Montag, 28. September 2015

Annapurna Circuit Trek

On Sunday 6th September I started the G Adventure Annapurna Circuit Trek with 6 fellow trekkers from Europe and the US. Due to the earthquake in April this year the number of trekkers drastically decreased in comparison to last year. First came a long and not very pleasant drive to our starting point by minivan and jeep to Syange where we spent the night in a teahouse close to a waterfall. On the little hike up to see the waterfall we encountered for the first time our new enemies for the trek in lower altitude, leeches!! I was very happy that I decided to buy some anti-leech socks before I got here and used them during the treks in the 'leech'-zone at the beginning and end.

After a pretty good dinner we started to get used to bed time in the mountains and went to sleep at 7.30pm. Of course by 6am we were awake and ready to start our first day of hiking! After breakfast we were supposed to take a jeep for another hour to drive us to a nicer starting point but unfortunately they started clearing rocks of a landslide from the street exactly 15 minutes before we were supposed to drive through. So we ended up walking uphill on a very rocky and steep road for two hours, hoping that the jeep would catch up with us soon. In the end we almost made it to our foreseen starting point so that our guide decided to pay the jeep extra to bring us an hour further. That way we would stay in shedule for lunch.

After lunch we had to walk another 3,5 hours to our accommodation in Bagarchhap. In retrospect this first day was the hardest day of the trek together with the climb to Thorung La pass later on. On the second day 3 out of 7 people caught the first stomach bug so that we ended up taking it very slowly. Luckily I wasnt affected and could enjoy the beautiful walk to Chame, the district headquarters. In Chame the unfortunate three received anti-parasite medication and continued with frequent toilet breaks.
It was fascinating to see the scenery change on the walk to Lower Pisang from tropical to drier climate with less vegetation. We made it already to 3250 and did our first acclimatisation hike in the afternoon, a couple of hundred meters up from Lower to Upper Pisang where we visited a buddhist monastry.

The weather stayed surprisingly good for the end of the monsoon season and we were lucky not to encounter rain for a while. On the 5th day we walked from Lower Pisang to Manang where we stayed one extra day to acclimatize on 3500 meters. Slowly but surly we started feeling the altitude and steep steps became a challenge. In the afternoon we went on another little hike up to a stupa from where it was possible to see Manang. Now for the first time we were not the only ones at the teahouse, there was a group of young french boys that we kept seeing for a while. All they did was playing cards all afternoon. One of the girls with a stomach bug still didnt feel better and was seriously dehydrated. She decided to put an end to it and got a helicopter flight to Kathmandu where she stayed two days in the hospital and is now feeling much better. Day 6 was our day of acclimatization to the height so again we did a little hike up to the Gangapurna glacier to take some pictures and then spent the afternoon wasing our clothes and taking a nap.

The next day we saw rain for the first time when we started the 4 hour hike to Yak Kharka on around 4000 meters. At least we didnt bring bring our rain gear for nothing! We arrived for lunch and again did a little hike in the afternoon. It was getting quite cold now and especially during the nights I was happy to have my down sleeping bag and my lightweight down jacket. From Yak Kharka we went up to Thorong Phedi on 4450 meters the next day and even though it was only a few kilometers it took us forever until we got there. Some parts of the way we felt as if we were climbing Everest! After lunch we then did a little hike up the way to Thorung La, also to see what we will be missing when we start in the dark at 4 am the next morning. Soon the last night before the big day has arrived and we were all a bit nervous and hoped that everything will go well with the altitude and that we will actually make it to the top! Obviously that day I started to feel a cold building up and I was lucky that the next day I still felt okay and it only hit me after the pass.

Equipped with our flashlights we started at 4am in the morning together with the four french cardplayers who walked double our speed. While it was raining a bit when we left, it started clearing up around 5.30 and we could switch our headlights off and walk in the mystic morning glow of mist and clouds. After 2 hours we took a little break at a closed tea house where we met a group of 5 Spanish people and three mountainbikers who were pushing up their bikes. The two Australians were between 60 and 70 and for some reason decided to mountain bike the Annapurna Circuit even without any previous mountain bike experience. The older one caught a stomach bug and the guide pretty much had to drag him up to the pass while they hired a porter for the two bikes.

