Sunday, 27 April 2014

Trekking in Annapurna - Day 1: Kuala Lumpur - Kathmandu

After many months of waiting, 26 March 2014 finally arrived. I must say, i do looked forward to it but at the same time worried that my fitness was not up to par to take on the many trekking days in Annapurna mountain range.

My flight was in the morning at 0955 hours with Malaysia Airlines flight MH170 from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and arrived Kathmandu (KTM) at 1230 hours local time. Thanks to Malaysia Airlines' loyalty programme, Enrich, where they had a very awesome sale sometime in December 2013 and i managed to redeem my miles to KTM at half the cost!

Meet Emmet. 

There's my ride. 9M-MX-

Lovely isn't it?

Route map. Pic credit: Sabrina

I would recommend anyone who are/will/potentially fly to KTM to be seated on the starboard side of the aircraft (starboard is on the right side or seats on the co-pilot side). Why? After about 3 hours plus of flying time, you should look out your window.

This is what you will see. THE HIMALAYAN RANGE!

The first glimpse of the Himalayan range

Getting there...

Imagine, you're cruising at an altitude of about 30,000ft and you can see the mountain range above the clouds. Simply beautiful!


Oh, there's a couple of flights beside us!

Guess the airline. Anyone?

As we slowly descended, we began to see the hilly land of Nepal. Approaching KTM, more and more buildings can be seen too.


Living by the edge

Outskirts of KTM

From above, it looks like a Lego city

KTM airport is very basic but it has the charm of the old airport feel and it felt very original. I don't know, maybe it is just me being an #AvGeek. From the aircraft, we had to take the stairs down to the tarmac and from there, a shuttle bus will take us to the terminal. It was only a very, very short ride to the terminal.

As we entered the terminal, immediately we were greeted by the immigration desk. Thankfully we got our visa done in KL and the queue was not long at all. The desk to process for visa on arrival is VERY long. So, another advice to anyone travelling to KTM, please do your visa in KL or home country. It will make your queuing time shorter.

The terminal


After immigration checks, we moved 1 floor down and reached the baggage claim area. It is not a big area and the FIDS was not updated to show MH170's baggage carousel. Luckily, there was only 4 carousel and my wife and I monitored 2 carousel each.

Guess what. There was many TVs being brought back to KTM by the returning Nepalese from their overseas stint of many years. Apparently, TVs are expensive.

Anyway, we got our backpacks and out we go to look for Mr. Ram of Trekking Team. To my horror, outside the airport, there was many people with many posters and placards with names on it. Honestly, i was overwhelmed by it but somehow among them, one stood out. Probably he looked like a Bollywood film-star. There he was, standing with our names on the A3 size paper. Greeted by him and i immediately asked his name. Navin. Or sounded something like that. So, girls, if you booked with this Trekking Team, do request Navin to greet you at the airport. You will not be disappointed.

Few moments later, Mr Ram joined us and lead us the car that will bring us to our hotel for the day.

Mr Ram was a very funny guy and at the same time full of warmth. I just felt attached to him almost instantly and we joked along the way to hotel like i have knew him many years ago.

As we arrived at the Nirvana Hotel, we had about 2 hours of leisure time while waiting for another 3 teammates. We either rest/sleep (since we had morning flight) or explore Thamel area. I decided to sleep because i was sleepy. haha!

Roundabout cum police traffic stationed

Basic and clean hotel room

Finally, the 3 amigos arrived.

L-R: Sue, Fazi and Fariez

Once they settled-in in the room, we were brought to the Trekking Team office by Mr Ram. It was just a 10mins away from the hotel and it was a good way to see part of Thamel area. Over there, briefing was done by Mr Ram and his team. Monies (MYR and USD) changed to Nepalese Rupees to be used during the trekking/in the mountain range. Identified items that needed to be purchased/rent. We were also introduced to our guide and porters. And we have a female guide!

Jovial mood at Trekking Team office. Pic credit: Fariez

Private Trekking Team is small-medium company, mainly run by 3 brothers with several staff. Everyone here was very friendly and seems like a family member to each other and hence, the personalized treatment to us. Very nice indeed.

List of services and tours by Trekking Team. Pic credit: Fariez

After about 45 mins of formalities, we were brought to a shop to rent several sleeping bags. But then, we were lead to another shop lot and walked up several flight of stair to the 3rd floor. It is the store for the shop we visited earlier. In here, we got to choose our sleeping bag based on the temperature that we are expecting it to be. These outdoor stuff like 'North Face', 'Columbia', 'Mammut' and more, are all high quality imitations. I must say, I love this place and I could go bonkers here!

Thamel area. Pic credit: Sue

Night time in Thamel. Pic credit: Fariez

We got our stuff, head back to hotel and again, Mr Ram fetch us to go for dinner. And the dinner was at his family house! How awesome is that? Talk about hospitality and personalized service, Nepalese service at its best.

During this dinner that i tasted Nepalese staple dish, Dhal Bhat.

Dhal bhat

Honestly, I was skeptical about a vegetarian meal. I mean, how delicious can it be, right? I was dead wrong. It was superb. This Dhal Bhat, prepared by Mr Ram's wife is so good that I even had a second helping of everything including the rice! So good.

After several minutes of chit chatting and a couple of rounds of tea, we headed back to the hotel to get the much needed rest. Next day, we have a domestic flight to catch to Pokhara and onward to our first day of trekking.


For those of you who are interested to go to KTM, you may reach out to Trekking Team for a personalized trip and quotation. Tell them you got their contacts from me or this blog, and who knows, you might get special rates. ;)

Trekking Team contact card


  1. NICE WRITE UP FARIZ!! you shud post more blogposts!!!

    1. Thanks Jard! I am trying to post more frequently.

  2. Looking forward for your next posts on the trekking. Do you have to fly domestic to do the trekking?

    1. Yes i did flew on one of their domestic flight. But it is optional. Road transport is available to Pokhara.

  3. Great write-up. My favourite photo is the one of the Himalayan range. Cantiknya!

    1. thanks Fie! You should go there one day ;) and i wish to visit you in cambodia too!

  4. I enjoyed this! You've got some beautiful pics there!