GokyoRi Trek Day 02: From Lukla to Phakding

30 Dec

Our actual GokyoRi Trek started on second day, after we reached Lukla from Kathmandu by flight. Then we are set off for the first day of our trek to Phakding.

We are set to reach Kathmandu airport by 6am for an early departure to Lukla. So we are ready to start at the hotel lobby by 5:00am, with coffee and packed breakfast in our hands. There was a bit of reshuffling of the luggage and some part of our luggage is kept with concierge of the hotel to pickup during our return trip.

Being a first timer, I had to make an educated (based on suggestions from group members and based on my own personal choices of gear) guess on what I can leave behind in Kathmandu. I got almost everything right, but I went wrong with one rain protection gear. More details in a relevant post later.

The checkin at Khatmandu is very fast, given that there are hardly many travellers. Our group of trekkers are split into two small planes.

The crammed plane and noisy flight initially looked unmanageable, but the views of the cliffs and valleys down below offered an amazing experience and by the time our flight came to end, we still wanted for more of those mesmerising arial views.

Landing at Lukla airport is one unforgettable experience. The short runway looked so scary, but I reassured myself that landing here is just another daily affair for these experienced pilots. This thought process made the landing a thrilling experience rather than a scary one. The approach descent (or lack of one) to the airport, the fast arriving landing strip and the shortest run on the runway after touchdown – all these pass by within a blink, but leave a long lasting impression.

Once we landed, we gathered at a nearby teahouse. While enjoying the warm tea, I sought guidance from fellow experienced trekkers to make my gear ready: What to pack in backpack, filling my hydration pack (for the first time) and adjusting my sticks to proper length.

While we waited for some of our luggage that came on the next flight, I did my first sorting of carry-on versus porter/yak carried luggage. In retrospection, I got almost everything wrong but I learnt this art fast enough – within a day or two.

The wait also helped us click a few pictures with an amazing backdrop of that colourful village, tall mountains and blue skies.

We started our trek which is primarily a good descent to start with. The day is super sunny and the breeze is comfortable. Berry picking (and eating) on the way is a good pastime.

After a brief lunch break and rest at Wind Horse Lodge & Restaurant, we continued our trek towards Phakding. The following video is our pre-lunch trek map.

We encountered our first of these iconic suspension footbridges on our way to Phakding. During the coming days, these suspension bridges have become very common while we crisscrossed over the valleys to reach from one mountain to the other. Most bridges either have deep valleys or rushing waters of Doodhkoshi river beneath, offering soothing breezes and mesmerising views.

By late afternoon, we reached Mountain Lodges of Nepal at Phakding, our overnight stay. The wooden cabins at this place are amazing. The restaurant overseeing Doodhkhoshi is elegant and the service is extraordinary. After a few stretches and a brief shower, we circled back at the restaurant and spent long hours of tea time. This is followed by a well served dinner.

The day went well, but not without any hiccups. The first thing is that I am overdressed for the weather, wearing thicker outfits (and more layers) than needed for the weather. That made me sweat quite a bit and lose lot of body fluids and salts.

The second key thing is my landing of feet while we descend. By the end of the day, my ankles and calf muscles are too tired due to harsh landing on steps. I experienced mild cramps for a few minutes in the evening, mended by drinking good amount of water and local ginger/lemon tea. These cramps helped me refine my hydration strategy for the rest of the trip (make full use of the hydration pack) and adjust my landing while descending.

Here is the video of the post-lunch part of the day’s trek.

It is a well begun and well done day to the multi-day trek.

GokyoRi Trek Day 01: Reaching Kathmandu

25 Sep

Our GokyoRi Trek started with our Day 01 flights to Kathmandu. From Hyderabad, we took a two hop travel via Mumbai to reach Kathmandu by late afternoon on 02nd September.


Looking back at our 200,000+ steps of trekking, this ramp down on escalators at airline departure gates feels like an interesting start.

