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Nepal Day 5: Sunrise Viewing & Tandem Paragliding in Sarangkot

<<Previous Post: Nepal Day 4 - Chitwan to Pokhara<<

We woke up quite early than most of our morning days in Nepal for the sake to catch sunrise in Sarangkot. Sarangkot is arguably the best sunrise view point in Pokhara and it offers the highest possibilities of panoramic views of the Annapurna mountain range. Some of the travellers, especially with strong stamina hiked up to Sarangkot lookout viewpoint but for us who has private driver, he drove us as early as 5.30am. The road up to Sarangkok was pretty windy, narrow and even dark too as there wasn't any street lights all along the way but I believed our private driver had been there couple of times by observing his driving skills. 

Entrance Fee for Sarangkot lookout viewpoint = 30 Rupee
2014 Nepal Sunset View at Sarangkot 1
#1: Panoramic views of the Annapurna mountain range from Sarangkot lookout viewpoint 

2014 Nepal Sunset View at Sarangkot 2
#2: A lady will never say no to flower, right?


Once we done with taking hundred or probably thousand of photos of the sunrise and the mountains as well, it's time for something adventurous. When my friend who is the tour leader suggested for tandem paragliding, all of us agreed but then deep inside our heart, all of us were actually pretty nervous, anxious and we can felt that our heart were beating significantly fast. The main issue is that none of us refused to admit or show how terrified we were that time. Along the way up to the hill from the point where we registered the tandem paragliding activity, all of us remained silent and none of us spoken any words inside our car until one of us finally said, "I'm so scare lah!" and the rest of us immediately repeat after what he said. However, it's too late for us to turn back since we're almost reaching the hill. Not choice but we're going to get ready to jump. 

2014 Nepal Pokhara Tandem Paragliding
#3: We signed up for the 15-30 minutes flight and add on for the photos & video in DVD package for our keepsake. 

#4: Look ma! I'm flying. Can't believe I did this.

2014 Nepal Pokhara Tandem Paragliding 2
#5

2014 Nepal Pokhara Tandem Paragliding 3
#6: My pilot for this flight

When we signed up for this, I have to admit that I was almost regret with my decision but right after the jump, I have to say that this is the best thing I've done for my Nepal trip. I'm not the type that afraid of height but I have never done any extreme outdoor activities before and this tandem paragliding is consider to be my first and maiden extreme activity I ever experienced. 

Next, pack our bags and get ready for the following destination. 

2014 Nepal Pokhara Lunch Day 2
#7: Our lunch of the day and I enjoyed the tandoori chicken I ordered.

2014 Nepal Pokhara Devis Falls 1
#8: We dropby and visited the Devi's Falls, one of the must-see attractions in Nepal.

2014 Nepal Pokhara Devis Falls 2
#9: The waterfall is surrounded by abundant flora.

Entrance Fee for Devi's Fall = 30 Rupee

2014 Nepal Pokhara Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave
#10: Across the road from Devi's Fall, there is this Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave - probably the longest and attractive cave not just in Nepal but also in South Asia. 

Entrance Fee for Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave = 100 Rupee

2014 Nepal Jangchub Choeling Monastery Bridge
#11: Traditional suspension bridge with the colourful Tibetan prayer flags

2014 Nepal Jangchub Choeling Nunnery
#12: Our last stop for the day - Jangchub Choeling Nunnery before heading back to Pokhara. 
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Nepal Day 4: Chitwan To Pokhara

<<Previous Post: Nepal Day 3 - Canoeing & Elephant Riding In Chitwan National Park<<

If you ask me whichever city I like in Nepal, my answer would be Pokhara - a city we will be heading to from Chitwan National Park on our 4th day of our trip. Going to endure another 3 hours of bumpy ride before reaching the city I enjoyed the most. But of course in between the ride, we're rewarded with fascinating scenery

2014 Nepal Pokhara Cityview
#1: After three hours ride from Chitwan National Park, finally we arrived in Pokhara.

2014 Nepal Pokhara Hotel Family Home 1
#2: First thing first, check-in into Hotel Family Home where we are going to settle for two comfortable nights.

It's kinda free and easy day and because we don't have any proper plan of what to do and see, hence we ventured around the city ourselves and let our private driver cum tour guide to has his good rest. In addition, the location of our hotel is pretty convenient for us to explore the city without little legs having to walk too far.

2014 Nepal Pokhara Lunch
#3: Let's fill up our hungry tummy before start to explore the city.

One of the reasons that make me fall for Pokhara I think mainly because of the beauty, tranquil and peaceful of Phewa Lake with Himalayas mountain as backdrop. This is the main highlight and key attraction of the city that draw thousands of visitors to come here. With the brightly painted wooden boats docking on the shore, it adds vibrant colour to the greenery.

