Kagbeni (2850m) to Chele (3100m)
Over breakfast the Norwegians tell us they have been in Nepal filming a doco on death rites and rituals around the world. They have been in the Upper Mustang interviewing a Lama on the old ways (maybe on sky burial?). Some people have really interesting jobs. We have also met wind turbine engineers, an artist, a guy who works for Garmin, a perfusionist, a psychiatrist, engineer/ultrasonographer of pipes, nurses, a radiographer, you name it....Catch up with the Polish guys- the sunburnt face is looking pretty good- my humanitarian mission is complete! We are walking through Kagbeni by 0730 and entering the.... restricted zone
(sounds a bit super spy....). It's chilly this morning but there is no wind (yet). We reach the TIMS office and Dhana waves us on, pointing us in a generally northerly direction. Mary and I head off up the hill, the one with the chortens at the very top. Nice easy climb, have to make a decision on which direction to take only once and are rewarded with an amazing view from the top. Taking lots of photos when we notice a tiny little figure way down at the bottom of the
hill waving frantically... waving at us.... waving at us to come down. We wonder if there has been an emergency or an impending natural disaster - nope - we just took the wrong path. Didn't need to climb the hill! We should have gone round. OK..... Chastised we resume our walk- the right way, but I am actually really glad we went the wrong way to the top of the hill. Wonderful views of Kagbeni and the mountains.
Rerouted, we are then actually walking on the road (the middle one), I am really hoping we aren't going to be on a road the whole way. We walk for a couple of hours and the 3 French (Belgian) guys we saw in Kagbeni yesterday, and their guide pass us. Stop for a quick snack by the side of the road- still on the road at this stage. A large group of French pass us- they report very snowy conditions that they hadn't anticipated- sounds good to me! We pass the French (Belgian) guys. We are now in the midst of soaring cliffs, like the 12 Apostles in Australia, but composed of sand and stones- they are amazing. Finally get off
road and the French (Belgians) pass us... this tag team progress continues pretty much all day. We finally get off the road (shortcut) and descend into the valley via a huge scree slope- it's good fun half falling, half running down. Make an ascent to the village of Tangbe (3050m). Along the path there is a doll like effigy- made from tar and straw, surrounding it are numerous colourful dream catchers- apparently they are placed to appease evil spirits, not sure about the doll. We reach the chortens that mark the village entry- they are red, black and white and become a very familiar sight as the trek progresses. The village actually looks a lot like Kagbeni; medieval with tall stone structures.
Another hour and a half of easy walking brings us to Chuksang (2980m). The soaring cliffs are quite unique, a reddish/coral colour. We stop for lunch overlooking the barley fields, we watch as one woman spends all her time lading water from the irrigation ditches running through the fields onto the muddy walls. In the middle of each field is a small stone cairn and flag- an offering? The Belgians arrive and we finally, formally meet over
It is a real problem, so many of the villages just toss it down a hill at the backend of the village
Tibetan Noodle Soup. We leave around 1430 for Chele. This section is a mix of visible caves in the sandstone cliffs and heavy duty machinery. The roadworks are very evident- there are a lot of pipes and stones caged in metal wire. The last little climb up into Chele is steep but certainly not arduous.
The wind has kicked in by the time we arrive at the Bishal Guesthouse.
We have a room on the roof accessed by steep stairs. It's a dusty little room but wow, such a view- it has 2 large windows showcasing snowy peaks and red towering cliffs. What a contrast. Set up our sleeping bags, our beds are decked out with a Noddy print sheet and matching pillowcase - Nepal never ceases to throw up strange little quirks! Head downstairs for some Yatzee, and a pre-dinner Tibetan Gift Shop hard sell from a guy called Dawa who is caretaking the guesthouse while the owners are away. Dawa is unimpressed that we don't want to buy his Tibetan Singing Bowls or jewellery, etc. The Belgians, who are also staying here, endure the wrath of Dawa by daring to speak and socialise while he is doing
his hardsell. I am really shocked when he actually shouts at them, we decide we absolutely aren't interested in anything he has to sell or say, we would rather get to know the Belgians. They now have names- Nicolas, Etienne and Vincent.
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