Having done bungee jumping and sky diving, I thought running of a mountain and gliding through the sky would be a good next step. After arriving in Phokara we scheduled an hour-long flight from Sarangkot with one of the many local agencies. If you check trip-advisor, there’s many that have been operating for a very long time out of Phokara and they are all equally fun and safe.
We flew with the thermals and above the clouds and although we were a but unlucky with the weather, as it was too cloudy to see the Annapurna range, the view was still spectacular. Spiraling down over the lake turned my stomach a bit, but it was so exhilarating and fun that the moment passed quickly. Definitely an amazing experience to include into your trip to the Outdoors paradise of Nepal.
I took two weeks of holiday in late September and early October, coinciding with the Chinese Golden Week holiday.
A few friends and I set off to Nepal for the ultimate hiking adventure. We all met up in Kathmandu and from there we planned our trip.
Since we hadn’t traveled together previously in this combination and also not everyone knew everyone, we felt it was easiest to plan the whole trip out, as to avoid discussions and uncertainties along the way. This was my first time to go with an ‘organized tour’ – albeit I organized this tour, so it still felt like I was on an independent trip. A good friend from college, who grew up in Nepal, recommended us to get in touch with Hari Gautam (who turned out to be rather legendary!) as she had heard good things about him. Hari did an amazing job in meeting all of our demands. We wanted
- full flexibility, as we were a group of different levels of fitness, experience and expectation
- not only hike, but also go rafting and paragliding
- see the important sites around Kathmandu (as you may know, I’m a big fan of UNESCO world heritage sites and Nepal happens to have a ton!)
and Hari managed to put together just that.
We had a total of 15 days so we ended up with 2 days in Kathmandu, 2 days in Phokara, 1 day rafting on the Trisuli river and 10 days of hiking.
What we packed:
- tight & longsleeve as functional underwear, 2 sets, different warmth
- jeanshort – can be combined with leggings or functional underwear or worn on its own
sweatpant – for the evenings to chill out and keep warm
- 5 PES (polyester/quick drying) tees and tanks – cotton will never dry on the mountain
warm fleece jacket
- seamsealed rain jacket and pant (we really needed this, even though we traveled in what should have been dry season)
- hiking socks – several pairs, there will be sweat, rain, leeches, and the likes
- sports bras and quick drying underwear
- beanie and gloves as well as a scarf – it gets cold on the mountain, especially during breaks
- down sleeping bag until comfort level 3C as well as a light silk sleeping bag to stay clean and homie in not so clean sheets
- quick drying, small towel
- bikini or bathing suit as well as boardshorts and UV longsleeve – the latter for your rafting trip down Trisuli river, but also for the lake in Phokara, for the hot springs along the way..
- hiking boots, running shoes and flip flops
Ibuprofen, Magnesium, something against Diarrhea, to purify the water, against a cold, some bandaids, disinfectant, muscle relaxation cream
- toothpaste and brush – obviously
- UPF 50 (Unless you’re Indiana Jones-esque) sunscreen for body and face
- hydrating facial and body cream – thin air, dry skin..
- shampoo, shower gel, conditioner
- basic make-up – Kathmandu does have a barscene and there’s nothing wrong with some mascara and lipstick
- travel detergent for the odd basin socks/underwear/tees washing session
- lip chapstick – ideally with UPF
- wet wipes – nothing is handier..
- passport and passport pictures – at least 4 for the permits, visa etc that you’ll need
- around 1.000 USD for bigger payments, local rupies can be withdrawn at any ATM in Kathmandu
- cap, sunglasses, prescription glasses
- cellphone (but network won’t be available the higher up you get in the Annapurna region)
- charger for your electronics as well as a portable battery that can be your powersource for several days, electricity will be scarce all along
- big backpack and daypack
- ear plugs
- books – as electricity is scarce, don’t rely on your kindle, go analog! and you can swap along the way with your friends. take a few books, you will read a lot as you are likely to arrive at the guesthouses in the afternoon and there is not much else to do. I finished 3 books in two weeks.
