Back to the Himalayas

It was in 2014, that I first went to Nepal, with the idea to trek to the Everest Base Camp. After the amazing trek, we relished and enjoyed the time in Kathmandu. On the last day of the trip, during a careless and unlucky moment, a thief snatched our valuable backpack. It contained our camera gears, and sadly, all the pictures of our trip. He stole our happiness, stole my words, stole my will to write, stole my ability to trust strangers easily, stole hours of sleep and peace.

What he could not steal was our beautiful memories, the excitement we had when we first laid our eyes upon the Himalayas, the companions we made during those days in the mountains, the thrill that cruised through our veins when the clouds cleared on the morning of 5th May 2014, and Everest showed herself to us, the wonderful days in Kathmandu where we explored the back-alleys and the old townships.

Above all, what he could not steal was our love to return to the mountains. 

That is a picture from the summit of Kala Pathar @ 5550 meters - the  Himalayan range stretches with the majestic Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse. The tiny speck of a person is me, pushing for the humble summit.

In the fall of 2016, we decided to set off to the Himalayas once again. This time, we wished to reach the base camp of Mount Annapurna. 

During our days in the EBC route in 2014, scores of trekkers mentioned to us the beauty of the trails in Annapurna. We were lured with the promise of mystique landscapes, Bamboo forests, beautiful waterfalls, towering trees, breathtaking sunrises, and to top them all, the views of Mount Machhapuchhre, Dhaulagiri, and different peaks of the Annapurna range.
The trek was more beautiful and satisfying than we had imagined. And this time, we are back home safe with the assets ;)

Dragonfly on top of the clouds, with Annapurna South

This one's for vanity - Dragonfly on top of the clouds, with Annapurna South. 

If you look closer, you could find my name card right beneath Annapurna Base Camp ;) Maybe it would be blown off by this winter, but that is totally okay.

This post is the first in the series on our trek to Annapurna Base Camp. My writing is a bit rusty, but I intend to keep my readers entertained.


A tribute to the excellent service by Malaysian Airlines

Condolences to loved ones of all on board MH17.

Tragedy strikes Malaysian Airlines(MAS) again, even though this time, for no fault of the airline. After this incident, there have been discussions on how hard it would be for MAS to be back on track financially and to reach the profit side of operations. When I do a quick Google news search for Malaysian airlines, this sad little Forbes article trying to comprehend the future of the airlines, comes up first.

I had a recent experience with MAS which I am obliged to share, at this point of time.

It was after the shocking disappearance of MH370, that we boarded a Malaysian airlines flight to Kathmandu. We had made our flight bookings before the incident and the reason for booking was that MAS offered the best price and the best time schedule we were looking for. Before our trip, our friends jokingly warned us not to disappear and to be safe. As we waited at the gates, I noticed the extremely strained faces of the airlines staff. They knew that probably most passengers had booked tickets before the MH370 incident and weren't confident about the choice they had made. The airline staff had to be extra careful to boost and keep up the confidence of the passengers. When the captain and co-pilot walked in to board the flight, most of the passengers did take a good look at them and I felt it was to gauge if the pilot would fly us to the right destination. That is when I felt so ashamed for even having second thoughts about taking the flight. I imagined being in the captain’s or crew’s position and the tough times they have been going through, because of one incident. Well, that wake-up call turned out to be good for me and I enjoyed the uneventful flight to Kathmandu.

At the end of our wonderful Nepal trip, I checked in online and was looked forward to the home-bound flight. Something terrible happened before we reached the airport and we had to reschedule our flights and urgently go to India. We were a bit unsure of when our return trip to Singapore would be. I called the MAS call center and informed them about the situation and told them that I will keep them posted on the development.

A week later, when we were contemplating our flight out of my hometown to Singapore, I wrote an email to Malaysian airlines explaining our situation and to check if we could get a sector and date change of the missed flight and I also indicated that our travel dates weren't confirmed yet.

The reply I received, surprised the hell out of me!
As a gesture of goodwill, they granted us change of tickets with a penalty of $50 and fare difference for the new sector (which was also minimal). And most importantly, since our dates were undecided, they gave us an open ticket for multiple flight dates, with an option to re-book.  Eventually, instead of buying an expensive last minute international ticket with an airline, we ended up boarding one of the allocated MAS flights, which we could choose according to our convenience. I know that it would not be possible for the airlines to be generous to everybody, all the time; but here they saved us a lot of trouble, time and money. And for that, I am grateful to the excellent staff and services of MAS.

