AKA Day from Hell
I think the Upper Mustang sounds intriguing. We had met a Malaysian couple in Muktinath last year at the end of the Annapurna Circuit who were absolutely in awe after completing their trek through the region and this really piqued my interest. I came home, did a lot of reading and watched every youtube clip on it known to man. Given that it is in the restricted zone it was going to be a costly exercise- USD$500 for a 10 day permit, 2 lots of flights (KTM-POK-JOM-POK-JOM) for us and the guide, as well as the usual daily costs. Bit of a discussion with Mary. Decision made- we would do it. Now that this was the morning that we would actually start I was really excited. The plan was for a taxi to pick us up from the Candle at 0700 and we'd drive to Beni, from Beni we would get a jeep to Jomsom, well.... that was the plan.
Woke to an amazingly clear view of Machapuchare (Fishtail Mountain), part of the Annapurna Himal. The Candle earns a point for the view. Our porter, Santos, meets us at 0630 at breakafst. Santos was our
porter last year, it is really nice to see him again- he looks a bit older- must be the haircut and new clothes, he is still as quiet. In the taxi before 0700, stopping for some photos of an equally as clear Dhaulagiri I. Last year everything was obscured by haze, this year it's stunning. We reach Beni before 1000 and have a cup of tea and some biscuits at a cafe while Dhana goes off in search of the jeep to Jomsom. He comes back and we take our stuff over to the ...... clapped out little white car that is not a jeep. Dhana says there are no jeeps available... hmmm. This is the one time in the entire trip that I actually feel really
pissed off. Without going into it, I expressed my deep displeasure and spend many hours sitting in that little car fuming. Fuming for many reasons, the main one being the fact that we would now be definitely staying overnight in Jomsom not Kagbeni thus losing a day walking in the Upper Mustang, I also felt we were being "taken for a ride". It wasn't a good start.
The drive was interesting
it was punctuated by many tyre changes (weird when there are only 5 available tyres), countless stops to fill the radiator (that would be the radiator without a radiator cap), engine failure (without a word of a lie, I can honestly say the engine died at least 60 times), AND the most interesting occurrence- impalement of the car on a rock.... I would say that Dhana and Santos actually pushed the car for several kilometers of the drive. Locals pushed the car, people on motorbikes stopped and pushed the car.... All in all it was a 12 hour drive as we limped into Jomsom in the pitch black. We actually didn't think we'd get there. I thought we'd end up camping as it was dark when we were driving through the last parts of river bed and through water. AND, we didn't have any lunch. AND we were passed by lots of jeeps...
Dhal bat for a very late dinner at the Tilicho Hotel
where we stayed last year. Perched on the airport boundary, our room was good, it had an ensuite and wifi. Had a little reminisce about our last night last year. Went to bed having decided
Sunny photo stop
Taxi 1 Pokhara -Beni, comfortable and in good condition...
that tomorrow is another day.
Addit- The drive was actually interesting in terms of the "whole package" experience - the scenery was interesting and different to other drives we had already done in Nepal. The bridges, the river, the dodgy roads and the trillions of rocks and stones are what makes Nepal so unique. Took quite a few photos as you can see but have a look at the video- driving in Nepal is never dull.
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