Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

More Pokara - very mellow place

Subtropical here but not walking up a steep hill I don't care. I like being at a higher altitude in general though.  The birds are pretty and I think I saw an owl last night at dusk.  HUNDREDS of people parasailing here - some companies are banking it.  Found out there is another festival now focusing on celebration of light.  I love this! And I thought Canada had it good with long weekends...
- Ciel

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Last day of Dashain

It's a party! Wish I understood it better. I really respect the gathering and the puja people make. I was sitting by the lake this morning and a woman came down to the shore with three big plastic bags full of stuff to float on the water with candle and incense. The husband seemed to stand above her giving instructions but she didn't pay any mind.


Our plans to visit Annapurna Base Camp were scuppered by a nasty bug picked up somewhere after Jomsom. Marpha was nice, Larjung was better (we spent two nights and visited the Guru Rinpoche cave where a Tibetan family was having a ceremony to pray for all the goats killed that day for Dashain).

Ghasa was ok too, but on the way to Tatopani, Ciel started puking over the edge of the trail. As it was also the edge of a 100m cliff, I persuaded her to do the rest of her vomiting on the other side of the trail. We stopped at the next guesthouse, a quiet place in Pairothapla, for her to recuperate. The next morning, she felt a bit better, but I felt pretty nauseous, so we stayed another night.

After that, we walked (rather slowly) the rest of the way to Tatopani. That night, I felt pretty rotten again, so we checked out of the 50 rupee/night room and found a much more comfortable one for 500/night. I was pretty hungry after not eating all day, so I ordered veggie momos for dinner. Later that night, the intestinal cramps came back, with a vengeance...I woke Ciel up with my whimpering as I lay curled up in a ball wishing I could die quickly rather than in slow agony. The azithromycin we got for such occasions seemed to have no effect, so Ciel went out of the room to try to find someone to ask if there was a doctor in town, only to find the main hotel gate locked. We couldn't get out if we wanted to! Although if I really had been dying of appendicitis the way I felt I might have been, she would have yelled loud enough to wake the family that owns the hotel and gotten them to open the gate. Not that it would have helped - I would have had to wait until morning for a helicopter rescue anyway.

By morning I felt much better, but I had decided that Tatopani, despite the hot springs (tato means hot, pani is water in Nepali), was not the place to spend another night like that. We left first thing this morning on the bus, and despite seeing several Nepalis get off the bus to puke, I felt fine (perhaps the lack of stomach contents helped).

Now we're sitting in the much more upscale Butterfly lodge in Pokhara (I paid 300 rupees for a room here in 2001, now it's more like 3000 - though we opted for a cheapie at 1000). I hope the potato soup stays down (and in) tonight.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Life is good in the Nepal hills

I find the real mtns to be quite intimidating. Steep and wonderous. Like watching surf on a beach. People have lived in this hard environment for thousands of years. Lots of trade between where Tibet is and the region we are in now.

My turn to share

I like the big river valleys too.

Windy Valley

It sure is - one Nepali phrase I've used a lot in the last week is "Aawaa chha" - it's windy. The morning is nice and calm, but by noon it's blowing pretty hard, and by late afternoon we take shelter in the guesthouse and wonder how the roof doesn't blow off.

Our trip in Upper Mustang to Lo Manthang and back went well. We rode horses up the valley to see the 2500 year old Jhong caves, saw an 8th century Gompa, and met a monk who lives in a cave. Unfortunately the king of Mustang was ill, so we could not "visit in place" - or visit the palace, I think the signs meant. We saw all the monasteries inside the walled city, as well as the museum with its crowded collection of artifacts.

Now we're back with the crowds on the main Annapurna circuit, but maybe it will get better after we leave the road at Tatopani. 2700m seems like such a low altitude now, after lots of 4000m passes, and a couple over 5000m. I don't huff and puff like the big bad wolf after climbing a flight of stairs here!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Just made it

Yesterday we got over Thorung La - just in time by the look of things this morning. There's snow down to about 4000m on the pass. That would make it much more difficult on the steep sections!

-mark and ciel.


Mobile phone service again - here we are resting in Muktinath after crossing the Thorung La (5416m).

Nar-Phu was amazing - the entrance canyon between Yosemite-sized rock walls, abandoned ancient settlements, lots of Yaks (and good Yak curry with Dal Bhaat in the guest house at Nar). The Kang La (5306m) was good acclimatization for the Thorung La, making the latter seem easy in comparison. We had a bit of excitement when we heard and saw some rockfall on the descent of Kang La, but luckily it wasn't too close to us.

Lots of other trekkers on the main Annapurna circuit now, but there will probably be only a few in the upper Mustang (pronounced almost like "moose tongue" here). More updates to come when we get back to Jomsom!

-mark and ciel.

Monday, October 8, 2012

In the mountains at last

After endless bus rides from Kathmandu, we're finally trekking in the mountains. We have a few days on the main Annapurna circuit before  heading up the Nar-Phu valley. It's great to be walking again, without the crazy Kathmandu traffic. Nar-Phu should be amazing, hardly any other trekkers.