“This is not India. This is Nepal,” a tout exclaimed after I played hard ball to get a fair price on the taxi ride from Kathmandu Airport to Thamel, the city’s backpacker district. From the tone of his voice, I sensed the sincerity behind his words, but I still could not help keeping my guard up, especially after running into a few scams on my month-long travel in India. I was about to spend the next 29-days in Nepal, I was sure to find things out for myself anyways.

At the time of my arrival, I didn’t plan out my trip yet. I only knew that I wanted to go trekking in the Himalayas, and see snow (even if it was just from afar) for the first time in my life.

I, together with two trekking buddies, decided to do the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek that reaches the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC). The whole Annapurna sanctuary, located in the western part of Nepal, was encircled by the several famous Himalayan peaks, including Annapurna 1, the 10th tallest peak in the world.

My trip mostly fell on the month of October, which got me very excited because it was supposedly blessed with the clearest bluest skies of the year — prime trekking season. Having lived and traveled in tropical pacific islands my whole life, I was looking forward to the change of scenery.

Unfortunately, the monsoon season ended a few weeks late that year. During most days on the trail, we were either greeted with heavy downpour or total cloud cover, which initially barred my hopes of seeing perfectly clear views of the Annapurnas.

We finished the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek in just six insane days of steep trails, rain, and cold weather. The trek was suggested as a seven to eleven day itinerary but my trekking buddies wanted to finish it fast. Even without the grand views, surviving it was already a fulfilling personal accomplishment in itself.

Come sunrise on the fifth day of our trek, clear mountain views surprised us and revealed itself in full splendor. I got to see an unobstructed view of the summits only for an hour and then, like clock-work, the rain clouds rolled in. It was a brief window of opportunity but the arid otherworldly views were totally worth the journey.

We spent many days of not doing much of anything in the scenic lakeside town of Pokhara. The same happened in the busy capital of Kathmandu. I guess, my body needed the slower paced travel to take in the experience better and get to know interesting characters I was meeting. It was my time to be more open.

I still craved to see the slopes of Mount Everest, so I traveled a bit east to the small hillside village of Nagarkot. I did not get to see any view because of the heavy cloud cover. No surprise there.

On my way, though, I was able to explore a bit of Bhaktapur, at the height of the Dasain festival no less. Bhaktapur was a beautiful medieval-age city filled with many interesting old buildings and functioning Hindu temples. The city’s character became even more alluring because of the festive atmosphere and the rainy mood.

I spent my last days in Nepal at the farming village of Bandipur. Me and my travel buddy decided to go there because of the promise of sunny skies. We got lots of it, finally! No view of the Himalayan mountains though … not until the last minute. Bandipur was the perfect place to end my journey in Nepal. It was just full of good vibes and perfect place to think about and be thankful of all the beauty I had seen and experienced during the past two months of traveling in India and Nepal.  The sunsets were particularly amazing too!

Other than the beautiful sights, the kindness and warmth of the Nepali people made a lasting impression on me. Everywhere I went, even in the big cities, people (most but not all, of course) were always so genuine, helpful, and willing to share a friendly chat.

Another thing that I loved about Nepal was the low travel costs. Together with India, it was the cheapest country I had ever traveled. Booking flights to/from Kathmandu and paying for the visa on arrival might have made things a bit more expensive, but once I was there, the transportation, accommodation, trekking equipment, and food were all very cheap.


Sunset arrival at Kathmandu International Airport, my entry point to Nepal


Momo (Nepali dumpling) plate on my first meal in Nepal.


Sunset at the peaceful lakeshore of Phewa Lake in Pokhara.

Pokhara, Nepal

Verdant tropical views at the World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara.


Looking out from my room, wishing the clouds would clear up.


My typical breakfast in Pokara. Potatoes, eggs, toast, and coffee set for only US$1


Ate my meals at Japanese restaurants a lot because of the cheap prices and excellent quality. Even my Japanese friends thought so.


The only time the ice-capped mountains of the Annapurnas showed up while we were in Pokhara.


The start of our trek to Annapurna Base Camp from Nayapul.


Lots of green views and very tall waterfalls along the whole trail.


Terraced rice paddies and colorful flowering plants at Chomrong village.


Looked like it came out of a fairytale.


Deep forest view approaching the inner villages.


Transitioning to shrubland and more arid views.


Adorable baby lamb (or sheep?) following me on the trail near Annapurna Base Camp.


Mossy green views and a peep of snow covered peaks.


Arid beauty at Annapurna Base Camp.


Glacial moraine at Annapurna Base Camp.


Clouds covering the snow capped mountain peaks of the Annapura Sanctuary.


That happy moment when clear views appeared at the Annapurna Sanctuary during sunrise. The photo shows the southern face of Annapurna I, the 10th tallest peak in the world.


Self-portrait with the beautiful arid view of the Annapurna Sanctuary at Annapurna Base Camp. This was just one side of the view, the whole are was surrounded by towering snow-capped peaks. On the photo you can see the towering peaks of Annapurna South (left) and Annapurna I (right).


View facing towards Machhapuchhre, the fishtail mountain. In my excitement, I stormed out of the trekking lodge in my flipflops. I went barefoot only for a couple of shots.


Wishing to conquer those snow capped peaks someday.


Flimsy bridges on the trail over raging rivers.


Very foggy and wet trail. I did not take too many photos because it was raining hard, most of the time on the trek.


A slither of light that turned the yellow-green rice paddies into a golden glow. It was the only time the sunshine went out during the past few days and it just had to happen on the bumpy jeep ride back to Pokhara. It was a beautiful and memorable sight nonetheless.


Bus ride between Pokhara and Kathmandu.


View overlooking the dusty city of Kathmandu from Swayambhunath monkey temple.


The towering Pagoda of Swayambhunath monkey temple, one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Kathmandu.


Prayer wheels. No trip to Nepal is complete without seeing them.


Busy Durbar Square in Kathmandu. The whole area was filled with old buildings.


Beautiful pagodas. Loving the lines, textures, and colors.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Fascinating Durbar Square at Kathmandu.


Face masks of Hindu gods worshiped during Dasain Festival in Bhaktapur. A group of locals befriended me as I was having dinner alone in one of the local eateries. They showed me around Bhaktapur and the highlights of the Dasain Festival that night that I wouldn’t have experienced it if I was on my own.


Shot in one of the small squares in Bhaktapur.


Dog uncannily peeks out an elaborately crafted wooden window of an old building in Bhaktapur.


Rainy day at Bhaktapur.


Cobbled streets and old brick buildings in Bhaktapur.


At Bhaktapur Durbar Square


The Peacock Window, probably the most photographed site in Bhaktapur.


Foggy walk on my failed attempt to see views of Mount Everest from Nagarkot.


Scenic view of the farm houses in Nagarkot.


The beautiful main street of Bandipur shot from our room.

Bandipur, Nepal

Lush views at one of the trails in Bandipur.

Bandipur, Nepal

Perfect sunsets, which happened everyday when I was in Bandipur.


Paraglider fading off into the sunset.




My friends taking in the last sunlight of the day


Me and Ninja, who I traveled with for most of my stay in Nepal. He made the macrame charm I am holding as a gift for my birthday. It was the first birthday that I spent away from home.


The only time that I got to see a view of snow capped peaks from Bandipur and it appeared as I was already leaving.


My first and last view of Mount Everest and the Ultras of the Eastern Himalayas on my flight out of Nepal.

You can find my do-it-yourself travel notes on this trip at DIYDetour: Nepal 1 month itinerary.