at an average of 21-25°C daytime and 4-5°C at night. I love it!

A little summary about this city of wonder, Kathmandu sits at the elevation of 1,400m above sea level (Kuala Lumpur, my city, is only at 21.95m. Hahaha!). It is the capital of Nepal that has a population of less than a mllion (Kuala Lumpur almost 2 million). Kathmandu's economy is agricultural, industrial, commercial and tourism based. 

Back to my get to know Kathmandu and the rest of our travelling mates, 11 of us checked in at a hotel in Thamel Street, the heart of activities. Lots to do, i.e. outdoor shops, clothings, souvenirs, money changers and restaurants. The hotel was not great in terms of looks but it offered good services, i.e. hot shower, breakfast and free Wifi in the room. The room rate was dirt cheap, at USD10 or around RM40+ per twin sharing with breakfast. For myself, it was sufficient enough, because of the warm and friendly staffs, free Wifi and warm shower. Hahaha!

City Life in Kathmandu

18th February 2015 (Wednesday)

6.30am: I knocked on Awang's door to go out and explore Thamel Street. My NX Mini, Samsung smart camera was at hand. We took lots of selfie around the hotel area. We went out to the street and had our first taste of Nepali food. Nepali authentic Breakfast. Yummy! It's vegetarian. A capati base, smeared with eggs, vege and pepper. That was all and it tasted wonderful. NPL200/pc or about RM7.30. I reserved my comments coz it's delicious and Awang took video on how to make it.

7.00am: We realised everyone was on the rooftop. So we went up and enjoyed selfies of sunrise and building blocks as background. Great view though Kathmandu was really a dusty city at the time of our travel. 

8.30am: We had our hotel breakfast, i.e. Bread, scramble egg, butter, jam and a banana. 

9.30am: Went out shopping spree in Thamel Street, went to Mahfiz friend's outdoor shop as we need to get equipped for our trekking to Pokhara the next day. It was too early, his friend was not present. We planned to find a street cafe to have coffee and observe the street live, instead we walked too far, we ended up scouting the whole Thamel area up till afternoon. I bought a few things along the way. It was fun time together-gether (ignore this). 

2.00pm: Lunch at an Arab Restaurant, namely Al-Madina Halal Foods. Everyone should try Chicken Palak with Naan Bread and Buffalo Milk Tea. Awesome!

3.00pm onwards: Awaiting another five members arriving via MAS and Malindo airlines. It's free and easy activities for everyone. Photographer's group went taking photos of sunset at a Buddhist temple known as Monkey Temple, a Unesco World Heritage Site. I passed out in my room. Lalala...

Dinner was late again in Al-Madina Halal Food. It was raining ice cold! And it rained real ice, folks! The phenomena was called Hailstorm (freezing rain) and it's common in Kathmandu, our guide Mr. Ganesh explained.

Eating & Getting Along

A collage of our get together activities on 1st & 2nd day. Getting to know and get to use to everyone's character activities killing-two-birds-with one stone style, I would say.

Eating is the best way to bring people together. That's why the Chinese had Chinese New Year reunion dinner on the eve of the their New Year. It brought people closer together without having to put an effort. So that's what we did. We ate and we get to know. The cold weather made us constantly hungry. So eating was like a big portion all the time. I never ate so much rice in one particular meal at a time but it Nepal, it happened so easily. Phewww...

It's not really difficult to eat in Nepal because if you can't find halal food for the Muslims, they can always eat a vegetarian meal. Most Hindus are vegetarians. I am so okay with vegetarian food. Nepali foods are almost the same as Indian's. However, they have their authentic delicacies as well. They have their famous Dhal Bhat and Momo.

Dhal Bhat is a rice set ate with lentil soup (dhal soup) and basic veggies. It's Nepali traditional meal. While momo is like a chinese dumpling with fillings inside. It could be meat or vegetables. And a spicy sauce for dipping.
Dhal Bhat buffet style. It's like a banana leaf meal set, actually but here we had it buffet style so we put whatever we like.  I poured the Dhal Soup on top of my rice. I like it that way.

Buffola filled Momo (in an Arab Shop, Pokhara). Awang didn't like buffalo meat.

Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.
Ernest Hemingway

Well there goes the saying. In regardless of our meeting new people, making new friends in a foreign land, it wouldn't be the same if not sharing it with your own true friends. I am blessed to embark on this journey with my top of the list best friends in outdoor, Awang and Mahfiz. Yes! This is the lesson I learned a long time ago. Travel with the people who know you best. They'll keep you company, make you feel comfortable and share your memorable moments.

And again....

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.


Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself - and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That's what real love amounts to - letting a person be what he really is.
Jim Morrison

That's all about Kathmandu day 1 and 2; through my eyes and am writing it with my own sentiment. All photos belong to me as I find it a tedious effort to search and give credit to photos that belong to some else. Not everyone was captured here. My bad. Will try harder to capture everyone in my next posting about Pokhara Trekking. Stay tune!


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