Women Trekkers on Mardi Himal Trek  4th Nov  2017-11th Nov 2017
A Taiwanese and Three Singaporean ladies (they were Christianed Team SingTai), recommended by our previous client who did the same trek booked this trek with us after exchanging several emails. Their adventure began right from the moment they left home; a considerable thunderstorm greeted them as they were leaving home to catch the night bus to Kuala Lumpur (they had to do this as the airline changed their flight schedule just a few days before their departure). The vehicle dropped them off at the wrong terminal and refused to take them to the correct terminal. I met them at the airport, led them to the vehicle to bring them to the Hotel. They received the pre-trek briefing as usual while waiting to check into the hotel. They needed to go to Thamel (tourist district) to rent sleeping bags for the trek. We agreed to meet in an hour after they sorted out their rooms. They told me that they were hungry and wanted to eat before renting the sleeping bags. I took them to The Ship restaurant for their meal as it prepares excellent and hygienic food. We went over to my usual rental store to hire the sleeping bags, knowing they were tired from all their adventures the previous evening; I brought them back to their hotel so they could have an early night of rest.

Start of the Mardi Himal Trek
We met up early for breakfast at the Hotel before heading to the domestic airport to catch our flight to Pokhara. I was relieved when our flight was announced right on time. During October, there were delays as long as 2 and a half hours. The views of Himalayan peaks were very clear this morning. We reached Pokhara after twenty-five minutes, collected our luggage, met our staff and drove to the hotel to drop some bags to be stored for usage after the trek before driving on to our starting point at Dhampus village. We reached Dhampus after a ninety-minute drive. The trekkers were introduced to our support crew before we proceeded with our trek to Mardi Himal. We had an upward climb to Pothana for an hour where we stopped for having lunch. We had a relaxing break for two hours, firstly all meals on the lodge treks are made fresh, and secondly, we only had one more hour to our stop for the night, and the rooms were already pre-booked by yours truly. We continued on an upward terrain going through beautiful forests with some open meadows until we reached Pitam Deurali – our stop for the night. This place only has three lodges, and all the hostels were full. We enjoyed dinner in the warmth of a wood stove in the dining hall and had an early night's rest as you do while on treks.

Hike to Forest Camp 2550 meters. 4-5 hours hike.
We were greeted by the views of Mount Dhaulagiri and Annapurna South along with Fishtail when we stepped outside our rooms. We planned to reach our stop for the day for lunch as there are no restaurants or lodges to serve the meal before we reached Forest Camp, our destination. We left Pitam Deurali after a sumptuous breakfast. We walked uphill in thick-forested terrain with several breaks for rehydration, to admire the surroundings and listen to the singing birds. We arrived at Forest Camp for late lunch, but to save time, I had taken the order for the meals and sent Sundar, our trekking chef ahead to order lunch in advance. The four ladies had to share a room because the lodge had a booking for a group of 23 persons and there are only six rooms. The support crew usually sleeps on the tables, benches, and floor of the dining room during the peak busy period; having said that sometimes backpackers have to sleep in the dining room. The afternoon was spent taking hot bucket showers as the next few days were going to be at higher elevations where it is colder. The Singaporean ladies fascinated themselves by chasing chickens, looking at baby buffaloes, walking around to admire the scenery, etc. The trekkers were treated to Halal Buffalo Thai green curry and stir-fried vegetables in oyster sauce that was sprinkled with walnuts and rice for dinner. They were pleasantly surprised when banana fritters were served for dessert. Everyone went to bed gastronomically pleased.

Hike to Badal Danda 3200 meters. 4 and half hours hike.
We woke up to another beautiful morning. We left for Low camp after breakfast as usual. The trek began with an uphill climb in thick Rhododendron forest, once again listening to chirping birds. Sundar and I spoke about how the whole trail was covered in snow when we did this trek in March this year. There were plenty of stops for photos on the hike to Low camp. We arrived at 11.30am for lunch. It was crowded with trekkers both going up or those on their way down. We had a leisurely lunch stop and only started walking two hours later to our final stop at Badal Danda. My staff and I was surprised when we arrived at a brand new lodge 15 minutes before the first and only lodge at Badal Danda. Due to confusion on dates the first lodge had booked rooms for us here. There was another new lodge open just below the first one, and another one is under construction 15 minutes further up from the first lodge, in total there will soon be four lodges here. This shows the growth in the number of trekkers visiting this once less trekked region. The trekkers were treated to a Japanese meal this night much to their surprise and pleasure with Sushi as a started followed by miso soup and a main course.

