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All the planning was done and complete, we had fitted in as much activity as we thought possible for our short trip to Nepal with thanks to Helloworld, China Southern and Intrepid. Standing at the check in counter all excited to experience the China Southern business class product. Anticipating the opportunity of exploring a new country with the possibility of sighting the world’s highest mountain, all while knowing the weather in China may be conspiring against our plans. A ping from my CheckMyTrip app followed not long after by “Good evening Mr Horne and Ms Hoffmann you are going to miss your flight to Delhi due to the delayed arrival into Melbourne”
Here we go, an opportunity to fit in even MORE!!
How would you like to explore Guangzhou in China for 11 hours and take the opportunity to experience a 5-hour transit in Delhi as you are about to miss your next 2 connecting flights?
And there our adventure began, the Amazing Reho Race around China, India & Nepal was about to take place.
With our delayed flight out of Melbourne, it was time to make the most of the hand we had been dealt. So we hastily planned a self-guided bike tour of Guangzhou, booked the New Delhi Transit Hotel, changed our flight to Kathmandu and let Intrepid know that we were going to be a late and to please wait for us!
Day 2 … Or are we still on day 1?
Our flights were very comfortable, not particularly wide though flat beds. So my 6ft tall travel buddy was happy and I was too, being able to sleep on my tummy. The aircraft was very clean the whole flight, lots of entertainment choices, the food pretty good though they did have a tendency to run out of options. The staff were sweet and accommodating, with the occasional language issues.
The unexpected stop in Guangzhou, began with receiving our emergency transit visa’s on arrival (allowed for unexpected 24hr delays) which were easily and quickly obtained using the ‘special’ lane to the right of the normal customs lines.
Within moments of landing I was picking up basic Chinese.. Ni hao (hello) Xie Xie (thank-you) and then we were off to negotiate the local metro, track down bikes to hire, and locate the elusive Canton Tower. Our first ‘road block’ challenge was the #giantdrop atop the 488 metre Canton Tower!
Congratulations team … you are first team to arrive today … Now you will make your way to #delhi … Though no first class tickets to Bahamas have been won on this leg of your journey
Officially still on Day 2, creeping into Day 3
36 hours & 42 minutes passed, of the #rehoamazingrace.
3 airport lounges, 2 unscheduled stopovers, who knows how many miles flown, 6 boarding passes, 14 Security checks, 76 ways of explaining our delayed flight adventure, 33 passport checks, 4 failed attempts at getting a cup of tea just right and 5hrs in a transit hotel!
Congratulations you have made it to Delhi. Kathmandu we are coming! #stillintransit #luvmyjob
Reho Amazing Race arrived into Delhi last night. We were welcomed on the red carpet by Holiday Inn Express and earned our spot on the first flight out to Kathmandu this morning!
First off the flight in Nepal we breezed through immigration and were ecstatic to meet our Intrepid Travel guide, waiting with our names on a sign right at the exit gate!
The small city’s buzz, activity, sounds, smells and colours were an exciting welcome to the senses. A hectic 6km transit journey in peak traffic to The Kathmandu Guesthouse certainly woke us up, ready and raring to go! The guesthouse was a hidden sanctuary from the bustling street. A refreshed and renovated colonial property with beautiful staff and gardens to complement it.
This afternoon Intrepid Urban Adventures took us to the old city of Patan first. Full of beautiful intricate temples and monuments made of stone, wood, bronze & gold, sadly several were affected by last year’s earthquake. Karsten completed today’s roadblock challenge here and was blessed by the local priest. Moving on to medieval Bhaktapur which was a major stop on the old trade route to Tibet in the day, also many beautiful temples, cobbled streets and ceramic production still going strong. Here we successfully completed the food challenge and found the best Momos at the Shiva Guesthouse and were finally allowed to try the local street food – Pakoda’s !! WOW !!
The evening was spent managing to stay on board a tuk tuk on a night tour though the busy local market areas of Kathmandu, an absolute buzz! You can certainly see the effect of the earthquake everywhere. Locals appear positive about rebuilding, and are very familiar with the fact that their country has a situation like this at least once every 80 years. It was so great to be there and support them by purchasing locally. Not just food and gifts for home but clothing to wear over there, and using a tour company that supports the community, uses local guides and has a program in place to assist with the re-building.
