Australian hostel-mate, when asked if he’d got any tunes on him, lamented that his player had been stolen by Monkeys – along with his hard drive. And I thought: Monkeys Stole My Hard Drive would make a great album name.
Israeli hostel-mate, in attempting to get the attention of another hostel-mate whose name she did not know, called out, “Hey, Mr. Dude!” And I thought: Mr. Dude would be a great name for a band. (Yeah, there’re already King Dude and Dude York, but I think there’s still some room left for more Dude-named bands.)
Australian hostel-mate related that he’d won a Yak playing poker one night during the Everest Base Camp trek. And I thought: traveling is the best!
The early-onset Monsoon, it turns out, was a false alarm. So my explorations of Kathmandu were able to continue after all. A great city! However, it means I’m so far behind in the ol’ blogging games that I fear I’ll never catch up. But, let’s have a try…
Day 9 – Danakyu to Jagat
The day began where the previous two had left off: stunningly.
Here’s a good trekking tip (not that it’s any sort of revelation): make sure to start out as early as possible each day. Not only will it allow you to tear off a good chunk of mileage before the heat sets in, and to get your sweaty clothes washed and dried while the sun’s still pounding, but also to catch those luminous glimpses of the rising sun’s ray’s as they just begin to peer in through the clifftops.
Rather than being dominated by the ever-majestic Annapurna peaks, this day was about the ever-majestic Marsyangdi river (impossible to accurately capture the river’s colour, photographically, alas)…
…and the ever-majestic valley walls.
Began to think, however, that I’d maybe taken a few too many shots of said walls, and thought I’d goof around with the camera’s “Pinhole” setting. Not bad, I guess.
But – would you believe it? – even up here in the very centre of nowhere, one can still purchase oneself a lottery ticket.
Shortly before Chamche, I arrived to my favourite waterfall of the entire trekking. We’d not passed this on the way up, as we’d split off the road to take the trail to Tal. (I decided to utilise the road all the way down, partly to get a different take on the scenery; and partly because, trekking now by my lonesome, I thought I’d more quickly find somebody to help me if I should fall down, or twist an ankle, or some such-like.)
Neither photos nor footage can do this little beauty justice. But something about its different levels, its misty snowflakes-like drop from the brink, and then finally its meandering, forking wend down the vegetation-covered rocks just slayed me dead.
In Jagat, scored a second-floor, corner room (i.e., lots of windows) overlooking the river. The view was great, and the river’s roar was mighty – made all the louder by its being warm enough to sleep with the window open.
Met a most interesting party at dinner that night. It was a couple, names of “Mike” and “Judy”, who’d been hiking in Nepal for decades. He’d started up the country’s first-ever rafting outfit, and was a font of knowledge about trekking in Nepal, and the history of the region. Trekking with them were their nineteen-year-old grandson, name of “Ken”, as well as the twenty-one-year-old son of the partner with whom he’d started up the rafting outfit.
Name of “Hasith”, the son spoke incredibly fluent English, and his broad scope of interests ranged from politics and activism to the German national soccer team – and much in-between. He said that if I were still in Kathmandu when they finished their trek, he’d like to introduce me to his family and show me around the city. But I’ve not since heard from him, so it may have to wait until a future time.
Day 10 – Jagat to Ngadi Bazaar
My recollection is that this day wasn’t as much fun as the previous three had been: I recall it having been hot and dusty, with more traffic on the road, and far fewer trekkers, headed in the opposite direction, with whom to stop and converse for a while. (Surely, they were all avoiding the road, using the trail through Tal instead.)
But reviewing the pics, I did find that the scenery, at least, had still on this day been insanely delicious, especially for the first few hours.
When one passes jeeps on the road, there’s almost a teenaged kid riding atop. And they almost always are eager to wave and say Hello.
In the village of Syange, there were some quite nice Chickens…
…as well as a rather strenuous hike up to another impressive waterfall. Probably, the footage won’t give the impression, but this fucker was loud.
