“The journey is the destination.” Discover Annapurna with Malaysian hiker Lily Ho as she shares with TravelledPaths on her self-discovery trek up the “Roof of the World” in 2012.
I started the tour in October 2012 and also hiked the Annapurna Complete Circuit in Nepal. The peak point in Annapurna Circuit is Thorong-la Pass, about 300km path around the Annapurna mountain area. Apart from trekkers, the pass is constantly used by native traders.
As a result of my protracted family health background, I never had good health from the beginning. Consequently, I constantly make an effort by attending badminton and yoga workout routines after work in order to be strong enough and by-pass any sickness. I think it could be the love for hiking forests & mountains from my infancy days in Bahau that once I was asked by a buddy to hike the Annapurna Full Circuit in Nepal, I consented with no idea of the circuit at all.
I agreed and jumped on it. The blind belief I had since young, the desire of trying out obstacles. I discovered that the Annapurna Full Circuit walk is considered as challenging, regarded a lot greater than Mount Everest Base Camping that is ranked less challenging.
Daily hike of 8-9 hours, approximately 600m ascending.
D1 – Besi Sahar to Bahundanda (1,430m)
D2 – Bahundanda to Chamje (1,410m)
D3 – Chamje to Bagarchhap (2,160m)
D4 – Bagarchhap to Chame (2,170m)
D5 – Chame to Pisang (3,190m)
D6 – Pisang to Manang (3,540m)
D7 – Rest Day for acclimatization
D8 – Manang to Letdar (4,250m)
D9 – Letdar to Throng Phedi (4,450m)
D10 – Thorong via Thorong-la Pass (5,416m) to Muktinath
D11 – Muktinath to Jomsom (2,665m)
D12 – Jomsom to Ghasa
D13 – Ghasa to Ghorepani
D14 – Ghorepani to Pokhara
KL to Kathmandu
As soon as we landed at Kathmandu Airport terminal, we started-off all the process of documentation for visa on arrival application. Upon getting by the immigration entrance, we met-up with the indigenous guide Da Kusang Sherpa who has been awaiting us. With the support of his porter Lambabu Sherpa, we manage to go over the throng of natives who wanted to provide us a trip to the city of Kathmandu, with fees obviously. When we got our complete belongings into the van, we moved over to the holiday resort in Kathmandu the place we had our night rest.
I also recollect that hotel name is Yambu Hotel situated in the well-known Thamel region. Thamel is known for tourists worldwide who come into Nepal vide Kathmandu. One can find all sorts of things traded here, from souvenirs to traveling gadgets, books, maps. You can also find fast food outlets for native as well as foreign meal. Usually, visitors will stock up everything they require here before going to the other location. In Kathmandu the infrastructure is poor when compared with Malaysia, although, the citizens are great and have their pattern of livelihood which we will need to adopt, particularly with their endurance and strength to trek within the town by foot .We slept over in Kathmandu and equipped ourselves for the journey to Pokhara the next day. We boarded the first bus by 7am.
Kathmandu to Pokhara
We woke up quite early and prepared ourselves for the bus trip to Pokhara. We needed to trek from Yambu Hotel to the bus terminal about 5km away. The trip on the bus was a whole new adventure to me. The bus is a regular bus, but I think it is over 30yrs old or maybe older when compared to me. They refer to them as MPV which means Multi-Purpose Vehicle. It is able to convey anything packed inside, or whatever can be attached the body of MPV. All of the space are completely used, the seats, the space beside the bus driver, the bags section and roof area everything filled to the brim. They ensure that the bus is completely filled up before leaving.
The vehicle owner wishes to generate as much on every journey to keep-up, but they ignored basic safety rules. For a first-time tourist like me in an overloaded bus, any turn by the driver causes an effect to the whole bus. Everyone swayed left and right, looking for something to grip and held whatever is within their reach to keep firm. They simply learn how to respond to survive the 10hrs trip to Pokhara. Along the way, you find travellers boarding and alighting. The bus conductor attempt to carry everyone, wanting to maximize the available space. In order to carry extra passengers and more money for the journey. Along the trip, you perceive all sorts of odor, from the stench of sweating, products, along with animals such as poultry and goats, animals are also permitted in bus, as you are trying to handle the cultural surprises along the way. I glanced outside and loved the landscape, then I drifted off to sleep slowly until we got to Pokhara.
At the start of the hike, the sights are nothing different to the tropical jungles of Malaysia. I started doubting concerning my choice to hike here. Afterwards the trek got more challenging as muscle tissues tightened and became hurtful under the tension. I assume it wasn’t convenient to awaken these sleeping hibernated muscle tissues of mine because it has been about 15yrs ever since my last trek. The cheap hiking footwear I bought made me expend so much strength. After subjecting myself to extensive walking of high hills, weakness kicked-in and I could just lift my legs 3-4 inches at the same time.
The awesomeness of the Annapurna Circuit is the fact that the pathways are natural and there are absolutely no man-made steps. The tracks ascend steadily, everyone could climb steadily. On some occasions, I felt like quitting, but unexpectedly another soothing descending track would show-up and my morale will be lightened yet again. It reminded me of human life being unstable. To make up for my insufficient fitness, I ought to possess tough ability to be able to finish every day’s walk.
3,000masl – 5,000masl
After hiking above 3000masl, the tropical terrain immediately vanished. There were no more big trees above me with numerous steep. The sun rays above me looked very huge and I have to switch from my tropical tiny hiking attire to heavier windbreakers so as to stop the tough UV.
