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Published: December 26th 2007
The Annapurna Circuit
- dubbed the "apple pie trail" is the most popular trekking track in Nepal. It takes 2-3 weeks to complete and reaches a maximum height of 5416m at the top of the Throng La Pass, which is now covered in a good coating of fresh snow.
We had a fantastic time - despite Matt being as sick as a dog for almost the entire trip and throwing up more than 16 times! It wasn't very physically demanding in comparason to the trek in the Everest area, but the landscape was much more diverse and culturally it was far more interesting. All of the villages we passed through were permanent settlements for locals unlike the summer ones set up entirely for tourists in the Everest area. Every day we'd pass school kids running home from school, farmers working on their crops and herding donkeys with large bags of rice to far-flung destinations. It was strange being nearly the only tourists on the track - such a contrast to trekking in the peak season. One of the pluses was that it was a little cheaper and we didn't have to embark on a mad race each day to find
View from Poon Hill
a bed for the night.
Matt enjoyed 3 rounds of
table tennis in Humde on a very rough, but unique home-made table tennis table. His opponents - clad in their Nepalese police puffer jackets - proved to be more of a match than he expected. I suspect they spend a fair deal more time challenging eachother to table tennis matches than working! It was very amusing watching Matt - who was very much in 'the zone' - spring around in his rainbow hat and adidas shorts as it started snowing.
It was still snowing lightly as we trundled into Manang, at 3570m, where we spent an extra day to help with acclimitisation.
After stocking up on
sweets and popcorn we headed to a make-shift movie theatre (but a movie theatre all the same!) to watch 7 years in tibet with Polly and Joe and an old Dutch man. Meanwhile a group of Israelis were celebrating the jewish hannaukah festival with copious amounts of local brew and marijuana. The english couples guide had apparently joined in on the party and it was very amusing watching him try to score an old frizzy-haired Western woman. It snowed the whole day
in Manang so our plans of trekking up to the Ice Lake went down the drain and we sat on our bums eating and chatting to the other trekkers for the whole day.
"Hotel Bob Marley" was my favourite
tea house - despite their lack of "Bob cake" (apparently only baked in high season) and the Bob Marley legends CD being slaughtered. They played it the WHOLE evening and whenever the power cut (about 7 times) the CD started playing from track one again! But we didn't worry about a thing
The pinnacle...the high point...the 5416m Throng La Pass
was FREEZING!! We were very lucky with the weather - some groups just 2 days ahead of us had to turn back because the pass was snowed in. Matts running shoes held up and despite his minor frostbite he was in good spirits as we reached the "congradulations for the success" sign at the top - could they make it any cheesier?!
When I ordered a wholesome
trekkers museli for breakfast one morning I wasn't expecting to nearly break a tooth on a metal bolt. But in Nepal anything goes!
3 days ago we said our teary goodbyes
to the world
Thorung Phedi village gate
Our last stop before the pass
of Dal Bhat, frozen bathroom pipes and trundled into the "real Nepal" town of Naya Pul at the end of the circuit. After watching Matt give an older Nepalese man a handshake a young boy stepped out into the middle of the track and put his hand out for one. It was really cute, but shows how tourists are changing the country.
After having grown a good mop of facial hair
and losing a few kg Matt started to resemble the handsome Brad Pitt after 7 years in Tibet. A friendly roadside barber fixed it yesterday, sadly. Afterwards he claimed that Matt was a "new man" but needed a new haircut to seal the title, typically!
Boasting over 25 varieties of
steak, the Everest Steak House set our taste buds on fire on our first evening back in Pokhara. In fact, we headed straight there, with our big packs and sweaty clothes, and by the time we made it back to our hotel they had already padlocked the gate! But it was well worth it - there was nothing like a 400g chunk of meat to seal the end of Matt's tragic 3 week weightloss programme.
After washing our
smelly socks we spent a few daysrelaxing in Pokhara and had fun navigating our way across the Phewa Tal lake (which proved much more difficult than the local row men make it look), biking through the old town, catching up with friends we made trekking, robbing a few banks and taunting orange sellers.
We're now back in hectic Kathmandu and after just 2 hours a jewler was trying to catch Matt out with a silly gem scam! Tomorrow we're heading overland to the Nepal-India border.
Where to for christmas?
If all goes to plan we'll be striding out of the train station in Varanasi on christmas morning to greet my dear rickshaw driver friends. After accepting a slab of tasty home-made fruit cake from them we'll be taken to the CORRECT hotel, charged the local price and then our dear friend shall bid us farewell with a big grin. I wish! But I think santa has higher priorities! We will keep you posted either way.
I wish you all a fantastic christmas - don't forget to start the day with a cup of fresh carrot juice (Dulkara style) and to eat plenty of vegetables with that turkey!
See you later alligators and
Happy New Year!
Don't forget to check out the second page of pics!
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