Day 13 - Muktinath to Kagbeni

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April 23rd 2019
Published: May 8th 2019
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Today we had a late start at 08:00. Original plan was to go to the Kagbeni Monastery before breakfast but Sudarshan decided we should eat first. So we all had fried eggs on toast and it was probably the best we’ve had on this trip. Food at Hotel Buddha was amongst the best we’ve had.

After breakfast, Sudarshan gave us an option to visit the Muktinah Temple by horse-back which we thought would be a novel way plus I thought I would be a good test my bad knee on the steep walk back towards the town. We left around 09:00 and all enjoyed the ride up which took about 10 minutes. You cannot ride a horse back in any case, which I am hoping is a way to give the horses a break before taking more people upwards.

This temple complex has a very busy Hindu temple and a much quieter Buddhist area with a giant Buddhah looking out towards the Himalayan range. At the Hindu temple there were yogis who would bless you (for a donation) and many people washing themselves in a couple of pools of holy water and a semi-circular row of showers. The Buddhist section had a small temple with an “Eternal Flame” kept going by a natural gas leak. Nick said that if it ever went out, the whole thing would blow up if someone came along with a match to restart it. We stayed at the complex for about 50 minutes and walked back down to town. I was intending to hike today but started to feel my knee twinge again , so decided it was best to not hike and join Vicki in a jeep which had already been booked.

Back in town we did a bit of shopping before returning to the hotel. The youngsters started their hike and Vicki and I had to wait about 90 minutes for the jeep to arrive. Leaving about noon, we were told to get in and the porters loaded up the jeep but didn’t get in and we were a bit confused as we drove off and the driver explained that the porters were not allowed to get in the jeep until we were out of the city limits. A rather strange rule to us.

Along the way we basically saw what we would have seen on the hike as the last two hikes mainly follow the road. We caught up with the youngsters about 15 minutes into the drive. The views were spectacular valley views and as we got closer to Kagbeni, the road went down very steeply and this was the main reason I had decided not to hike. We arrived in Kagbeni about 13:30 and decided to have lunch at the Paradise Hotel. The food took a long time coming and the youngsters actually arrived before we got our food, so we ended up waiting for everyone to eat before exploring the town.

After lunch Sudarshan and all the porters came along with us to visit the Kagbeni Monastery. Mitch wasn’t feeling the best and decided to just rest at the hotel. The monastery is a training school for Buddhist monks. We asked Sudarshan if it was OK for us to take photos of the young monks and monk who seemed to be charge came over with a very young boy who was just 5 and the youngest student in the monastery. He explained to us that the boys here come from different circumstances. Sometimes the child is an orphan, sometimes from a broken family, sometimes sent there by a family to study. There were two temples, the original being over 500 years old and new one right next to it which is just a few months old. We paid 200 rupees each and a young 17 year old monk was appointed as our guide. He spoke very good English which they learn in the monastery. He mentioned that one of the teachers is from Australia. He took us into the old temple and he explained quite a lot about the artifacts contained in the temple. We could also see on a higher floor a large Tibetan trumpet and someone was practicing it. Just outside in the corridor he explained the wheel of life that was painted on the wall. We were not permitted to take photos in the old temple but were free to do so when we entered the new temple. They no longer use the old temple and every morning the monks enter this new temple for prayers.

We asked the young monk how he came about to being a monk. We were told earlier that they sometimes make a decision as young as 10 as to whether or not to stay on but he told us that the decision was made for him by his father, but he was happy about it and that it is an honour for him and his family in his village.

After the tour we chatted with a couple we had met earlier who were doing their own thing, so had to find accommodation for the night. So there are quite a few people carrying all their own gear without a guide or porter. As far as I’m concerned it is hard enough as it is, so feel quite happy to have been spoilt.

We all then walked around Kagbeni for about 40 minutes before deciding to go into the YacDonalds Café where we wanted to try Himalayan organic coffee and apple crumble. The latter was nice but the cappuccino we ordered was drinkable but not like we’re use to. Krissy decided to try a salt tea but she couldn’t drink it. We sat there chatting for quite some time before deciding to do a bit more walking. Back towards the hotel there was suddenly a big pack of goats were being herded down the path and there was one straggler who got chased by two little kids. I started taking photos of them then the little boy ran up with his hand up to stop me photographing, then his little sister came over and try to kick me. They then tried to block our way as a game so we humoured them while Vicki went back to her room to get some toy koala key rings that she has been giving out (with mixed responses, mainly “no response”). However these two just loved them and were very happy to receive their koalas. They were very cute but in definite need of a good bath and scrubbing.

We then returned to our hotel to have dinner and an early night as the plan was to leave at 07:00. Original plan was that Vicki was to go by jeep and the rest of us would hike to Jomsom. However a group we had met earlier were saying that Marpha was suppose to be an interesting place to visit so Vicki had decided to get the jeep to take her to Marpha and then wait an hour or so and then return her to Jomsom. The price however to do that was 7,000 rupees rather than just 3,500 rupees to Jomsom.

After dinner I decided to look at the Marpha option as well and decided that I would also like to see Marpha, so decided to put my alternative option of driving to Marpha, which is further away than Jomsom and then perhaps hiking back from Marpha to Jomsom to the the others in the morning.

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