Transits

30 Apr 2017 – Updating Transit In SIN & DOH

23-26Apr: not a time I want to remember as the coughing was bad but good to be back in a familiar place where reliable doctors and medications are more accessible. Antibiotics, cough and running nose medications were all prescribed and feeling like a walking drug dispensary!

Tkx to Les&Ivy for dinner and for their concerns for my condition. Great to catch up with cousin Wilki who is visiting from HI. A cleaning robot@SIN airport, first I have seen.

Thu 27Apr: 0715hrs on schedule 8+hrs full uneventful flight on QatarAirways to DOH. Listening to an interesting audio-book, The Brain with David Eagleman. Arr DOH before 1300hrs – what a change compared from the first time here in 2012. Discovered that my connecting flight to OSL was not until 0705hrs the next day – thought it was 1905hrs, ie 7.05p!

Took the free city-tour into DOH and it was an educational and interesting one, so some things are meant to be.

Ppl out having a good time eating, smoking hookah/shisha, getting their hands painted, etc on a Sat evening. Enjoyed the ambiance and the flavours@the old market.

Fri 28Apr: arr on schedule into OSL, again a long wait at the immigration like last year, but slightly better this year as they tried to get the ppl who did not need visas into another line.

Good to see Olai, May & Rich waiting at the train station. After a yummy cod dinner prepared by May, 10hrs sleep, clean air and in Olai’s company, I feel whole and human again, coughing less.

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Sat 29Apr: Astrup Fearnley Museet where Olai was attending some kids program with the Buddhism in Art.

Beautiful day to be out and about welcoming spring. Yeah finally managed to catch up with the dates in these postings. It is still Sat here in OSL, but Sun in SIN and laptop is set to SIN time.

Here comes the sun 
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes – The Beatles

Nepal/5

26Apr 2017 – Updating KTM – Pokhara

16-17Apr: 3extra nights@Hotel Marshyandi KTM. All flights out are totally booked for the week and looks like there will not be any chance to change tickets. Bought some books to pass time at the hotel courtyard while waiting for Calvin&Sam.

They got in safely and yeah and hats off to them. As a group again, we headed to Pokhara=pool or lake 900m, 30mins flight, 200k west of KTM – 1250hrs flight was delayed until 1515hrs! With a pop of 414,141 in an area of 464.24km2/179.24sq mi, far from the earthquake epicenter, and almost unaffected by the 2015 disaster.

Into our accommodations@Atithir Resort&SPA by 1600+hrs  and out exploring and dinning@Chilly Restro&Bar by Phewa Lake.

Tue 18Apr: up up up on hair-pin-bends on a van to Shanti Stupa/World Peace Pagoda (1999),  a monument to inspire peace, designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds, and to help unite them in their search for world peace.

Heading down to the lake was stressful on the knees on these narrow stone steps, need to concentrate on every step and good to have our guide Kumar to save me if i fall. How on earth did Dipak managed to walk is his city loafers??

The group in action, not the seniors! contributed with the peddling of the boat around Barahi Island Temple before heading to land.

Quite an amazing scene upon landing – vendors selling their brilliant colours accesories, women in their beautiful colourful saris were having the giggles with the life-vests on.

Bamboo-trees overloaded with birds.

A stroll thru’ town for a bite before heading back to the resort for a massage. Mural-painting, not too common.

Thank goodness, not a real snake. The fruit store is right opposite our resort and surprised that hand-made shoes are still in existence!

Dinner@Fish Tail Lodge, situated on a peninsula with the Fewa Lake on one side and a forest-covered hill on the other, spectacular views, like the idea that you need to pull a boat to get there!

Relaxing cocktails with Harry who knows his birds!  The panorama of Annapurna range and Mount Machhapuchre/Fish Tail were over-power by Mother Nature.

