Ulleri’s Amazing 3600 Stairs! First Day of Trekking in Nepal

On the first day of our Nepal Annapurna Base Camp trek, we were scheduled to be picked up at Hotel Middle Pass & Spa in Pokhara at 8 am. We hired two porters and a guide, Mr. Ram, who also picked us up from Kathmandu to drive to Pokhara. The day before, we went to the trekking agent, and they gave us a huge trekking bag to pack all our stuff. It was quite large, and there was no way we could carry such big ones (we weren’t that young, I mean). Then we only carried essential items in our day packs for each person.

After we greeted each other (it was the first time we met the young porters), they loaded our big two backpacks onto the back of the jeep. During the driving trip from Kathmandu to Pokhara, my son (9) got car sick. Even Rex tried to distract him by counting different coloured dogs, but he wasn’t very successful (thankfully, he didn’t vomit, good boy!), so he sat between my legs for most of the driving trip. He sat between my legs in the front this time too. According to the day’s itinerary, we would drive for two and a half hours by jeep to a place called Hille, from where we would begin our trek. It was a pretty bumpy road, and I couldn’t take many pictures because my second son was sitting between my legs.

On this day’s plan, we would walk to a place called Ulleri and have lunch. Then after lunch, we would walk again and stay the night at Banthanti (2210m). Our guide, Mr. Ram, said that Ulleri is extremely difficult. ‘Difficult’… I love Mr. Ram’s English… exactly expressing that sentiment.

He roughly explained our trekking itinerary at the trekking agency, so I did some internet research and found out that Ulleri staircase has about 3600 stairs…

Seriously…ahhhhh….. 3600 stairs….

Then I told Mr Ram, that I found the steps in Ulleri, then he said ‘Yes, yes, difficult, very difficult!’.

Well, first of all, we got out of the car, and Mr Ram adjusted our trekking sticks and handed them to us. Walking sticks, bless them, made a huge difference between having them and not having them.

And these 14 days trekking, my upper arms gained muscle and became thinner and tighter…

Our itinerary was from November 19th for 14 days and it is autumn in Nepal, but short sleeves were OK to wear there at an altitude of 1,460m. The dry season made conditions very comfortable, but the strong sun prompted Mr Ram to advise us to apply sunscreen. Yes, I had researched and made sure to bring some before we departed from Sydney!

Since most of the day involved climbing and steps, we started out wearing sneakers rather than hiking boots. My son was wearing sandals. Well, I was told that the stone steps were in good condition, so the sneakers were actually perfectly fine here.

I think sneakers were better for getting your feet used to them.

Let’s go!!

On our trekking route, there were many guest houses; Mr Ram called them tea houses. These guest houses were all along the trail, offering tea breaks, lunches, and even accommodations for the night.

As we crossed the suspension bridge, wow, this was true trekking!

My husband said, ‘Trekking in Nepal! Oh my god, the bridges have been renewed and are much better than they were 25 years ago!’ The Nepali government has also invested in trekking tourism, evident everywhere.

Our guide, Mr. Ram never left my son alone, providing continuous support throughout the trek. I was truly so grateful. As a parent, I’d never felt so reassured. Thank you so much, Mr Ram.

But can you see it in the photo? The stairs at the end of this suspension bridge…

Now, the hellish stairs began from here. At that moment, I still underestimated the stairs…

Ulleri’s Stairs Are Torture! It’s like Climbing 3600 Stairs to Hell!

Seriously, this Ulleri’s stairs were so tough, killing me. Please take a look at the photos. It had been like that all the time, stairs and stairs….

But while climbing the stairs, goats were roaming free, and a little goat, they were so cute and my son was very happy, he’s a city boy and had never seen a goat that close.

And there were signs all over the tea house’s wall, saying….

『Pony Service』

Yes, you could possibly climb up these stairs on a pony! There’s a sign that said! I couldn’t take my eyes off the signs while I was still climbing the stairs….

Then, when I heard the sound of a bell, here came the pooooonnnnyyy.

My legs were shaking, and I was already so tired!

‘It’s a pony, Mr Ram!’ I said.

But Mr Ram said to me shaking his head, ‘People with weak knees or those who can’t climb, ok no choice. But pony is very dangerous. Sometimes, the pony loses foot and fall. Then pony panics and starts running. Sometimes, a person’s foot gets caught, and they are dragged. Then that happens, they can hit head on the stone steps, and die.’ (He said something like this).

OK, Mr Ram, that meant ‘No’ then…..

