The Daily Explorer

January 6, 2009

From Pokhara to Patan

Nepal: January 2009

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MOZZIE BYTE (Editor): A very happy New Year to all our Daily Explorer readers and greetings to those of you who are joining us for the first time. To our regulars, many thanks for reading our online publication and for giving us your feedback.  Since we went live with our new format nearly a year ago, around 7,000 visitors have come to see our site and get the latest information about Ray as he travels around the world. We now receive an average of 1,000 visitors every month. We aim to maintain our high standards of journalism and presentation at The Daily Explorer, so please keep sending us your ideas to help us improve future issues. You can use the comments box online, or email ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at thedailyexplorer@gmail.com

Our first issue in 2009 is from Nepal and has been compiled for us by our guest correspondent, Seymour Peaks (above). He is a very experienced Alpine journalist of the highest calibre and returns from his Christmas break to bring us up to date with Ray as he continues to explore this ancient, mountainous country before crossing the border into Tibet (more about this in our next issue in a couple of weeks).

Before Christmas,  Seymour followed Ray around the Annapurna circuit  – one of the top ten most popular mountain treks in the world – as he completed the remaining 13 days of his 200 mile, 18 day route through one of the highest regions on earth.  Together with Nikki Ashley, the two of them triumphantly conquered the world’s biggest mountain pass at Thorung La at an altitude of nearly 18,000 feet, descending from the mountains into the city of Pokhara. If you missed it, you can read it now at: Around Annapurna in 18 Days (Part Two)

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Above: The breathtaking mountains of Nepal have been attracting visitors to the region for years. You can read all about the final 13 days of Ray and Nikki’s trek through one of the highest regions on earth and how they triumphantly conquered the world’s biggest mountain pass at Thorung La, in Around Annapurna in 18 Days (Part Two)

In this issue, we also announce the winner of our caption competition and last but not least, there is an important announcement for all readers of The Daily Explorer who may be interested in trekking in the Himalayas with Ray in 2009. Make sure you take a look at my comments at the end of this issue and get in touch if you would like more information.

Although most people come to Nepal for the mountains, there are other attractions as Ray and Nikki were about to discover when they arrived in the city of Pokhara. I caught up with them at their guest house a day after they completed their trek around the Annapurna circuit to find out what was in their itinerary. “We just want to have a really good rest” said Ray. “The first priority is to get a deep tissue massage to try and loosen up our calf muscles, which are as hard as rock” said our weary mountain trekker. “Then we will go in search of fresh coffee, which is something we have really missed! On a more serious note, one of our Kiwi friends (Kathy Jensen) has spent a lot of time volunteering at an orphanage here, which has inspired us to visit the centre and spend time with the children” added Ray.

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Above: The mountains of the Annapurna range provide the city of Pokhara with a spectacular backdrop. This was the view from Ray’s guest house on the day of his arrival

Pokhara is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nepal, mainly because of it’s proximity to the Annapurna circuit. It is situated in the northwestern corner of the Pokhara Valley, which is a widening of the Seti Gandaki valley. The Seti River and its tributaries have dug impressive canyons into the valley floor, which are only visible from higher viewpoints or from the air. In no other place do mountains rise so quickly. Within 30 kilometres, the elevation rises from 1,000 metres to over 7,500 metres. The Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu ranges, each with peaks over 8,000 metres, can be seen from Pokhara and there is the Phewa Lake, three caves (Mahendra, Bat and Gupteswor) and an impressive falls (Patale Chhango or Devi’s Fall) where the water from the Phewa Lake thunders into a hole and disappears. The climate is sub-tropical but due to the elevation the temperatures are moderate. In summer, they average between 25 – 35°C, in winter around 5 – 15°C. “Compared with the mountains during our trek, this is pretty warm which makes a nice change!” said Ray

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Above: The view of Pokhara and Phewa Lake from Sarankot (left), which is a small village located on a mountain ridge at an altitude of 1,600 meters – “We must be addicted to walking” said Ray, after the three hour hike up to Sarankot. “The views over Pokhara and the lake from here are spectacular and it is a popular place for paragliding (right) with many schools for travellers” he told me