Despite all the morning rush at the airport, our flight to Mumbai was pretty smooth and uneventful. Immigration related queues during the second leg of travel were very smooth too. Once we came out of Kathmandu airport, our tour guide sherpa team welcomed us with these nice scarfs and guided us to the bus to our hotel.

In about an hour from that time, we settled back in our rooms at Radisson Kathmandu


One of the biggest challenges of early morning flights for me is to pick a breakfast location. Breakfast at home by 4am is not convenient, breakfast before boarding is too rushy and breakfast during flight is not so encouraging. So we decided to take our brunch during transit at Mumbai airport. Using a wide range of a la carte choices of food and mostly unoccupied food court, we killed the transit time with ease.

With the kind of foodie group we are, there is no dearth of food/snacks, even while flying at an altitude of few tens of thousand feet.

Our dinner is at Thamel area at this well known pizzeria. We liked the food taste and ambience. This place is recommended by our repeat trekkers of the group and it kept its reputation in tact.


A multi-week trek requires good amount of shopping that mainly consists of procuring the right gear. Being a first-timer, I spend ample time on gathering the gear for my travel.

Despite all the preparation, there are still a handful of things that are left to buy at Kathmandu. Primarily because I wanted some expert advice on choosing the right level of the gear.

Based on my conversations with seasoned trekkers in the group, my shopping list to buy at Kathmandu is reduced to one single item: hiking poles. At Thamel area of Kathmandu, we did some window shopping while most team members procured necessary gear for the rest of the trip.

Most of us also bought local SIM cards after producing necessary paperwork, so that we have network connectivity as long as there is cell tower coverage. I intentionally didn’t enable roaming on my India phone, leaving my family with ample connectivity methods to reach out to me and cutting off the rest of the world for these few days.

After dinner and shopping, I decided to walk back 2km to hotel, just to stretch my legs on this relatively inactive day. Thanks to Sunitha for joining me during this walk. We waded our way thru fast moving yet rule following late evening traffic of Kathmandu with ease.

Our GokyoRi Trek Summary: September 2023

24 Sep

Trekking for me has been a short time affair, either trekking Angel Island near San Francisco or scaling the 600 meter Mission Peak (read here, here, here and here) in Fremont, USA. These treks always started with a comfort and ended with a comfortable car ride and home stay right after. This year, the notion of trekking has changed for me. For the first time in my life, I ventured into a multi-day GokyoRi Trek spawning over a couple of weeks. Lucky to be part of a fifteen people group that has a large number of experienced trekkers and a few novice people like me.

Preparations started as early as May 2023 and we started training for the trek. Trek training was a side stint to me, given that I was training for a Marathon that I ran less than a week before the start of the trek. However, a conscious focus on breathing, leg strength and endurance during the Marathon training really helped make the GokyoRi trek manageable.

The GokyoRi Trek trip started on 02nd September with a multi-hop flight from Hyderabad to Kathmandu.

The real trek started a day later from Lukla airport, one of the most dangerous airstrips given its location, elevation and length.

About ten days later, we are back in Lukla, having trekked for eleven days including acclimatisation stays on the way.

Those ten days made me to bond with the group members as a family, exposed my body to different weather conditions, fed my tummy with various themes of food, strained my legs in a happy way, made my mind understand the cultural and social elements of humans around us, and served my heart with breathtaking views of Himalayas. There are some painful moments as well, like missing out the last leg of the trek atop GokyoRi after reaching Gokyo Village, due to rainy weather.

In the next few posts to come, I am going to give the salient details of our journey. Stay tuned.

My Focus Shift Towards Structured Training: A Look-back

24 May

This is the third consecutive year in which I am seriously participating in a 100 days of running challenge. As of 25th day of this edition of 100 days, I am retrospecting on the focus shift so far.

During my first year, the focus was to get as much distance as possible into my runs – every day and every week during the 100 day span. The second year brought in a few variations to my runs. The focus was not just the run distances, but run quality (e.g. intervals, pace runs, slow runs and long runs.) This year, I am taking on the program in a different way.