At 8:15am after over 4 hours of walking and a long chat with a swiss girl that I found on the way we reached Thorung La on 5460 meters, the highest trekking route in the world. In the little tea house on the top we tried to warm up from the windy -2 degees outside. Trying to imagine how 150 people sheltered inside the cramped space after a surprise snowstorm hit the pass on the exact day 11 months earlier in October 2014. Our guide was with 29 people that day, including the porters and a dutch group as it happened and he refused to tell us the story until we safely made it to Muktinath around lunch time. Most of the people who lost their life that day were individual trekkers who didn't know the way down blindly in the snow and porters who refused to let the luggage they were carrying behind. Our guide made the right decision and brought his group down safely around 5pm after 13 hours of walking. He was obviously very relieved that this time around nothing bad happened and everything went as planned.

It was an amazing experience and we were particularly lucky that we picked the right time. Last year at the same time we would have reached the top together with 300 other trekkers whereas this time there were only the few ones I mentioned earlier. After Muktinath we were again mostly the only group in the teahouses and on the trails, which made it a very peaceful and quiet experience.

For all of us after the pass it felt like the adventure is almost over, but another highlight had yet to come. From Muktinath we speedwalked 21km in 4 hours over nepali flat (uphill and downhill) to reach Jomsom from where our local bus departed to Ghasa. Obviously the local bus had to have a flat tyre after 1 hour so we had a involuntary break before it continued for another three hours. It was definitely an adventure but not a pleasant one. An old bus on a dirt road with lots of rocks is definitely not very comfortable, especially when the driver is not taking it slow. On top of that, this was the day when my cold was at its worst. After our arrival in Ghasa we first took a two hour nap to be ready for the bonfire party with the guide and porters later on. The Rhaksi and my cold medication worked well together and I had a great night of sleep.

The next day we left Ghasa and the smell of wild growing Marihuana and descended further to Tatopani, where some hot springs should be located. It turns out, the hot springs were badly maintained and way too hot to dip more than a toe in. What a disappointment. On top of that we were back in bug, mosquito and leech zone and had to watch out where we go and what we do.

The next morning we were happy to start our ascent again from 1000m to 2000m. The heat and the high humidity didnt make it an easy climb of hundreds of steps but eventually we arrived in Sikha. There we learned how to make Momos and had our second little party with dance, beers, rhaksi and the whole team. The next morning we left later than planned (guess why) to continue our ascent to Ghorepani on 2800 meters, from where we would start the final uphill hike of the trip to Poon Hill to watch the sunrise over the himalayas.

In Ghorepani it was cloudy and rainy and we got worried that we wouldnt see any mountains the next morning. When the guide woke us up at 4.30am we could see the stars and were super happy. By six, shortly before sunrise we arrived in Poon Hill where we enjoyed the breathtaking view of the Annapurna range. For pictures please check out

After breakfast back at our hotel we started the 2500 meter descent over 6 hours with 3000 nepali steps. It was very painful for knees and muscles and after this last challenge I finally had aching muscles and problems with walking stairs. The next day we justhad a short walk to the private van and a lovely drive back to Pokhara. We arrived in less than an hour thanks to the proclamation of the new constitution of Nepal at 5pm that day and the ban of public transport and shops in place. Therefore we only met a few other tourist vehicles and kids learning how to bike on the streets.

Once in Pokhara we went for some good food and a nice stroll along the lake. The normally deep blue lake was green this time of the year after a big landslide a couple of weeks ago. We, however, enjoyed to be back in civilisation even though the amount of people, cars and motorbikes that were celebrating the new constitution after 5pm was just overwhelming after two week of silence in the mountains.

Even the next day we got lucky and for half of the way back to Kathmandu there was still a public transport ban in place, allowing us to make it to Kathmandu in record time. A beautiful trek came to an end but I am very happy that I did it, even though high altitude trekking is physically and mentally challenging, I would do it again at any time.

Samstag, 5. September 2015

First days in Kathmandu

When I booked my trip to Nepal in July this year I wasn't sure what to expect, if tourists are even welcome only five months after the devastating earthquake that hit the country end of April. The arrival at the airport went smooth but the airplane of the United Nations and the lack of tourists were the first sign that something might be different this time. The advantage was that there was no queue for the visa, as there were only 8 other tourists on the plane with me!

In the tourist quarter of the city it is business as usual, all the shops and hotels were open just the tourists are missing. Everyone I talked to deplores that many tourists cancelled their trip after the earthquake, because many western media portrayed the country as being completely destroyed whereas all the touris infrastructure is still in place and undamaged. What this country desperately needs now is the money the tourism industry brings in, especially because the government has still to spend most of the 4,1 billion dollars of foreign aid.