Below: Overlooking the Phewa lake, Ray thinks about his wishes for 2009 – “Dear Lord; if ‘The Daily Explorer’ is going to be the very best, most popular online travel journal this year, then show me a sign” he asks

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I was interested to find out more about the Namaste Childrens House, which according to Ray is a multi-denominational, non-profit social organisation, dedicated to providing love, education, healthcare, nutrition, and a solid sense of family, community and cultural identity to the orphaned and needy children of Nepal. “When we arrived at their centre in Pokhara, it was obvious that the team are doing some truly brilliant work with these under-privilieged kids” observed Ray. “From what we could see, the children definitely gain a sense of security and belonging, allowing them to fulfill their potential as they make the transition into their adult lives”.

Located between the huge countries of India and China, Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with 42% of its population living below the poverty line. “Some of the statistics we saw were frightening” Ray told me. “For example, 27,000 children die of dysentery every year, 73% of women 15 years or older are illiterate and 2.6 million children are engaged in different sectors of child labor. As if that isn’t bad enough, over 5,000 children are working and living on the streets” added our disturbed traveller. “Nepal also has the number one child disappearance rate in the world” he told me.

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Above: Nikki enters the Namaste Childrens Home in Pokhara (left). The organisation receives no government funding and survives entirely on donations and people volunteering their help. This poster on the wall (right) shows what they can do with money that is given – “We take so much for granted in the west” said Ray. “Travelling to places like this makes me continually realise how fortunate we are”. There is further information available on the web site for anyone interested in donating, volunteering or supporting the Namaste Childrens Home

Below: Nikki (right) talks to one of the staff members about the work they are doing – “The fact that some of these children even get born is a miracle in itself” said Nikki. “I found out that only 4% of women are attended by trained health workers during childbirth and every year, sixty thousand children die before they reach their 5th birthday. Tragically, one in three children drop out of school” she told me

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Above: Ray takes a look around the centre (left) and finds out more about some of the children who live there (right) – “Once we had spent an hour or two with them, we felt we wanted to do something more while we were staying in town, so we had a chat with Visma Raj, who runs the centre” explained Ray. “We thought we would like to organise a picnic for the kids at the rehabilitation centre – an arm of the charity that specifically looks after streetkids and tries to get them into school, find sponsors or re-unite the children with their families” he told me

Below: A few days later, Ray and Nikki’s wish came true and they went with about 35-40 kids, members of staff and other volunteers to a nearby hillside where everyone could have a fun day out (Nikki is third from the right)

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Above: “The people who look after the children are wonderful souls and really dedicated” observed Ray. “Many people gave their time to cook at the picnic (left), transporting all of the stuff needed by hand, a few hundred metres up the hill behind the centre. After lunch, the children entertained themselves with some very energetic dancing, accompanied by these women playing and singing for them (right)

Below: Our traveller, the biggest kid of them all, enjoyed the day out – “Like all of us, these kids just want to be loved and feel that they are part of a family” said Ray. “My heart goes out to them and I will remember many of the people I met for a very long time”

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Above: Nikki can still show these young kids a thing or two when it comes to shaking her stuff on the dance floor!

Below: Some of the boys (left) keep Ray and Nikki entertained – “We were very happy that we were able to bring some joy and pleasure into the lives of these children, if only just for a few hours” said Ray. “It was obvious that they really loved the day out, as witnessed by the expression on the face of this young girl (right)

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After the picnic, I heard from Ray that he and Nikki received an email from Visma Raj, thanking them for creating the picnic. “He sent us a wonderful message, and I would really appreciate it if you would publish this excerpt in The Daily Explorer” said Ray:

“Dear Nikki and Ray,
We have just completed the fifth edition of the Namaste Children’s House (NCH) Newsletter. The newsletter contains information on various activities which have happened in the last three months; the opening ceremony of our new Children’s Home, our charity in Switzerland, the 6th Annual general meeting of NCH , the football tournament, our children in academic tour, the Judo display, our guests from the Isle of Man & UK, our Nepali evening, fundraising events from Brett & Bethany-UK NCH Appeal,  Mahim’s progress etc.

