4-Nov

Manaslu Mountain Trail 2013

Welcome to Kathmandu!

 

This is just a short last minute electronic briefing with information some of you may want to know before arriving. Everything

 

Arrivals & visa

 

Well done! The flight made it! Now just to get your visa. You need:

–       A working pen

–       A passport photo

–       Cash in Euro, Swiss Franc, Pound Sterling, US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Singapore Dollar and Japanese Yen.

–       15 days – US$ 25 | 30 days – US$ 40 or equivalent convertible currency.

 

Exiting the airport

 

It is a bit chaotic at the exit to the airport. Someone (a twenty-something boy) will be waiting for you on the opposite side of the road outside with a sign – a picture of Manaslu you will know from the website.

 

SIM card & 3G for phone?

 

Getting a Nepali SIM is easy and can take just 5 minutes and costs about US $1.  You can accept and send SMS from abroad for minimal cost. You just need an unlocked phone to put the SIM in. Ask you airport pickup guy to lend you Rp. 100! You can also buy many places elsewhere in Kathmandu without a problem. Ncell SIM cards also offer a data option and 3G is available but can work out quite expensive. Free Wifi is in almost every café in the city and some faster than others.

 

Transfer time

 

Depending on the time of day, and plenty of other factors, it is perhaps a 15-20-minute bumpy ride to Hotel Manaslu in Lazimpat*.

 

Sorry for the mess!

 

First thing you’re going to notice is that many parts of Kathmandu are a really big mess. Beyond the usual apparent chaos you’d see from the window, it is in the middle of a citywide road-widening project. There is a huge amount of demolition and construction going on. Consequently, the streets and air are dusty, and many pavements/sidewalks covered in a big mess of broken building materials (or gone completely).

 

Much of the work around the city has been completed, but Lazimpat, where we stay is sadly still quite a mess. We’d hoped it would be completed by this time last year, but no. We’re still waiting patiently.

 

There is nothing we can do about this, so we’ll all have to suffer with dusty roads for a few days but soon we will be heading for fresh air.

 

Hotel

 

The race hotel is the Hotel Manaslu in Lazimpat (very near to the Radisson). After the race, we return to the same hotel so you can leave a bag in the storeroom and we will give you a label to put on it.

 

Schedule

 

On Saturday evening we will eat a traditional Nepalese meal together at a restaurant, which is walking distance from the Hotel. On Sunday morning after breakfast, we’ll gather at the hotel garden for an introduction, an equipment and medical check, medical briefing and so on. Monday morning we will leave. Here are more details:

 

Friday Nov 8th

 

A few people arrive early on Friday but nothing is formally organized on this day. Ask us for suggestions when you arrive.

 

Saturday Nov 9th: Main arrival day

 

Only an evening group dinner is organized so you are free to visit shops or cultural sites. This is a good time to visit Bouddha in the late afternoon (taxi Rs 300).

 

7.30pm – Traditional Nepali meal at Nepali Chulo which is a short walk from the hotel. Meet from 7pm around the lobby of the hotel.

 

Sunday Nov 10th: Briefing

 

(We recommend you go to Swayambu from 5am! Recommended! Rs 200 ticket fee on gate.)

 

07:00          Breakfast starts

09:00          Briefing starts. Introduction to the race and each other (1 minute each!)

10:00+        Details:

Equipment / baggage check*

Insurance details check

Medical form check with doctor

Disclaimer signing

Q&A

 

We’ll try to be as efficient with this as possible so you can get out of the hotel ASAP and do whatever you need to do, be it purchasing gear or visiting sites.

 

17:00 remaining equipment / baggage inspection

19:00 (approx.) optional dinner – venue to be announced – taxis or walking…

 

Monday Nov 11th: Departure

 

06:00          Breakfast – please bring your bags down before breakfast

07:00          Departure

10.30          Tea stop

12:00          Gorkha Durbar

13:00          Lunch

13.45          Departure

17.30          Arughat

 

We need to stick to the 7am departure! After that, the times are perhaps subject to some change! There will be toilet stops along the way. If you need a toilet stop, don’t be shy, shout out!
Kathmandu tourism

 

Bodnath Stupa (Bouddha) is wonderful in the late afternoon when hundreds of people come to make three circuits of the huge stupa. Swayambu (the Monkey Temple) at dawn is also a sight to see. Both highly recommended. The old centers of Patan and Kathmandu are good for walking any time of day. You should visit at least two of these while you are here.

 

It will be easy to choose not to go and just hang around chatting, sleeping off jetlag or eating. But just find 3 more interested people and jump in a taxi and go for a while. Plenty of time to sleep during the race days.

 

Equipment

 

You will have time to buy or rent anything you need in Kathmandu – pretty much anything you could want is here. Let us know if you need to get something particular / tricky and perhaps we can assign someone to help you with buying. Email us with your name and “equipment” in the subject line.