A visit to Kathmandus Durbar Square on my second day showed the destruction the earthquake has caused to the UNESCO World Heritage site and many of the surrounding houses. Some temples have been completely destroyed with ony the stone foundations remaining and some show big cracks in the wood carvings. Nevertheless it is worth a visit because the main temple still stands impressively.

I noticed that many people here divide time into before and after the earthquake and especially the people from the affected parts of Kathmandu are still struggling to go back to their normal lifes. A women with a baby approached me and told me that her husband died during the earthquake and that she is now struggling to feed her three children because she has no income. I helped her buy milk powder for three months for her daughter but in the long run I hope the government manages to reach more people with the billions of foreign aid they received.

The saturday after I arrived I finally met the group for the 18 day Annapurna Circuit Trek I booked. We were only 7 people at the beginning and for our guide it was the first tour after the earthquake. A detailed blogpost for the trekking will follow shortly.

Donnerstag, 17. Januar 2013

Die Londoner und das Wetter

Obwohl ich jetzt schon fast eineinhalb Jahre hier in London wohne, stellt sich mir immer noch die Frage....wie empfinden Londoner Temperaturen?! Heute auf meinem Spaziergang habe ich ein Schild entdeckt welches vor dem heissen Wetter warnt...zum Vergleich habe ich oben die aktuellen Tagestemperaturen eingefügt. Wo ist der Fehler?!

PS: Ich werd mich nie mehr wundern wenn Mädels hier halb nackt herumlaufen...wenn 0 grad ja 'heiss' ist! ;)

Und heute nimmts tatsächlich kein Ende, das steht in der Abendzeitung:

Da kann ich morgen das Haus ja tatsächlich nicht verlassen da ich nicht genug Kraft habe um bei 5 Zentimeter Schnee die Haustüre aufzustemmen! Herrje, am besten gehe ich noch Vorräte kaufen die für einen Monat reichen! :D

Donnerstag, 29. November 2012

Arabisch auf Englisch

Letzte Woche hab ich einen Arabisch Sprachkurs angefangen in einer ziemlich schrägen Sprachschule für die ich nie im Leben viel Geld ausgeben würde. Im dubiosen Viertel Whitechapel gelegen, umgeben von Indischen Kleiderläden, Kebab-'Restaurants' und mit vielen vermummten Bewohner jeglichen Geschlechts liegt der Language Corner.
Dank einem günstigen Angebot konnte ich für 50 Pfund, 10 Stunden Sprachunterricht bekommen und habe mich wieder einmal für Arabisch entschieden mit der Absicht diesmal auch tatsächlich Arabisch zu lernen.

Unsere Lehrerin ist eine junge Algerierin die kaum viel Erfahrung im Unterrichten haben kann und auch wohl nicht im besuchen von Sprachkursen. Gerne verwechselt sie beim Aufschreiben aller Pronomen und Possesivpronomen die übliche Reihenfolge, was natürlich alle Teilnehmer die noch nie Arabisch gehabt hatten komplett verwirrt.

Zusätzlich zu den sonstigen Schwierigkeiten im Unterrichten kommt dann auch noch, dass sie MICH als Schüler hat. Leider ist es ziemlich witzig Fragen zu stellen die sie mir nicht beantworten will. So bringt sie uns doch die Pronomen bei, bevor sie uns erklärt wie genau das Arabische vokalisiert wird. Dann erklärt sie uns wie Possessivpronomen and Substantive gehängt werden, doch meine Frage welcher Vokal denn zwischen Substantiv und Wort kommt kann sie nur damit beantworten, dass das bei jedem Wort wechselt. Ja soviel habe ich auch schon bemerkt, nur würde es helfen zu wissen was die Regeln sind. Des weiteren bringt sie uns Floskeln bei die nützlich sind um sich verständlich zu machen doch sie schreibt sie nur in Englisch und in Umschrift auf, meine Frage ob sie es denn auch noch auf Arabisch schreiben könnte, da wir ja schliesslich lernen sollen wie wir schreiben und lesen müssen, meinte sie, das gehe jetzt leider aus Zeitgründen nicht. Ach so...dann muss ich mir das also wohl selber zusammensuchen.