This year, my focus is to leave enough room for training rather than for running. I am not acing my training schedules and sessions, but this year is a good beginning. Based on the schedules laid out by my coach, I am keeping 3-4 days a week aside for my training and rest days. During these training and rest days, I am rather leisure walking to keep the spirit of 100 days continuing, but giving enough time for my leg muscles to train and rest.

As of now, I completed one fourth of current 100 days challenge. My current mileage is about 10% less than 2022 and 35% less than 2021. However, the ease with which I am running now a days is far better than that of the last two years. Credit goes to systematic training plans laid out by coach.

I am not yet acing my training sessions. Not sure I will ever be (that is the advantage of getting a coach that pushes you.) But I am really happy for the focus shift the last few weeks brought in to my overall fitness schedules. Due to the focus shift, I am able to focus on my runs on exclusive run days. You can follow my activities at https://strava.com/athletes/rajualluri and see how well distributed my activities are.

Another 75 days of the current 100 days challenge to go. About 12 weeks of Marathon training to go. Hope to continue the current distribution of runs and training routine.

How fraudsters are using fake Instagram accounts to dupe money

22 Apr

In recent times, there are several instances of fake Instagram accounts duping money from people. The fraudsters use a combination of age old social engineering and impersonation techniques to dupe money.

The impersonation part contains creating a fake social media account (especially Instagram now-a-days, because of the social media’s popularity) and trying to reach out to as many people as possible.

The social engineering part contains showing some sense of urgency after an initial ordinary looking conversation.

Here is a typical sequence of the multiple social media frauds that I witnessed in the recent times.

  • Fraudster creates a social media account resembling a person with decent number of followers and follows.
    • Fraudster picks profile picture from the original account
    • Also uses majority of the profile details (profession, links, etc.) for the account, so that it looks legitimate
    • The username is a slight variant of the original. Usually a digit or two added at the end of the profile or manage to make it look original by use of special characters
  • Fraudster follows several people from the original account’s list
  • Fraudster engages in conversation
    • Usually the fraudster starts with general conversation like how things are, where you are, how busy the work is, etc. to earn some trust.
    • Fraudster gives you some comfort level in conversation
  • Fraudster creates sense of urgency regarding a financial matter
    • e.g. I need to help someone with real emergency
    • e.g. I maxed out on my daily limit, so I need your help
  • Fraudster gives assurance
    • e.g. I will give it to you tomorrow (or next working day) by 7am.
    • Usually they pick a time so close to next day, so that there is a general sense of confidence that your money is going to be back within few hours.
  • Fraudster sends payment/transfer link

The steps might slightly differ, but the modus operandi is almost about the same.

I have seen people falling prey to this type of attack, given the sense of urgency the fraudster can create and how casual the transaction looks like. I almost fell prey to one such thing, but I just called the person who is impersonated and it helped me avoid the money loss.

I also have seen I am being impersonated online. Albeit for a short time, they could create some reasonable inconvenience.

Here are the key things one can do to avoid falling prey to such situations.

  • Follow only people who you know (even for people who you know online only, make sure that you observe them for some time before you follow them)
  • Don’t blindly trust any newly created accounts
  • Don’t always trust the accounts that come up in the top search results. Especially if they are new accounts
  • Notify the person whose account activity looks suspicious. Especially if there are no (recent) posts, if they are new accounts or if their posts are unusual from what you know
  • Never send any money without calling the person. Send only upon verification that you are talking to the right person
  • Never click a link. If you know the other person’s details, directly doing financial transactions with the actual person you know would be better. Even then, make sure that the actual person has full access to the account
  • If you have a common friend, alert them as well in situations when you are asked for money or asked to click links
  • Report the account. More people report, more weight it would carry.
  • Spread the word about the incident. Identify the potential victim groups and tell them what is happening.

By being aware, you may not completely avoid any novice techniques of the fraudsters, but for sure you will be in a position to minimise the impact.