As you know in the past five years NCH has been able to support many children and women under its various social projects.  This is due to acting boldly, bravely, and above all, together! We expect your cooperation, support, comments and feedback in driving the Namaste Children’s House to meet its goals and objectives in the future. It would be much appreciated if you can also share our newsletter with your friends, relatives and colleagues to spread our message as far and wide as possible. Also,  our future children’s village proposal of NCH has been drafted and if you are interested in helping us please contact me for a copy of this which you can send to different organizations and companies known to you and as you know together we can do a lot of good things for many unfortunate children  and people of Nepal.

If any readers are interested in a little taste of the picnic, you can watch this short video clip below:

Pokhara has several attractions for visitors and one of them is the World Peace Pagoda. “Funnily enough, we could see the white stupa on the hill across the other side of the Phewa Tal lake from the place where we held the picnic” Ray told me. “Built in 1996, the stupa sits at an elevation of 1,113 metres. From the Pagoda, we were able to see across the city and get a brilliant view of the snow peaked Annapurna mountain range” he told me. “I also discovered that the lake was slightly enlarged by damming. It is in danger of silting up because of the inflow during the monsoon. The dam collapsed in the late 1970’s and it was rebuilt by the Chinese” said our well informed traveller.

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Above: Because of it’s high elevation, the white Stupa of the World Peace Pagoda is easily visible from many of the surrounding hills and mountains

Below: Nikki walks towards the stupa for a closer look. It was built in 1996 by Buddhist monks from the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji organisation to promote world peace

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Above: There are two ways of reaching the World Peace Pagoda from the ‘lakeside’ tourist area where you will find Pokhara’s guest houses, shops and restaurants. One is a long walk around the town, followed by a steep uphill hike. The other is to be rowed across in a boat taxi for around 250 rupees (a thirty minute journey which costs about three US dollars) – “We took the boat on the way there and with the Himalayas in full view from the lake, the experience was very serene” said Nikki

Below: Nikki (left) takes a closer look at one of the five beautiful Buddha images (right) housed in the Stupa

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Above: The view of the Annapurna range from the World Peace Pagoda – “It gave us a chance to see where we had been trekking from a completely different perspective. As we had been resting for a few days, it started to make us think about doing another trek before we left the country” admitted Ray. The low peak in the centre of the picture is Sarankot, which at 1,600 metres is a relatively easy two-three hour hike and provides superb views of the mountains behind, especially at sunset

The Annapurna Base Camp Trek

When I spoke to Ray and Nikki at their guest house in Pokhara after a few days of resting, I discovered that they were planning a second, much shorter trek in the Annapurna region and was curious to understand more about the thinking behind it. “Well Seymour, we have a limited amount of time before Nikki goes to England to visit her family for Christmas and we are close to one of the best mountain ranges in the world. We absolutely love the trekking here and thought we might be able to squeeze in one more before she flies out” explained Ray. “As some readers know, I am also thinking of organising a trek for anyone who would like to try it for themselves and I wanted to do a shorter trek myself to know if it would be suitable (from personal experience). The Annapurna Base Camp trek (ABC), also known as ‘The Sanctuary’ was a perfect choice as we discovered that we could get in and out in 6-7 days, trekking an average of 20-25 kilometres each day. We called our friends at Asian Heritage to see if our guide (Madan) and porter from our previous trek (see Around Annapurna in 18 Days) were available and luckily for us, they were” recalled our fanatical mountain trekkers.

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Above: The blue line, which has been added to the map from our previous issue, shows the 6-7 day, 136 kilometre Annapurna Base Camp trek (ABC) relative to the circuit, which is over 1,000 metres higher and takes about three times longer

As we provided comprehensive information about Ray and Nikki’s trek around the Annapurna circuit at the end of last year, we have decided to keep our coverage of their second trek to a small selection of photograhs (below), which have been included for those of you who may be thinking about trekking with Ray in the Himalayas in 2009 (see the Editors Note at the end of this issue). “The great thing about the ABC is that it can be done in around a week, making it very suitable for people who want a taste of Himalayan mountain trekking but are restricted for time” said Ray. “It is still a physically demanding trek and the scenery is beautiful, so it would be perfect for first timers” he told me. “We completed the 136 kilometre journey in 6 days” added our global traveller.

