Archive for June, 2014

of wind and apples — Jomsom and Marpha (AC Day 11)

Posted in Annapurna Circuit, from Kagbeni to Jomsom to Marpha, Jomsom, Kali Gandaki valley, Marpha, professional tourist in the making on June 18, 2014 by twotwoeight

Day 11 — Destination : Marpha

Woke up bright and early today and went down to order our breakfast.  While waiting for breakfast, ventured outside for a short walk.

Image

The weather was great and the view from just outside our guesthouse was breathtaking.

Image

Horses strolled about the streets in a leisurely manner and some were having their breakfast too.

Image

No surprises what we had for breakfast — fixed breakfast set and vegetables noodle soup.  But that morning, our noodles came in a goblet! For a moment there, we felt like royalty. 😉

Image

After breakfast, we left at about 8am and made our way to Jomsom.  We had discussed the idea of taking a jeep to Jomsom but in the end, we decided to walk and I’m glad we did, or we would have missed the chance to go ‘fossilling’ in the Kali Gandaki river!  Our trail followed the Kali Gandaki valley and many a times, we were walking by the river which was lined by thousands and thousands of pebbles and rocks of different sizes and patterns.  If your eyes were sharp enough, you might even be lucky enough to find fossils among them!  Needless to say, we spent a longer time than anticipated ‘fossilling’ (or in my case looking for ‘zero’ rocks) so we only reached Jomsom at about 11am.

Image

As we neared Jomsom, it was also getting windier and windier, living up to its reputation, for Jomsom was famous for its strong winds.  In fact, there is even a Jomsom wind song!  Jomsom was a huge town, compared to the little towns that we have been passing through and bustling with activity.

Image

We went to a local place for lunch and while waiting for our food to come, we killed time by snacking on Pringles (first luxury of the trek!!), channel surfing and the three of them became obsessed with looking for the hidden picture in the 3D art hanging in the dining hall!! Unfortunately, even with adopting a ritualistic-prayer-like stance, none of them could find the hidden picture in the end!

Image

Lunch of fried chicken with chips and vegetables finally came! PW had curry chicken with rice.  You can tell we miss meat!!

Image

After lunch, we made our way to the Eco Tourism Museum which was at the edge of town.  The exhibits were very unique and interesting but sad to say, maintenance of the place needed upkeeping.  This was a painting of Ekai Kawaguchi.  He was one of the pioneers who trekked in Nepal and wrote books about his travels that subsequently made Nepal known to the international community.

Image

Blue sheep skin on exhibit.  No explanation needed.

Image

Whoever who named this exhibit must have had a great sense of humour!!! What would you expect when you see a name like this?

Image

Well……….literally what it described!!! 😉

Image

Part of traditional healing methods carried out by traditional herbal doctors.  Bloody.

Image

Animals featured prominently in ancient beliefs.

Image

The walk from Jomsom to Marpha took about an hour and a half and it had started to drizzle as we left Jomsom.  The winds picked up again and at one point while crossing a wooden bridge, I was almost blown away!!  Luckily the windy bits did not last long.  As we neared Marpha, Dev started singing the Marpha apple song — which was what Marpha was famous for.  Apparently, there is a folk song for every village!  We reached Marpha at about 3pm.

Image

After we passed through the entrance to Marpha, we noticed these fruits which resembled durian, but only much smaller.  Wanted to ask Dev what they were…but never found out the name of the plant.

Image

Marpha is a pretty small village with one main street where most of the guesthouses and shops were.  There were a few bookstores, but they were mostly closed by the time we were there.

Image

We walked around to look for the the apple farm and found a cobble-stoned lined path leading off the main street.

Image

We followed the path and came to a garden orchard dotted with flowering apple trees.  Pretty was the right word to describe the scenery.

Image

Flowers of the apple tree blooming — would have loved to see the apple trees heavy with apples, unfortunately it was too early in the season.

Image

Soon after, it started drizzling again and we made haste.

Image

We walked past this gompa and were contemplating whether to go up or not but after looking at the number of steps, we decided to just take their word that the view from the top IS really beautiful!  No more climbing steps for us!

We went back to the guesthouse as the rain was getting heavier and ordered some snacks as it was too early for dinner.  Being in the apple village, we had to try the apple lassi which to our disappointment, was rather weird tasting, and not in a nice way.  The chocolate apple crumble and vegetable tempura were nice though!

