Annapurna Circuit - DAY FIVE

Weather: Cool, Rained Heavily in the Evening
Checkpoint: Mountain Discovery, Chuile

six photos stitched into a panoramic view of the mountain range seen on the Poon Hill lookout point during sunrise

the sun awaking and greeting the mountains
Fortunately, it rained the night before leaving the skies clear for a beautiful view during dawn. I can't say my sleep was pleasant although I wish it was. I have forgotten to ask for a blanket so it was rather cold but I wore extras to keep me at least warm enough to fall to sleep. The walls were thin that I could hear my neighbours watching "Suits" next door. I woke from time to time from the chatter and opening of doors and footsteps around. I heard a man collapsing due to altitude sickness and his lady friend sounding in panic for anyone who had any altitude pills. I had none although I wish I could help by waking but I heard the Singaporean lady nearby and a few others to help. My body was just too exhausted to do anything but if there were nobody out there to help, I would've gotten up. I officially  woke at 0415 hours to prepare and pack. I prefer to return from Poonhill look out point and have a hearty breakfast and start my journey instead of slacking behind with packing. In addition, I take out my items to 'dry off' from the humidity just in case so it takes some time for me to pack. Looking at the empty bed beside me, a part of me do wish my dad could have been with me but I know he'll be safer and more comfortable back in the city. Seeing my dad again and show him all the amazing views via my photographs was also one of the motivations that kept me going in this trip.

hikers enjoying the breath taking view
The climb to Poon Hill was difficult to say the least. Climbing stairs to reach close to 400m higher in the cold and thin air. Not exactly welcoming you with open arms. I was out of breath very quickly as the altitude was getting higher. In the beginning, the thin air made my head hurt slightly and I rest a little here and there to prevent it from getting worse. I also walked slower knowing I'll miss the sun rise but I rather be late than to have altitude sickness and cant afford to continue. The evil inner-me was belittling myself that I couldn't continue. The sun has not rise and already my breaths are so pathetic. I really don't appreciate how the devil plays at this game but I persevered, one foot after the other and I have got to say... no reward can come without hard work. The sun was rising and the land is starting to show itself. I could start to see the Annapurna Mountain and Fishtail Mountain during my climb.

returning to Ghorepani
When I reached the top... I was flabbergasted! How can such beauty contrast itself with a soft grassy field filled with flowers in the foreground and white icy mountains in the back? Nature ceases to amaze. I am grateful to have had the experience of seeing such beauty that not everybody can see for themselves in person. I had a warm conversation with the German family (mother and two daughters) and knew this is where we had to say goodbye for this is the end of their trip. We exchanged hugs and laughs. Although we knew each other very very briefly, it is embedded in my memory as if we've conquered a lot together. The little things in life. It reminded me of a lyric in a song, "I've got some friends, some that I hardly know... But we've had some times, I wouldn't trade for the world". All those people we met during the phases in our lives, they may not be our best friends but they do mean a lot, then and now. They made an impact in my life.

The entrance of our journey
One of the daughters was kind enough to photograph me in font of the mountains, I was grateful. I love photographing that I often don't think of putting myself in the picture. Later, they recorded my contact details. I would have recorded theirs but I did not bring a pen and paper along as they were in the guesthouse. Hopefully we could keep in touch. I kept walking here and there to take photos that I realised that I was the only one not wearing a jacket whilst everyone else was. It was cold but I would sweat in my jacket while walking but since I reached the top, there is not much strenuous muscle movement that only I realised how cold it was and then put on my jacket. There were many people and the view was splendid. You could see peaks like Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Machhapuchhre.

There is also a tea house at the view point so you can have a nice hot cup of tea between your hands in the cold weather although I didn't buy any. The view in itself was enough to keep me in bliss. After spending that breath taking view, everybody started their journey back down. Once returned to the guesthouse, I had the same thing for breakfast, tomato soup and I added my left over potatoes from the night before in the hot soup. It was more than enough to keep me going. I really have to say, their cooking is amazing. I even heard the other guests complimenting on the cooking here. I later then have to say my goodbye to my Singaporean friend. I later gave her my email to keep in touch. Yesterday, I saw a sign outside saying Yak Cheese. I really wanted to buy it but I thought I will buy it tomorrow. I've never tasted Yak Cheese but I would imagine it to be creamy and sublime. Unfortunately, I forgot all about it and I really regretted that. I also forgot to photograph the entrance of the guesthouse however I can tell you the name of it is Hungryeye Guesthouse. As I was leaving, I saw these two quite elderly ladies backpacking, no porter, no walking stick and no knee braces. I asked where they were heading to and they were hiking back to Pokhara and if memory serves me right, hike back to Kathmandu. That is amazing! I told them they may even be younger than me. Knee braces hugged my knees and a walking stick was in my grasp and a porter carrying my bag. I felt like dust was flowing in my veins.

