We are up early and have our trek bags ready to go. We are being picked up by Dhana Raj, our porter who we are yet to meet and a driver. I have read of a Nepali superstition that it is bad luck to start a journey on a Tuesday or return on a Saturday- it would appear that our trek is to be a good luck day departure - Sunday! Excellent news- let's move on full of optimism! Destination is Besisahar (Altitude 760m), about 5 1/2 - 6 hour drive from Tings. We bid a fond farewell to the crew at Tings and we are off. We meet Santos (23 years old) who is to be our porter, we instantly jettison a couple more items from our packs.
We have a private vehicle for the trip to Besisahar, it suddenly feels like overkill- I think we could fit another 6 people with us and still have room. Tales I have read of catching public buses start to make me feel very non-trekker. Still, it is going to be a comfortable start.
The drive is enjoyable, I spend all of my time in awe of the countryside. I enjoy
Chai and biscuits
the traffic and the trucks on bends, the houses and the people we pass. I enjoy the speeds of 90km/hr on single lane roads. It's like driving in country Western Australia without the kangaroos. We stop in a little town called Mugling and have chai, a packet of biscuits (first of many) and a squat toilet break. All is good.
Arrive in Besishar and stop for lunch - our first (and I think the best) dhal bhat, followed by yoghurt (dohee) that we mix with rice (as per Dhana Raj's instructions), before our climb up to Puma Village. Santos disappears- he apparently has gone to get more rope to secure our bags with. We pass through a checkpoint with our TIMS cards and we are off... the trek begins.
We are doing a village homestay route for our first 4 days of the 17. It will be good to enjoy a quiet start and actually get to stay in the villages, observing and interacting in the local culture. Puma Village is at 1850m so we have about 1090 vertical m to climb.
After seemingly thousands of steps we have scaled half a mountain (hill), looking back down
Best Dhal Bhat of the trip
at Besisahar is pretty cool, unbelievable views already. I think coming from Perth (31.5m above sea level)- dead flat, any height gives the impression of a view. We meet many villagers on the way up, all converse with Santos and Dhana, we are always greeted with a Namaste. It is an enjoyable, hot and sweaty 2 1/2 hours climb. Dhana calls ahead to the village and within 10 minutes a few young guys from the village come to meet us. 3 hours after setting off we arrive at our host home for the night.
Surya Kumari is a member of the Mother's Union, she lives with her mother, and 2 other women. One of the women is deaf mute and quite elderly, her role is to feed the cattle, she scales the haystack with agility despite her age. We survey the village- there are about 45 house in total. With the air starting to chill and the colours changing around us we have ginger tea and fried rice sticks. The views of The Annapurnas are breathtaking and are now bathed in pink light. The first of some 2100 photos are taken (I only wish now that I had discovered
Off we go
half of the settings on my new camera, my pics don't do that first sunset justice).
We are shown to our room, there are 4 beds each with heavy quilts, we unpack some warm gear and join Surya and her mum in the kitchen then we all sit together to eat Surya's dhal bhat. It is later on in the trek that I appreciate the village dhal bhat over that of the teahouse dhal bhat. Early night - 8pm- head off to bed. Our room is above the buffalo stall, we sleep our first night in this fragrant but cosy room. There is also a light bulb (and it seems to be working!). Dhana and Santos are to sleep on the ground outside the kitchen - I feel guilty as there are 2 empty beds in our room - we offer them up but they won't accept.
I sleep all night not waking till 5.30, didn't hear boo from the buffalo!
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