Kathmandu, Nepal 2012 : Sarangkot – amazing sunrise & breathtaking Annapurna mountains views!

Barely a week back from Nepal, and still dreaming of fabulous fresh yogurt, momos and masala tea, I finally had about 40% of my Nepal photographs sorted out.

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Instead of narrating my Nepal travels day by day like Japan, my Nepal travelogue would be posted by the genre of cultural, food, nature, places and people.

Nepal is a country rich in culture and there’s no escaping from the rich, deeply rooted culture ingrained in all parts of the country; from the buildings to the food and its inhabitants’ behaviour. I was part of the media team sent there primarily for the Air Asia X CSR launch of the OCPL programme, a community outreach project in partnership with OLE Nepal, a non-profit organization dedicated to improve the quality of education in Nepal.

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Besides the main event, the AAX team from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia as well as media from the same 3 countries were given insights of this primitive yet beautiful country during our 6D5N stay. One of the highlights was a trip up the Sarangkot in Pokhara.

The media team from Malaysia!

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Pokhara is the 3rd largest city in Nepal. It is the starting point for most of the treks of the Annapurna range. You can travel to Pokhara from Nepal’s capital Kathmandu (which would most likely be your landing point in Nepal) using tourist buses that are readily bookable or the local microbuses or buses. The journey takes 8 hours and I can tell you that it’s not the most comfortable of rides. The roads/highways in Nepal are bumpy at most parts.

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Another viable option (trust me, take this option) is to fly. Flights cost roughly US$100 each way and take only 30 minutes from the capital. 100USD to save you the pain of a deary, long ride (actually there are sights along the way but I’ll take the aerial view anytime) and with the added bonus of a bird’s eye view of the countryside and of the panoramic mountains is certainly worth serious consideration.

We stayed at the Trek-O-Tel hotel in Pokhara town itself. It was a clean and comfortable hotel (a prerequisite for any traveler I’m sure!) with hot water and decent service. September – November is autumn and temperature is about 24°C in the afternoons and 14°C at night. Autumn and Spring (March – May) are the recommended seasons to visit Nepal.

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Morning call was at the ungodly hour of 4.00 and meeting point was at the lobby at 5.30am.
Without delays we hopped in our small coach bus and headed towards Sarangkot. Timing is crucial as the whole trip would be in vain if we missed the sunrise! Furthermore, it is a popular tourist activity so there are loads of people heading up as well.
As usual the roads were devoid of lights. Our only guiding light was the bus headlights and our reliable driver who knew the road by heart.

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The ride is uphill, more like a trekking route which is pretty challenging and ideal for those looking for a morning workout.

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After 30 mins or so, we reached a viewing spot. Instead of perching on the side of a hill,  a spacious, comfortable platform was erected specially for this activity, complete with chairs and servings of cups of hot steaming chai tea.
But first, we got to get up there of course…….

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BELOW: Hot tea in hand when it’s 15 °C is fabulous, payable of course.

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Then the patient wait for the great ball of fire begins.
The platform is packed with people so it’s best to be early and book yourself a spot. Serious photographers were seen setting up their tripods and gears. Many were recording videos so they will stop you from walking across certain areas to avoid having you appearing in their footages.

BELOW: The platform.

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In the first place, spots for a clear view were limited  so having further “banned areas” by the photographers/videographers were slightly annoying. Alternatively you can try to climb on a chair or use this one and only protruding cement “stool”.

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Anyhow, it’s too beautiful to get mad at anyone so just grab yourself a spot quickly and stay put. :)

So here’s goes, less words, more pictures.
These are the pictures I took from 5.30am onwards till about 8.00 am. On the left of the platform is the Annapurna Mountain Range and on the right was the perfect spot to catch the sun rises. The pictures below are in sequence so if you’re wondering why it is quite bright, that’s because IT IS already bright by the time the sun rises.

On our left:

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On our right: The changing colours of the skyline as the dawn hour progressed.

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My Sony Nex F3 was the envy of many as I took panaroma shots a couple of times that morning! :)

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Another paranoma shot.

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Back to the Annapurna Mountains side:

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On our right again:

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Since the sun wasn’t up yet, we focused on the mountains range.

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When the caps of the mountains started to get pretty orange-hues, we were told to get ready for the sunrise!

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Another panaroma shot.

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And slowly the sun appears.

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It was actually bright by then. See below?

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But if I focused my camera on the sun, the area around it goes pitch dark. You get what I mean right? :)

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The slow and gradual rise of the great ball of fire. Everyone stood transfixed with their cameras and handphones, taking shot after shot.

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Here’s another shot (when I take the focus off the sun) to show how bright it was then.

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And now back to the sun………

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..rising slowly but surely, marking the difference of what we know as day and night.

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Same as the picture above, this was when I focused fully on the sun again. I love the photos where the outline of the sun is clearly defined. :)

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Then it’s over. Everything is now bright and sunny.

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All of the “action” was approximately 15 minutes in total but it was a fabulous morning spent; every single minute from the wake-up call at 4.00 am til 9.00 am. We had just witnessed the most breathtaking sunrise; which some have claimed to be the most beautiful on this planet. Come to think of it, I’m wondering too where else could the sunrise be even more beautiful than here in Nepal?
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We made our journey back to our hotel but not before more pictures!
This is my personal favourite; with the warmth of the sun on my face and the majestic Annapurna mountains at my back. :dd

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Heading down, we got distracted by the intricate jewels and trinkets from the lovely Tibetan women who ply the streets with their wares in backpacks or blankets and even food outlets selling food and hot coffee.

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And more pictures enroute to where our bus was parked. Our guide had a tough time getting us all on the bus! :)

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Back in the hotel, our hot breakfast awaits and then it’s off to Lake Phewa where the Tal Barahi Temple sits right in the middle of the lake but more on that in another post. :)

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** This is a media trip with the Air Asia team and media from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia. We were in Nepal for the Air Asia X CSR launch of the OCPL programme, a community outreach project in partnership with OLE Nepal.

Nepal 2012 Group Photo
*Group photo credit to Djamilah from Indonesia.

Our 6D5N tour was handled by Incentive Tours & Travels Pvt Ltd who did a fabulous job taking care of us! :)
For any enquiries about traveling in Nepal, do drop me a comment here!

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