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Above: “Here we go again!” – Nikki sets off from Birethanti with guide Madan and porter Kamal, as her and Ray start the 6-7 day Annapurna Base Camp trek. For more information about the much longer, 18 day trek around the Annapurna circuit, you can read our previous issue: Around Annpurna in 18 Days

Below: Whoever painted the sign (reads: Heavenly Path) on this rock (left) probably didn’t realise how close to the truth they were! Yet again, the trekking route took our two travellers through some wonderful, ancient villages where life has remained much the same for hundreds of years (right)

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Above: The way up to the Annapurna base camp is also the way back down and the route offers trekkers a huge variety of landscapes.  “The trek, which reaches a maximum height of 4,130 metres, is not easy and the adjustment to high altitudes can be difficult, with altitude sickness being quite common. On the other hand, anyone with a reasonable level of physical fitness could do it” said Ray

Below: Some of the small villages that Ray and Nikki passed through (left) were like something from another world and make the trek a very rewarding experience from a cultural perspective. Ray arrives in Ghandruk on Day One (right) with guide Madan (left) and porter Kamal (centre)

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Above: Unlike the Annapurna circuit, the ABC trek takes visitors on a route through dense forests during the first couple of days…..

Below: ….. and over many small suspension bridges too!

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Above: For the first time in Nepal, Ray and Nikki encountered evidence of the unrest within the country as they came across this piece of Maoist graffiti on their way to Chomrong during Day Two

Below: Ray looks relatively happy as he stands on this bridge, considering he is about to start a steep, six kilometre climb to Sinuwa (elevation 2,340 metres), which was their camp for the second night – “We reckon there were about 27,000 steps, most of which were uphill!” said Ray

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Above: The third day of the ABC trek takes you to over 3,700 metres (about 12,000 feet), which means the weather is very changeable and unpredictable and trekkers can get caught in thick cloud very easily. Ray sent us these two pictures to illustrate this phenomena. On the left, he and Nikki were above the clouds in Deurali in near perfect conditions when strong winds suddenly blew in their direction, creating zero visibility and cold, icy conditions within five minutes (right)

Below: Leaving Deurali some 30 minutes later to ascend to the Machhapuchhare Base Camp, the last stop before reaching the ABC, Ray and Nikki were soon above the clouds again – “We were treated to the wonderful sound of a lone piper sitting on the top of a rock” said Nikki. If you would like to see a short clip of him playing, then watch the video below the photograph

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Above: The impressive 7,000 metre peak of Machhapuchhare, or the ‘Fishtail’ as it is more commonly known (left), viewed from the very cold, isolated Machhapuchhare Base Camp on Ray and Nikki’s third night – “We decided to push hard to get to the MBC on day three so that we would finish the trek a day early” recalled Ray. “As we were doing it at the end of the season, the base camp was completely deserted apart from a couple of sherpa’s (right), who made some food for us and made sure we had a bed for the night” said our alpine trekker

Below: Another example of how the weather can change dramatically. On the left is the view of the Annapurna range from MBC, taken with Ray’s camera on arrival at around six o’clock on day three. On the right is the same view, taken early the following morning as they set off for the Annapurna Base Camp some two hours away. If you want to see a short clip showing just how fast the weather can change, then watch the video below the photograph

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Above: Ray and Nikki arrived at the Annapurna Base Camp after three and a half days and were blown away by the vista – “I just sat there, motionless and speechless, and stared at the mountains for ages thinking how great it felt to be alive” recalled Ray

