Annapurna Circuit - DAY FOUR

Weather: Hot & Very Humid

Checkpoint: Hungry Eye Guesthouse, Ghorepani

climbing up a hill opposite all the guesthouses

horses grazing where they please
We departed from our guesthouse at 0730 hour. Last night, I was feeling hopeful but as we talked to our guide, we only climbed about 500m up yesterday and to day would be almost twice that! Definitely affected my hope level. We left the guesthouse and we walked and on the opposite side of the guesthouses stood a very steep hill. The climbing took hours, one leg struggling to lift above the other on those steps and it will continue pass lunch time. Even at the beginning of the stairs, the sun has already started to absorb the liquid out of us. My dad was still very tired and had to rest between very short distances. I was worried for him. Shiva said that judging by his pace, he may not be able to continue later on. During the hike up, my dad took a rest and I saw a couple of horses grazing off the track, I stepped away to photograph them. They wore a bell which always rings whenever they moved. The countryside's farm animals are always free to roam about, never in cages or dens, it was definitely very nice to see that their life is not a virtual prison. 

keeper prepping his horse
There were a few pony trek on the way where people can hire a horse and ride it to the top. I was hoping that dad may get better tomorrow if he hired a horse today and maybe tomorrow he'll be stronger. My dad refused as we didn't have enough money. This trek is when you can buy purified water. It was about 70 rupee for a litre. There were two horses by a tree under a shade, one was tied whilst the other was not but still stand next to the other one anyway. My father asked how much would it be to hire a horse? The man in charge said to hire the horse for a day would be $70. My dad looked into his wallet and had only a limited sum of American Dollars so he bargained a little with the man and managed to hire the horse. The guy then prepped a horse. Meanwhile, a herd of donkeys were passing through with their donkey herder in the back. He would make noises to signal to the donkeys when to go or stop. It was like a train of them. But some donkeys would not listen and so the herder would have to "motivate" them by hitting them. Some donkeys ahead would still refuse to move. Stubborn as a mule, was playing in my head but it was interesting to watch. The donkeys listened to their master eventually and continued their way up into the hills. As my dad's horse was ready, my dad sat on it while the keeper leads the way with the horse. I hoped hard that my dad won't fall off because it was quite scary to watch a horse climbing steep stairs, it would definitely be a rough ride as it would hop on occasion. It was funny as well because as it was climbing on to the top, we would hear it fart real loud, "jet propulsion" as my dad would put it. And it did not smell nice either. Very soon, my dad would pass all the trekkers that overtook him in the beginning. So for now, it's just me with Shiva accompanying me.

herd of donkeys carrying heavy items
view beyond the hanging ivy leaves
There were many beautiful sceneries of green hills, blue skies and houses at the bottom. It was a definitely long trip up those stairs. It was so hot and the stairs so steep, I was wondering when it would ever end. I finished my one litre of water again and had to top it off. I realised I was so drenched with sweat, I looked like I just taken a shower with my clothes on. The water was cold because of the higher climate, it tasted so good on a day so hot. Wind was practically absent that day and sweat was still pouring off me. I met the German family that I mentioned about yesterday (a mother and two daughters). They were having tea at a teahouse that had an amazing view. They invited me to join them but I didn't order anything as I still intend on continuing on my journey but I had a talk with them. They are such a lovely family and very friendly. I also met a Malaysian on this trip! She's from Johor. Very friendly and funny. This is her very first hiking trip and I was amazed! Very ambitious although she was also struggling as much as I was, as much as all of us average joes. It is not an easy trip and not for the faint of heart. Up, up, up.... I decided I have to stop and might as well stop for a lunch break. I saw my dad's horse parked at the lunch place and I thought, lunch it is!

view from a tea house
My dad was having a drink with Nama and then also bought a drink for Shiva. He chatted with Nama a fair bit while waiting for me. He has made a decision and wanted to go through it with me. First option was that we both call it quits and go back to the hotel and end this trip early which means to also get an early airplane trip home. The second is that I continue the journey while he goes back and rest in the hotel and he'll wait for me. It wasn't really a hard question to answer, flying more than 3000 km from home and to not see the view I was guaranteed would be a heartbreak so I picked the latter. On a normal case, my father would not just leave me into anyone's care but after knowing the guide and porter a little more, he has trusted them with me because they seem like trustworthy and honest people. He then had to negotiate with the horse keeper again because now, their trip is going down. And it would seem that my dad can reach the place where we started by evening and catch a cab to the hotel by night. After all that is settled, I hugged him goodbye, still worried about him and I'm sure the feelings were mutual. He also gave a hug to Nama and Shiva then got on his horse and left. I also felt ease at my heart, knowing that my dad would be a lot safer in a hotel than in the mountains.