Wed 19Apr: the waiting game@Pokhara Airport where flight was supposed to take off for KTM 0930hrs, delayed flight but action going on with movie making of some teary departure scene. By noon the flight was cancelled.

With 3 extra passengers, we headed back to town for lunch@Thakali Kitchen. 1300hrs on the 200k Prithui Highway to KTM, arr after 2000hrs!

With the conditions of the road in addition on top of bad traffic, it is no wonder that it took 8hrs.

Thu&Fri  20/21Apr: a tourist in KTM.

The golden Swayambhunath Stupa, most commonly known as the Monkey Temple, is the oldest and probably one of the most revered holy shrines in all Nepal Its construction dates as far back as the 5th Century. Was not able to do the 365steps, coughing was bad.

Khokana 8k south of KTM, damaged by the 2015 earthquake was mainly known for the production of rich mustard oil since ancient time. It was also the first town in Nepal to be lit with electricity in 1911.

Durbar Square/Basantapur Darbar Kshetra in front of the old royal palace of the former KTM Kingdom is one of three Durbar/royal palace, Squares in the KTM Valley, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 2015 earthquake destroyed many buildings.

Farewell home-made dinner hosted by Dipak&family. The most tender mutton curry eaten and the rabri rasmalai to die for. The best meal I have had in Nepal, thank you.

On the way to Kumar&family to say our farewells. Thank you for the Tongba तोङवा a millet-based alcoholic beverage found in the eastern mountainous region of Nepal and the neighbouring Darjeeling and Sikkim. It is the traditional and indigenous drink of the Limbu people of eastern Nepal. Have been wanting to taste this for some days!

2100hrs flight from KTM on SilkAir to SIN delayed to 2230hrs.

Sat 22 Apr 0530hrs: S&S in SIN. Appreciations to Calvin for the evening celebrations@CC. Reflections and food will be updated. There are just sooo much info online and these are just short personal notes for the memory.

Sun 30Apr: edited reflections and food –  getting out of KTM helped with the breathing and the lungs. Dust was really getting to me and started coughing. Trekking was tough as both heart and lungs are not in good shape – feeling blessed to see Everest under the best conditions in spite of not reaching EBC! 3rd world countries are not on my travel list, it saddens me to see conditions where I feel so helpless. Just goes to show how much I wanted to see the world’s tallest mt!

Additional days in KTM&Pokhara did not help the coughing but that too shall pass and no regrets to have had the opportunities to visit.

IMG_6074IMG_6212Assamese_thali

Nepalese cuisine: Dal-bhat-tarkari दाल भात तरकारी dal is a soup made of lentils and spices. This is served over boiled grain, bhat—usually rice with various varieties of veg, curry, pickles etc.

IMG_5837Chicken_Chow_MeinIMG_6148

Momo—Tibetan style dumplings with Nepalese spices. Chinese-style stir fried noodles but Nepalis have given it their own twist. Plain Tibetan bread which I liked.

IMG_6246The best meal was all the above food, home-made by Dipak’s family. Another thing I tasted a bite of was this wild-picked mushrooms with local potatoes made by the owners@Kyangyump but for their own dinner. Was lucky to get a taste of it.

Would not be fair or objective to comment on the food as my cough and running nose were the culprits to a poor appetite during the entire trip.

‘If the devastating April 2015 earthquake dashed your hopes of visiting Nepal, think again. A year later, this struggling Himalayan country urgently needs tourism, which pre-quake included 800,000 annual visitors and contributed 8.9 percent of gross domestic product. Rest assured Nepal’s rich history, infinite hospitality, and majestic beauty are still there’.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/asia/Nepal/high-time-for-nepal/

It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure – Ernie Harwell

Nepal/4

25 Apr 2017 –  Updating Namche – Tengboche 

Sun 9Apr 0656hrs: Namche 3,450m/22,318ft – Tengboche 3,860m/12,664ft 12k. Leaving Namche with views of farms and the museum. Spectacular views of snow-capped mts in clear clear blue skies.