Why this focus on Instagram? Similar things happened on WhatsApp also earlier. However, it is easy to see that the phone number in question is not related to the person you know.

With Instagram, the fraudsters are having a bit more flexibility in terms of reach out and attack vector dimension.

First Rule: Don’t send money. Unless you talk to the individual in person or over a trusted channel – e.g. video call. That helps verify the need and the beneficiary.

Second Rule: Never click a link from these social media conversations. Period.

Why My Focus Is Shifting To Strength Training

21 Apr

For about two years, I have been running decently long distances – a.k.a half marathons and more. After taking a one year gap between my first half marathon in 2020 and second one in 2021, running a full marathon was on top of my list.

In October 2021, I ran my first full marathon. It is a local long run, not a timed running event. The preparation for that run was decently good and I think I ran it well. However, the next two marathon runs after that are not satisfactorily efficient. I didn’t focus much on my strength training during the training weeks of these two marathons and the impact is very evident.

This year, my focus should shift to strength training. The reasons are very trivial

  • Strength training helps to prevent injuries
  • Strength training can improve running form and efficiency
  • Strength training can help increase endurance

The next 16+ weeks are an opportunity for me to focus on Strength Training than running pace and/or running distances. Hopefully the time is ample enough for my strength training and I could see good results.


17 Sep

Change is ineviatable.

Change is good.

Sustainable positive change reinforces confidence, helps set larger (read long term) goals and helps in incremental improvements in life.

Here are my running pics that are 11 years apart.

Two run pics that are 11 years apart – 2011 and 2022

These 11 years have seen some interesting changes in my running habit. The following list gives a summary of highlights

  • 2011 – 10k run is for fun; no time target
  • 2018 – first timed 10k run; failed to qualify for Half Marathon
  • 2019 – Qualification 10k run for Half Marathon
  • 2020 – First Half Marathon
  • 2021 – Second Half Marathon; Also First Marathon after a handful of Half Marathons
  • 2022 – Sustain Marathon running energy (and enthusiasm)

The highlights might look simple, but they had an undercurrent of several personal, financial, career, health and circumstantial changes that resulted in these outcomes. More details later.

Happy to experience this positive change. I am sure the change continues.

Looking forward to!

COVID-19 Active case trends in India

04 May

The second wave of COVID-19 cases is putting India’s healthcare infrastructure to test. To understand more about the magnitude of impact, here is a metric that I normally use: the net change in COVID-19 active cases on a given day.

In a nutshell, the net change in active cases can be broadly defined as:

Net_Change(activeCases) = New confirmed cases - New recovered cases - New Deaths

This metric will help us understand how much additional pressure we put on the healthcare infrastructure. The number would give us an insight into the impact on

  • Additional people that require home quarantine/isolation
  • Additional medication needs (like Remdesivir)
  • Additional medical equipment needs (like Oxygen)
  • Additional beds required in hospitals
  • Additional healthcare professional help – either in-person or online consultations

Looking at the trends in net change in active cases in India, the impact on healthcare system is very evident since mid-March 2021. Unless the metric nears zero or becomes negative, the country’s healthcare system continues to be under pressure.

Selective, localized regulations seem to have a good impact on this metric for the last 3-4 days. We need to see if the trend continues for a while and helps ease out pressure on healthcare system.

Data Sources:

The data presented in this graphic primarily comes from Government of India sources and aggregated at a public data source.

Credential Holder Directories for Google Cloud Certified Professionals

17 Jul

Google recently started the Credential Holder Directory initiative for Google Cloud Certified Professionals. Google Cloud Certifications are around for a while, but Google didn’t have a centralized listing of certified professionals in the past. With the Credential Holder Directory initiative, Google gives an option for professionals to maintain their own personal directories with all relevant certifications.

At the time of this writing, there are about 2000 professionals listed in the Directory, covering handful of certifications offered by Google Cloud Platform. That number is going to grow within a short time. One good feature of this directory is that each professional can maintain a short profile and links to Twitter and LinkedIn, along with all Google Cloud Certifications the person holds.