Image

We sat around the dining area and did a bit of reading and then it was dinner time.  PW had yak steak as it was our last chance to eat it before we left the mountains.  This one was nicer than the one we had in Manang, less chewy! 😉  Dev let us try the famous Marpha apple brandy which was very strong!! But this stuff is supposed to be really good and people bring it back by the boxful! Well it was definitely good for inducing sleep…we knocked out shortly after dinner. 😉

Today would be the last day of being on our feet and trekking.  Tomorrow would be a whole day of bus and jeep ride to Tatopani.  I haven’t even left, yet I am already missing the mountains. 😦

 

The 山贼 (desert bandit) emerges (AC Day 10)

Posted in Annapurna Circuit, Asia guesthouse, Kagbeni, Muktinath, professional tourist in the making on June 17, 2014 by twotwoeight

Day 10 — Destination : Kagbeni, 3050m

What a good night’s sleep! 🙂  Woke up at 7am which was by far the latest since we have started trekking.  Had a leisurely Swiss breakfast with the best rosti I have ever tasted! Wow, food in Muktinath is really good!  After breakfast, we set off at about 9am for Kagbeni.

Image

The view as we left Muktinath.

Image

As we left Muktinath, we caught a glimpse of the Annapurna range and the Thorong-La Pass in front of us.

Image

The walk started off very relaxing as we were coursing through smaller towns like Chongor and Tzong.  We were walking rather slowly as we were busy taking photographs of the gorgeous landscapes.

Image

As we trekked further, the landscape began to change.

Image

We were still at a fairly high altitude at about 3800m and it was miraculous to be walking and seeing the mountain peaks at eye level.

Image

 

Image

Green crop fields began to dot the landscape.

Image

We met a couple of local women bringing their infants to the next town for immunization.  They had walked for hours and still had many more hours of travel before their destination.

IMG_4788

IMG_4789

After awhile, the land started to get more barren and dry.

IMG_4802

We reached Tzong and walked up to a local monastery which was located at the top of a hill where the ruins of the former Jhong fortress still stands proudly.  Gorgeous view of the mountain range from here.

IMG_4826

We stopped for an early lunch at the guest house here as the walk after Tzong would be a long one with no stops or guest houses in between.

IMG_4865

We coursed through desert-looking landscape for the next 3 plus hours.  As we were passing through the Kali Gandaki valley, the winds were so incredibly strong that it took effort not to be blown away!  Sometimes, the gust of wind was so strong that it created dust-storms that rushed towards you head-on with a howl and you had to quickly turn your back on it and crouch down until it blew over.

desert bandit

Hence, the 山贼 (desert bandit) look.  PW and I thought we looked ridiculous but this was the only way to get protection from the wind, the sand and the sun!!! This was pretty much how we looked like most of the day! 😉

IMG_0547

Dev and Mr.Limbu managed to find a caveman looking rest stop along the way where we took some respite from the wind and gave our aching feet a rest.  And of course, they brought out chocolates. 😉

photo 1-1 (4)

The road seemed like it would never end…and it was pretty hard persuading yourself that the destination was just around the corner when the road seemed like it would go on forever.

Kagbeni

Thankfully, it came to and end and we finally reached Kagbeni thanks to Dev and Mr.Limbu guiding us down many ‘shortcuts’ (which was more like shuffling/sliding down gravel hills).  Otherwise, we would probably have taken much longer!

guesthouse in Kagbeni

Got our rooms in Asia guesthouse and immediately made a beeline for the dining room.  We were famished!! Had Illy coffee and popcorn (which was listed under the chicken menu but it turned out to be normal popcorn!) while waiting for our tuna vegetable moussaka.  Very fulfilling lunch/tea!!

Kagbeni town

We went for a walk around Kagbeni after that.  Kagbeni is a very picturesque town with a very medieval feel.  The town is connected by a series of tunnels lined by low mud houses and some of the ruins of the former fortress still stand.  At the same time, bits of modernization can also be seen, catering to the tourists and trekkers and the brightly coloured Yakdonald’s is a good example!!

