Some describe trekking in Nepal as "a little bit up and a little bit down", and we can vouch for that. I'm pretty sure if Tessa had kept up her count we would have gone up and down at least 69,000 steps. Ju reckons more.....but oh so worth the effort. A couple of days ago we descending for two hours from Ghandruk, on wet slippery steps, to the river in the very deep Modikhola valley, and then ascending for two hours up to Landruk.... No one had enough breath to count, but all agreed these steps were easier than the 3000+ on day one.
We had done a thorough search of Ghandruk, through its tiny alley like streets, looking for chocolate cake, as I'm craving something sweet and dense. But no luck. The guide and porter have disappeared into their room, where they are playing cards with locals. Money seems to be changing hands, and they tell us it is all about marriage and wives. I've been trying to negotiate a good price for Tessa, hoping that a good looking, western, blonde, talented singer and fantastic cook, might generate enough income for her "father" (me) to continue his global cycle ride. So far the
best offer for her hand in marriage has been five buffalo. ....I think I will try for better in India.
Pricey picked up a leech today. Honestly Carol, I'm not sure whether you'll want him back. Unshaven, sore ankle, cracked ribs, sun weathered face, and aching cheeks from smiling so much. Unfortunately, he's not worth much over here, otherwise we would try to sell him as well, and send you a percentage.
As we were descending towards the river, we passed kids climbing up to their school in Ghundruk. Thirty to forty minutes of climbing steps, six hours lessons, and then the descent home, before normal chores....feeding the goats, carrying compost in baskets hanging from straps on their heads to the next village, milking the Buffalo, thrashing wheat heads. ....it's so like those stories your parents told you....in my day.....but it's real, everyday life for all in the Nepali mountains. The young kids, (4-6year olds) heading up the hill to kindergarten, in their red uniforms, carrying their shoes, were pretty cute. Keen to chat, and for the first time on our trek, some asked for chocolate, pens or sweets.
We are getting lower, but the views are still
fantastic. That's one of the good things about having a guide. They know the best places to stay, clean and comfortable, with the best views, and the best food, and you can't really complain when accommodation costs between $1.50 and $3.00 a night.
There was a huge thunderstorm last night, just as we were eating dinner....pizza, nettle soup, and banana and apple pies, with Everest beers. It appears as if the monsoon is almost here. The thermal up drafts beforehand bought out the huge Condors and Vultures. It's amazing watching them soar and swoop, enjoying being able to fly.
The east side of the valley is showing more earthquake damage. A few houses and lodges have huge bulges in their walls where the bricks and stones have moved. Some have parts that have fallen out completely. There is also, for the first time on the trek, a road, four wheel drive, like a farm track, but a road. This is having severe consequences for some lodges and restaurants. They are now bypassed, as trekkers either use jeeps to get back to Pokhara, or walk the road instead of the trails, and miss the lodges all together. It seems that nature, and progress is affecting many livelihoods in this part of Nepal.
Also, today, we heard for the first time in 12 days, horns. Buses and cars were way below us roaring up and down the roads, deep in the valleys. We were getting close to "civilisation".
But nature was still prevalent. As we climbed some stairs, yet more stairs, a squeal came from the ladies. Beneath a slate step was a small yellow and green snake. In its mouth, it had one leg of a very large toad. Neither was going anywhere fast. The snake was not nearly big enough to swallow the whole toad. A real life "David Attenbourgh" moment. We left nature to do its work.
We stopped at ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) office to check out of the park. Normally, 300 trekkers a day pass through their office. Today, at noon, we were the only four. Very very sad for Nepal, but great for us. Hey people......If you've ever considered a trip to Nepal, for trekking, now is the time to book. Nepal needs our money.
So thirteen days trekking in one of the most amazing areas in the world. Certainly doesn't feel like that long. Thanks heaps Tessa, Pricey and Ju for joining me, and Kiran and Dipak for the logistics. A wonderful break in my global cycle.