2014 Nepal Pokhara Lakeside
#4: Brightly painted wooden boats docking on the shore adds vibrant colour to the greenery.

2014 Nepal Pokhara Lakeside 3
#5

#6: Overwhelm with the beauty and tranquil of Phewa Lake with Himalayas mountain as backdrop.

It will be a waste if we just leave the lake without doing nothing. And with that, we decided to book an hour guided paddle boat from the lakeside to a small and tiny island on the south east section of Phewa Lake. And within the island, there is a two-story pagoda temple by the name of Tal Barahi Temple devoted to the deity Tal Barahi. It is a hindu temple of the Goddess Durga, the protector of gods. An hour guided boat ride costs us 600 rupee with additional charge of 10 rupee per person for compulsory life jacket.

2014 Nepal Pokhara Phewa Lake 1
#7: We hired an hour guided paddle boat to a small and tiny island within the Phewa Lake.

2014 Nepal Pokhara Tal Barahi Temple
#8: Tal Barahi Temple, a hindu temple of the Goddess Durga, the protector of gods.

2014 Nepal Pokhara Tal Barahi Temple 2
#9

Right after we done with the boat paddling activity, we continue our day by endlessly roaming around the city. There are rows of souvenirs shops in the market section of the city. Whenever I visit a certain city especially those I never been before, I will spare some time (even for few minutes) to hunt for postcards, stamps and not forgetting fridge magnets from these souvenir shops to add into my personal collection.

2014 Nepal Pokhara Souvenir Shop
#10: Souvenir shops in Pokhara - time for shopping.

Pokhara is well-known as the starting point for numerous trekking trails and expeditions in the Annapurna. Most trekkers heading for the Annapurna region will select Pokhara as their first pit stop, or as a relaxing station before heading out for some serious hiking. Hence, no surprise to see various shops selling abundance of hiking gears here. We noticed that brand like North Face, an activewear and outdoor sports gear from US seem to be pretty cheap here but we're unsure about the authenticity. 

2014 Nepal Pokhara North Face Shop
#11: North Face activewear and outdoor sports gear are everywhere in the city. 

2014 Nepal Pokhara Dinner
#12: Food in Nepal isn't that bad afterall. Almost everyday we have Asian fusion food with Western inspired cuisine.

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Nepal Day 3: Canoeing & Elephant Riding In Chitwan National Park


Birds chirping is what we heard and this means another brand new day of our adventure in Nepal. 
Our activities for today are canoeing and elephant riding. 

We walked to the river bank, which not far away from our stay to embark on a canoe ride. The experience of the canoeing along the calm river in early morning can be both a peaceful and a thrilling experience at the same time. I can't deny the ride on the wooden boat was indeed very relaxing, especially passing through the green picturesque surroundings but then deep down inside my heart, I was so scared and frightened when they said we might bump into crocodile. Crocodile is one of my biggest fear, after snake, spider and shark. 

2014 Nepal Chitwan Canoeing
#1: Early morning we went for canoeing along the river

Luckily for me but no luck for my friends, we didn't get the chance to spot any crocodiles. I can't imagine if we spot one, wondering will I faint on the boat? Hahaha... Right after we done with the canoeing, we were brought to the elephant breeding center. In Nepal, the elephant is fast becoming one of the endangered animals and this center was established to increase its number. 

2014 Nepal Chitwan Elephant Breeding Center 1
#2: Elephant breeding center in Chitwan

2014 Nepal Chitwan Elephant Breeding Center 3
#3: Feeling emotional when seeing those elephants being chained up but the reason behind is to avoid those elephants from roaming freely and crash into the village. 

Because I assign my friend to plan everything for this trip, I didn't know that we are going for an elephant ride, which I was strongly against it. Even I've been to Thailand several times but never have I plan for any elephant riding activities as I felt it's so cruel to sit on top of this innocent creature. But since my friend has arranged almost everything, I have no choice but to join along. Anyhow, I promise and told myself that this will be my first and last elephant ride. 

#4: Elephant ride in the oldest national park in Nepal

While riding on the elephant, I have this thought of "why don't just they drive jeep safari into the national park rather than riding on a elephant?". You can't see how heartbroken we were when the elephant rider keep hitting the elephant's forehead by using a bullhook spiked with nails in order to make the elephant keep on moving. I really felt so sorry for the elephant and guilty for riding it. So if possible, try to avoid from riding an elephant the next time you come to Chitwan for a visit. Do you know that Cambodia has finally bans elephant rides at Angkor Wat park? Read here for more. I wish those countries like Thailand, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal can do the same thing as well which is to ban the elephant riding activities. 

