Following a few days of recovery from trekking and some time to heal George’s dodgy stomach we were feeling ready to take on Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu. A 6 hour bus journey took us to Thamel the backpacker area of Kathmandu where we were once again greeted by our good friend Min who chaperoned us to our hotel ‘happy home’.

Kathmandu is a very typical Asian city – busy, over crowed, smog but on a clear day you can see views of the alpine mountains over this dusky city. Thamel has a feel of Ko San Road in Bangkok as the streets are crowded with travellers from all walks of life, it has tons of restaurants and bars many on the rooftops of the windy streets and shops selling all kinds of travellers tat – everything from yoga bags, bangles, Tibetan antiques, Buddhas and tee’s. The city smells of burning popcorn and incense sticks and in the evening shops are candlelit due to the daily power cuts.

View of Kathmandu Valley from the monkey temple

Space Invader Thamel Kathmandu

We spent our time in Kathmandu visiting some of the many Buddhist/Hindu temples around the city. We managed to visit two famous stupas ‘Boudhanath’ and ‘Swayambhu’ also known as the monkey temple due to the holy monkeys living there – A stupa is a structure containing buddhist relics, these stupas have Buddha’s eyes and eyebrows painted on. Between them, there is something painted which looks like the nose – but is the Nepali symbol of ‘unity’. Both Boudhanath and Swayambhu are considered to be the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhist Newars. We also visited Durbar square the plaza in front of the old royal palace of the Kathmandu Kingdom and Pashupatinath, one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world, located on the banks of the Bagmati River.


Boudhanath Stupa

Swayambhu Stupa

When turning the buddhist prayer wheel you should say the following ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ this means good luck and long life.

Hindu Erotic Art

George with more holy men!

In the evenings we ate into some nice restaurants Third Eye, Or2k and Alchamy but had the most delicious meal with our new Nepalese family the Thapa’s. This has to be the best meal yet – Dhal Bhat with chicken curry and sausage, veg momo’s (Tibetan dumplings), home made chips and Everest Beer. We also had the opportunity to meet Min’s wife Gyanu and 3 lovely children Suju, Sujan and Sujin who were over the moon with their England T-shirts. This really was a home away from home, we can honestly say in all the years we have travelled we have never been made to feel more looked after and welcome! We will definitely be keeping in touch with Min (Mongolian Trekking) and his family.

Sujin Thapa looking very happy with her team GB tee! Rachel and the Thapa Family

On the final day George finally got chance to cure the bike addiction – booking himself a days riding with local guide & shredder Bikash from Himalayan singletrack (it would be rude not too!) whilst I did a spot of last minute tat shopping with Suju.

George loving the Kathmandu trails!

It was time to say goodbye to Nepal – We will miss these stunning views and the lovely new friends we have met. Next stop Thailand, we’re both very much looking forward to some beach time.

Dubung Village


After a 6 day trek in the Annapurna range we headed to Dubung village, located in the Tanahu district approximately a 7 hour journey from Pokhara and where our guide Min grew up and his brother Jamie and most of his family still live. The journey started an hour or so outside Pokhara where we swapped our taxi for a Jeep (to tackle what felt like one of the worlds most dangerous roads) followed by a 900mtr trek to reach the village up on the hill tops at around 1400mtr.

After our jeep ride just before our trek started we had the pleasure of meeting Mins mother, who at the age of 81 still makes this walk barefoot every couple of weeks. She also walks a 7 day round trip to Pokhara barefoot every three months to collect her pension as she refuses to go be car or bus… Incredible.

On arrival we were greeted by a very warm welcome from the Thapa family and everyone at the Village. This village rarely if ever comes in to contact with westerners – we instantly became the centre of attention. In the evening we were welcomed into the homes of the villagers for some very tasty Dhal Bhat – the staple dish for Nepalese people usually consisting of steamed rice, lentil soup (dhal), veg curry and pickle, we were however honoured to be served up a local chicken killed for us only two hours earlier. Food was accompanied by Raksi Wine a traditional home made Nepalese/Tibetan alcoholic drink. After food we were entertained by a local dancing group who performed a traditional village dance called Maruni. We spent our days in the village getting to know the lovely people (who all wanted us over for food, black tea and raksi) and visiting a local school whom we hope to help in the future. This was a unique experience, we felt very privileged to learn about this stunning village and it’s generous people who made us feel welcomed into their homes.

The Journey – our jeep, the rickety bridge and one of villagers carrying an elderly lady back up this steep hill.

Jamie and Min.

A warm welcome at Dubung Village

A proud ex Gurkha solider outside his home, many of the young male villagers here aspire to be in the Gurkha army.

Our bedroom in a traditional village home

Village children inc. Jamie’s very cute grandson.

DHAL BHAT and village women making Raksi

They were not happy if we didn’t join in the Maruni dance!

The local school

Min’s mum

Trekking the Himalayas


After a couple of days absorbing the views from our lakeside hotel it was time to get a little closer to the Himalayan mountains. On the first evening of our expedition we were greeted by our friendly guide ‘Min Thapa’ from Mongolian Trekking and his brother, our porter ‘Jamie’. The adventure begun in Nayapul with a 5hr trek to Tikhedhunga at 1540m – this was our 1st experience of staying in a tea house. The tea houses are basic and can get chilly in the evening but they have the most spectacular views. On day 2 we headed to Ghorepani at 2860m, the views were getting better the higher we went and this tea house had a big heater which was a huge bonus after a long days trekking. On day 3 we had a very early and cold 5am start as we trekked to Poon Hill at 3193m for sunrise over the Annapurna mountain range – Dhaulagiri 1 (7th highest mountain in the world at 8172), Annapurna South (7219m), Machhapuehhre (fish tail 6993m) and Annapurna 1 (8091m) – the views from here were stunning and definitely worth the early start. After taking in the views at Poon Hill we headed down a very icy and slippery trail (7hrs!!!) to Tadapani (2630m) where we spent the evening surrounded by more beautiful views. On the final 2 days of trek we headed down through the village of Ghandiuk (1940m) where we met some local people and visited a Tibetan monastery and village museum. All in all we had a very exciting 5 days with amazing views, we had also managed to gain ourselves 2 new friends our guide Min and his brother Jamie who we had bonded with so much that they insisted we go to stay with their family in their home village, of course we said yes! If anyone is thinking of doing any trekking in Nepal we would definitely recommend using Mongolian Trekking and Expeditions (feel free to contact us for the details).

