Junior arrives and we get bird/swine/gastric flu

Trip Start Feb 24, 2009
Trip End Aug 19, 2009

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Flag of Nepal  , Himalayan Region,
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Back at the same computer as two weeks ago and my last entry, but having just waved Dave off rather than excitingly waiting to pick him up, as you can imagine I am a bit flat, homesickness kicking in hard today :-(

But we had an AMAZING holiday.  Dave quite surprisingly enjoyed our day and a half in Kathmandu, we did the usual touristy things and followed a walking tour through the old town, and then wandered around the palaces and Temples in Durbar Square.  I had been quite nervous that Dave was going to detest the noise and chaos and general grubbyness of Kathmandu, and I think a couple of days was enough for him, but he seemed to really relax and enjoy the madness rather than let it get to him.  There were a number of occasions when his inherent need to fix broken things nearly took over, roads, electrical wiring, taxis...but he controlled himself.

Our flight to Pokhara on Yeti airlines was blissfully short (25mins vs 8 hours on the bus) and pain free, and we were both refreshed by the cleaner air and more laid back atmosphere.  We spent that fisrt afternoon visiting Tahara Orphanage, where Dave did finally get to fix something (bike) and getting ourselves preared for the main event, Trekking the next day.  In the evening we decided to get a quick snack and drink and then retire early....big mistake.....HUGE.

I won't go into the details, they aren't pretty, but suffice to say Dave and I were both as ill as either of us has ever been.  All night, all the next day (trekking delayed), all the next night, and still feeling dreadful on the second day we dosed ourselves up with all available medicine from the pharmacy and set of to the trailhead with Ramesh, our guide.  Having now not eaten for close to 48 hours I was less than 2 hours into the first days walking before I sat down on the path, blacked out and started shaking, a very frightened Dave and Ramesh had to take my pack of me and walk me around to bring me to, and then a few emergency bisuits (I kid not) sorted me out enough to carry on.  Ramesh had to carry my pack the whole first day though, and I still barely made it..  That first day is one which neither of us would ever want to relive, we felt so rough that neither of us took a single photo all day!!

Day two dawned a little brighter, I managed to eat something and Dave's antibiotics were now kicking in.  So up we climbed.  3420(ish) stone steps straight up the side of the hill.  Wow that is a long way in 30degree heat carrying a big pack.  The views of the Magar villages and the pretty rice terraces was worth it though, and our arrival into the fair sized town of Ghorepani (2800m) was greeted with fleeting glimpses of the BIG mountains through the evening clouds.  Our guest house was nice, mountain views from the windows, hot shower and a Dutch lady called Merel to keep us company in the evening.

Although the blue roofs and mountain views of Ghorepani are spectacular in their own right the real attraction is the astounding views of the Dhaulgiri and Annapurna ranges from the view point at Poon Hill (3200m) above the town.  The best views are at first light so we started climbing at 4.30am, in the dark and arrived at the top in time to see the mountains emerging from the half light, and then errupt into colour as the dawn rays struck the tops of Annapurna's South, I, III, Dhaulgiri, Nilgiri and Machapucharre.  The only time in my life I have ever wanted a better camera, mine just didn't do justice to this sight.  A nice trek up to a ridge line with more mountain views and then a pleasant walk through the rhododendron forests to Tadapani (2600m) completed our first really enjoyable days walking.  And then we stayed in the worst room in the world as punishment, the communal toilet was practically on top of Dave's bed....we didn't sleep much!

I'm being somewhat distracted from writing this entry by the alarming news coming out of central Kathmandu.  I think Dave got out just in time and I will be hiding in the suburbs for a few days.  What IS it with this country, me, and civil unrest!?

Anyway back to the trekking, Day 4 was Tadapani to Chhomrong (2210m) and the first day that what became known as "The Sanctuary Six" really started trekking together.  The six are Dave, Me and Ramesh, and two Americans, Elaine and Aric and their guide Ishwar.  Our paths had crossed a couple of times and we decided to join forces and all trek and stay together.  This was fine by me as Dave is boring (joke)!!  Chhomrong is the last genuinely inhabited place before you start the narrow trail up into the Sanctuary, and perched on the top of a hill with gobsmacking viws of the sheer face of Annapurna South, a very relaxing place to sit on the terrace in the sun and enjoy a beer.  Except that we were not allowed beer, our Nepali guides kept telling us that it was a bad idea, and for some reason we kept listening.

Thanks to Elaine for the photos I have put on here.  It takes a whole day to get mine put on a CD then another day to upload them.
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