IMG_4922

There is a very famous statue which is an old protector of Kagbeni.  It is called ‘Mr.Viagra man’ by some, and the reason is clear!  It is supposedly put there to ward off bad spirits.  We read that there was also a woman counterpart of Mr.Viagra man, and Dev and Mr.Limbu humoured us by looking around the whole town for it, and when we failed to locate it, they even asked the locals.  Well, it turns out that “she” was destroyed during a recent spell of bad weather, and they were going to rebuild “her” soon. 😉

IMG_4938

Kagbeni is also the starting point of the Upper Mustang trail which is a very highly sought after destination due to its completely different landscape and culture from the Himalayas.

IMG_4940

View of the Upper Mustang area from the edge of Kagbeni.  Maybe someday I will be back.

After the walk, it was starting to get dark and cold so we made our way back to the guesthouse.  We skipped dinner as we were still full from the moussaka and ordered a pot of tea to warm ourselves.  We sat in the dining area and chatted with Dev about tomorrow’s plans, and then we went up to bed at 8.30pm.  It was still chilly but we were too lazy to dig out our sleeping bags and so with chattering teeth, we called it a day.

Shuvaprabhat 🙂

 

Are we there yet?? x100 (AC Day 9)

Posted in Annapurna Circuit, Muktinath, professional tourist in the making, Thorong-La Pass on June 16, 2014 by twotwoeight

Day 9 — Destination : Thorong-La Pass, 5416m –> Muktinath, 3880m

This is it! Today is the day of the ‘climax’! Slept only minimally due to a mixture of headache, nervous anticipation and sometime in the middle of the night, I felt the pitter-patter of tiny feet running across my head!!! Gasp!! I jolted up and immediately turned on my head lamp, but could not see any small creatures – read : rodent – scurrying away.  Felt too real to be a dream.  Contemplated waking PW up but since I couldn’t see anything to cause concern, I decided to not disturb her sleep.  Took me awhile before I could lie down again…and soon, the alarm rang and it was time to get up.

Packed up and had as much of the breakfast as we could stomach at 3am…Dev kept persuading us to eat more, as he was worried we wouldn’t have the energy for the trek ahead, and it was going to be a long and hard day. We set off at 4am.  It was still pitch dark but the trail up to High Camp was already buzzing with a flurry of activity.  A steady line of tiny dots of light from the glow of each trekker’s head lamp began to form — in a sinuous ascending pattern, disappearing behind the highest point.  From the foot of the trail, that point seemed like an eternity away.

IMG_4568

I don’t know if we were psychologically and mentally prepped by yesterday’s ‘acclimatization walk’, but the climb that morning seemed easier than anticipated, and High Camp appeared sooner than we imagined it would.  Dev and Mr.Limbu were excellent at locating the easiest route for us, letting us know which places were safe to step on and which to avoid as the trail had become icy and slippery overnight. We reached High Camp just before 5.30am and by then, the light of day had broken through.

Image

Image

After a few minutes rest, we set off for the Pass and the trekking in the snow began.  It was much harder than I expected and I always felt like slipping even though Dev kept reassuring me snow was not slippery!  It doesn’t help when the trail is just wide enough for 2 feet and on the very edge of the cliff!!! I shuffled around at the pace of a snail…until Dev helped me put spikes on my shoes.  And after that, I could walk so much faster without worrying that I would slip and fall off mountain! Hurray for spikes!!!

Image

Image

Luckily, Dev offered to take my camera and snap photos for us, otherwise we would probably have no photos of the incredible views on the mountain and at the Pass as PW and I were both busy trying to walk, breathe and stay alive to make it to the Pass!

Image

We reached a teahouse after about an hour’s walk and stopped for a cup of hot lemon, huddled inside the small little teahouse which was more like a little brick hut.  We were parched, as our water had started to freeze up by then and the feeling of warmth trickling down the insides provided by the hot drink was just heavenly.  Dev literally had to drag us out of the teahouse as we were getting comfy!

Image

Then it was another gruesome 2 hours before we finally reached Thorong-La Pass.  We stopped so many times to catch our breaths that I lost count.  Each step forward was agonizing and each breath felt like it was inadequate and not bringing enough oxygen to the lungs.

Image

The snowy mountain views were too gorgeous for words, but sometimes, we felt so so tired that we could not even look up.

Image

Image

Sometimes when there is nothing but vast whiteness ahead, and the end seemed so far away, we really wanted to just turn back. At some point, we even asked Dev to entice us with the idea of fake KFC and beer!  Luckily, Dev and Mr.Limbu were there to motivate us and lift our spirits as well as physically help us through some rough parts.  They also brought out Twix candy bars and chocolate when we were half dead!!! Chocolate never tasted this good, I’m telling you!!!