There’s a series of canals up-top, used to channel the waters to the village below.
Hiking from the road, one can look across the valley to view the agricultural terracing system, as well as have a gander at the trail we’d hiked on the second day.
And then, along towards midday: Jackpot!
Unfortunately, not yet ripe (and also, in somebody’s yard).
Arrived soon enough, to the nightmarish hydro construction project we’d passed on the way up. Too bad, nobody’d yet blown that thing sky fucking high. Stopped for the night in Ngadi Bazaar, and another riverside Lodge. Sitting eating dinner, spotted some Monkeys goofing off the far side of the river. Good times.
Day 11 – Ngadi Bazaar to Pokhara
The three-hour hike to Pokhara was rather suck-ass. There were still some pretty nice scenes played out before me, and all.
But there was an assload of traffic on the road – much more than I recalled from our first day’s hike. Also, the road was much dustier than I’d remembered.
Arrived in Besi Sahar just in time to score some Grapes, and get the local (as opposed to tourist) bus to Pokhara. Being a local bus, it was super-super-cheap, but also, it stopped at every possible site along the way to pick up and drop off passengers.
The décor inside the bus was pretty fabulous.
Kept waiting for an alarm to sound, those lights to begin blinking, and a million Pachinko balls to coming raining out of the recessed areas in the roof. But…didn’t happened. Like any Asian bus ride worth its salt, this one was hot, dusty, loud, winding/mountainous, bumpy, over-crowded, and interminably long. Wouldn’t have it any other way!
At the crossroads town of Dumre, tensions began to boil over, as the riders were unwilling to obey the conductor’s – that’s him, there…
…wishes in re optimum seating arrangements, much to the conductor’s distress.
Discovered, in Pokhara, that it was time for the Nepali New Year’s. It meant the city’s rooms were all booked solid with Nepali tourists, and those that were available were jacked up to double their normal price. But the proprietor of one such Guest House promised me that it would be a fun event, even for tourists.
Days 12 and 13 – Interregnum
In fact, it was pretty tame. Lots of joyous singing, some live music, some fireworks. Pretty boring. But, the fruit available in town was so delicious! Eating some down by the lake, I had a nice conversation with a Nepali couple, in town for the holiday. Basically, he was trying to sell me on his trekking-guide services. But even when I wasn’t interested, they continued to sit and talk to me for a while. He enjoyed my camera quite a bit, and we ended up trading pictures.
That’s the wife in the background, trying to convince the kid that she’d no desire to buy what he was selling. Some kind of hair-care product, I think. I kinda wanted to buy some of this, however.
Just see how thrilled she is to be eating it!
On New Year’s morning, there was a massive long line to catch a boat out to the little island.
And there was a parade and presentation from a conservation organisation.
And in the afternoon — as though the town’s mountains of dust-coloured dust weren’t enough — a nice, thick layer of coloured dusts was lain down in the street, so that whenever a vehicle drove over, it would kick up a big cloud. I guess the dust-mask sellers’ lobby probably convinced the city of the hilarity to be gained from this little stunt.
Around town, things were more less normal…
…but down in the lakeside park, a midway was raging. There was a Ferris Wheel, and a Pirate Ship, and a miniature Pirate Ship, along with one or two carnival games. From the stage bumped a stream of taped music playing primarily Bhangra stylings. The only two songs I recognised were “Gangnam Style” and “Summer Of ‘69”. Pretty weird hearing the latter, as Kieran and I had been discussing it just a few days before.
By far the biggest attraction was this silly white chick playing hula hoops…
…and a friend of hers on the Rhythm Sticks.
And there wasn’t even any Cotton Candy. The carnival was much more than made worth the – fiddy-cent – price of admission, however, by the stunning brilliance of the Haunted House. My god, how can you not be utterly smitten by this sight? I could’ve stayed watching this shizzit all frickin’ day. Hell, I half wish I were still there watching it. Long live the Pokhara New Year’s haunted house, say I!!