Oozing of history as you can imagine, and LOTS to retain on not allot of sleep in 72 hours, though very loosely I think these amazing structures across Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu were built under instruction of the Kings 3 sons, each one trying to outdo the other brother. Well they certainly built some magnificent temples for us to marvel over in their challenge, not too sure who won though? It will be awesome to come back in years to come when rebuilt these cities can regain their former glory!
Time to explore the north of Kathmandu on the mountain bike, again on one of Intrepid’s fantastic Urban Adventures. The challenge was keeping your feet on the pedals over the terrain, no bike shoes to clip into, AND …. remembering our brakes were back to front! No one took a dive over the handle bars and we had lots of fun getting away from the city, winding through the narrow little streets, exploring the single track along the ridge up out of Kathmandu looking back into the Valley. Poor form on the photo taking today though as haven’t mastered right hand to change gears, take photo and break all at same time!! #needtobemorepro !!
We tuck in tonight, slightly exhausted, though with much excitement after being briefed on our next 5 days ahead. We are to be the first team to fly out to Lukla tomorrow, If the flight goes.. as they have been cancelled due to weather for the last 3 days! #praytotheclearweathergods #luvmyjob
Well the weather gods were smiling on us and the Reho Amazing Race team made it to Lukla!! Oh my goodness WHAT a flight, landing at the world’s most dangerous airport! Absolutely gobsmacked and Tara Air’s little Dornier aircraft, although old and shaky was awesome! Breathtaking experience.
Now in Lukla engulfed by the Himalayas @ 2860mtrs, the gateway to Base Camp, we must make our way to Namche Bazaar @ 3440 mtrs, beyond that and to its look out at 3900 mtrs and return in time for flight back out should the weather permit it.
NOTE!! DO NOT walk the wrong way around the money stone’s and use force in negotiating herds of donkeys, horses, goats, cows, yaks and the most popular transport choice for the locals .. the yak/cow or ‘yakow’ !!
It is so wonderful to be in the clean fresh country side. Only just over an hour’s flight away from the city, thinking of the mountains we flew between and now taking in our new surrounds it feels like we are worlds away from anything.
Karsten locates the ‘sugar free’ Snickers bars we MUST have for our trek and we are off. Our first day walking is quite ok. Feeling like we are walking through a painting, its only about 3 hours of gentle rises and falls, not too uneven, wide paths, and moving slightly down in altitude to Phakding where we will spend our first night.
After an interesting evening sharing my cosy cabin with what Karsten convinced me was, not 1 but 2, Himalayan Jumping Spiders!! It was no surprise that I was up before the Sun this morning. So it was a given that the morning’s task of locating an open coffee house, WITH a coffee machine, THAT actually works, in the off season was all mine to embrace. Of course I passed with flying colours
Well if you’ve been wondering if the walking would get tougher this is the day it happened. The walking was a bit over 5 hours and the lungs and legs were challenged. Although not a cracking pace we walked within our groups fitness which was still well ahead of schedule. Still very wide paths, a lot more uneven ground, more ups than downs, tree routes, boulders, washed away paths to negotiate along with the local zoo traffic and yes-ee the altitude. We went from 2600 up to 3400mtrs today.
Side challenge to self – In short bursts try and move as quickly up the mountain as you can to test out how long it takes for the heart rate to spike from the altitude – Result: NOT long !!