Below: Our intrepid explorer Nikki captures what her eyes are seeing on film

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Above: The trek leads to a natural amphitheatre that is used as the base camp from which climbers start on their way to conquer the Annapurna Mountain (centre, peak in clouds), which reaches 8,091 metres (26,700 feet). The base camp’s altitude is 4,130 metres (13,600 feet)

Below: Madan (right) points to some of the features of the surrounding peaks to Nikki – “This is probably the closest anyone can get to touching the Himalayas without actually climbing on them” said Nikki

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Above: Having made good progress in the first half of the week, there was plenty of time on the way back for a a few rest stops – Nikki and Madan are pictured here at a restaurant high up on a ridge in the village of Chomrong (elevation 2,170 metres)

Below: Height appears to be no obstacle to the people who live and work in the mountains, as this man carrying a huge load up the hill demonstrates (left). On completion, Ray and Nikki returned to Kathmandu on the Nepali ‘Greyhound’ bus so that Nikki could catch her flight to London – “Whilst we were in Pokhara, I had been watching the news on BBC World with some anxiety because I was due to fly via Bangkok and the airport was being occupied by P.A.D supporters” recalled Nikki. “Luckily for me, the demonstration ended a few days before I needed to depart” she said with some relief

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Return to Kathmandu

With a couple of days to spare before her departure to the UK, Nikki arranged some sight seeing around the Kathmandu Valley with Ray. “We really want to see the vast complex of Hindu temples on the river at Pashupatinath, and hopefully get to Bodhnath and Patan if we still have time” she told me. Ray echoed her sentiments. “I am planning to go to India and want to visit Varanasi on the River Ganges, which is a huge Hindu cremation site” he told me. “Going to Pashupatinath is high on my list as it will probably give me a good taster and help me appreciate what to expect when I eventually cross the border into India” said our traveller.

Pashupatinath is regarded as one of the most sacred temples of Shiva (Pashupati) on the subcontinent, let alone Nepal and draws devotees and sadhus (wandering Hindu holy men) from all over India. Along the shores of the Bagmati river near the temple lies “Arya Ghat”, the most widely used place of cremation for the deceased in Nepal, especially in and around the Kathmandu valley. “We discovered that death is dealt with quite quickly, openly and publicly in Kathmandu, with bodies reaching the cremation site on the river within hours of the person passing” said Ray. “It was a real eye opener for me. I don’t think I have ever witnessed anything quite like it” added our global nomad.

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Above: Only Hindu’s are allowed to enter the temple at Pashupatinath. Non-Hindu visitors are allowed to have a look at the temple from the other bank of Bagmati river – “We saw a body brought to the river while we were there and a fairly large crowd of people gathered to watch the proceedings” recalled Ray. “The body was wrapped in what appeared to be a white sheet, with the head fully visible and was carefully placed on a ‘bed’ of woooden blocks in readiness for burning. After various people stepped up for the last time, the person who carried out the cremation came forward” recalled Ray

Below: The view of the cremation from the opposite bank of the river where Ray and Nikki were sitting

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Above: Before the body is set alight, it is covered in straw. On average, there is one cremation starting every hour

Below: The body is now burning and you can see the smoke rising from it in the background – “It is hard to find the words to express how it felt being there and witnessing this” said Ray. “In the culture I have been brought up in, death is still considered to be fairly taboo and hard for people to witness or talk about. Here, it appears to be simply a part of everyday life and is dealt with accordingly” observed Ray, “which is something I am not used to”

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Above: The Pashupatinath temple complex covers a huge area and it is well worth spending time to look around if you visit Kathmandu

Fortunately for Ray and Nikki, there was enough time for them to visit Patan and Bodhnath, which is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu. The stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. Dominating the skyline, the ancient stupa is also one of the largest in the world. The influx of large populations of Tibetan refugees from China has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (monasteries) around Bodhnath. As of 1979, the area where the stupa is located became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most popular tourist sites in the Kathmandu area.

