Annapurna Circuit - DAY SIX

Weather: Sunny, Rain
Checkpoint: Bamboo

Nothing like sitting off a cliff and sticking my feet out into the world. It's been so fun!

the morning sight of the guesthouse
The sound of my alarm woke me up and I was reluctant to do so. For the first time, I needn't wait until it went off, however, the further up we go, the more I wish I woke earlier than my alarm. It was a good rest and definitely the one I needed. Today, it was going to be more difficult than planned because it was the time I have been expecting the inevitable, unfortunately.... my period came. That means stomach crams and back pain. I brought my menstrual panadol and ate it but I did have some pains along the way. It's going to make the trip more difficult, painful and uncomfortable. At breakfast, I made some conversation with the other trekkers. Turns out the Argentinian group did not leave as early as they expected, they initially thought to leave at 0630 hour but later had breakfast about the same time as everybody else. There was a German couple whom I just met, they hiked without a guide or porter, just on their own using a map and carrying their own weight. Wow. I also made conversation with a Chinese couple. Though I am of chinese origin, I can't really speak my mother tongue, shame to say. However, I spoke a little broken Mandarin and they spoke little broken English. I also met an American man who is a doctor and volunteered here to teach a medical school for six months. He is using this two weeks to discover a little of Nepal before starting his teachings. It is really interesting to meet people from all walks of life and they are all here to enjoy the same purpose. I never experience anything like it. It opens my mind and heart to it. I can't really explain it but it felt very special that I was a part of this, like a spiritual awakening, if you will.

mountain discovery lodge. The view is amazing

Hills sculptured by crops and huts
Initially, it was downhill and the view was spectacular. You could see the hill formation, sculptured with layers of crops and huts. They grew plenty of beans, rice, corn and cucumber. What goes down, must come up.. After the torture my knees endured the other day, descending the mountain seemed a lot easier now and wouldn't mind going down for the rest of the day but of course, it is only the beginning. Very soon, we have to go up again. Going up was a long journey, along the way, my guide showed me the local schools. Both primary and secondary. The students have to climb up the mountain in order to reach school everyday. I asked my guide when they have classes, he said Monday to Saturday 0900 hour to 1500 hour (if memory serves me correct for their schooling hours). A few secondary school girls were behind me and they were walking very casually in their uniforms and were talking and taking breaks in between. They never broke a sweat and here I was, struggling to climb up this mountain and I told myself that they are walking real slow and talking, I must stay ahead of them or my pride will take a huge beating. Then I remembered the lesson that came to me that I shouldn't push myself, it's not even midday and if I were to use unnecessary energy now, it would be a total waste. In times like these, you learn to put your pride to one side in order to enjoy your trip. Eventually, I stopped and rest and the girls overtook me. I smiled at them and they smiled back. Oh... my pride. When I caught up with them, they were in fact... sitting and talking. Yes, the one time I manage to overtake locals is when they were chilling by the side of the trail. When they tried to make way for me, one of them, her slipper fell from her foot and I took her slipper and passed it to her. She smiled sweetly at me, when we saw each other again, she gave me a flying kiss. I felt so loved by the people here.

Crops of beans

School girls walking to school.
While we rest, I asked my guide, Shiva where he learned his English because it was really good and he understood a lot. He thanked me and explained that the English language had always fascinated him and it was his favourite subject when in school but because he loves the countryside even more, he didn't go to the city to study further. I guess this has always been the contradiction that plays in our hearts, a place of haven and beauty versus the opportunistic concrete jungle. We all have to make sacrifices. It's what we eventually think is priority I suppose. But I feel that moving towards the city and away from nature... something gets lost in the middle, but it goes both ways. I brought a couple of books with me; one of it was A Deadly Communion by Frank Tallis which I was reading at the moment and I brought another, the classical Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I remembered watching the movie with my mother when I was a kid and to have seen the book in a book sale, I knew I had to have it. I love horses, I always have ever since I could remember. I remembered telling my best friend (when I was back in kindergarden) that I wished I had a horse. It need not matter if it were black or even purple in colour, as long as I had one, I'd be the happiest! I didn't know then that there were no purple colour horse but a child's imagination knows no bounds. I bought Black Beauty a few months before and brought it along knowing I'd enjoy the read in the cold and high climate of the mountains once I rest at my checkpoint. But hearing what Mr. Shiva had to say about his favourite language being English, I thought that the book served a higher purpose if it were in his hands. The English in it was very understandable and it was about a lovely horse, unlike Deadly Communion which involves lust murders and psychology conclusions of the murderer and also has quite complex English. I knew he would understand Black Beauty perfectly, somehow, it was meant to be. I didn't want to bring it along at first because I didn't want to pack too much weight but I brought it eventually and of all books, the classical one with pleasant English. It was fate that I should not ignore. Besides, It wasn't a hard decision to make. That book cost RM8 in a sale and classical books are often cheap. I had that book for months but haven't got around to reading it yet and was really excited and really looking forward to but... I would feel much happier if Mr. Shiva has it.