Ups and downs crossing more suspension bridges and the river, thru’ rhododendron forests.

Lunch break down the valley@Paradise Lodge&Restaurant, a newer place and nice to be able to take an early lunch and nap before heading by the water-wheels and check-point and then up up up for 4k.

Met someone playing the flute during a break and he had a nose-bleed. Gave him all my tissues and wet-naps supply for the day.

After the last 4k of ups ups ups (took me 4hrs) was finally@Tengboche Monastery&Hotel Himalaya 1600hrs, where we will be spending the night. Was sooo tired that all I wanted to do was sleep, but did pay a visit to the monastery first.

Managed to get a few shots before the sunset. Was even too tired to go outside to take this sunset scene, so imagine how bad a shape I was in to miss a good shot of the sunset. Oh well, even with the reflection of the window, Sagarmatha will hold a special place in the memory.

Mon 10Apr 0930hrs: after a poor night sleep with the heart and head not feeling happy, it would be wise to turn around here. As the Norwegian saying goes – det er ingen skam å snu. Looking at the itinerary planned, it would have been unlikely to make it any further and I needed to conserve some energy head back. Lum made the same decision as he was coughing. Calvin&Sam pushed on with Kumar and the younger porter. My fav pix of Sagarmatha and the closest I will ever get.

Such spectacular views will remain as long as the memory is in tact.

Heading slowly with our older porter Samip and Lum from Tengboche to Kyangyump arr 1430hrs after 10k . still above the 3,000m for a night. Nice to have the time to take many Kodak breaks to cherish the moments. One picture is worth ten thousand words – Chinese Proverb

Tue 11Apr 0815hrs: proceeding to Namche arr 1030hrs after 8k where Lum was so out of it that I thought a chopper had to be called. Fortunately he slept for hours and felt better.

Wed 12Apr 0830hrs: Namche – Pkakding 1630hrs 7.4k where I first tasted green chilly sauce@Namaste Lodge where the owner’s son is studying in Dublin/Ireland.

Thu 13Apr 0800hrs: Pkakding – Lukla 1400hrs 9k staying the night@Tara Lodge.

Fri 14Apr: being in the Buddhist country, nearly forgotten that it is Good Fri. Checked into the airport and flight was supposed to take off after 0900hrs. A few flights took and then none after 0930hrs. Airport closed due to wind, but did not effect the choppers. Hiring a chopper cost anything from US$1,600+

Waited and watching life goes by was more affordable!

Left the airport to have lunch@Everest Mt Home, only a few steps away and has a view of the landing strip where I could see any plane or chopper landing. All’s well that ends well – the airport opened after 1500hrs and we were back in KTM by 1600hrs. Goodbye and thank you Sagarmantha.

Feeling blessed to have been able to trek 34k to an altitude of 3,860m/12,664ft in 6 perfect weather days (including 1rest day) was more than I would have hoped.

Nepal/3

24 Apr 2017 – Updating Phakding – Namche

Fri 7Apr 0645hrs: Phakding 2,620m/8,595ft – Namche 3,450m/22,318ft 12k.

Still along DudhKoshi, up thru’ rhododendron, fir, Himalayan pine, cedar forest with the view of Kusum Kanguru/Kangaroo 6,369m/20,895ft & Thamserku Mts 6,623m/21,719ft.

Long suspension bridge, and wow! the first sighting of Sagarmatha/Everest 8,848m/29,018ft world’s tallest mt and I survived to see it with my own 2eyes!! (even when it is from a distance).  Another bucket list item accomplished.

Passing by the village of Monjo. Break@Buddha Lodge for lunch and to air my feet.

Long lines@Namche checkpoint, smart of Kumar to call one of the porters who had arrived@Namche with the group and our baggage. He came to stand in line while poor Kumar had to accompany me so that I could slowly but surely reach the ups ups ups to Namche by 1630hrs.