Buddhist prayer flags overlooking Annapurna

View from tea house bedroom Ghorepani

Sacred mountain Machhapuehhre

Ghandiuk Village & Tibetan Monastery

Valentines breakfast at Ghorepani

Poon Hill 5am, sunrise over Annapurna – Dhaulagiri 1 (7th highest mountain in the world at 8172), Annapurna South (7219m), Machhapuehhre (fish tail 6993m) and Annapurna 1 (8091m)

On top of the world – Dhaulagiri 1 (7th highest mountain in the world at 8172), Annapurna South (7219m), Machhapuehhre (fish tail 6993m) and Annapurna 1 (8091m)

Pokhara & The Annapurna


Our tour with The G-Adventures group ended in The Nepalese lakeside town Pokhara… We were sad to say goodbye to our new friends and amazing guide Raj but looking forward to experiencing the beautiful views of the Himalayan Annapurna range. In Pokhara we visited the world peace stupa that overlooks the lakeside valley, and hired bikes to cycle to Tashi Palkhel Tibetan Refugee Settlement here we were lucky enough to participate in a Buddhist prayer ceremony. The atmosphere was unbelievable, the door entrance was closed as two big drums either side of the walkway started to be drummed. Thirty or so Tibetan monks walked in one after the other and started loudly reading prayers from the manuscripts in front of them. These were in short intervals in between bells chiming and horns loudly blowing, both of us were almost a little nervous about what was going on around us but it was amazing. We’re off on a 6 day trek around the Himalayas so bye for a short while!

The Buddhist temple at Tashi Palkhel

Mount Machapuchare ‘fish tail’ at sunrise. A sacred mountain.

View from our balcony at Green Tara Hotel

Chitwan National Park


After a long stretch of Indian cities it felt good to breath in the fresh air of the Nepalese jungle and nature reserve – Chitwan National Park. Our stunning safari lodges Sapana Village are located centrally in the park – surrounded by views of the reserve, hazy mountain peaks and the animals of the jungle. As well as offering a friendly service these lodges donate all their profits to help reduce poverty in the local community. After a wild night of sitting around the fire, drinking hot honey rums and listening to house with Raj our G Adventures guide and a few others in our group we had an early start on the safari. the 4 hour journey in the rain was worth it for one thing – the rare sighting of a leopard! George did the good job of spotting the beast even before our Safari guides as it was resting up in a tree, all the staff were amazed to see it for such a long period (5minutes) as usually it’s a 5-10 second flash! Our guide also told us he does this trip 3-4 times a week and has not seen one for around 4 months! Needless to say everyone wanted a copy of our photo below… We also saw lots of peacocks, monkeys, deer, kingfisher and a quick sighting of a sloth bear. Enjoy –



Group shot on Sapana Village balcony

Varanasi – The Ganges


Twelve hours later the quaint town of Orchha seemed a distant memory as our overnight train arrived at our craziest destination yet “Varanasi”. According to the Hindu religion this is the holiest and oldest living city in the world. Most pass through this surreal city on Pilgrimage or to get freedom from the cycle of life and death by being cremated in an open wood fire by the side of the river Ganga (Manikarnika Ghat – The burning Ghat). The Ganga is known as being Holy water so once the bodies have been cremated the ash’s are thrown into the river where ten metres down people are using the same water for swimming, bathing &washing clothes! The river sides are bombarded with holy men, spiritualist, ghats, people praying, doing yoga, beggars and the roads here are so busy with tuk tuks, cycle rickshaws and mopeds that you can barely cross the road. You really need to see this city to believe it…

A holy man – he spends his time meditating, reading palms and doing yoga. These men live off donations and can knock on anyone’s door for food or water.

The Ganges

The burning ghats

The biggest Hindu prayer ceremony takes place every evening

Hindu artwork

Spot the road – human traffic, the overcrowded streets of India

Sunrise on the Ganges

Indian space Invader spotted in Varanasi

Orchha – The Hidden Place


After a few crazy cities it was a relief to arrive in he small rural Indian town of Orchha, only highlighted as a place of tourism in the last 10 years this is otherwise known as the hidden place. Or hotel ‘The Orchha Resort” was another nice surprise, situated behind the Hindu Palace – Jehangir Mahal and a five minute walk from the river we stayed in some stunning air con tents. – this was camping in luxury. On the first night I headed with the girls to do a cooking class with a local family, we learned how to make chai masala tea, veg pokhora, aubergine curry, pea and carrot curry, chutney and chapati’s – looking forward to testing these recipe’s when we get back. The rest of time in Orchha we spent drinking the best chai tea yet with a very friendly local man, people watching in the local town – including attracting a lot of attention from the local people who were fascinated with our white skin and blue eyes, we also explored the temple and was able to attend Hindu prayer ceremony.

Jehangir Mahal – Narga architecture

Our tent at the Orchha Resort – quaint town surrounded by temples with the surreal sound of Indian rave music playing in the background, apparently the warm up to the Indian wedding season.

The best chai masala tea in India!