Image

There were many false passes before we reached the correct one.  The trail would just ascend to the peak and give you the hope that the pass might be just beyond this peak, but every time we asked Dev “Is this the pass???”, the answer was always “Not yet…just a little bit more”.  I felt like Donkey in the Shrek cartoon asking “Are we there yet?” a gazillion times. Luckily Dev wasn’t Shrek! 😉

Image

Finally, after what seemed like eternity, we could see prayer flags and the famous marker of the Pass ahead! Hallelujah!!! We finally reached Thorong-Las Pass at 8.30am. Woohooooo!!! 🙂

Image

We were so cold and exhausted by then that much of our enthusiasm and excitement had been zapped away.  Nevertheless, it was an incredible moment to remember, and as I stood there staring at the signpost that said ‘Congratulation for the success’, a quiet sense of satisfaction came over me as I was never really sure if I could make it to one of the highest mountain passes in the world on my own two feet.  No donkeys, no horses, no helicopters.  I was thankful.

Image

After catching some photos, we started to make our way down. We made our descent quickly as Dev said the winds were coming and it would get too windy and cold at the Pass.

Image

Thank goodness for the spikes, I could actually literally run down the snow-covered path.  Breathing was also noticeably getting easier as we lost altitude.  We even had time to stop for a rest and what do you know, Mr.Limbu whipped out digestive biscuits!!! These two are incredible! Their backpacks were tiny in comparison to ours and yet they seem to have an endless supply of snacks which always appear just when we needed them most.

Image

Image

However, the easy part of the descent soon came to an end and the crazy steep rocky descents started! Some parts, the path was so obscure that I didn’t even know where to put my foot.  Luckily, I slipped and fell on my bum only once! We definitely couldn’t have made it without Dev and Mr.Limbu guiding us through.  Finally reached the teahouse at the bottom of the mountain at about noon.  By then, we were beyond exhausted and too tired to finish our lunch of mushroom soup and egg curry rice. Then it was another 3 hours long walk to Muktinath, the town where we would be spending the night.

Image

We reached Muktinath at about 4pm and had a hot shower which was heavenly!  We were contemplating exploring Muktinath but our legs were adamantly protesting against it so we settled into the dining hall and had the most amazing chicken mushroom pot pie I have ever tasted.  No pictures of it, because we gobbled it up.

Image

The guesthouse also had wifi, the first after we started our trek.  On one hand I was glad to be connected to the world again, but on the other, I was a little reluctant to bid goodbye to the solitude and peacefulness of the mountains which offered a sense of divine isolation.  Time to come back to reality.

Wanted to do a bit of reading but the electricity supply was erratic and as a result of that, we had a ‘candle-lit’ dinner. We treated Dev and Mr.Limbu to dinner as a token of appreciation for helping us make it to the Pass and down.  We had the pot pie again, yak stroganoff with rice, spinach canneloni and a tuna pizza to share and the food was fantastic! Can’t believe there’s such good western food out here!  After dinner, Dev passed us hot packs and we went to bed at 9pm and for the first night in ages, I managed to sleep well without having any headaches! 🙂

PS/ Muktinath was still cold

*All photo credits to Dev

Bistare, bistare, jham jham! (AC Day 8)

Posted in Annapurna Circuit, professional tourist in the making, random bits, Thorong Pedi, Yak Kharka on June 15, 2014 by twotwoeight

Slowly, slowly, go, go!

Day 8 — Destination : Thorong Pedi, 4450m

Woke up at slightly past 2am because of the barking dog and subsequently had difficulty sleeping again.  It was freezing cold…luckily the Korean heat packs were actually pretty good and kept our toes nice and warm while we were snuggled inside our sleeping bags.  Climbing out of the warm cocoon each morning was a pain, and a battle against the body’s natural instinct of seeking comfort!  We were actually debating whether or not to brush our teeth that morning!! We did, finally, at an outdoor tap and by the time we were done, our fingers were blue and numb!!! After a breakfast of toast with omelette and vege noodle soup, we set off at 7.50am.

Image

Image

Whilst leaving Yak Kharka, yaks were still roaming the land.  The giant dog which kept us up all night started walking with us as we left Yak Kharka despite many efforts to send him home…and to our amazement, he walked all the way to Thorong Pedi! We learned later that the guesthouse in Thorong Pedi and the guesthouse we stayed in in Yak Kharka were owned by the same family and this family pet actually travels regularly between these two places! Salute!!!