The sights were simply wonderful under the breezy conditions. At that time, I suddenly discovered that I was quite a far way and isolated from my loving family members, my friends, and my country. It was my first experience of having this kind of feeling. With thin air all around, a discussion, or even a laughter is sufficient to make me have a light headache. These include a few of the psychological toughness alterations I had to experience.
I began to know why people enjoy hiking, because it enables us to retreat off our normal daily life and lets us to reflect on our lives. Supposing hiking below 3,000masl denotes our 20 to 30s wherein we strived really hard and acquired expertise the tough way, then 3,000masl to 5,000masl might possibly represent our daily lives after 30s where we start another challenge in life, where we learned to relinquish many of the stuff we have attained, so as to have a lot more space to undertake a new challenge, creating fresh adjustments before marching on.
There are many tiny rocks on the road that are hurtful enough for fatigued and all this kind of little effect is enough to trigger muscle cramp on me. These reveal to me that life at this point is when we must use caution in the decisions we make and every single tiny error will cost us tremendous pain. It is only until we crossed those challenging places that we can then take a break and continue our regular lifestyle. Our negligence will bring us into problems and result in further obstacles, just like the rocks.
The more carefree I was, the more chances I hurt myself colliding with rocks. For me to be free from any harm or injury, I needed to pay much attention.
Reaching this height my entire body system was numb, it was psychologically overwhelming. Endurance is essential at this height, dashing around and becoming upset didn’t help. It got to a stage in which I kept transferring my frustration by stomping the hiking stick, yet that did not help also, It simply expended energy. Afterward I realized that it is better to remain patient and carry my step to sustain me to be able to hike height after height.
Until I spotted Thorong-la Pass in half an hour time, I would say to myself to continue to be patient and keep the tempo without pleasure or intensifying the speed.
I continued to tell myself that I am able repeatedly, despite my system becoming really weak. I started to suffer a loss of vision resulting from weakness.
I became so angry sometimes viewing additional inches of steep in front of me, however, I am grateful to my porter that has been quietly assisting me and inspiring me by walking the exact same speed with me. Once I stopped he stopped. Every time I walked sluggishly he also follows. This has very much motivated and fortified me to keep on walking until I will arrive at the peak.
With an extreme blurred vision, my porter suddenly stopped and I asked why. He declared we have reached the point we were going to. I could not imagine that I have made it to Thorong-la Pass, the highest Part on the planet on the 23/10/2012 at exactly 10.37am. I was all alone with my porter! I was standing there for a long time, a very long time, without doing any shouting or exhibiting any kind of happiness.
I look around and gently smile and talk to myself. “I did it.” – as the saying goes ‘One step, one footprint.’ To reach this point of success, every step must proceed with steady progress and effort. It isn’t something that will just fall from the sky. I came to a point where I realized that as long as anyone can be persistent, they are equally capable to achieve great things in life.
The only regret I had was seeing many hikers from various nations waving their country flag which I didn’t participate in.
While ascending, I noticed a lot of hikers who had Acute Mountain Syndrome. These hikers were left helpless. I felt fortunate, despite the fact that the facility I was able to buy along the trip was just the basic ones. I am thankful that the corporation and companionship were far more important compared to monies or materials, particularly at this great altitude. My Sherpa guide is enthusiastic about the work and provided assistance around. I absolutely appreciated all of them on the extra effort they offered to me, and all these extra assistance was beyond their main service
Any small support from anyone at this point is vital to keep us going.
After Thorong-la Pass, the path requires trekkers to descend 2,000m to Muktinath on exact same day. That means I practically ought to run downward! Not having to worry on ascending anymore, I can go all out with this part of the trip. I ran very fast and furious to the time where I recall two Canadian tall men were forced to give way to this crazy Asian lady
I have to admit that the sight after Thorong-la Pass is uniquely amazing. It justifies the pain expended on this journey. I made it to Muktinath at exactly 3.30pm, four hours earlier than my Malaysian friends , I realized my body has changed to another level here, my assistant provided me Mustang Coffee with chicken drumstick as a reward to our triumphant surmount of Thorong-la Pass.
My daily routine on Days 11 to 14 from Jomsom to Pokhara was simply walking, despite other means of transportation available. I suppose at this point my heart was joyful. 8 to 10hrs of every day’s trekking were encompassed by wonderful sights, but inside my heart I realized for real this quest was about to finish, and this made me admire more each inch of this special Annapurna Full Circuit hike.
Something special concerning the scene in Jomsom that is close to Mustang is that the place reminded me of the sort of desert huts in most Chinese kung-fu films the “Dragon Inn” wherein heroes as well as villains battle in the windy sandstorms. Not only is it windy, but also very strong wind forcing our body back. The distinction about hiking in Jomson is the fact that it makes you feel as if forever to come close a building regardless sighting it miles away. These show how large Jomson’s wilderness is.
Our final day rounded up in Pokhara with a briefing by the guide, Kusang Sherpa. He declared that he was astonished by my dedication because I appeared soft and didn’t look determined or trained enough. He confessed that he had a mule ready for me to finish the trip in the event I couldn’t walk any further. He was amazed by my completion of the Full Circuit. To his understanding, there are just under 300 Asian trekkers who have finished the Annapurna Full Circuit and we are one of them.
At this point, I had a flashback and recalled 12 days back when I called my spouse at home and cried very terribly, but today I am getting ready my heart to go back home.
The experience is incomparable. This experience started my fire and passion for hiking. The Annapurna Full Circuit motivated me to start exploring other magnificent mountains in Malaysia and in other nations of the world. Being raised around the hillside area, I see hiking less challenging, but as an opportunity where through hiking we could relate to our existence.