Sanctuary at Annapurna, part 2

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November 19th 2009
Published: December 12th 2009
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Annapurna South looms ahead

Day 7 - The Himalaya Hotel to ABC

Part 2 begins with a drama! Tired from a few days of tough trekking, and not really that fussed about savouring the stunning mountain views, Nina and Lisa decide that they don't want to continue up to ABC, and will instead retire to the comforts of lower-altitude Bamboo, where we will meet them the next day. So, saying our goodbyes, we regretfully split the group and watch as the girls and Ratna #2 head off back down the track. We forge onwards, in what will be a huge trek day - we ascend about 1,200 metres, passing through a steep-sided valley leading us to Deorali and then Machhupuchhre Base Camp (a phallasy, as the holy mountain has never and cannot be climbed - although Kirsten thinks she knows an easy way up the east face...), where we pause for lunch and more yoga. By now the views are stunning, and we already feel as though we're actually in the Himalayas. A further short hike gets us to ABC. With each step, an epic panorama of peaks reveals itself a little more, until we're truly surrounded by a huge, white
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ABC - our destination!
mountain amphitheatre. We settle in for the night, but not before witnessing a sublime sunset which casts Machhupuchhre in dark pink, and a multi-national game of Phase 10 comprising New Zealander, Australian, Bulgarian, Nepalese and Americans... and for once, no Swedes!

Day 8 - ABC to Bamboo

After a truly cold night, we wake early to see yet another sunrise spectacular. Here, we don't get the awesome colours of Poon Hill, but the backdrop is just so much closer - it surrounds and towers over us. We spend half an hour getting the obligatory naff photos of ourselves, then start the long descent back down to Bamboo, to meet the girls. I have to say that after passing MBC, where we saw the sun flaring behind Fish Tail's peak, I started to get a bit weary, and after a few hours I was tired and thoroughly fed-up of trekking! With a bit of food inside me, and noting what amazing scenery stilln surrounded me, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and ploughed on. Our arrival in Bamboo was greeted with a huge crowd of screaming girls (well, 2 anyway!), as the crew was re-united. Our tales of stunning
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The setting sun colours the clouds pink at ABC
mountain vistas were matched by the best veggie burger of the trip, so success was claimed on both sides. Dinner brought the inevitable game of cards, which Lisa (having amused us no end with a bit of a slip-up concerning an Italian fella) again won. Damned Swedish luck!

Day 9 - Bamboo to Jhinudanda

The girls were feeling spritely after 2 days rest, so we practically bounded along and down the trail, back through Sinuwa and up the other side of the valley to Chhomrong. Our destination was Jhinudanda, a short, steep descent from there. One of the main reasons we were moving so fast was that Jhinudanda has a hot spring, and we would spend a blissfull few hours letting it's waters soothe and reinvigorate us. Trekking isn't all hard work you know! A note of warning for anyone visiting here - don't try to swim in the river! One foolish (and bloody lucky) woman was nearly swept away after going for a dip in the icy water.

Day 10 - Jhinudanda to Lhandruk

Today was frankly one I'd rather forget! I woke during the night with diorrhea, and Lisa spent the night vomitting. Our
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Ratna, Kirsten and me at ABC
progress was therefore pedestrian, and so Ratna decided to book us in to Lhandruk, a small village several hours shy of our intended target. I got steadily worse and spent the rest of the day in bed (and in the toilet!).

Day 11 - Lhandruk to Pothana

I woke feeling slightly better, but the day's uphill walking soon tired me out, and it soon became a real effort to lift one foot in front of the other. We rested frequently, and after a brief flat-coke revival and some dodgy mashed potatos (served as a soup...) made it to Pothana, where I collapsed on the bed. Kirsten decided to take her life in her hands by riding a wooden ferris wheel (who'd have thought it?!), and after a few hours rest I made it downstairs from some reviving Phase 10. For the second time in his life, Ratna #2 decided to join us and play cards, but after a few hours of reminding him at every turn to pick up, we gave in. Pothana was to be our last night on the trek, and we were part looking forward to the luxuries of Pokhara while also not wanting to
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The rising sun flares behind Machhupuchhre
leave the mountains (well, I think Kirsten and I were - not sure about the girls!).

Day 12 - Pothana to Phedi

Our last day on the trek is a short one. We wake to have breakfast on the lawn beside our lodge,. with the majestic Machhupuchhre and Annapurna range providing a fitting backdrop in the crisp, clear morning light. We walk through the small village of Dhampus, amid millet fields and past farms, with a long view down towards Pokhara filling our view. The last stretch of the trail is a tough one though... stone steps all the way down to the main highway at Phedi. In the full sun, it's a tiring hour-long descent, but the end is now in sight so we take it at a fairly fast pace. Reaching the bottom and climbing down off the last step gives a great sense of achievement, but as we board a local bus to take us back into town, the peace and slow pace of the mountains quickly leaves us, and we're squashed onto the back seats with locals pushing up against us and Nepalese music blasting out from the rear speaker.

Arriving back in
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Women in the millet fields at Lhandruk
Pokhara is like re-entering the civilised world! I shave for the first time in nearly two weeks, take a hot shower and throw practically all of my clothes into the laundry. After catching up on the essentials (internet, cappuccino, chocolate cake...), we all meet up for dinner at a Lakeside restaurant... Ratna's shout. Sadly I'm still feeling a bit rough so hardly touch my cheese-fest supposed-to-be-pasta-but-not dish, but that doesn't stop the evening from going down as one of the more bizarre meals I've ever had! Our porters arrive drunk, so Gopal slumps down in his chair with his baseball cap over his face, while Ratna #2 pushes on with a conversation with Lisa about a dream he had the previous night (the less said the better!) then struggles to eat his first ever steak with a knife and fork! Our table entertains pretty much the entire restaurant, most of which stares at us for the majority of the meal. Thankfully, we'll all happen to be in Kathmandu in a few days time, so we arrange a reunion where we'll try to do things properly!

My next day is spent in Pokhara, catching up with essentials and eating some fine food with Kirsten (not rice, macaroni or noodles - yey!), before catching a bus early the next morning to take me south to the Royal Chitwan National Park.

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12th December 2009

Stunning photos son, I hope you feel better and I am sure that even though you felt a bit off, you thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
12th December 2009

Fantastic photos
Very envious of your trip to Nepal. Can't wait to see all your photos.
13th December 2009

Wonderful pictures! Makes me want to go REAL BAD... each shot tells a story, thanks!
13th December 2009

Thanks Stephen - Nepal has been great, and the trek was a definite highlight!
13th December 2009

Well I still don't feel great, but it was great fun - would love to come back and do another one!

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