Image

Today’s climb was incredibly strenous. Even though the distance covered was less than the previous days, trekking at a higher altitude definitely alters the body’s physiology and each step forward needed effort.  Even breathing, which normally goes unnoticed, requires effort.  I could literally hear my alveoli screaming! 😉

Image

Nevertheless, with the mantra of just-put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, and humming random songs from Rasa Sayang to Pink, we finally reached Thorong Pedi at about noon. Got our room and proceeded to have lunch at the dining hall.  Dev said that after lunch, we would go for a short acclimatization walk — only short walk, about 30-40 minutes, he said.  Korean guy was also at the same guesthouse and we chatted while waiting for lunch.  He planned to go up to High Camp after lunch and to sleep there for the night.  Dev suggested for us to stay at Thorong Pedi for the night as we had been having headaches and he wanted us to sleep better at a slightly lower altitude.

Image

The guesthouse we stayed in was surprisingly modern, for such an isolated place.  The decoration in the dining hall exuded a very zen feel….with paper lanterns and jazz music playing in the background.  There were even pastries and we had the most awesome hot chocolate roll when we arrived.

Image

After lunch, while we were waiting for Dev and Mr. Limbu, PW and I noticed that many of the trekkers were going up in the direction towards High Camp…which looked like an incredibly steep climb.

Image

Initially we were glad we were done for the day but to our horror, Dev said we were going up the same way for our ‘short walk’!  We thought, maybe we were just going up a short distance and not go all the way up since this was just a ‘short walk’.

Image

Hah…we ended going all the way to High Camp and the round trip took us 3 hours!!!   Not to mention some parts of the climb was incredibly rocky and difficult!!

Image

Image

However, the views up there were gorgeous…everything was snowy white!  We saw the trail that we would be taking the next morning and we were swept by a mixture of anticipation and nervousness.

Image

PW and I were ridiculously slow as we were dragging our assess up reluctantly knowing that we would have to do the same trek all over again tomorrow, in the dark…and poor Dev had to keep motivating us with promises of beer and KFC when we reached our destination! 🙂 On our way down, we saw a trekker who didn’t look too well waiting for helicopter evacuation and we reminded ourselves how important acclimatization was.  Had a cinnamon roll and lemon tea after coming back and met Korean guy again.  He had turned back after trying to go up to High Camp as he was feeling unwell and had a throbbing headache, hence he decided to stay in Pedi for the night.

We chilled out in the dining hall as it was too cold in the room and sipped hot tea while reading.  Dinner was vegetable curry rice and vegetable noodle soup — our staple diet.  We were fascinated when Korean guy brought out a pack of instant bibimbap as he was not accustomed to the food on the trek.  He was still feeling ill, and Dev gave him some advice on what were his best options — of which not one of them will allow him to be in Muktinath with us the following evening.  We could see that he was devastated, and felt sorry for him that his plans were disrupted…and we were reminded that when in the mountains, every person is at her mercy.  Dev gave us a pep talk for The Climb the next morning, and shortly after that, we went to bed at 9pm after setting the alarm clock for 3am! Gulp!!!

 

Yak attack!!! (AC Day 7)

Posted in Annapurna Circuit, from Manang to Yak Kharka, professional tourist in the making, yak attack, Yak Kharka on June 8, 2014 by twotwoeight

Day 7 — Destination : Yak Kharka, 4010m

IMG_4377

Shuvaprabhat! Got up bright and early and had a breakfast of ‘fixed breakfast’, which consists of toast, omelette and roast potatoes.  We left Manang at 7.45am and headed towards Yak Kharka.  Today was going to be a relatively short day, as the trek was only scheduled for half a day in view of the elevation gain of 500m from Manang to Yak Kharka.  It was not recommended to ascend more than 500m the higher we trekked for better acclimatization.

rest before Yak Kharka

The trek today was not technically difficult; the trails was not rocky but the steady elevation gain did render us out of breath as we neared Yak Kharka!