roaming chickens outside the lunch place
I later ordered milk tea and curry chicken rice for lunch. It took a real long while for it to arrive. This Chinese couple I met along the way stopped by and ordered but because it took so long, they decided to leave and tell the lady to cancel their order. I felt like I waited an hour until my lunch arrived. "All those meters I could have covered by now", I thought but no matter. I did give thought into cancelling my order but it was too long after that already to cancel. Mr. Shiva brought it out, describing it's contents which had rice, curry chicken, vegetables and cucumber. I think it was cucumber, it looked rather huge than a normal one. In actuality, I really hate cucumber but I thought I'd give this one a try. It didn't really taste as acute as a normal cucumber so I finished it. Lunch was alright, nothing to shout about. Later in my trek, I felt really hot, and I was sweating profusely although this time it didn't seem quite normal and my neck got itchy. I asked Shiva and Nama to stop and I sat. Next thing I know, I felt my face going slightly numb. I started to get worried and asked Mr. Shiva to look at my face and if it looks alright. He said it's swelling and getting red. Looks like an allergic reaction! I got worried because I never encountered this type of allergy, I don't know if its a mild reaction or could be a serious one. "Oh great, I told my dad I'll be alright and the first thing happened after he left is that my face blew up!". I asked Mr. Shiva what to do and he said we shall wait until it goes away. I drank water and lay down. Mr. Shiva was very nice, we placed my sleeping bag as a pillow as I lay down and both Mr. Shiva and Mr. Nama would check on me to see I get better. I started feeling cold so I wore my jacket. It felt like 30 minutes then I started to feel it's affects wearing off. I finally figured the only thing I ate which was different was that unusual cucumber. I'm not allergic to cucumber normally but this weird huge one, I was. Although my face blew up like a goldfish and it got itchy, it wasn't anything serious like an anaphylactic shock. I smiled at myself and thought, if my brother saw this, I'll never hear the end of it.
views along the road

I didn't take a lot of photos as we were heading into Rhododendron Forest, it was filled with trees which can make photos look quite messy. Somehow, the reaction made me feel more tired. Mr. Shiva ended up taking my camera bag, I was reluctant at first but he insisted saying that I should relax as it is my holiday. I smiled and was convinced. I was glad later on that he insisted because I didn't know how long more I had ahead of me. It started getting harder as there were more stairs! More hours passed and my legs felt like giving way and there was a feeling so strong inside me to tell me to just give up and that I won't make it. It looked and felt quite like that. But I am quite a stubborn mule myself and just shut it out as my legs just kept moving one after the other. The forest was very humid and no amount of wind could penetrate it. More stairs and more stairs, why am I not surprised?

Finally! We reached the first guesthouse but as usual, mine is further down. I talked to Mr. Nama about his family. His father is more than eighty years old and he's still working as a guide! Wow! Look at me, more than sixty years younger than him and I am the one that's walking like an old man with a walking stick. The sun was getting weaker and it was getting really cold. I was so glad to have finally reached the guesthouse. It's the Hungry Eye Guesthouse. This was few of the best guesthouse I've tried. The moment I walked in, to my shocking disappointed tired legs, another two flights or stairs to climb to get to my room. I had to sit on the bed for quite a while before I could do anything. I reached the guesthouse rather late, about close to six. Mr. Shiva then came to my room to take my order which was very nice of him. Orders have to be taken early because they only prepare their meals fresh so it will take a while to cook. It was so cold because my clothes were soaking wet and I had to get out of them. I prepared for a shower and wondering how I would survive in a cold shower. To my surprise they had hot water. I was so happy. It felt like ecstacy to have hot water when I was feeling cold. They also have a seated toilet.

view outside my window
When I came down, I had tomato soup and boiled potatoes and a cup of black tea for dinner. I didn't feel hungry but I know I have to eat if I were to survive my following days on the trek. I expected like one or two potatoes, but they gave me four boiled potatoes! That's a lot. Their tomato soup was amazing! It was simply splendid. I couldn't finish my potatoes so I used tissue paper to wrap them in it so I can have it again for tomorrow's breakfast. I hate wasting and that also means I don't have to pay for another share of potatoes. Mr. Nama got a call from Mr. Kabi saying my dad has reached the hotel and later informed me. I was so grateful, I was really worried whether my dad has reached the hotel but I felt truly relieved then. I thanked Nama numerous times. He told me that I can call my dad using his phone but I told him it's ok. As long as I know my dad is safe, that's all I need to know. I'll meet him when I finished my trek. I was and still grateful to have Mr. Shiva and Nama as my companions on this trek. However, not everyone is quite so fortunate as me. Turns out, the Singaporean lady I met in the first guesthouse is my nextdoor neighbour. Unfortunately, she had an unfortunate incident that the company she signed up with told her she didn't pay enough and thus can't even do Poonhill let alone the ABC trek. She was angry, naturally, and lectured her guide and called the agency. It was too bad she couldn't continue her trip to ABC, it would've been nice to see a familiar face. No one that spend this much on a beautiful trek should be scammed. I talked to her for a bit before hitting the bed.

I excrutiatingly walked back to my room and did some stretching and applied deep heat rub. I was tired but I had to complete my journal entry so I won't miss a thing. My guide says if weather is good tomorrow, we can catch the sunrise at Poonhill lookout point.

more photos:
golden sun rays hitting the hills on a blue sky
horse wearing a bell and it rings wherever they go
donkeys carrying heavy things
snowy mountain behind the grassy hills
beautiful views everywhere you go
I love their chickens, so colourful and a variety of patterns

chickens eating everything and everywhere
trail after lunch
horse parked at the teahouse
a place that keeps all the donkeys. They're so free to roam anywhere
little waterfalls along the way in the forest
opening the window for"aircond"but the lights attract the bugs