I hope some reader, looking for re-assurance on the airlines would stumble across this, and choose Malaysian Airlines. I know for a fact that, I will choose MAS without second thoughts, if they are serving the destination.

PS: Both our flights were more than 75% occupied and so the return flight they granted us were genuinely out of good will. 


Chalo Kathmandu

We are setting off to Kathmandu, tomorrow morning. The excitement and anxiety is building up so much that it feels like a thousand butterflies on steroids fluttering wild on my insides.
We almost had a trekking partner, our favorite person from Japan, fondly known as Kerala San. He is the one who coined "Chalo Kathmandu" for our trip. Due to last minute work commitments, he wouldn't be joining us this time. He is the one who introduced me to the mountains, even though I didn't fancy them much back then. It would have been so much fun trekking with Kerala San. I am sure we will be hiking together soonish. 
One of the reasons we targeted to reach the Everest base Camp by first week of May, was to earn a chance to meet the legendary Sherpas who have touched Everest summit multiple times and the amazing climbers attempting summit. The tragic avalanche on April 18th 2014 at the notorious Khumbu Icefall has turned the tidings of this season. There have been 13 deaths and 3 still missing in the snow. Out of respect to the fallen Sherpas, the summit teams had not climbed the last week. The uncertainties on the route, safety issues, the tensions ongoing between Sherpas and Nepal Govt and much more has contributed to the folding up of this season. As of now, almost all big teams like IMG, Himex, Altitude Junkies all have decided to pull the plug on their 2014 expedition. As Alan Arnette says, climbing in Nepal has changed forever. 
Even with all the challenges and unfortunate news, we are going ahead on our little adventure to EBC. The support we have received from friends and family is incredible. Our family and friends here joining us on the training hikes and trail runs, friends bringing trekking stuff from the US and delish snacks from India, our outdoorsy friends giving us valuable tips on the medicines, where to buy whats, importance of heat packs and layered clothing, in-numerous calls,chats and messages to keep our motivation up for the trek, writing, photography and the list goes on... A big thank you to every single one of you!

This journey, at times, feels like a Dickens novel. Even though each sentence and chapter is amazing, I am too eager to know the climax. There is a huge urge to turn the pages and take a peek at the ending, just to make sure that all is well. But then, knowing the end kills the thrill of the ride. So, wish us the best, as you always have 


Journey to the Himalayas

Chomolungma or the majestic Mount Everest is alluring to everybody. The idea that the mountain stands tall and consistent, witnessing the turn of the centuries, the beauty of being above the clouds viewing the milky way in all its glory, are few of the pull factors. 
The famous words of George Mallory sums it up - we climb "Because It's there"!
One of our usual sunday evening activities is exploring and dreaming up travel itineraries. We had a couple of leave days coming up in May and it was our chance to choose from few of the destinations in our list. We have been looking at the live webcam from Kala Patthar for a while now. Manu suggested that we should attempt Everest Base Camp trekking this year. We both had hundreds of reasons to put it off - the days, training and money involved were the top three. But the beauty of the mountains, the idea of being in the nature for so long and getting a chance to learn about Sherpa lives was too good to pass up. Finally after couple of hours of buts and ifs, how to's and can we's, we decided to hike up to the base camp and give ourselves a chance to view the Mt.Everest.

We started reading up on the trekking paths, flight options and training plans. We informed the family and the only supportive words we got were from the bro of the family(officially the brother in law) to get a proper insurance. Rest were obvious and genuine concerns on our compulsive behaviour to endanger our lives. After convincing them that this is not dangerous, we were granted permissions. The following few days were action packed. We have bought the tickets, insurance, decided on a trekking guide, we are training hard and shopping more :) Now, we have 20 more days left for the epic trip.

The countless travel blogs out there have served us as an encouragement and have been helpful in making many decisions, but the information changes with each season. I will document the preparations, shopping lists and our journey, here in this blog space, in hope that this will help some one, some day in their quest to the Nepal Himalayas. 


Christmas on a great street!

Christmas is always so beautiful in Singapore. I know that it is a hell load of money blown on the illuminations and the ads placed all over the island, but the results are still mind blowing! There are trees made of angels, macaroons, chocolates, toys and what not!

I am very thrilled every year when the dates for light-up inaugurations are announced. And then, we start going around all the places and shopping malls to enjoy the decors.  

This one, you get to be inside a christmas tree :-)

Merry Christmas !!