The Last Mountain

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Up here in the mountains, I usually wake up as early as 4am, waking up in peace, quiet and alone. There were no other sound but silence… there were no other light but darkness. Its so refreshing and I have all the time for myself at this moment… using it to further refresh both my mind and body. Starting with my mind, I try to think on all the good things I had that I can remember… that crossed my mind. It takes quite a while since there were many and I took my time to gather all of it… the more I muster all the memories of good things that happen in my life, the more contented I feel. At one point, with all these good thought congregate inside my mind, I burst it out in words…”all praise belong to you my Creator”… fully aware that that the Source that created me and the universe Im living in… is listening closely to me. The process took me a few minutes while Im still lying on my bed… even to say such simple phrase. The stronger the intensity we have in our mind, the more meaningful we give to the word or phrase that we speak… which makes it really powerful. When the word or phrase we express is a powerful one, it gives a huge effect to us when we say it. It effects our subconscious mind. Mind power… a secret that has been taught in many ways since ages through different languages, philosophies and religions…

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Then I proceed with my physical body, where I took time to stretch my body to increase the blood flow to all parts of my body including the brain… which is the most crucial especially in the early morning hours. I then do the things that I usually do when Im alone until… until I started to hear human voices communicating in distant… knowing that Im no more alone by myself. After a good breakfast, I started walking back on the trail together with Dinesh, my guide here in the Annapurna basecamp trek. It gets colder now since the winter is stepping nearer towards the northern hemisphere every single day. I started walking in early morning by wearing my thick down jacket. After a few minutes of walking, my body started to produce heat so I took off my down jacket and a few minutes later, I took off my sweater, wearing only tshirt… since the sun was getting higher spreading its warmth to the earth.

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During my walk here in the Annapurna mountains, I feel like something is missing. I feel like I dont enjoy the hike here as much as I do when I was walking the Everest trail. The last two days before I reached the basecamp of Annapurna, I started to feel like its a burden for me walking in this trail. I then told my guide to speed up towards the basecamp, since Im already acclimatized, I can rush towards the basecamp which sits around 4000m altitude without worrying of altitude sickness. I think I finally started to get bored of mountains because Ive been hiking in the Himalayas since April from Bhutan. Ive been hiking too much this year and now finally in the middle of November, I think I have enough of it. The hike here is of course filled with beautiful views… such a powerful place… walking the trail here is something special. But since I started to get bored of all these, I failed to appreciate both the beauty and the special moment being here in the high mountains… which is a complete waste to me. Im not the type who go to places to tick off the bucket list but rather to appreciate the place, the moment and to experience. But sadly now, I have lost it.

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I still do enjoy being here in the mountains especially when I started walking early in the morning when the earth is still lit by the golden morning light and when Im sipping my tea while watching the incredible view but the feeling isnt as strong compared to when I was walking the Everest trek a month earlier. But at least it feels good when I met my countrymen here which rarely happen when Im on the road. One I met while I took a short break in Machhapuchhre basecamp and another one was a couple I met in Annapurna Basecamp. It feels great to be able to speak my own mother tongue while Im on the road and exchange a lot of stories. And at least… I enjoyed my time while staying a night in Annapurna Basecamp… watching all the beautiful major peaks here including Annapurna South and Machhapuchhre especially on my favourite time, both sunrise and sunset and I was watching in full admiration the supermoon shining the light it bounces from the sun behind the mountains from the basecamp which stands above 4000m. After staying a night there, I walked fast back to Nayapul which took me two days and then back to Pokhara on the same day. My original plan was to walk all of Annapurna, where I plan to continue my walk in Annapurna Circuit which is the bigger route and finally into Upper Mustang in the north close to the border of Tibet. But now I think its not a good idea because I know I wont be able to enjoy it as much. Maybe I will do it some other time. I started to imagine different landscapes now… volcanoes, icebergs, deserts or even the beach. So this is probably the last mountain for me in Nepal…

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us Malaysians

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stunning supermoon at 4000m altitude

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when the supermoon is shining

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Walking The Path Under The Sun

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After I took a good rest in Pokhara, recharging both my body and mind back to their full condition, I finally went back to the mountains, this time towards the Annapurna massif. The original idea was to do the walk in Annapurna Basecamp, then proceed to the bigger trek in Annapurna Circuit and if possible, continue further towards Upper Mustang. But of course when I plan something, I never take it too seriously. Planning each step on my journey is like trying to beat my opponent in a game of chess. My moves always depend on how my opponent position his pieces on the board or in this case, my plan always change according to the external factor. The weather has always been good to me nowadays, so I have the chance to have a beautiful walk in the Annapurna mountains.