High Camp and beyond.
We had planned to get to high camp and go higher if the weather was clear. The weather was clear in the mornings, but the clouds begun rising from around 10 am and by 11 am most of the mountain views would be covered up this time around. The clouds had covered up the mountains, but we decided to walk for about an hour or so can return for lunch. It was still a beautiful hike despite the snow-covered mountains being covered up by the clouds. We could see the valleys below; clouds were coming up past us are part of nature that we enjoyed. Team SingTai climbed a small rocky outcrop which we named SingTai rock to commemorate the 3 Singaporean and single Taiwanese trekker in this group. To celebrate having reached the highest point the trekkers were treated to a special dinner that consisted of Guacamole as a starter, fresh tomato soup with croutons, tuna casserole sprinkled with parmesan cheese and dessert was Pana Cotta topped with goji berries. Our group was the envy of the other trekkers at the lodge. Some of them even picked up the menu to check how they had missed these food items not realizing that our trekking chef Sundar Rai prepared it with our ingredients.

Down to Siding village.
We woke up early to admire the beautiful sunrise before having breakfast and retracing our steps back to Low Camp. We had a big day of going down 1600 meters. Upon reaching Low camp, the Singaporean ladies informed me that they were still full from breakfast. We stopped for a cup of tea before proceeding down to Siding on a different trail. It is a big descent, and by the time we reached our destination, all of our legs felt like jelly. We had a quick lunch before going to our rooms to enjoy our first proper hot showers of this trek. Everyone chilled out for the rest of the afternoon. To celebrate our successful descent, Sundar treated us to a Korean meal.

Lwang Village Homestay.
The last day of the trek was to Lwang village where the trekkers were to experience a homestay for cultural immersion. The trek descended for the first hour or so and it was undulating until the village of Ghalel where we stopped for early lunch. We just relaxed until mid-day, and then our light lunch was prepared. We had two and a half hours more of trekking to Lwang village. The trail is a mixture of uphill, contouring and descends. The village women’s committee greeted us with hot tea and a local snack before we settled into our rooms; some took cold showers, as the gas geyser was out of order. We were treated to a delicious meal of the Nepali staple – Dal Bhat for dinner; it consisted of rice, lentil soup, seasonal vegetables, chicken curry, and spicy sauce. We had an early night while the ladies stayed up chatting for a bit before turning in.

Back to Pokhara.
We went up to the community meal area for breakfast. We were bid farewell by the ladies of the women’s community with garlands before we got into our jeep for the 90-minute drive back to Pokhara. We checked into our hotel and went out for lunch, and the ladies did some shopping after which we went for a walk along the Phewa lakeside. We stopped at the Krazy Gecko restaurant for some cocktails; they had a buy one get one free offer on their happy hour. We walked to one of my favorite restaurants – French Creperie to have Galette. Galette is made from thin buckwheat crepe, filled with various savory fillings such as vegetables, mushrooms, ham or minced beef and fried egg; this was the first time the ladies from Singapore had tasted it. The ladies returned to the hotel as they wanted an early night. I went to watch some live music for a couple of hours.

Rest day in Pokhara.
We met up for breakfast as planned and agreed to meet up at 6 pm for dinner so they could have time to do their own thing. We met up for dinner, and I was informed that two ladies wouldn’t be joining us as one of them was ill. We went for some dinner with live music. When we got to the hotel, I informed the two ladies that we were to check out at midday the following day and we had to go to the airport at 2 pm to catch our 2.45pm flight to Kathmandu.

Last day in Nepal
We met in the hotel lobby at 1.30pm, loaded the jeep with our luggage and headed to the airport. Fortunately for us, our flight was only delayed by thirty minutes. We got off the aircraft upon landing in Kathmandu, collected our luggage and got on to our van that was waiting at the airport. We learned that the President of the nation was traveling overseas and when that happens the traffic police divert the roads to clear it the way for the V.I.P; making it inconvenient for the other road users. We got stuck in traffic, what usually takes 20 minutes to reach town took us 50 minutes with the diversions and traffic jam. The ladies quickly went to their "day room" to repack their bags, hand over the duffel bags and go to return their hired sleeping bags. They bought some snacks to eat at the airport, ate something from the hotel's bakery before they left for the airport by 6.15pm to prevent getting late in case the traffic was still heavy. The 10-day trip had come to an end, it all went so fast. Yours truly is now waiting to go on another adventure soon.

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