“We discovered that there is quite a legend about the construction of the stupa” said Ray. “Apparently, it is said in this history that an old woman, with her four sons, interred a great Buddha’s remains at the spot over which the great mound now stands, the latter having been built by the woman herself. Before starting on the work of construction, she petitioned the King of the time and obtained permission to “proceed with” building a tower. By the time that, as a result of great sacrifices on the part of the woman and her four sons, the groundwork of the structure had been finished, those who saw it were astonished at the greatness of the scale on which it was undertaken. High officials of the country were embarrassed, and all said that if such a poor old dame were allowed to complete building such a stupendous tower, they themselves would have to dedicated a temple as great as a mountain, and so they asked the King to disallow further progress of the work. When the King was approached his Majesty replied: “I have finished giving the order to the woman to proceed with the work. Kings must not eat their words, and I cannot undo my orders now.” So the tower was allowed to be finished” said our budding Nepali historian.

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Above: The huge stupa in Boudha (Bodhnath) is one of the largest in the world and is the religious centre for Nepal’s considerable population of Tibetan exiles

Below: Nikki watches the world go by outside the stupa (left). There are literally thousands of candles burning in various sites all over Boudha like the ones pictured (right)

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Patan is situated on an elevated tract of land in the Kathmandu Valley on the south side of the Bagmati River, which separates it from the city of Kathmandu on the northern side. It was developed on relatively thin layers of deposited clay and gravel in the central part of a dried ancient lake known as Nagdaha. It is among the largest cities in Nepal, along with Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Biratnagar. The city spreads over 16 square kilometres. There is unanimity among scholars that Patan has been a well established and developed town since ancient times. Several historical records including many other legends also indicate that Patan is the oldest of all the cities of Kathmandu Valley. The city was initially designed in the shape of the Buddhist Dharma-Chakra. The four thurs or mounds located on the perimeter of Patan are located at each corner of its cardinal points, which are popularly known as Ashoka Stupas. There are more than 1,200 Buddhist monuments of various shapes and sizes scattered in and around the city. The most important monument of the city is Patan Durbar Square, which was listed by UNESCO in 1979 as one of seven Monument Zones that make up the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site.

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Above: Durbar Square in Patan – like Bodhnath, it has also been listed as a World Heritage Site

Below: Nikki discovers that the people of Patan (left) are as interesting as the architecture, as she watches devotees waiting in line outside one of the temples (right)

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Above: Directly north of Durbar Square in Patan is Kumbeshwar Temple (left). It is one of the valley’s three five roofed temples. Nikki enters the site of the Golden Temple (right), a three storey Pagoda which was built in the 12th century

Below: Inside the magnificent courtyard of the Golden Temple

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Above: The main attrraction in Durbar Square are the three ‘chowks’ of the Royal Palace. Nikki is pictured inside the Mul Chowk, below the three storey, octagonal temple of Taleju Bhawani (left). About 10 minutes walk from Durbar Square is the Mahabouddha Temple (right) – “It is made of high quality bricks in which thousands of tiny Buddha images are engraved” observed Ray. “Despite  its height, the “temple of a thousand buddha’s” is totally hidden in a courtyard dwarfed by other buildings” he told me. “It was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1934 and was completely re-built”

Below: A young Nepali boy lights prayer candles outside the Buddhist temple

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Editors Note: Once again, our thanks to Seymour Peaks for this outstanding issue of The Daily Explorer. Judging by some of the comments we have received after his two part feature at the end of last year (Around Annapurna in 18 Days), it appears that many of you have really enjoyed reading about Ray and Nikki’s adventures in the Himalayas. As you know, we aim to maintain our high standards of journalism and presentation at The Daily Explorer, so please keep sending us your feedback to help us improve future issues. You can use the comments box online, or email ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at thedailyexplorer@gmail.com

Caption Competition

In our last issue, we asked you to look at this picture of Nikki (below) taken in ‘The Dream Garden’ in Kathmandu, and decide what you think they were saying to each other.

The winning entry was submitted by Ray’s brother, Paul Martin, from Wimbledon, England:

“I’m sorry but I’ve run out of toilet paper. Where can I put this?”

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Congratulations to Paul, and many thanks to all of our readers who sent in captions – we really enjoyed going through them all!