 

Hygiene

 

Don’t get sick!

 

Really important: Keep your hands very clean at all times and your nails short. Wash with soap and water before eating, and use alcohol gel / hand sanitizer as an additional defense against the local bacteria your body has never had the pleasure of meeting before.

 

You should wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday in your head twice.

 

Stick to quality restaurants before the race and save food adventures until after. Water in good restaurants these days is normally safe and ice is also made form this, from big 19-litre plastic jars. If you are to drink bottled water, look out for Aqua 100, Aqua Pura, Thirst Pi, which are reputable brands, which you can see by the quality of the plastic bottle itself.

 

Most stomach illnesses arise from restaurant’s hygiene practices, or lack of. Only eat in places where the staff looks like they wash their hands!

 

On the trail, encourage others (staff, locals) to wash their hands after toilet visits. Let us know if no soap or water available and we will fix immediately. It’s really important

 

Water during the race

 

–       We’ll provide filtered water in mornings, evenings and at the checkpoints

–       There is spring water along the way, but don’t risk drinking. Use purification tablets and wait 30 minutes or longer if the water is cold.

–       Boiled water is available too in lodges. Good in a Nalgene bottle in the evening with your favorite kind of teabag.

–       Water for a hot shower is available by asking the tea-house owner and there will be an additional charge for this.

 

Asian toilets!

 

Expect squat toilets with basic hygiene in most places. If this worries you then Google “how to use an Asian squat toilet” and you’ll get helpful instructions and videos! Early to mention this, but please don’t throw paper (keep your own supply) into the toilet as they block. There should be a bag or bucket for papers. If there are any problems with the toilets mention to Richard.

 

Eating.

 

Google “Restaurants in Kathmandu” for recommendations. There are a lot of good places if you need lunch or dinner.

 

Lazimpat, near to the hotel

 

There are a few restaurants in the Lazimpat area that are recommended including Bhumi (tasty local and regional food), Le Sherpa (expensive) and Bhawachi close to the hotel plus a small Indian Tandoori place near the French Embassy. There is quite a nice small bar called Hemmingway’s not far from Manaslu Hotel that also serves simple snacks.

 

Thamel

  • Third Eye – great Indian food
  • Roadhouse – Pizza and so on
  • Fire & Ice – Authentic Italian
  • New Orleans – classic Thamel restaurant
  • Gaia – excellent, less expensive copy of the above!
  • Shree Lal – good vegetarian Indian
  • Places – vegetarian (with fast internet)
  • Organic Café
  • Zaike – Indian / Nepali
  • Mustang Thakali Chulo – Traditional Nepali
  • Momotaru – Japanese
  • Pumpernickel bakery
  • Plenty more…

Trail food and allergies

 

If you haven’t already, please let us know if you have allergies to food.

 

We provide a breakfast, a limited packed lunch and an evening dinner on the trail. It should be more than adequate for your calorific needs.

 

You may want to bring other foods according to taste:

–       Snacks and energy bars

–       A dehydrated meal or two if you need a change from what is offered

–       Chocolate to share with others for making friends!

 

Money

 

Most ATMs allow you to get up to Rs. 10,000 (~US$100) out at once (and you can sometimes repeat that four times). Standard Chartered bank (Lazimpat and at Kathmandu Guesthouse) seem to charge only a small fee where others can charge you up to $5.

 

Official moneychangers can be found almost everywhere in Thamel. They all (should) use the fixed government rate of the day with no commission (it’s hidden in the rate) and change a wide range of currencies. There are many very close to the Manaslu Hotel. If you ask for a better rate, you might get an extra 0.5%.

 

Money during the race

 

Breakfast, a packed lunch and dinner all provided. Drinks – Coke, Fanta or beer etc.. are your own cost as they rise dramatically, crazily in price from roadside to before the high pass and it is largely out of our control. Please just pay rupees cash directly for those items. Coke can range from approx. Rs. 100 to 300 for a 330ml bottle and 650ml beer 250 to 450.

 

It is possible to do the trip with out spending, but sometimes you may want to take a break in a tea-house and get tea- and biscuits, or you may start to get hungry and want to order second lunches (which cost $2 to $3)

 

Running

 

The city is not a great place to run but it is possible to take a taxi some way out to find good trails. You’ll have plenty of chance to run in the coming days of course.

 

Walking and traffic

 

Despite how it seems, the traffic is not that dangerous. Your own country probably has certain traffic rules and codes of behavior. They won’t work here there is no point expecting drivers to follow them. The only rule is people’s own self-interest: ‘I go first’.

 

Don’t expect people to wait for you to cross the road. Be bold, observe how the locals effortlessly do it. Tip: make eye contact with drivers, put your hand up so they know what you are intending, and keep moving.