2 nights here@Kongde Lodge to rest and acclimatize. Met up with a Norwegain, Ulrik Hoksnes Karlsen, hiking solo who works in Shanghai and knows Magnus – small world. He also has a twin bro working in SIN!

Sat 8Apr: a visit to Namche Market and the museum before heading another 400m to acclimatize.

The group was flying their kites and scaring the birds 🙂

They proceeded on to Everest View Lodge while our guide Kumar, porter Samip and I decided to nap instead of climbing. Headed back to the lodge for another night.

Only pix I have of the whole group@Namche Bakery where the older bro Samip (24) so touchingly cut up the food for his younger bro (14). Clockwise: Sam, younger porter, me, Lum, Calvin, Kumar&Samip. Sam bought a pair of mittens and I, a pair of booties (booties pix credits to Calvin).

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals – Zig Ziglar

Nepal/2

23 Apr 2017 – Updating Lukla

Thu 6Apr 0745hrs: KTM – Lukla 2,610m 35min domestic flight

to the world’s most dangerous airport, the Tenzing–Hillary Airport/LUA has a 527m runway with a 11.7% gradient, at an elevation of 2845m. The gradient helps the plane to slow down when landing, and build up speed when taking off. One end of the runway runs off a cliff. The only runway 24 (in Cantonese it sounds like easy death!) not a good number for the Chinese, but hopefully for the Nepali it has other significance!

Into the land of Sherpa=Eastern ppl in Tibetan. Here a repacking process – pix credits to Calvin. We meet with our 2 young porters who will be carrying our luggage for the entire trek. To my Irish friends, this Irish pub is dedicated to you all 🙂

0845hrs: Lukla 2,610m – Phakding 2,810m 9k: along DudhKoshi River (Milk River), passing thru’ mt views, Tibetan words carved in rocks.

Over an hour lunch break@Mt Kusum Khangkaru Lodge&Restaurant in the village of Kusum Khola.

The reason for such long lunch breaks is that the preparations do not start until you order! First short bridge after lunch. Tkx to Calvin for stretching my boots to protect my bunion here. My admiration, respects and hats off to these Sherpa and porters who carry anything from 40-100kg up here. Am struggling with just a 5kg daypack!

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Beautiful ups and downs, exposed trek without my hat, many short breaks.

Heading to our lodgings@Tashi Ta-Gey Lodge in Phakding 2,620m/8,595ft. Got there by 1500hrs but too tired to explore further. Just sitting and enjoying company of Maria/Peru, John/Aus who lives in SIN, Travis/medical student from SIN (told him that I will haunt him if he ever resuscitate me 🙂 ) and watching life goes by – even a handsome horse-rider 🙂 🙂 🙂

4above pix credits to Calvin. Slight headache but hopefully due to the exposed trek today. Will sleep the night here and see how things goes tomorrow.

The effects of high altitude on humans are considerable. The percentage oxygen saturation of hemoglobin determines the content of oxygen in blood. After the human body reaches around 2,100m/7,000ft above sea level, the saturation of oxyhemoglobin begins to plummet.

High altitude: 1,524-3,505.2m/5,000-11,500ft.

Very high altitude: 3,500-5,500m/11,500-18,000ft.

Extreme altitude: above 5,500m/18,000ft.

Nepal

22 Apr 2017 – Updating Kathmandu KTM

Tue 4Apr: checked gears, gadgets and bought my first pair of hiking boots. Appreciations to CC for the use of 3-in-1 jacket, extra sleeping bag if needed and a duffer-bag to fit everything.

First experience to a country sandwiched by the world’s 2 most populated countries, India & China! Nepal’s pop 26+mil; 147,181 km2(56,827 sq mi), also the birth country of Gautama Buddha (563–483 BCE).