Trekking in the Himalayas in 2009

For readers who may be interested in experiencing the Annapurna circuit for themselves, Ray is considering the possibility of organising another expedition there in 2009. I spoke with him as we published this issue of The Daily Explorer, to find out more about his thoughts at this stage.

“Trekking in the Himalayas has probably been the most outstanding experience I have had since I started travelling in 2005” he told me. “Having now completed two treks, I am thinking how great it would be to share this experience with readers who might want the opportunity to come here and do this for themselves. I have discussed this possibility with my Nepalese guide and we believe we could organise a trek in 2009 if some people are interested” said Ray. “Between us, we have all of the information and contacts to put everything together for a small group. We can organise everything from here – anyone who might be interested would just have to get themselves to Kathmandu – everything else would be taken care of making it very easy and convenient, especially for people with limited time” explained Ray.

“At this stage, I guess I would like to see a ‘show of hands’ to find out who may be interested. The timing would most likely be sometime between the end of September and the middle of November, mainly governed by the weather in Nepal and dependent on when people might be free to come. The Annapurna circuit takes around 18 days to complete and if you add on a couple of days either end for preparation and sightseeing, it would mean that anyone who is interested in doing the circuit would have to be available for about three and a half weeks in total. If there are readers who are interested in doing an alpine trek in the Himalayas but do not have this much time available, there are two other options: The Everest Base Camp trek and The Annapurna Base Camp Trek. The former is a 14 day trek, requiring three weeks in total and the latter is a 12 day trek requiring two and half weeks in total (see above).

I asked Ray if there were any physical criteria that interested readers should bear in mind? “Yes there are Mozzie. I think you need to be physically fit and free from any injury that might cause problems for you. Mountain trekking is popular with both men and women and some children, although I think that it is really only suitable for those that are 14 years of age or older, although there may be someone who is an exception”.

And what about the likely costs? “It is impossible to say at this stage without knowing how many people may be interested or how much the currency values may change over the next couple of months. But I can refer to my own recent experience to give readers an idea.  The Annapurna Base Camp is likely to cost somewhere between £700-800 per person, whilst Everest Base Camp or the slightly longer Annapurna Circuit would be somewhere between £800-£900 per person. These prices would include everything except flights to and from Nepal and equipment hire if people need it” Ray told me. Please bear in mind that these are for guidance only as I have had no discussions regarding the costs with my guide here”.

So if there is anyone who is interested in the possibility of trekking in the Himalayas with Ray in 2009, please send an email to thedailyexplorer@gmail.com, letting us know your thoughts, or stating any questions you may have. To our readers in the UK, Ray will be visiting London during January and is happy to contact you personally to give you further information if you would like it.

MOZZIE BYTE

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Above: We wish all of our readers a very happy, successful and satisfying year in 2009 and encourage all of you to follow the advice in this sign, which Ray and Nikki found at the Namaste Childrens House in Pokhara

Below: The spectacular Potala Palace overlooking Barkhor Square in Lhasa, Tibet. You can read all about Ray’s visit there in ‘Seven Days in Tibet’, which will be online in a couple of weeks

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  1. I often have an agitated feeling after reading your blog and I’ve been wondering what it is. At first I thought it was because you were being self-promoting and boastful. Now I have come to realise that you are having such an experience that if I were you I’d be shouting it from the rooftops too. So that feeling I have is pure… jealousy!! I know it’s wrong but I want to be sat staring down from a mountain in Nepal, I want to be seeing those ancient monuments and smelling the clouds. Maybe I will one day. Until then I will follow your blog from here.
    Big love, small envy.
    Pxxl

    Comment by Paul Smith — January 6, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

  2. Truly amazing pictures and adventures. Very tempted to join you on a trek…. but will wait a few more years so Pete can come too. And the Taylor’s are fully booked for adventures this year. There’s a home back in Sydney that Nikki and you are welcome to visit and rest in whenever you want. Thanks for being inspiring and reminding us that there is a big world out there beyond our computers and desks. Happy 2009 🙂

    Comment by Charlie Taylor — January 28, 2009 @ 2:41 am


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