2014 Nepal Chitwan Elephant Ride 2
#5: We spotted few deers during the ride.

2014 Nepal Chitwan Elephant Ride 3
#6: The highlight of this trip - not one but two endangered Indian one-horned rhinos we saw. Feeling lucky but also guilty at the same time. 

2014 Nepal Chitwan Elephant Ride 4
#7: This will be my first and final elephant ride.

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Nepal Day 2: From Kathmandu To Chitwan National Park

<< Previous Post: Nepal Day 1 - Kathmandu <<

Woke up to another day in Kathmandu, the largest and capital city of Nepal.
Probably due to the long hour of flights we had a day earlier, hence we had a very good night rest. We slept pretty early without we realised. 
And the best part once you got out from the bed, there's a hearty breakfast awaiting for you. Such a heartwarming and attentive services served by the host of the guest house we stayed.

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Shree Tibet Family Guest House Breakfast
#1: The breakfast might seems pretty simple but we're truly appreciated the heartwarming services.

It's going to be one long and winding journey on our second day in Nepal as we're heading to Chitwan National Park, the first national park in Nepal. The ride is estimated to be around 5-6 hours and luckily, my friend has booked a private car with air-conditioned and the jeep they got for us, it is perfectly to fit in 6 of us along with our bags. 

2014 Nepal Ground Transportation Jeep
#2: Our private car with air-conditioned and it can fit 6 of us.

As for our driver who drove and accompanied us throughout the trip, though his English is quite limited (he could only understand few words), at least he did try his best to accommodate with whatever our need and request. Oh well, after we left we're indeed kinda miss him. A young man but very funny and thoughtful.

2014 Nepal Kathmandu to Chitwan Stop
#3: We stop here for photo opportunity but I not sure what's the name of this place. It's really stunning. 


2014 Nepal On The Way To Chitwan
#4: Can you spot what we saw on the top of the bus? Oh my goat!

After went through a number of bumpy roads with few stops for toilet break, glad that finally we have arrived our destination with safe and sound. We went and checked-in at Jungle Wildlife Camp where we are going to stay for two nights here.
   
2014 Nepal Chitwan Jungle Wildlife Camp 1
#3: Jungle Wildlife Camp, this is where we stayed in Chitwan.

2014 Nepal Chitwan Jungle Wildlife Camp 2
#4: This is how our room looks like. There's no air-conditioning within the room but you don't need it anywhere cause it will get cold during the night time. 

2014 Nepal Chitwan Lunch
#5: Our lunch served by our lodging.

2014 Nepal Chitwan National Park 1
#6: The map of the national park.

Right after lunch and adequate of rest, it's time to check out what Chitwan has to offer. The first place our driver cum our tour guide brought us to was Tharu Tribal Village which not far away from our lodging.

The Tharu are an ethnic group indigenous to the Terai region of Nepal and have lived in Chitwan for hundreds of years. They called themselves as "The People of The Forest". They farm rice, corn lentil and hunt for animals such as wild boar, deer and rabbit along with river fish for their living. The village people might have a very simple and basic life but they are rich in cultural heritage.  

#7: Tharu Tribal Traditional Village

2014 Nepal Chitwan Tharu Tribal Village
#8

While walking through the village, we saw the village people were busy with daily life activities but still, we were pleasantly greeted by them, especially the young little kids. We greeted back by saying "Namaste" which means Hello. After all, that's the only Nepalese word we know. Haha.. And to our surprise, the Tharu are still rely on elephants to transport their goods. 

2014 Nepal Chitwan Tharu Tribal Village 2
#9

2014 Nepal Chitwan Sunset
#10: What a beautiful sunset in Chitwan?

To end our night, we were bought to watch Tharu Cultural Show. The show starts at 8pm and last for almost an hour. Most of the students and some adults are involved in performing the local dance, including their signature Peacock dance. By the end of the show, visitors are invited to dance along. We're indeed having tons of fun that night. 

2014 Nepal Chitwan Tharu Culture Programme
#11: Tharu Cultural Show to showcase their culture through dance and performances.

And with that, goodnight to Chitwan! Looking forward for our next day adventure in this national park.

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Nepal Day 1: Kathmandu

Namaste Nepal! I know I know. This is again, another super long backdated travelogue of mine - a trip I went 5 years ago. But like they said, "It's better late than never".


FLYING IN
Kathmandu is the gateway to tourism in Nepal. In order to get there, you can take either Malaysia Airlines or Malindo Air from Kuala Lumpur to Kathmandu. As for time difference, Malaysia is 2 hours and 15 minutes ahead of Nepal.