Out of breath we arrived, not just from the trek, but from this village that appeared out of the clouds right in front of us. Namche is a gorgeous colourful terraced village tucked away from all in these stunning mountains! Accessible only by foot or yak and not by an Uber ride despite what our Colombian friend in heels and leisure wear whom we met enroute believed she would be taking here once she arrived at Lukla!!?? #research #useatravelagent
The resourceful team that we are its not long until momo’s, espresso, EB tea & apple pie are all present, accounted for and devoured. All racers are happy, breathing easy in no time and it’s a night spent in Namche Bazaar #altitudetraining #luvmyjob
Today is the day, this is what we came for, we are going for the big one. It’s time to meet Everest if she will permit us with our short time frame. An early start, during the delay waiting for my morning espresso we come across despondent trekkers whom have already failed to see her this morning. Never a certainty, like most of the past 7 days, to view the elusive Mt Everest in the off season and today’s low cloud could mean disappointment. On approach to the first checkpoint there are so many places to look and capture in your memory as the cloud starts to lift, dramatic snow-capped jagged peaks all around, brilliant blue sky, sunshine. The call comes from up ahead “Here she comes, better get up here QUICK!!”
There she was! Strangely tiny from our location, and immersed in the other mountains around her, we viewed the Everest peak for all of 27 seconds!! Still, was awesome to have seen her and would do it again without hesitation. Maybe add in a climb of one of those other amazing peaks next time?
Though our race to the top of the second view point, at 3860 mtrs, and the chance for another glimpse was still alive. Yes this was quite a spike up, much smaller paths and trails, though very doable with breathing stops. Lots of prayer flags to keep you going. Team @reho were the First team to arrive here. We got to enjoy one of our favourites, fresh ginger tea in the surrounds peacefully as the cloud came in, well was peaceful until we had to play INXS “Never tear us apart” as at that very moment the Western Bulldogs were running out on to Adelaide Oval to take on Port Power and Karsten was determined to recreate the atmosphere.
So no second look at Everest before it was time to leave, pack up in Namche, and head back down the same path we came up and head into Monjo that sits at about 2900mtrs for the night.
We are almost at our final stage. Today we race back up into Lukla, only 3 official illy & 1 lavazza stops separating these two villages. Two of them closed for the season!! WHAT!! The first team to arrive here wins a trip to the Taj Mahal compliments of China Southern Airlines. Well guess what??
We are on the first flight out tomorrow ‘weather permitting’ and heading for Delhi & Agra!! #legsaresmashed #praytotheclearweathergods
Today’s challenge begins in the hands of the weather gods. We need to depart Lukla, be back in Kathmandu in time to change, check in for our International flight to Delhi by 16:00 and flights have not departed for the past 24 hours at this point. Watching the pea soup like fog one second, a little blue sky, some sun and emerging mountains the next. Like it was on a lazy Susan, constant rotation!
Up since 05:00 pacing the cobbles, and peering through the clouds, by 10:30 the decision was made. This day’s air travel’s would have to start in a chopper! The race must go on and that connecting flight CANNOT be missed!! A fitting red, white and blue chopper lands, it’s certainly not the newest kid on the block, though is equipped with a local pilot who knows the area like the back of his hand and the excitement builds. Will never forget that sound in the cabin, the feeling as the helicopter charges down the ‘downhill’ runway and over that first edge! Could not wipe the smile from our faces the whole hour trip back. Unbelievable.
Getting to take the helicopter in at least in one of the directions to Lukla is a MUST. We were very fortunate to have experienced both with the flight in and the chopper out.
So it’s not goodbye to Nepal, more like see you again one day – now it’s time to travel back to India. #choppersareace
In the style this Reho Amazing Race likes to roll day 10 is no exception. Today’s task is taking on the Indian fast rail network.
Check out, store luggage, transfer to train station, locate Gatiman Express train out from Delhi to Agra, meet local for bike tour to see the Taj Mahal, local markets and the Agra Fort, return to Delhi on train, meet driver from hotel with earlier stored luggage, transfer straight to Delhi airport in ‘peak traffic’ to arrive in time to check in for your International flights home to Melbourne. Yes of course in one day !!
All went like clockwork and a fitting last day to this fantastic trip. Worth every single sweaty moment in 45 degree heat to see that stunning Taj Mahal!! Wow is she breathtaking, even shed a quiet tear.
The guy who built this sure set a high standard for you guys to follow!! Agra Fort was such an unexpected highlight and time in the local markets, sampling the local fare was like the cherry on top!
The final check in point today is Delhi International Airport, China bound and then Australia. The racers are coming home #luvmyjob
Amazing what you can cover in 10 days!!