today's hiking was absolutely beautiful
Hiking today was nice. The view this morning was definitely a great start to the day. However, the trail was mostly down which took a toll on the knees. Fortunately for me, I brought my knee braces which helped a lot but I really did enjoy myself, no stress... amazing sceneries... I walked real slow that a snail may have had a chance in racing with me. I finally accepted that this hike was hard and that I should just go with the flow as my body tells me to than to push myself as if it were a race. People kept over taking me which of course hurt my pride but in the end I wanted to see this journey through remembering all the beautiful little details than to remember how tough and painful it was. There were quite a few streams to photograph. Porters can tell my knees hurt like hell. They asked me if I was tired and if my knees hurt with a friendly smile. I chuckled and smiled back, "A little". I had my pride to maintain, not that there was much left already. Some of them spoke malay too which made me feel quite a bit at home.

a number of streams
Today's path mainly consists of grassy plateau, streams and at the later of the day, we reached a guesthouse but my guide said if I could, to continue and continue we did. For reasons you will see soon. We went through a misty forest. It was surrounded by clouds. Mysterious and enchanting.... It was really intriguing but the constant humidity caused the mud to be thick and it got slippery. The clouds didn't leave me worried but the sound of thunder in the distance. I thought the guesthouse would be close by but it was still quite a distance and the rain eventually caught up with us. Fortunately the guesthouse was nearby and I only had to walk for about 15 minutes when the rain got heavier.

I have somewhat overcome my fear of leeches
Just in time, when we reached the guesthouse, Mountain Discovery, the rain got a lot worse.We finally checked in and the view was truly amazing. I manage to see a rainbow when the rain was getting lighter. As I was photographing the rainbow and mountains right outside my room, I saw Mr. Shiva sitting on a bench, just looking at the mountains and clouds for quite some time, and I thought to myself... Him, traveling here numerous times and still he does not get bored of nature's miracles. Going through the humid forest, I got bitten by three leeches. First one was real smart, it bit me on my vein at my fore arm, slicky little bugger! but my guide helped took it out. (It eventually left a scar and it looked like I was a junkie. Even when I returned to Malaysia and donated blood, the nurse asked what happened. hehe), second was on my right leg but it was gone however blood was still seeping out. The third one was also on my right leg and it was still clinging on. Personally, I freak around leeches! Although I heard they suck the bad blood, it is very much they way they look and move that makes my skin crawl and spine tingle. They don't have much of a neat eating etiquette as compared to mosquitos. They're... messy and slimy. But mosquitos carry more plagues. I thought to myself, it's only day three of the hike, it's a great time to face my fears now so why not let the guy drink and boy did he grew fat! He eventually dropped off, I thought he would crawl away like he did when he crawled up my leg but that it a neat and lazy escape. After having your stomach's fill, just drop form your victim. Although he dropped off, blood kept flowing for more than two hours. It was weird, I never experience this when I had leech bites in Malaysia. I seem to have some sort of allergy to them. I will later find that all my leech bites will leave scars and the spot where I let the guy feast on swell and was filled with liquid. *sigh*. I practically donated him a free meal and he left my wound open for hours... what a waste of blood. The rain later got heavier and HEAVIER.

this is why my guide wanted to stop here, the view is absolutely beautiful!
I had a nice chat with a South American lady who came with her boyfriend and two friends. They were from Argentina. I got to say, Argentinians are easy on the eyes. I had a chat with her while waiting for a shower, eve then... leeches will try to attack you there, got to be vigilant. As it got heavy, I was waiting to get back to my room which was up the stairs, though the distance seems short but the rain was very heavy and I was already is nice dry clothes. I wouldn't want to jeopardize that. Mr. Nama then gave me the umbrella that Mr.Shiva carried. He said it was alright. I took it with a smile and said thank you. I was truly grateful. I later apologise to Mr. Shiva because I took it without asking him but he smiled and said it was fine, what is theirs is mine as well. I really didn't know what to say in return but that it felt like we were family. I wish I could have returned the favor. The night was nice and cold, I checked my leech bite and it was still bleeding although very little now. I placed a small torn tissue over it and slept. There is nothing I can do about it but let the platelets heal my wound.

more photos:

Sun rise view from Poon Hill, made it just in time
There were many cute little flowers on the plains
colour of purple and yellow really pops out
the view going back to Ghorepani with tall trees shading the sun
How my room look like before I left. my paper wrapped potatoes are on the table
The view while I ate my breakfast
Some of the sights while trekking today
Clouds surrounding the mountain
I like how the grass look like, it looks soft enough to sleep on
love the texture of the trees
one of the many streams we passed by
Looking up at the cliffs, so much green and blue
trekkers who gone through placed stones near the streams
more streams
going through the humid forest can find a lot of moss
porters carrying supplies up
misty forest
buffalo's chilling even though rain is getting heavier
clouds... everywhere!