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Day 1: Back in Kathmandu
For the third time, I was back in one of my favorite places on Earth. Hello again Nepal! Arriving in Kathmandu on a Saturday afternoon, I proceeded to Nepal Tourism Board building in Pradarshani Marg to pay for TIMS and ACAP fees. The application was pretty easy, the line was quite short. With few more hours to spare before taking the night bus to Pokahara, I walked around the Durbar Square and Thamel area to get reacquainted with Kathmandu.
Day 2: The Trek to Landruk
The overnight bus from Kathmandu arrived in Pokhara at around 3AM, thanks to a kind local who let me rest and sleep in his room until daylight. I had breakfast at my favorite cafe by the Lakeside and had last minute shopping before proceeding to the bus terminal. From Pokhara, I took the local bus to Phedi (860m) where I started my six-and-a-half hour trek to Bhichuk (2080m) and to Landruk (1640m). It was an awesome day for trekking, Annapurna Mountain Range was clearly visible.
Day 3: Landruk to Upper Sinuwa
I woke up on a beautiful view of Annapurna South and Hiunchuli from my room in Landruk for my third day. What followed was a grueling seven-and-a-half hour trek from Landruk (1640m) to Upper Sinuwa (2360m). With steep up and down steps, my right knee and left thigh were already complaining. But it was a point of no return, with just two days away from the base camp.
Day 4: Upper Sinuwa to Deurali
My fourth day in Annapurna was another long walk from Upper Sinuwa (2360m) to Deurali (3230m). The pain on my right knee eased a bit but my left knee started to hurt. But amazement overshadowed the pain specially when I reached Bamboo where I saw patches of snow along the trail. After 7.5 hours on moderate to hard trail, I surrendered to a freezing night in Deurali, a day away from my dream.
Day 5: White Christmas in Annapurna Base Camp
Day five was the assault to Annapurna Base Camp (4130m). A four-hour trek from Deurali (3200m) on a snow covered trail. I survived the altitude sickness, but not my sore knees. But I made it after five days since I arrived in Kathmandu, solo and unguided! It was my first white Christmas made more memorable with the peaks of Annapurna Mountain Range all around me. But it was just a short love affair with the base camp, I decided to turn my back shortly and trek back to Deurali.
Day 6: Deurali to Upper Chhomrong
Day six was a sad and tiring day. Sad, for I turned my back from the peaks of Annapurna. Tiring, for I had to trek for 10 hours from Deurali (3200m) to Upper Chhomrong (2170m) despite my sore knees.
Day 7: Chhomrong to Siwai
My seventh day in the mountain was the last day of trekking in Annapurna. From the rice terraces of Chhomrong (2340m), I made it to Siwai, Gandhruk (1940m) in almost six hours. From there I took the local bus that brought me to Pokhara after almost three hours, just in time to catch the night bus to Kathmandu.
Day 8: Danjabat Nepal!
The overnight bus from Pokhara arrived at 4AM in Kathmandu so I decided to spend the remaining hours before daylight in the New Bus Park despite the freezing cold. At the first hint of the sun, I caught the bus to Thamel and walk around the Durbar Square for the very last time before my flight back to Kuala Lumpur. Danjabat Himalayas! Danjabat Nepal!
For someone who lives in a tropical country all his life, who doesn’t have fascination with snow and white mountains? I, for one, have this intense dream of seeing, feeling and experiencing the snow and white mountains, the Himalayan mountains most specially.
So I went to the village of Nagarkot in Kathmandu Valley in 2012 to get a closer glimpse of the Everest and trekked to Poon Hill in Ghandruk Village in 2013 to get near to Annapurna. Dreaming and hoping that one day, I will be able to step my feet even only in the base camps of these two iconic mountains.
December last year, I finally crossed one dream off my bucket list when I ventured once more to Nepal. It was the height of winter in this Himalayan nation, an avalanche just happened in Annapurna a week before I arrived. Alone and unguided, I braved the solitude and endured the cold winter to fulfill a dream. I trekked for six days and five nights to 4,130-meter elevation base camp with no room for misadventure, mistake or injury.
With its challenging terrain and very cold weather, the trek proved to be not for the faint and weak. I may have survived the altitude sickness but my knees suffered the brunt of the trails. There were also sleepless nights due to extreme cold but despite all the odds, I was able to reach the snow covered base camp exactly on December 25, for my first ever white Christmas.
Here’s a slideshow of the day-to-day diary of my trek to Annapurna Base Camp.