Friday, January 13, 2012

Annapurna 100: Flight to Nepal

Suvarnabumi Airport: looks better than KLIA

The Himalayas!
Kathmandu airport
 At the top of Tibet Guest House
 Prayer flags in the air...

Summit Hotel!

 The view from the hotel was just spectacular. The 3 mountain range can be seen from here, a rare scene.

 Temples around Thamel area.

Another view of Kathmandu in the evening.

After mr25, I got back to training mode. With 2 weeks to the event, there wasn't much time. Grace Lim graciously lent her trekking poles. I was a bit skeptical at first. But having an injured knee, and having pain, or minor discomfort, as I would like to call it, isn't a promising way to finish even the race.

So I tried them up Bkt Segar. And it was awesome. I could ascend & descend without putting more weight on my knees, which prolonged the time I could be out there. Or at least, if I was too crippled, I would just use the poles to shift my weight forward.

I tried 5 loops, ascent of 1000m, at that was quite a workout. I tried 10, but missed out on the last loop, cause I was just too tired, even using my mind to turn things around, I was barely making it out. It was a vertical ascent after all, But I was happy that at least I finished 9 loops for a total of 1872m.

All in all, I wasn't too happy with the mediocre training, but that's the most I could put up, without getting too much injured.


The flight to Nepal has a transit in Bangkok for a night. I coudn't really sleep there. It was cold as well, without any jacket on.

The next day, I was seated next to a couple who were under an NGO overseeing the Himalayas. They were grateful enough to let me seated to the window, and overlooking the Himalaya range. I coudn't contain my excitement as Everest, Lhotse, Lantang, and some other range not within my knowledge came into view. They looked like white clouds hovering above the sky. And our plane cruising altitude seems the same as the height of the mountains.

The couple did gave some advice on what to wear during winter time in Nepal. Yes, it was winter, which is also the least tourist traffic time of the year. Also, they did warned about the pollution and the safety issue in regard to water & food.

The first thing that hit me, when overseeing kathmandu is how sporadic the buildings were. Then, how simple, and small the airport in Kathmandu is, compared to Suvarnabumi in Thai.

I went through the immigration, and luggage check without much hassle. Then I tried to seek the taxi that would bring me to Tibet Guest House. Luckily the hotel said it as it was. After getting another 2 passengers from Korea, and we're off to the hotel.

Another thing that struck me was the smoggy air, and the layer of haze that just lies across the city. Then there was the shock of the terrible roads & infrastructure throughout the journey. Not to mention the garbage strewn in the waterways & all around. I had trouble breathing a few times.

Finally we reached the hotel, which was really nice. The management, however, warned us of scheduled power cuts. The room I stayed didn't have a heater, and therefore cheap, costing 24usd for 2 nights.

Soon, the low temperature hit me. I think it's around 15c. I have been to a server room at 18c, and it was terribly cold. I quickly unpacked, and went searching for winter clothing. The couple had advised to get a 'down' jacket, so I got that, with a pair of gloves. Still, I have trouble with the cold.

Had dinner, then went off to bed at 6:30pm local time. I didn't have much sleep at the airport in thailand. Sleeping wasn't that pleasant either. Everything is cold, including the bed.


I woke up the next day, and felt much better. It was way much colder in the morning. I went up the rooftop, and the view from there was amazing. Kathmandu is a big city, and a unique one that is. Every single building is different, with it's own design, number of floors, and color, and age. And the smoggy smell still persists, giving the air a certain permanent odour.

After having a hearty breakfast in the hotel, I went for a walk across town. I have downloaded the map on my phone, so I figured I could walk from Thamel to Kupondole, where Summit Hotel is located. I also wanted to see more of Kathmandu, so I guess walking a few hours will be a nice idea.

The interesting thing is, I was mistaken for being a Nepalese a few times. Some sellers spoke to me in Nepalese, and I have to say I wasn't able to speak. But most just ignored my presence.

I finally reached Summit hotel, after asking for directions at Kupondole. That place was just luxurious, and even has its' own pool. Roger Henke, the race director was gracious enough for a chat. We talked mostly about the race, and notably the cut off times involved. He has this kind of grin, that somehow I felt like saying "this 100km is real tough, and if you aren't a local, you have no chance of completing it". There's truth in that as I would later find out.

The race TMBT 100km in sabah was generous with 36 hours. You could walk that entire course with that time. But Annapurna 100 is 18.5 hours only. And given almost 6000m in total elevation, that is one tough one to pull off. Yet, the local runners are doing it in sub 12 hours!

After the chat, I walked back to Thamel, passing some old temples, which was kind of interesting as well. But I wasn't too focused on the sight seeing part. I knew I have to get things packing for the next day's ride to Pokhara.


gracie said...

What beautiful photos of the sights and scenes in Nepal. Very glad that the trekking poles helped - you so quickly picked up the skills for using them. Took me a year to 'warm up' to them.

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