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After some 2 hours of car ride from Pokhara, I reached Nayapul, the door of my adventure in the Annapurna mountains. From there I started my journey on foot together with my guide, Dinesh, who is a Magar people from Solukhumbu, the Everest region. I was quite surprised that it was quite a climb even on the first day, there were thousands of stairs which is quite steep and seem endless towards Ulleri. Reaching Ulleri left me exhausted. Its always hard the first day, especially after many days of rest and being lazy in the lowland. The good thing is, my physical body got really tired and I got to sleep early again, as early is 8pm. My most favourite time of the day is when I wake up while it is still dark, while every other soul is still not connected with their physical body… its so quiet and peaceful… time moves slower at this time and I have all the time in the world to do my reading or writing. The sun appears on the eastern sky only around 6.20am, thats where I started to hear human voices communicating with each other, starting a new day. After a quick breakfast, I proceed to Ghorepani on the second day, so that I can witness the beautiful sunrise the next morning from Poon Hill…

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After sleeping a night in Ulleri, I trekked for a few hours the next day to Ghorepani, ascending almost 1000m in altitude. This time I walked faster and Im not worried anymore about altitude sickness since Im already acclimatized in the Everest region and Ghorepani is still below 3000m anyway. Early in the morning on the third day, I started trekking towards the top of Poon Hill to enjoy the view of all the peaks of Annapurna mountain ranges. It was straight forward with excellent path but packed with so many people. Once I reached the top, I quickly moved away from the crowd and found a good spot for myself to enjoy the rising sun coming from the eastern horizon. Its always a pleasure to witness the changes from night to day, on how the colours of the sky changed slowly from dark blue to purple and finally to shining gold, to see all elements on earth, the grass, the trees and the mountains turned into gold shined by the nearest powerful star that we often refer it as the sun. All the high peaks in the Annapurna massif are clearly visible from here at the top of Poon Hill which sits at 3200m altitude.

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My walk here in the smaller circuit around the Annapurna Basecamp is a lot different than my previous journey in the Everest region. One good thing, I dont need to worry about altitude sickness here. The highest I will get is only about 4000m and I probably will only stay a night at that height before going down into the lower land again. But I found the trek here steeper. It was always a climb in Everest Basecamp trek but I was climbing gradually there. But here I always found myself climbing endless stairs. There are more people doing this trek too compared to the Everest trek but thats probably because Im trekking here in the middle of November. I found myself mostly walking in a forest here since Im mostly still walking below the tree line. Tea houses are everywhere here, there is always a place to stop for a tea or coffee every few minutes of walking along the trail. Food and accommodation here are much cheaper too compared to those in Everest region.

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After Ghorepani, my walk which was mostly climbing for many hours put me in a small guesthouse somewhere in the middle of the trail between Tadapani and Kimrong. Walking uphill on a steady climb for many hours can be exhausting. Being exhausted can be a good thing because it forced us to stop to catch our breath and when we stop a while, we have the chance to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. Watching the lush forest, the flowing water on rivers and falls and birds flying free in the sky really calm us down… its a medicine for the soul. All these elements are lit by the sun, the same sun that shines to give life to all. The sun that sits alone 150 million of kilometers away from us, yet it is so important, the light that it shines contains millions of unseen things that are essential for us in order to keep living and grow and experience existence. How beautiful every elements in this universe are connected to each other. Something so simple that we often take for granted because we get it all the time, yet when we think about it, each elements are so important to keep the balance in existence. As in each element in existence is like a line of code in a computer software system. Each line of code comes with a purpose… contribute to the main system. A line of code which might seems very simple and unimportant but without it, the whole system will produce error and crash. Often when I feel exhausted from trekking or cycling, I would divert my mind to think about something else so that I could ignore the pain that my muscles endured… letting my subconscious mind to take over the job so that my legs can keep moving automatically to bring me forward often to new places. And this is when my conscious mind could travel to realms that excite me… to wonder, to experience, to explore one magical word…. existence. Something come out from nothing…. a topic that Ive been exploring for many years yet I never get bored of it.