Well, I’d do my best… I trained on the stair climbing machine at the gym, anyway!!

I didn’t think it was effective at all (oh my fxxking god….).

What About Lunch in Nepal Trekking?

Finally, we arrived at Ulleri! We had lunch there. For lunch, we ordered the famous standard Napel dish, Dal Bhat. My son simply had French fries with juice. And we also ordered refreshing lemon honey teas.

However, Nepali kitchens were laid back. It took about an hour after you placed an order. Well, maybe busy tea houses were getting better at it, and some places were faster than others. Basically, they might start making the food from scratch after the order was placed, so the wait time was long. But Mr Ram said like if we ordered the same thing, then it would be faster, right, that makes sense.

Okay, let’s talk about the famous Dal Bhat (which my husband ate most of during trekking 25 years ago).

Strangely enough, I find myself craving it just as my husband said. It tastes surprisingly delicious—a watery bean curry or rather a curry-flavoured soup with potatoes and boiled or stir-fried green vegetables, with little pickles (mostly dried daikon pickles).

The menu was exactly the same at every tea house…

However, there were some variations depending on the tea houses (lol). So this Dal Bhat also had the characteristics of each tea house.

Nepal’s Nature is Harsh, Be Careful of Thorny Plants!

We took a lunch break there, and we were all full. Mr Ram said, ‘Let’s go!’ so we climbed a little further…

Then my son lost his balance and fell. It wasn’t too bad; he stumbled and touched a nearby bush… But the grass had a lot of thorns, and they stuck into his palm. You can’t really see it in the photo, but there are quite a lot of little thorns. If you look closely, you can see them on the leaves.

And this seems to be painful and itchy. He’s not the kind of kid who cries in public much, but he burst into tears. When we rushed over, our guide, Mr Ram, was already massaging nearby grass into the affected area.

The grass being rubbed in smells and looks like mugwort. I tried a little bit of it (because it was said to be edible), and yes, I was sure it was mugwort. Mugwort is quite a famous weed in Japan for adding to mochi dishes, but its taste is much harsher than Japanese mugwort. I don’t think it is suited for making mugwort mochi.

When we arrived at the hotel in the evening, we noticed that it had swollen a little, so I thought it must have been an allergic reaction. I gave him an antihistamine. The next morning, it looked a lot better, and he felt better too, but still a little uncomfortable. By noon, it had completely gone.

Actually, I also touched it while walking. It was really nasty grass… It grows to quite a height, and it’s easy to reach. Be careful; it can be really painful.

Guesthouses in Nepal More Comfortable Than You Expected?!

Finally, we arrived at Banthanti (2210m), our accommodation for the first day! YAY!!

EEEEE…. Oh my god! My legs were shaking! It had been a while since I’d worked this hard… or maybe never! Actually, it was probably the first time I’d climbed this many stairs in my life. Honestly, I almost cried…and I did actually.

Okay, moving on, let me talk about our accommodation for the first night, Heaven View Guest House.

And the room was quite clean with a double bed and a nice single bed. It’s not bad, really. All the linens were clean and well-washed! We had a view too!

In fact, before we left for Nepal, my husband warned me, ‘Don’t expect a comfortable stay. There’s no hot water, and don’t be surprised by the toilets.’

He also said, ‘Oh my god, Nepal has changed so much in 25 years!’ He sounded very surprised when he found out the room had a toilet and shower. And the shower had hot water! The gas bottles were now available! Hahaha, YAY!!

Well, I had already searched for this on the internet, but I think it depends on the amount of gas in the bottles; it suddenly became lukewarm or hot. OK, I shouldn’t complain, it’s much better than sleeping with a sweaty body.

After unpacking our belongings from the backpacks and showering, we went to the living room, or rather the dining room, where there was a heater that used a drum can as a stove for putting firewood inside. There was a clothesline built around it so you could hang your clothes to dry. It was only our first day, so we didn’t need any laundry, but we hung our sweaty T-shirts and socks in the corner.

After a while, it started to get dark, and you could feel the mountain weather getting cold at night.

I wanted something warm to fill my stomach, so I ordered chicken egg noodle soup. Again, I shouldn’t complain much, like… the noodles were too soft or the taste was too bland (I added salt, of course). Well, it’s instant noodles; what do you expect?! But I guess Nepal is also a place where we should enjoy simple things like this every single bit.

Anyway, after having a dinner warm enough, we decided to go to bed on the first night of the trek…

To be continued……. to the day 2.

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