- guidebook – depending on how much read up front and how organized your trip is already, we had one travel friend that never read a single piece of information on this trip
- headlamp and/or torch – for early morning ascends or descends and the nightly bathroom trip
- needle and thread, safety pins – I never travel without
- umbrella – a little one will come in handy for rain or shine
- water bottle – bottled water will not be available after a certain altitude, so you need to refill from boiled water
- plastic bags or trash bags – keeps dirty and clean clothes seperated, the contents of your bag dry and you can even sit on it
- cards and dice – for when you don’t want to read anymore. also the Nepali love card games, it’s an easy way to make friends
- pocket knife – to cut up that yak cheese or cut off that leech
More about this utmost fabulous trip to come!
.. you’ll love the pun once you’ve watched this video:
I watched this today in a group of around 20 people and what impressed me most is that every single person had a different interpretation of what the essence of that movie is.
Sure, everyone was touched and it did hit home. But also, how do you understand this? It might have been due to cultural differences (my group was Chinese / Philippino /German) but I think it’s deeper rooted than that.
My personal take on it:
What struck me most is the reoccurring theme of the rectangular shape. Boxes are everywhere. The suitcase, the table, the piece of paper, in his cereal, of course on the ground, and in people’s mind (why else call someone a loser, right?). And then Justin breaks free. Literally.
Funny enough, nobody else saw this.
Other interpretations included that everyone has their time to shine, that the kid is living in his own comfort zone, that he is chasing his dream and that he draws strength from within.
Some of these, I don’t see, but there’s always more than one truth.
I’d love to hear what you get out of it?
Every time I have guests in town, I do the same scenic bike ride. It never disappoints.
We head down to the south bund, through the Puxi Expo area, then cruise along the Bund. Stop briefly on the bridge to take in the Pudong skyline. Onwards along North Suzhou Creek, crossing back into Puxi and then on to Monganshan Road. From there back down into the French Concession. The whole tour amounts to roughly 30km, but there are ample opportunities to refuel along the way.
I am in Hongkong at the moment, and while I do enjoy excessive (or maybe let me call it extensive) retail therapy, I do miss going by bike. Streetcars have their charm, but overcrowded metros do little for my joy levels.I did research bike ride opportunities in HongKong without avail. The one thing I came across while reading the South China Morning Post over breakfast was Bike The Moment. However, at 350 HKD for the bike and an estimated 3 hours for 12km, I opted out. I mean, really?! I can run faster, as we all know!
So here’s a nostalgic retrospective at a Sunday in September.
Recreate the ride – follow me on Strava.
Last week it was finally time to ride to Suzhou. It had been on the list of things to do for ages and we have a friend that lives there and we were invited over to their pool. The highspeed train from Shanghai takes only a good 25 minutes, so how bad can a ride be, right?
We set off at 7am after casually consulting google maps on the general direction. As it is with these things in China, there will be the occasional dead end, roads under construction, a bit of an obstacle course and of course unexpected encounters along the way. Also, don’t forget it’s summer and around lunchtime the temperature easily reaches the high 30s (Thankfully the weeks of above 40 degrees have come to an end).
The air quality was amazing at an AQI of only 17 and we enjoyed the bluest of skies and horizon visibility. Things you really come to appreciate when living in China, where bad air is the norm.
The road to Suzhou takes you through Anting and Kunshan, which have nothing much to offer, but are good to refill the water bottles.
Upon arrival in Suzhou it was just a short ride around the lake until our friends’ pool and some much needed refreshment.
In order to maximize pool time we took the train back, so the evening ride through Suzhou to the train station was really pleasant (and short).
I’ve been pretty steady on the musical side of things this summer. The same playlist has been on repeat for weeks and it’s so damn good – i’ve got to share with you. Here are few favorite tracks.
May summer last a while!
What are you listening to? I’m on the hunt for fall tracks. I’ve got a lot of trips coming up with long flights and little opportunity to update my playlist for fall – it will have to be one to listen to for a month on repeat!
Another city that has amazing contrasts of old and new is HongKong. I recently spent a weekend, mainly for shopping purposes. Say hello to a ridiculously low VAT, shoes in my size and cafes that invite to sit outside and eat gluten-free health meals. You’ve got to leave China for that.
HongKong is constantly and the move and constantly evolving. As it is with these things, I wonder if it’s ever finished.
One thing I was super excited about: HongKong now also has an Eslite bookstore – something I fell in love with during my recent Taipei stint.
It’s the kind of bookstore that has a great combination of books, magazines, art, design and space to sit and read. It’s the kind of bookstore that makes you want to spend your day. Or night. Because it’s open 24 hours (the one in Taiwan that is..).