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A Journey Without Destination

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One reason why I love travelling, love being on the road is because I really have the time and chance to reflect everything that was taught to me by my master many years ago. I have the time to disconnect myself from many things that bother me. Life is so simple on the road. Instead of worrying about the upcoming election that is happening at totally the other side of the world that doesnt effect me directly, the only news that I really pay attention is the weather forecast, since the weather can really affect my mood compared to political situation of a country which is thousands of kilometers away that has nothing to do with me. After my short journey in the Everest trail, I took more than a week rest in both Kathmandu and Pokhara, spending my time writing my diary, the script of my film, reading many books and think about many things that interest me on a deeper level. Sometimes… well most of the time, my mind travels to realms that are much more interesting compared to places that my physical body goes…

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view of Pokhara and the Annapurna Massif from the balcony of my hotel

Staying in Pokhara, near the lake of Fewa really calms my soul down after many days being in a super crowded and dusty Kathmandu. No sound of honking here and I get to see clearly the Annapurna Massif right from the balcony of my hotel. While in Pokhara, I also stayed a few nights in Sarangkot, a small village located on top of a hill not so far from Pokhara and there… I get to see the magnificent view of both the Annapurna and the whole of Pokhara city and the lake as well. This place immediately becomes my most favourite place in Nepal now.

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Sarangkot village

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Sarangkot under the mountains

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“Guide us to the straight path”… a prayer that is repeatedly whispered by the hearts of billions of people every single day. Such an uncomplicated, straightforward and simple phrase yet requires thousands of words to truly describe its meaning. A simple phrase which has a very deep meaning like the ocean, it looks so simple when we look at it from the surface of the ocean but it marvels us when we dive deep into the ocean floor. After years meditating only on this simple phrase, we will always get into a totally new level of understanding each and everytime we try to comprehend it.

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Begnas Lake and the Annapurna mountains

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Begnas Lake

A path, which also means a road or a trail that leads towards somewhere, to another place let it be within space or time… which means we are on the move, always travelling, always a musafir. I always questioned myself why it doesn’t say “Guide us to the destination” instead. But when we look everything around us, there is no absolute destination in this realm of space and time… only temporary destination, more like an R&R. When I was walking on the Everest trail, my destination was the Everest Basecamp. But once I reached the basecamp, I stayed less than an hour there and I found myself back on the trail, walking back towards the small village of Gorakshep. The next few days I still found myself on the walking trail walking towards Gokyo and beyond and keep going in a circuit until I reached Lukla. It never ends, a few days later I was back in the busy and dusty Kathmandu and now I found myself in a beautiful city of Pokhara. In a few days time I might be on the trail in the Annapurna mountains.

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Village life of Sarangkot

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Filming the sunset from Sarangkot

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Nothing in this lifetime as our soul travels in the human journey has an ultimate destination. A man who’s dream to become super rich, will realize that becoming super rich is not the ultimate destination. He will not feel content with what he has and will find himself trying to become even richer. A man who struggle to get the highest qualification will realize that the path never ends once he gets his PhD. There are so much new things he needs to learn. If the man stops learning once he get his PhD, he will slowly be left behind… his knowledge will become outdated and no longer useful at some point, decayed by an entity called time. He will eventually lose because he stopped walking on the path, standing still in the middle of the road, in the middle of nowhere. Same goes to the super rich man, if he stops earning and keep spending, he will slowly lose his wealth. He needs to keep walking on the path he chose. Scientists keep finding answers yet there is no ultimate answer… always new things are to be discovered everyday, always walking in a path. We are always learning, always researching, always getting new experiences. There is no true destination in the human journey… only temporary destination. Everything is in motion… a motion that seems endless…

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dsc03016sA straight road is always the fastest road towards a destination… and often the easiest. A straight road is usually less risky and less dangerous compared to the winding road. Billions of people praying to be guided to the straight path all the time, so that they will get to the destination the fastest, the easiest and without much risk. And that destination doesn’t exist here in the human journey, in the realm of space and time. That destination is the same place where we came from… where we belong. We are here temporarily only to experience being in a human body and to understand our choices… just like water that origins from the ocean. It evaporates, goes high in the sky to form a cloud. At some point it will fall on the land as rain and makes it way through streams and rivers, experiencing and travels to so many places before finally makes it way back to the ocean… to where it belong… to where it came from…

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Pokhara and Fewa Lake seen from Sarangkot

