Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Somewhere between the start of the trail and the end is the mystery why we choose to walk"

On the way to Nepal we were lucky to have another day in Thailand! Once we arrived at the Bangkok airport for the third time, we stored our backpacks and headed into the city.  It was so wonderful to have another day in this country we both liked so much! It worked out well since we previously didn't have much time in the city.  We walked the entire day, checking out China Town as well as the backpacker area.  We were excited to have more Thai food, street treats, and a chance to see a couple more sights! Once back at the airport, we boarded our flight and after a brief layover in India we arrived in Nepal!

Flying into Kathmandu we were able to see the snowy mountain tops peeking through the clouds. After landing, we were greeted outside by one of the guys from our trekking company where he then loaded our bags into and onto the taxi.  Arriving to Kathmandu with little to no sleep was a whirlwind.  The scenes through the taxi windows were wild: monkeys jumping from rooftops to branches to power lines. cows meandering here and there, overflowing piles of trash, and tons of people out and about on the streets.  After checking into our place we sorted out some of the details of our trekking expedition that would begin in a few days.  We were ascending to Annapurna Base Camp at almost 14,000 feet. The summit of Annapurna 1 is the 10th highest summit in the world at over 26,000 feet and there are a few other peaks around as well to be absolutely amazed and impressed by.  "Annapurna is a Sanskrit which means literally "full of food or grain" which is translated as Goddess of the Harvests."

Wandering around the neighborhood outside our place, Thamel,  was quite a sight!  The experience was that of a maze, the winding and curving little streets and alleyways!  Rickshaws and taxis were squeezing through the people and endless streets of shops.  Sights from books to prayer flags, outdoor clothes and gear, spices, tea, incense, yak and sheep wool goods, and pashmina scarves could be seen everywhere we glanced.  There were countless places to browse and wander through. We enjoyed some vegetable curry, momo (Tibetan dumplings), some bakery items, and other deliciousness.  It's always so exciting trying food in a new country, especially since it differed somewhat to other countries in South East Asia we had visited.

Prior to beginning our expedition, it turned out to be quite an excursion just getting to the starting point for our trek. With the assistance of our guide we headed to the bus station where we undeniably took the wildest bus ride! It was incredibly bumpy, curvy, and at times felt like a roller coaster with the steep hills and overlooks a little too close to the road.  Smushed into the seat and crushed behind the one in front, it was a bit hard to find a place to hold on.  What an adventure it was! We stopped in Pokhara for the night, a city that is the jumping off point for most treks to the Annapurna area.  It was a lot different from Kathmandu and was much easier to get around.  There was a main street with grocery shops, outdoor stores, restaurants, and souvenir shops which was enjoyable to stroll about.  Before leaving the next morning we were up on the roof eating breakfast when we caught our first glimpse of the majestic mountains in the distance, we knew we would soon get to know up close and personal.  That morning we endured another bus ride (not as dramatic as the day before) until we could go no farther in this tiny town with blocked streets.  It was there that we began our walk.  The first day wasn't a long hike. We stopped for lunch; it was our first taste of dal bhat the traditional Nepali trekking dish of a lentil soup, vegetables, and rice.  It is known as "dal bhat power 24 hour." After a few hours of uphill climbing we reached our place for the night. Leading up to the tea house (lodge/restaurant in villages along the way) the views were unbelievably picturesque.  The bright colored houses, stone steps, and green vistas provided the perfect view for our first stop.

The following day consisted of conquering over 2,000 stairs.  We arrived at our next village where we warmed up and walked around a little bit. Upon awaking the next morning at around 4:30 we trekked up to Poon Hill to watch the sunrise over the peaks.  It was seriously breath-taking.  The panorama of snowy white peaks was astounding.  After a quick breakfast we continued on.  It was just remarkable to be hiking this terrain with its astounding views. Throughout the next few days we hiked both up and down hundreds of stairs, and hills, through forests, as well as along side rice terraces and rivers.  Our guide gave us insight into the Nepali people, Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as other info.  We questioned him about the lives of the guides, sherpas and porters.  We carried our own backpacks but had the chance to hang out with porters...playing cards with them and joking around.  Spending the nights in the villages was enjoyable--from meeting other trekkers, guides, going for walks, soaking up the astonishing views, to drinking endless amounts of tea and hot chocolate (in hopes of keeping warm), and sampling different foods at each guest house restaurant.

During our final ascent to the base camp we began to see a lot of snow.  It was such a wonderful feeling and sense of accomplishment to make it to the top.  There were piles of snow and later that afternoon it was really coming down.  We climbed up past the camp to where we were surrounded by the mountain peaks. Standing there at the edge of a crevasse we could actually hear the glacier moving which was just about the most bizarre thing ever.
Also, looking around at the mountains we'd sometimes see little
mini avalanches tumbling down the faces.  It was seriously incredible.  The following morning we awoke early in order to view the sunrise.  The way the light glowed over the peaks and on the faces of the snowy mountain was just absolutely stunning.  That day we began our descent back down which consisted of running down the hills.  It's what the porters do when carry heavy loads, apparently is better on the legs than normal walking down.  It was an experience! First flying through the snow, then mud, down rocks, it was intense! We continued onward tackling hundreds and hundreds of stairs to the point of that it literally did not seem possible to have so many stairs--EVER--in the world.  Wow what a workout! But definitely always worth it!  The gorgeous scenery, the impressive landscapes, the magnificent mountains, everything was beautiful. Truly unforgettable!

After returning to civilization we had a couple days in Pokhara and Kathmandu again then it was time to say goodbye to Asia and this crazy, epic, extraordinary adventure!

No comments:

Post a Comment