Wed 5Apr: SilkAir SIN-KTM 4hrs 45mins – full flight and a slight misunderstanding for the visa duration, otherwise everything went smoothly. The contrast from SIN airport to KTM airport is quite something!! From the airport to the Thamel (app7km) where Hotel Moonlight was located would take anything from 15mins-1hr depending on traffic. Appreciations to Dipak from Adventure Tours for meeting us.

KTM, pop 1+mil; 49.45 km2 (19.09 sq mi) choking in dusty roads and heavy traffic. After checking into the hotel and a light lunch, it was time to explore the surroundings.

Had to buy a mask to continue walking – felt I was choking in the dust. The Garden of Dreams, also, the Garden of Six Seasons, is a neo-classical garden in Kaiser Mahal built in 1920 and supposedly one of the most serene&beautiful places here.

KTM Guest House (1967) is Thamel’s first and oldest hotel is converted from a Rana Dynasty Mansion. The Beatles stayed there in 1968, but the majority of KTM is still very much a 3rd world scene! Sadly the 2015 earthquake did some damages around.

Dinner at this new place that is so new that it has no name! The lanes were so narrow that it was amazing how the van could manoeuvre here without any scratches or bumps!! Good food but too much. Also entertained by local dancers. Calvin forgot about the red-dot and keep rubbing his forehead 🙂

Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before – Dalai Lama.

And so I did 🙂 🙂 🙂

An 80th Birthday Celebration

1 Apr – Goodbye Mar Hello Apr 


Mon: everything was unpacked and put to place before the end of the day. The love-hate feeling of packing, travelling and unpacking! Should have not unpack, but will be heading to different climate and places next week. Sometimes I do wonder it is only me who dread packing and unpacking??

Tue: @CC to check out gears. Dinner@Les&Ivy and many tkx for the tax-free goods. It will have to be a VERY special before I open this bottle of bubbles!!

Wed: shopping for Jo’s 80Bday gift and saw this cute Vesper with a side-car@Suntec. The sign hanging there states – Children Only. The Vespa is fragile. Please be gentle 🙂  I would have been more gentle with it than any child! Could not resist this vanilla souffle@Hoshino Coffee***but no coffee. Have to go back there for breakfast one day and then will have the coffee.

Pick up all my gears@CC tkx to Calvin.

Thu: after the sky opened up at noon, a lovely wet and cool afternoon. Shopped at the Daiso@City Square Mall as there is a better selection in that branch. More shopping at the airport and there one does not have to pay 7%GST. Easy to take the MRT with one change direct to the airport and no need to deal with the rains. Above 3 pix downloaded.

Fri: TGIF. Happy 80th Bday to sis Jo – proud grandmother with her grandchildren pix credits to David. Jo&her immediate family, Michael, Pat-Lynn&David, Lucas, Beth and Sue-Lynn.

Some of the siblings and their spouses. Left-right sitting: PohKit, Jo, Ivy; standing: Les, Joyce, Lawrence, Michael & me. Pix credits to David. The dinner party group – sitting from left-right: Lawrence, Michael, Jo, PohKit; standing: Joyce, Kiera, Pat, Pat-Lynn, Beth, Lucas, Sue, Clement, Alywin, me and David.

Thanks to Michael, Pat Lynn, David and Sue Lynn for a wonderful 80Bday celebration. A great time was had by all young and old@Imperial Treasure, Great World City****

Sat: time to pay respects to our parents@Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium Complex. 15th day after the Spring Equinox is the ChingMing Festival 清明节 Tomb-Sweeping Day making the place packed with ppl and smoke in the weekend.

Lunch&dinner@Les&Ivy. Appreciations for all the delicious foods from Jo, Les&Ivy. Good to have another family gathering before Lawrence flies off to KCH tomorrow.

Who needs April Fool’s, my entire life is a joke – hahaha 🙂 So today I can tell everyone that I am heading towards Mt Everest.

Irene Hoe: No lah, just say you have just made it to the summit. April 1 what!

Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever – Charles Lamb