 

Always keep to the side of the street when walking a long, and keep looking left & right, everywhere all the time like a hammerhead shark.

 

Best of luck! Or take a taxi.

 

Horns

 

Certain motorbikes have horns loud enough to deafen an elephant. Generally speaking, drivers want to alert you to them passing. 50% of horn peepings are probably reflexive; the thumb just peeped without a reason. Others will hold their thumb down for a long horn blast. Yikes! There is nothing you can do about it. Don’t take it personally. Don’t get stressed. Just ignore it as much as possible like local people around you are managing to do.

 

Other noise…

 

Earplugs really work and help you get a deeper night’s sleep. Noise on the trail can start from 5:30 or earlier. Dogs may bark etc. Don’t expect whispering while others are sleeping.

Taxi!

 

Rather than walking in a cloud of pollution, it makes sense to use taxis. Every taxi should by law have a meter but few like to use it as the rate is fairly unprofitable. Always ask “Meter?” and watch the driver’s face.

 

From Lazimpat to Thamel should never be more than Rs 100 and they will ask Rs 200. Lazimpat to the far flung sites of the city (Patan, Swayambu (monkey temple) and Bouddha) should be under Rs 300 though the taxi driver will probably be hoping that you’ll pay him a lot more.

 

There is a free Android app to check the rate. Google “Taxi Fares Nepal” probably available for iPhone too.

 

Dogs and monkeys

 

There are many monkeys at Swayambu aka “The Monkey Temple”. Be polite to them and don’t make too much eye contact. If they offer you a fight, politely decline as they will always win and they have more friends than you.

 

Dogs are different. For runners they often seem like a problem. There are two kinds of dog. Street dogs, and guard dogs. The guard dogs know their territory and bark to defend it – their food depends on it. Street dogs usually couldn’t care less and do it as a reflex.

 

If running, slow down to a walk and stop. Generally they like to chase you from behind, so you can turn towards then and, If you bend down to pick up a stone, even pretending, every dog will know what is coming and back off. Worst case, throw a real stone. I have also chased plenty of barking dogs back into their own houses. I’ve never has a problem in 5 years of running here with a street dog.

 

Safety for women

 

It’s pretty safe. Women report feeling safe even walking at night though we still wouldn’t recommend walking alone. There have been reports of groping in Thamel (tourist area) though rare.

 

Political situation

 

Elections on the 19th when we cross the pass! There are predictions of disruptions in part of the country up until that date but it will remain to be seen. It should not affect us as tourists.

 

Power cuts

 

Kathmandu has a power problem (as well as a water problem). Keep your flashlight/torch with you after dark so you can see where you are when the lights suddenly go off unexpectedly.

 

Power / Electricity

 

2 round pin plugs are used here. Adapters are available here for about half a dollar.

Recharging batteries is possible but the lodge owner may charge you for the service. Bring spare batteries. Accept that things could not work out and you might not be able to charge your battery – micro hydro plants can break down and leave villages in darkness.

 

Language

 

The most important words are Dhanybhad (thank you) and Namaste which literally means I bow to you and is a hello/goodbye greeting (made with palms together and a slight bow if you want to do it properly). A few more phrases cut and pasted from the Internet.

 

Nepali Tranliteration  English Translation
Namaste Hello, Greetings, I bow to you
Namaskar The more respectful version of Namaste
Hajur? All purpose term meaning yes? Pardon, Excuse me?
Sanchhai (hunuhunchha)? Are you well?
(Tapaiilai) Kasto Cha? How are you?
(Malai) Thik Cha I am fine
Khana khannu bhaiyo? Have you eaten? (used often as informal greeting)
Dhanybhad Thank you
Tapaiiko naam ke ho? What is your name? (You name what is?)
Mero naam Anne-Marie ho My name is Anne-Marie
Maaph garnuhos / sarry! Excuse me / sorry (not much used)
Maile bhujhina I don’t understand
Maile bhujhe I understand
Pheri bhetaunla Meet (see) you again!

 

Other tips.

  • Maps were given to us by friends at Himalayan Map House. Their book shop is near to the 3 big supermarkets in Thamel. Please visit them!
  • Massage: try the excellent https://www.seeinghandsnepal.org/ or Google “sotai Kathmandu” for a Japanese/Nepali experience or Mandala Spa also near Lazimpat.

 

Summary

If you have questions or need assistance, please call:

Richard: 980.383.0880. You can normally call from any small general shop. Ask simply “Phone chha?”

 

*Lazimpat – I’m told that the name Lazimpat is not a Nepali word. Ask any local what it means, and you’ll get a blank look. Apparently its origins are at the British Embassy some 60 years ago, when Kathmandu was still more or less a village built among rice fields. British Embassy staff would stay in “Lodging Apartments”. In Nepali, the dge sound is more like z and ‘apartment’ became apat. So now you know!