Doch während ich eher Probleme mit der Unterrichtsart und der Reihenfolge der Grammatik habe, haben meine Englischen Klassenkameraden doch viel mehr Mühe die Arabische Sprache zu verstehen, da sie nie komplexe Grammatik gelernt haben für ihre Muttersprache und viele auch sonst nicht bewandert zu sein scheinen in Fremdsprachen. Da kommt dann schon mal die Frage ob sich das Possessivpronomen auf das Substantiv bezieht oder auf die Person (äh ja.....).

Fazit: Es ist ganz unterhaltsam Fragen zu stellen um der Lehrerin zu vermitteln, dass sie die Grammatik vielleicht in der falschen Reihenfolge lehrt aber um tatsächlich Arabisch zu lernen ist das wohl wieder nicht das Richtige. Bleibt mir wohl nur tatsächlich der Weg in ein Arabisch sprachiges Land anzutreten in naher Zukunft!

Donnerstag, 8. November 2012

Essensverschwendung und VIPs

Also in Anlehnung an einen Beitrag zu finden bei aramatique gibt es ein paar meiner Erlebnisse beim Catering in London. Man könnte denken man blickt viel öfter hinter die Kulissen all dieser tollen Events in einer Grossstadt wie London wenn man beim Catering arbeitet. Doch leider sind die VIP Sichtungen gering und die Unorganisation gross.

Ich muss vielleicht vorne anfangen und etwas über diese Catering Firma erzählen. Ein unorganisierter Haufen mit der Mehrheit der Arbeiter die aus Brasilien kommen. Dementsprechend ist die gesprochene Sprache im Team mehrheitlich Portugiesisch, womit wir natürlich nicht sonderlich viel anfangen können. Dazu kommt, dass die Organisation himmelschreiend schlecht ist. Während man beim anfänglichen Meeting vor dem Event eingetrichtert bekommt dass man seinen Platz nicht verlassen darf ohne dass einem nicht gesagt wurde man soll nun etwas anderes machen, wird man gerne mal vergessen und steht für 1,5 Stunden mit einem Tablett voller Prosecco Gläser am Eingang anstatt 1 Stunde. (Ja dementsprechend tut einem dann alles weh am nächsten Tag ;-)) Bezahlt wird man auch nicht so wie man sollte, da 'IT PROBLEME' vorherrschen. Ja genau, die E-Mails kommen einfach nicht an mit den Angaben wie viel wohin bezahlt werden soll. Im heutigen Zeitalter von Empfangsbestätigungen und so, ein wenig suspekt! Hätte ja eine Fehlermeldung zurückkommen sollen wenns nicht zugestellt wurde. Vor allem wenn dann das Vierte E-Mail ankommt aber nicht die 3 davor?

Dafür durfte ich gestern ein Glas Prosecco einem Bronze und Silbermedaillist der Olympischen Spiele reichen. Die Medaillen sehen in echt wirklich ganz schön aus ;-) anscheinend gab es an diesem Abend noch eine wichtige Londoner VIPs zu sehen. Dummerweise habe ich absolut keine Ahnung wer wie aussieht, ich würde wahrscheinlich knapp noch James Bond erkennen wenn er an mir vorbeimarschieren würde oder die Königin!

Den Leuten haben wir so viele Canapées serviert, dass das anschliessende Essen welches in kleinen Schüsselchen serviert wurde überhaupt nicht gegessen wurde. Hätte man ja vorher bedenken können. Nachdem wir uns alle die Bäuche vollgeschlagen haben, hiess es wir sollen in Alufolie einpacken was wir mit nach Hause nehmen können der Rest fliegt weg. Aber auch nachdem 15 Leute für sich selbst und die Familie eingepackt ahben blieben noch mindestens 5 grosse Schalen voller Nudeln, Reis, Shrimps, Lachs und Salat übrig, die dann zu unserem Entsetzen in Müllsäcken entsorgt wurden!

Also haben wir uns gedacht, dass das eine Frechheit ist, wenn über 500 Obdachlose in London auf der Strasse leben und bestimmt Hunger haben. Wir haben uns also die Freiheit erlaubt den Chef darauf aufmerksam zu machen und gefragt wenn wir ihm eine Organisation nennen die das übrige Essen abholen kommt, ob das für ihn in Ordnung wäre. Er war ziemlich begeistert und meinte er hätte einfach keine Zeit da jemanden zu finden der das Essen holen kommt. (Mal schauen ob die das auch holen kommen würden hier, ich halte euch auf dem Laufenden ;-))

Somit ja, Essensverschwendung ist ein Problem bei uns in Europa!