VISA REQUIRED FOR MALAYSIAN
Malaysian citizens required a tourist visa in order to visit Nepal. Nepal issue multiple-entry visa with 15 days, 30 days and 90 days with different fee rates.

  • 15 Days Multiple Entry Visa RM130
  • 30 Days Multiple Entry Visa RM210
  • 90 Days Multiple Entry Visa RM525
Normally it takes 1 working day for issuance of visa. For more info about Nepal visa, you can check out here. You can also apply visa upon arrival at the international airport, but for me I would not dare to take the risk. I would prefer to apply prior to my departure to Nepal. 

CURRENCY EXCHANGE
The official currency for Nepal is Nepalese Rupee. However not many money exchange shops in KK offer this currency, therefore I exchanged to US dollar beforehand. And exchanged dollar to Nepalese Rupee with the owner of the guest house I stayed.

US$1 = 97 Rupee as at November 2014
Currently, US$1 = 115 Rupee 

I hope that these brief and basic info able to give you some rough idea of what you should do before travelling to Nepal. 

FIRST DAY TO KATHMANDU
We booked our flight with AirAsia to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. Why AirAsia? One simple reason - cheap! We got a round-trip for RM678 (not including luggage and meals). My friends and I are those type willing to travel with budget. Unfortunately AirAsia has completely suspended its flight to Kathmandu October last year. Too bad! Not more cheap flight anymore. 

For this trip and for the very first time, I specially assigned my friend to become the tour leader and also tour organiser as I was completely occupied with work and family commitments at that period. Thanks to my friend for the well-organised throughout the trip and we're indeed enjoying it. 

2014 Nepal Arrival Information
#1: The flight duration from Kuala Lumpur to Kathmandu takes about 4 hour and 45 minutes. All foreign visitors are required to fill in arrival form upon arrival. 

2014 Nepal Himalayan Mountain
#2: This is the main reason why I prefer window seat. Can you see what I see? Look closer.

2014 Nepal Himalayan Mountain 2
#3: It's not a scud of clouds. It's Himalayan mountain by the way.

2014 Welcome to Nepal Signboard
#4: Namaste Nepal! This is my official first trip to South Asia.

By the way, if you check-in any luggage, do keep the tag which printed by the airlines with you. Please don't throw it away cause once you claim your luggage from the conveyor belt, there will be few officers will check and verify whether the tag is same as the luggage you claim. Without the tag, you might get yourself in trouble. 

Once we got out from the arrival hall, the first thing we do is to get the local sim card. I can't deny that getting one in the airport would be costly than in the city but I don't want wasting my time from keep searching shops that selling sim card in town. Since there are few telcos just outside the arrival hall, immediately my friends and I signed up for it. Oh, they do accept US dollar cause we didn't plan to exchange money to Rupee in airport as there are service charges and lower rate offered.

UPDATE:
Now you can get your sim card prior to your trip from Hello1010. This is currently my favourite site which I will always check it out first before planing for my trip. 

Earlier I mentioned that my friend in charge of planning the whole trip, he pre-arranged for airport pick-up from the guest house we're about to stay. Thamel is the name of the area in Kathmandu we're staying for a night. Situated on the north region of Kathmandu, Thamel is one stop solution for all the travellers looking forward for; the shopper's hub, the place to buy hiking gears, clothing, supermarkets and even eateries. A crowded and busy streets lined up with hundred of shops and hotels on all the end. 

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Thamel Chowk 1
#5: Wandered around Thamel, tourists' mecca in Kathmandu. This is the best place to stay, dining and hunting for souvenirs.

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Thamel Chowk 2
#6: These colourful Tibetan prayer flags can be seen anywhere. These flags used to promote compassion, peace, strenght and wisdom.

Since it's our first day, what we do is just walking around and buying nothing - you know, a window shopping only cause we don't want to add more weight on our bag and carry through the rest of the days of our trip. But almost all of us are eyeing on Pashmina shawls which we intend to get by end of the trip. Only two things we bought on our first day - postcards and stamps. 

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Thamel Chowk 3
#7: We'll be back for these. 

2014 Nepal Kathmandu First Night Dinner
#8: We settled our dinner at a restaurant serve both Western and Asian cuisines. 4 dishes to feast 6 of us.

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Shree Tibet Family Guest House
#9: Shree Tibet Family Guest House - this is where we overnight on our first day in Kathmandu.

That's pretty sum up our first day in Nepal. Quite laid-back and relaxed type of travelling, nothing much we do cause we want to save more energy for the following days.

NOTE: Regarding our group tour expenses, I will share more by end of this travelogue.

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