Trekking and Stuff in Nepal
Trip Start Oct 01, 2002
158Trip End Aug 08, 2005
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Hope you all had an excellent Christmas and New Year. Our Christmas was spent in Pokhara with lights decorating all the restaurants that lined the main streets giving it a festive feel about it. We even found a Christmas menu of sorts and enjoyed turkey on Christmas day as well as spoiling ourselves with lots of red wine. It was a gentle recovery from all our hard trekking. We are now in Kathmandu where we welcomed in the New Year in a local bar. It's freezing cold here making it feel more like home!
Back to our trekking in the Annapurna region. We set off from Pokhara on the 13th December and after a bit of a late start and a two hour bus ride, we trekked the short distance from Nayapol to the tiny village of Syauli Bazar, the start of the Annapurna Santuary trek to Annapurna Base Camp (A.B.C)
The next day began harshly with a steep climb up to the next main town of Ghandruk and that's also where it ended! We trekked up to 1940 metres up a rocky steep path. On the way we stopped to rest in a small tea house after climbing for what seemed like ages and up hundreds of steps, we were greeted with a sign which read '4550 steps and 4km to Ghandruk', who wants to read a sign like that anyway??! Well, eventually we made it up to Ghandruk and enjoyed the beautiful views which greeted us at the top. In the distance (and still seeming very far away!) we saw the snowy peaks which encircle A.B.C, and in between, lush green valleys with beautiful, terraced fields, tiny villages and the winding aquamarine blue river far below
Ghandruk was also the place which reminded us of something strange which we discovered in India but happens in Nepal too. It seems to be a common practice to dress up male babies and young boys (below the age of about 5), as girls. Complete with nail varnish, bangles, long hair in bunches, ankle bracelets, pierced ears and girls' clothes. It only becomes apparent that these cute 'girls' are in fact male when they change their clothes as often happens because nappies are non existent. We found this whole thing rather curious and have twice had the opportunity to ask why without appearing rude but we were told it's just for fun even though they are dressed as girls for years until they are 4 or 5!
Our third day's goal was to reach the town of Chhomrong at 2170 metres
Anyway, we reached Chhomrong in the mid afternoon and were rewarded for our efforts with surprisingly great food and we enjoyed the best luxury the area has to offer - heaters
We set off from Chhomrong on our 4th day of trekking and started by once again descending all the way back down to the river so we could climb right back up the hill on the other side. This time we didn't mind so much as it was to be the last complete descent and from here on in it was up all the way to A.B.C. On the way we saw Langur monkeys swinging in the trees and on the opposite side of the narrow valley, a whole tree full of them, their bright, white, long, shaggy hair on their heads making them look like Christmas decorations on each branch. Also we saw that along the Annapurna Sanctuary route is one of the few places where cannabis plants still grow wild
It only took us just over an hour to reach A.B.C at 4130 metres and the effort of the past few days had been worth it. Almost 360° views of the jagged, snowy peaks of the Annapurna Himalayas towering right above us. We walked up, past the base camp, and could hear the thunder of avalanches all around. The landscape was barren and a huge glacier dropped away from us as we perched on the ridge above. It was really spectacular. The rolling mist and freezing cold temperatures drew us back to the cosy dining room of our guest house where we celebrated with a Mars roll (mars bar cooked and melted in a pastry thing) with custard
We arrived back in Pokhara in plenty of time for Christmas and spoilt ourselves by going to the mini supermarket to buy plenty of red wine, chocolate, biscuits and snacks to celebrate Christmas with. The hotel we had stayed in previously was quite full so they gave us a 'luxury' room complete with T.V. and bath for about 3 pounds per night. We relaxed for a few days and then headed to Royal Chitwan National Park where we based ourselves in Saurauha, a really nice little village with a curious mixture of safari type hotels for the tourists and the traditional mud huts of the villagers, each with a hand pumped well at the front and women cooking in the yards on wood fires whilst kids, goats and chickens ran everywhere. We stayed at a tiny, 4 roomed, family run guest house and enjoyed music around the fire by the guy that owned it
Chitwan must be one of the only parks in the world where you can only do walking safaris and where tigers and vicious Sloth bears roam freely in the areas in which you walk. It's okay though because you have to take a guide and he's suitably armed with.......a big stick! We were joined by an Aussie guy Phil and after a gentle ride down the river in a flat bottomed canoe (in the rain - nevermind!), we arrived at the spot from which we would begin our walk into the jungle. The grass was more than a metre high but we soon discovered 2 rhinos, a mother and calf, grazing quite close by. We were ushered to a 'safe' distance by our guide and we watched them for a while. Apart from many birds and some monkeys we saw little else except the white fluffy tails of deer as they bounded deeper into the long grass. As we walked back to the hotel on the edge of the park at the end of the day, we came upon a trail of dugout termite nests signalling the presence of a bear sometime earlier. We were very surprised when we heard it in the forest very close by, just a short time later. Sloth bears are usually very elusive and it's not that common to see one so we were very lucky. That said, they are also extremely dangerous and we each armed ourselves with a large stick. We watched it feeding and then it looked up, straight at us. Time to go! We quickly crossed the river and made our way to the guesthouse for the night. The next morning we began another day's walk in the jungle and made our way slowly back to Saurauha. Apart from the endangered Gharial crocodile, we saw little else, but the walk in the jungle was really nice. The closest we got to a tiger was a fresh pawprint in the mud, but then we didn't expect anything more. Before leaving Saurauha we went on an elephant back ride into the forest and enjoyed the wildlife up close as they do not run away for the elephants
From Saurauha, we endured a very dusty, bumpy ride of 6 hours to Kathmandu. The road wound and bumped along, often it was just a rough, rocky, narrow path after the many land and rock slides had long since demolished the original tarmaced road. Often you could just look down from the precipice and watch the rocks fall away as the edge of the road came closer as cars and heavy lorries passed. It's a bit of a shock to be back in a hectic and very polluted city but it has plenty of good places to eat (lots of steak!) and we've visited some of the city's many temples and sights, including a twisted bit of wood with coins nailed to it, dedicated to the goddess of toothaches where the locals go to soothe their dental pains! We have booked our flights to Bangkok and leave next Wednesday so we have plenty of time for more sight seeing.
Anyway, we hope 2004 is a happy one for all of you, who knows, we may even come home this year! I think we've updated you on just about everything, except one thing, we got engaged just before Christmas at A.B.C!
Take Care all,
S & K.