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The Road To Everest

Some clips I shot during my journey to the Everest Basecamp October 2016. Took me almost a whole month to trek the Everest basecamp where I started cycling right from my hotel in Kathmandu all the way to Ghurmi. I tried to push my bicycle towards Phaplu but it was too difficult. So I took the bus Okhaldunga then a jeep to Phaplu. In Phaplu, the Sherpas were helping me to get my bicycle back to Kathmandu and I continued my journey from Phaplu on foot all the way to Everest basecamp, Kalapatthar (5560m) and beyond…

Filmed & edited by me
Music by Istvan Sky (Impossible Shamanic Voice)

Back To The Lower Elevation

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Gokyo was the last point for me to be standing in the high altitude during my walk on the Everest trek. After the climb to Gokyo Ri to see the clear view of all the 8000m peaks in the Everest region, I descended down to about 4400m in Machhermo. It is still quite high in elevation but I felt much better after descending more than 1000m altitude from Gokyo Ri on the same day. I could still feel the coldness biting the nerves on my skin especially when the clouds started to dominate the evening sky. There were many trekkers going towards the opposite direction… looking fresh since they havent get really high in the elevation yet. Things are much cheaper here in Machhermo compared to Gorakshep or Dzongla. Black tea is half the price and the room price here is much cheaper compared to the villages near the Everest basecamp. I felt relieved that things started to get normal again down here.

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Machhermo in the evening

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the hostel I stayed in Machhermo

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Machhermo is the last place for me to sleep at over 4000m altitude. The next morning after a late breakfast, me and my guide walked slowly leaving Machhermo, slowly descending below 4000m altitude into the tree lines. We walked for only an hour in the Himalayan tundra before we started to see small trees on the ground, telling us that we have now reach the normal elevation. Getting into the lower elevation, I started to feel the heat slowly. For the first time my walk in the Everest trek, the clouds were dominating the sky almost for the whole day. Under those clouds, rescue helicopters were flying once every few minutes from Lukla towards the north… saving lives of some trekkers who probably suffered from altitude sickness.

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the trees are back!

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The longer I walked down the elevation, the trees were bigger and the earth was finally filled with greens… populated by the world of flora. No more ice and snow and instead of seeing rocks everywhere, the earth is now covered with carpets of grass. The path is easy and smooth from here. It feels so different here even though it was only a day walk from the high tundra. After a few hours of walk, I finally get back to the same road for the last few kilometers, only that this time I walked the opposite way, this time back towards Namche Baazar. The first thing I did when I reached Namche was to take a very long… hot shower. Then I pampered myself with good food since its much cheaper here compared to the villages on the trek. I also rushed to the ATM machine in Namche since I had no more cash… everything was spent in the high altitude villages during the walk.

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passing by Dhole (4200m) on my way down

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bigger trees down here

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The next day I trekked down to Lukla which sits at much lower elevation at about 2600m. It was an easy downhill walk with some river crossing… mostly the same way I took when I was going up towards Lukla from Kharikhola a few weeks before. The next morning I woke up early to say goodbye to my guide who has been like a good friend to me and to catch the flight back to Kathmandu. I felt quite nervous here to take the mountain flight from one of the most dangerous airport in the world, Tenzing-Hillary airport here in Lukla. The runway is very short and not even flat. When I first looked at it, I was wondering how the pilot could land and take off in such a short runway. I was at first wanted to just trek down back to Phaplu which will take another day and take the long 12 hours bus ride back to Kathmandu since I was quite phobia to take the mountain flight. But then again, I wanted to experience this at least once in my life. I started to have phobia on flying since the news of our MH370 a few years ago yet ironically, I flew so many times since then due to travelling.

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Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla, named after the first two men who climbed the Everest

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Surprising the take off was very smooth… and the half an hour flight from Lukla to Kathmandu is actually one of the smoothest flight I have ever take… not a single turbulence… nothing. Once in Kathmandu, I stayed in the same hotel and get a good discount since the staffs already know me and Im already considered as a loyal customer here. I stayed a few days in Kathmandu taking a good rest, continue writing my travel diary, editing my film as usual and doing the thing that I hate the most… planning my next move. Im really bad at planning thing… it usually never happen as planned. So Im just reading to get more information on places that I intended to go soon after Kathmandu. At the same time I walked around Kathmandu to see the celebration of the Hindus… Deepavali, the festival of light. It is so colourful and its something really big in Nepal, people really celebrate it here. Firecrackers every few seconds and people are dancing everywhere on the street… so much fun to watch the happiness of the people here during the celebration.

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back to Kathmandu

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Deepavali celebration in Kathmandu

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