Hotel Yak

Mr.Limbu had told us the day before that there were only 6 guest houses in Yak Kharka and they were sparsely located, with 2 at the beginning of the village, 3 in the middle of the village and the last one a little distance away.  When we finally reached a sign that read Yak Kharka, we were overjoyed but that was shortlived, as they did not stop.  Looks like we were going to stay at the guesthouses in the middle of the village, so we trudged along.  However, when we reached the cluster of 3 guesthouses in the middle, again we didn’t stop and Dev and Mr.Limbu gestured for us to move along!

the log carrier

By then, both PW and I were already hungry and tired and breathless…but we grudgingly continued walking! How can we be complaining when the guy carrying the log is still all smiles? 😉 Hahaha…I think it must have been quite obvious as Dev brought this up a few days later! :p

Yak Kharka guesthouse

IMG_4427

Another 20 minutes later, we finally reached our guesthouse at about noon.  The views were extremely gorgeous!!

collapsed

Literally collapsed on the bench after ordering our lunch and shortly after, Dev found the right bait to lure us outside as he wanted to prevent us from sleeping in the day in order for us to have a good night’s sleep!!

yaks

He found yaks!!!  Knowing that we were suckers for animals, we immediately pulled ourselves off the bench and went outside to see the yaks up close.

yaks galore

We were photographing the yaks and Dev reminded us not to get too close to them as they can be unpredictable.  And just minutes after he said that, the yak that was rubbing his back on the ground suddenly got up and dashed over to the yak with the “bull’s eye” that was right in front of PW.  Startled, PW leapt backwards which in turn scared me and I tumbled and fell on my butt!! Of course we were not in any danger as the yaks were behind a fence. 😉

the yak whisperer

Dev had a good laugh over our real “yak attack” — we had been seeing the phrase ‘yak attack’ scribbled on the walls periodically as we ascended the mountain and wondered what it meant.  Well, now we know! 🙂

lunch in yak kharka

Lunch was dahl baht and spaghetti — wolfed it down as we were starving!

yak kharka horse

IMG_0417

We walked around after lunch and wondered in amazement at the immensely blue sky and splendid mountain views.

IMG_4482

We were debating whether or not to trek up the hill opposite our guesthouse but decided against it and chose to sunbathe on a low table in the yard instead watching the clouds and soaking up the sun.

IMG_4488

Later, we joined Dev and Mr.Limbu for card games — they taught us to play a local card game and we brought out our loot of Nescafe 3-in-1 as it was getting cold!! Then we taught them to play ‘heart attack’, but this game only lasted a short while as Mr.Limbu was laughing uncontrollably until he was crying with backache and struggling to catch his breath!  It was hilarious just watching him laugh!

Come evening, we ordered dinner and then went to freshen up and make ourselves warm.  We all huddled around the dung-cake fireplace while waiting for dinner.  Even the huge dog that was lazing around outside came in and snuggled by the fireplace.  We all didn’t want to leave the fireplace even after the fire had burnt out as it was freezing outside.  Eventually, we dragged ourselves back to our room and luckily Dev gave us some Korean heat packs that was quite warm! (Once we figured out how to activate it anyway….) 😉

Was woken up at 2am by a barking dog that seemed like it was right outside our room.  Dev told us the dog slept in the common toilet and scared Mr.Limbu out of his wits when he went to pee in the middle of the night!! (PS/ The dog was huge!!!) 🙂

Noya bashogho shubo kamona!! (AC Day 6)

Posted in Annapurna Circuit, Chongkor View Point, Gangapurna Lake, Into Thin Air, Manang, Nepali New Year, through the lens on June 4, 2014 by twotwoeight

That means Happy New Year in Nepali!! We practised saying it so many times but at the end of the day, we still couldn’t remember the whole phrase without getting some bits wrong!

Day 6 — Manang acclimatization day

Today marks the day of the Nepali New Year, although traces of festivities were not obvious in the mountains, Mr.Limbu’s phone was ringing constantly with greetings and warm wishes from his friends and family.

Image

Did not manage to get a good night’s sleep again…the nagging headache wouldn’t go away and after layering up before going to bed, it got a little too warm in the middle of the night so had to throw off some of the layers.  However, the gorgeous views upon waking up more than made up for the lack of sleep and the joy of not having to pack up our backpacks early in the morning was a great relief!

