Nepal: The trek to Annapurna Base Camp – Day 01 Flight Day

“Help me convince Mummy to let me go to Nepal” My sister was referring to the trek that was organised by SMUX Trekking one day during the final school semester.

Nonchalantly, I said, “OK.”

However, there were many things weighing on my mind, including dealing with the mess of the time (mis-)management I was in. So when the time to convince my mum about the trip that my sister wanted to take, it went:

Mum: She wants to go Nepal and trek leh. What you think?

Me: Let her go. It will be a great experience.

Mum: But you should be going on this trip.


Me: OK. Then both of us go lor. You ok by this?

Mum: … OK

My negotiation prof would flip the table if he hears of this. But I wasn’t really in the mood to set arguments and counter arguments.

Fast forward a couple of months later, on 27th April, I was at the airport with 15 other SMU students and their family members. On my back was the trek bag that was provided. On my hand, was the passport.

I have to confess that this was the least prepared trip I ever had in my life. For the trek, I went running with SMUX Trekking only once, did one stairs climbing exercise with them and one trek from MacRitche reservoir to the Tree-top walk. For the logistics, I borrowed much from SMUX Trekking, and Hazwan, a fellow HackerspaceSG member who trekked before. I followed the packing list as close as possible, brought barely sufficient cash along.

At about 4pm, I stepped onto Malaysia Airlines plane that would take me to Kathmandu through Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Just before I switched my phone to airplane mode, Luther shared that Sadek from Karkhana was on his way back to Nepal too. Cool, Hackerspace in Kathmandu. I’ve got to visit before I leave. I filed that thought in my mind.

The flight to KLIA was an hour short. No bumps or hiccups. At KLIA, it was boring. Yes, I am pampered by Changi Airport. There was nothing much to do. So I ended up staring at my handphone’s screen, using the free wifi. I should have brought my netbook at the very least. I have work to do. But no.

Malaysia Airlines uses Boeing 737-800 for both of the flights. And the in-flight entertainment system has a USB port for each seat. Apparently the system can read media files on the USB drives! Sadly I didn’t try it out. The movie selection in the in-flight entertainment system was limited. I ended up watching Matrix again. Additionally, the flight information was lacking in the system. I could not see where we were on the map.

Anyway, landing in Kathmandu was a shocker. The final landing approach felt like the pilot decided to just… let it go. There was a drop and bam! the wheels are rolling on the runway.

Tribhuvan International Airport is rudimentary in design, if anything. There is no connecting bridge between the terminal and the plane. A bus came fetching us from the tarmac to the terminal. The wifi setup in the airport foretells me the technological advancement that the country has. The SSID at the airport is something like “TP-LINK1234”, and is password unprotected.

One aspect that got almost everyone excited was the option to put Others in gender field in the arrival form. Apparently all of us weren’t really up to date on the news in Nepal on the recognition of the third gender.

We got our luggages out from the airport. Upon checking the luggages, we found that one of our trek poles went missing and my Swiss army knife and earplugs vanished as well. We can rationalise that the trekking was secured at the side of the trek bag by straps, and could have slipped out during transportation, however, it is ridiculous to think so too when my knife and earplugs were zipped in a compartment in the trek bags.

We were all tired from the flights, so we proceed on the hotel after deciding that we should settle everything after the trip. I told the rest, if I can’t claim back my knife or compensation, I would just get another one. As for the earplugs… it’s from the army. I can always get a new pair when I go back for reservist training.

Dhruba, of Marvel Travels & Tours (P) Ltd, was our local point of contact. Apparently he waited two hours at the airport for us, with the minibus waiting as well to bring us to the hotel. We loaded up the luggage. Right from the start, he warned us of touts and told us to ignore people he didn’t know, lest that they asked for tips from us.

We went to the hotel, Hotel Thamel at about 11pm. Tired and sleepy, we hit the sack after a welcome by the hotel (fresh garlands and a glass of fruit punch) and a quick briefing of what would happened the following day. And oh, the wifi was down at the hotel. Apparently, the Internet connection was down. The wifi router admin page was unprotected as well. Bah.


View my Facebook album of Flight Day photos below:


From Nepal: The trek to Annapurna Base Camp – Flight Day Day 01, posted by Robert Sim on 5/10/2014 (18 items)

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