During my Japan holiday, I also set out to climb Mount Fuji. It’s one of those things that are on the bucket list and should be done once in your life.
Like the Japanse say:
“Your are wise to climb Fuji once and a fool to climb it twice.”
It’s somewhat a pilgrimage (3000 people climb it every day while it’s open) and at the same time a cultural experience. On our way up and down the mountain we encountered everyone from 3 years old to ninety years old and it was once again astonishing to see how serious the Japanese approach everything.
It’s a true fashion parade up and down the mountain, the best the Outdoor industry has to offer transform your average Japanese white collar worker into a lookalike Reinhold Messner. Mountaineering is a serious business.
I was lucky enough to have a Japanese friend who connected me with a Japanese group of guys that were planning the ascend and invited me to join their group. Thus I had an incredible experience. We took the train in the early morning, followed by a shuttle bus connection to the 5th station. From there we started our 4 hour ascend to the 8th station, where we would spend the night in a little hut squeezed together with around 100 other climbers.
Upon arrival were handed brooms to brush off our hiking shoes, we hung out to admire the view and watch Mount Fuji cast its shadow over the clouds under the setting sun. There was a delicious curry for dinner and at 7pm it was time to catch some sleep.
Segregated by gender everyone had a little sleeping space and shoulder to should with random Japanese ladies I slept like a baby on 3.300m. We woke early to witness the sunrise over Mt. Fuji and only started to make our way up to the summit at around 5am, when most of the nightclimbers were already descending again.
Once you reach the top of Mt Fuji you get to stare down at that still active volcano, which I have to admit slightly disappoints. Thinking back at other active volcanoes I’ve climbed, such as in Bali or Guatemala, this one seems rather tame. No hot Lava flowing, nothing to see. Yet, the top of the mountain still has a lot to offer. There is an active shrine with many monks who would pray for each climbers safety, the view is spectacular and it’s great to imagine how those men who used to inhabit the weather station must have felt, being alone in the clouds for a full year without any visitors.
The descend is when the fun part starts. Due to Mount Fuji being a volcano it’s less rocky than “proper” mountains and there’s a side that’s covered by fine ashes. You can actually run down in an hour or so. All you need is to duct-tape your shoes and get ready to run. It’s so fun!!
I couldn’t walk right for days to come – the running down the mountain activated muscles I didn’t even know I had. I highly recommend doing it. Get your cross-country-skiing moves ready, that’s all it is.
I love Tokyo – I (think I) would move there in an instant. It’s a city that’s full of obscurities, love to detail and politeness. Old meets modern on every corner and everything is a little more beautiful than it would have to be to be nice. It’s all a little better than necessary, be it the food, the people, the buildings, the fashion, the quality of life (as you grasp it as a tourist).
This was the first time I went not for work and we had a full 4 days to explore, eat and see.
Cultural influences in Japan are quite versatile. A lot of food related things for example are German. Baumkuchen can be purchased in every convenience store and tastes always amazing.
Next to shopping for bike components (he) and beauty products and magazines (me) there was also cultural sightseeing on the agenda. I used the temple time to buy my horoscope and apparently I need to encourage myself and I will be fortunate. Once I hear the call of a cock I will have to wait for a chance to come. Once my time has come, I will be happier than a ship sails before the wind.
Well – good on me.
I think there is no other place where tradition and modernity go so much hand in hand and are visible on every street corner.
Every time I go to Japan, eating is IT. Everything you eat is delicious, regardless of it being a high end restaurant or some random street corner. I have never had bad food in Japan.
..and my favorite new discovery is the electronics area, Akihabara. It is insane. It is kinky. It is a grown-ups playground. And you could spend hours browsing thought 80s Nintendo games, getting lost in story high game malls and checking out the latest in Anime porn.
..and next time I go to Japan, I will have to put Kyoto and Osaka on the map. Because that’s where they race track bikes.
visuals.instagram @atarikidSafety first! We are all masked up these days. #shanghai #factory5 #fixedgear w/ @migcha @jeffliu and non-connected Don.atarikid170Staycationing with the best. @lauraimkamp 's stollen and @kinfolk magazine ❤️atarikid61#colorsatarikid80So far, so blue. Staying #healthy at home with my new air purifier. #china #livingatarikid50Never go wrong with #icecream for #breakfastatarikid50One more before I go. Good morning #101 .. #travel #taipeiatarikid110
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