Image

We went over to Tilicho Hotel and Bakery for breakfast — got lured by the Lavazza coffee sign and the sight of beautiful golden pastries! Sipping hot cafe latte and munching on a hot cinnamon roll in the cold was just too heavenly.  We initially thought the girl who ran the bakery was Korean as she did not look local and we were even more convinced when we heard her speak what we thought was Korean on the phone.  We were so excited we were planning to tell Korean Guy (the solo trekker we had met earlier) about her as he had mentioned that he was feeling a little lonely trekking alone.  To our amusement, we found out later that she was in fact a local Manang girl who had gone overseas to further her studies and had returned home. ;P

After breakfast, we headed out to meet Mr.Limbu for our acclimatization walk.  Dev had gone for a trek to Ice Lake which was meant to be a 4 hour walk there and back…luckily we didn’t go with him, we’d probably make it a 6 hour walk there and who knows how many hours back!!

Image

We decided to go to the Chongkor View Point, which was described as a ‘nice walk’ after Mr.Limbu laughed at our initial decision to go to Gangapurna Lake (he must be wondering what acclimatization we were planning to do with a 15 minutes walk to the lake!!).

Image

So this ‘nice walk’ turned out to be a trek up a hill, from the side of the lake, along the narrow ridge to the tree-lined hill top you see in the picture above.  After the walk, PW and I decided to call it a mountain…not a hill!

Image

We made a stop at the Gangapurna Lake before starting our trek up to Chongkor View Point.  The water of the lake which comes from the melting glacier appeared grayish-green at the water surface level but as we gradually climbed higher, the splendid hue of turqoise shone through.

Image

The point where the melting glacier meets the lake water is like a work of art — continuously changing as the glacier succumbs to climate change. 😦

Image

After about 30 minutes, we made our way up the ‘mountain’ to start our leisurely walk.  Indeed, it was a walk in the park for Mr. Limbu but PW and I were panting after awhile! There were some pretty steep climbs and some parts of the path was muddy and slippery due to the earlier rain, but the gorgeous views at the top of the ‘mountain’ was worth every step of the way!

Image

Image

Image

Mr.Limbu offered to take some photos for us (with a 360 degrees background change!) — one of the few photos of us together!  We hung around for a bit and came down for lunch at about 1pm.

Image

We had lunch back at our guesthouse and decided to skip dahl baht for the day as there was no more trekking for the later part of the day.  We had spaghetti mushroom tomato sauce and fried chicken…and also tried the seabuck thorn juice — which was described by Mr.Limbu as a cross between orange and mango juice.  While we were having lunch, Dev returned from his trek to the Ice Lake and showed us beautiful photos of the lake. Can’t believe it took the same amount of time for us to get to the view point and for him to return from the Ice Lake!!

After lunch, we went up to do laundry and to take a much needed shower.  The water was lukewarm but the cold wind seeping in from the window gaps nearly froze us! Bbrrrr!!!

Image

We went for the AMS (acute mountain sickness) talk by a local NGO (Himalayan Rescue Association) at 3pm and I got the opportunity to ask the doctor about the persistent headaches that I’d been having and his opinion on Diamox (Acetazolamide).  I had brought tons of Diamox but had yet to take any.  After the talk, there was a donation drive whereby you pay 100Rs to get your oxygen saturation checked and they had a chart of daily winners and their nationality! Mine was about 93% only…no surprises, Malaysia wasn’t on the chart considering how low our country is.

Image

After the talk, we strolled around Manang town which was bustling with activities of the locals and foreigners alike.  Manang was by far the biggest and busiest town along the Annapurna Circuit.

Image

It had started snowing in the evening and after awhile, we were shivering in our jackets and needed some respite from the cold.  We got Dev and Mr.Limbu to watch a movie with us in one of the local “movie theatres” which was a very interesting experience indeed!Image

For 1000Rs, you get a private room with long benches and an overhead projector.  They also served us hot tea and popcorn, but the most important part is, there is a fireplace in the room!! We watched Into Thin Air — which was described in many blogs as THE movie to watch in the mountains.  It was a very old movie about one of man’s earlier attempts at summiting Mount Everest, or Chomolungma as she was first known.  Rather grim, as 5 people had died in that expedition.  It was only later that we learnt of the tragedy that had struck on Everest, where more than 13 lives were lost. 😦 Deepest condolences to their families.

Went back to our guesthouse for dinner after that — we had mushroom pizza and vegetable briyani and went to bed at 9pm.  Took half a Diamox as recommended by the doctor at HRA.  As a result, had to wake up in the middle of the night to pee, but slept better than most of the nights before even though there was a crazy dog barking most of the night.  Tomorrow, we head for Yak Kharka!!! 🙂