donkeys feeding
We passed a village and their donkeys had little sacks on their mouths. I didn't know what it was for. Silly me, I thought it was to keep them quiet like a muzzle for dogs. Mr. Nama then explained to me that it was in fact, a method to feed the donkeys. I was astounded! So intriguing. Oh, city folks are excited about everything here! After taking their photos feasting in their little sacks, I walked up some more and found a structure where they kept corn and it was a big structure that holds so many corn. It looked so pretty with all the yellow! So fascinating! Later, We had lunch rather early but it seemed normal for the people here to eat past 1100 hour. I found it a tad early and always ate around 1300 hour. We reached Chhomrong and it was downhill again. Mr. Shiva asked if I was hungry. At first, I said no but I could see he was trying to passively tell me that this was a nice place to eat. He didn't insist on it but I could see it in his body language. I then changed my answer and said, "okay, lets eat here". We ate in Chhomrong Cottage (Tel: 9756000211 , 9746065895). It was apparently, very famous for it's chocolate cake, my guide asked if I would like some. I told him I would love to try some. I ordered garlic noodle soup and the cake as dessert. The lady of the place made conversation with me and asked where I was from and stuff like that. She wasn't the smiling type even though I smiled after each reply and complimented her cake. She thanked me and when I was done, she asked me to help spread the word about her cottage and gave me her card. I told her sure thing. The noodle coup was mediocre but the cake was quite splendid. It had warm chocolate syrup on top which complemented this cold weather. It made my day.

corn stack

After another long walk, we then took another break and I topped my bottles off with water at the stop. I chatted with Nama a little. I learned he was thirty-five years old and has a wife and two kids back home; one of the kids was aged twelve and the other, ten. How sweet. He showed me a photo of all of them together. He enjoys talking about his family. He's a really nice man. I learned that Mr. Shiva was forty-five years old although he likes conversing, he's quite conservative about his personal life. When we reached the bottom again, we passed a village and a toddler girl said hi to me and I replied hi as well, she then greeted me in Korean. My smile broaden then said the same. Malaysia had a Korean phase, I guess it still does. We had the Korean channel so I knew that she said hi to me in that language.

beautiful scenery
We reached Sinuwa at 1445 hour. It was our checkpoint for today but Mr. Shiva said if I am willing, we can continue to Bamboo (another two hour hike). I thought that to reach our checkpoint so early felt.... weird because I always did feel slow to have reached the normal checkpoint after 1600. I guess, if we continue and reached Bamboo two hours later wouldn't make much of a difference than the previous days so why not? Onward! It was really difficult and the calves were killing me but I knew it will be worth it. Today's trip had a lot of ups and downs but also a few gradual and equal footing. When we were about to reach, I saw a sign that says to not order chicken or beef etc due to their religious beliefs. When I finally reached Bamboo, I was so glad. When Shiva showed me to my room and Nama helped to place my bags in there, I gave Shiva the Black Beauty book. I told him it's a story about a horse and since he loves English so much, I decided to give it to him. He thanked me and said it will surely help him in understanding more. I was really glad. Once I settled in, I realized the German couple whom I met this morning was also staying here in the same place. I took a hot bath although the water pressure was not strong and it was not all that hot either but nonetheless, as long as I felt clean. The hot shower adds another 150 rupee to your stay. There was like... an actual stove in the pump where you could hear the starting of gas and fire and the water becomes hotter and hotter. It started to rain and it got real cold. This place was pretty high so it was really cold! Those jackets finally came in handy.

playing cards to pass the time
Once I was in comfortable dry clothes and in my warm cuddly jacket, I sat in the public area and watched the porters have a little fun by playing cards. I then read my book until dinner time. I later had dinner, something simple (and more importantly, cheap)-- chapati with cheese. It was simple and to my unexpected prediction... little. The people next to me all ordered quite extravagantly. ie Mexican beans with rice and vegetables, Dal Bhat, Chicken Fried Rice etc. I looked at my plate and it looked... puny. I looked around and notice this time, there was nobody I knew or recognize and it feels like I wont be conversing with them anytime soon because they all have their own groups and it wont look like I'll be seeing them again and true enough, I wont. I felt a little lonely, to be honest. Although, I thrive on my own solitude, I wished I could have seen at least a familiar face at the dinner table. I wished my dad could have been here with me. They all were talking in their own language; French, Spanish etc. I felt a little... foreign. But it didn't matter. Although, seeing all their dishes gave mine an impression of insufficiency, it was in actuality more than enough to make my full. I went back to my room and completed the day's journal and went to sleep for a good rest for tomorrow. I could hear the rushing water of a very nearby stream. It could be soothing to one's slumber.......

more photos:
walking pass the villages on our initial route
the trail filled with edible plants
children in the village having their morning breakfast
houses and greenery through the trees
a buffalo grazing
the buffalo's calf hiding under the shades
some herders made beautiful head wear for their donkeys
one of the trails along the way
Chhomrong Cottage. they have good chocolate cake
butterfly on the ground
donkeys in their resting area
a woman cutting off dried corn stalks with a sickle
little kitten cuddled in cloth
a young boy eating some kind of fruit between the cats
locals entertaining each other
cute little white flowers
a tiny frog that looks as if it'll camouflage well among dried leaves
an interesting looking sheep
a local man webbing a basket for porting
water refill station
the forest trees
porters walking back to their initial checkpoint
Looks like an entrance closing in to Bamboo
A sign that requests respect to not order chicken, pork or buffalo