last peak of the mountains behind us
Samar to Chele (8km) to Chungsar (3.5km) to Kagbeni (14.87km)
Second last day. We pack our gear up to the sound of distant drums (from the monastery?), out the window we see the bulls in their pens and chooks crossing the road. The juniper's burning. It's a cloudy morning and there has been fresh snowfall back in Lo Manthang overnight. Second best porridge (with apples) of the Mustang; NPI 9/10. The little kids are running around, they're pretty cute. When we ask the Mum how old the boy is she is busy counting money and absently replies that he is 200! The other daughter quickly chimes in that she is 1200- pretty funny. We leave via the stony track leading out of the village, the plan is to reach Chele for lunch and Kagbeni late afternoon. We reach the valley entrance and get to experience the high, dramatic gorges again. They are just as amazing second time around, such high, high stone faces with the valley floor deep below- stunning. We pass a pretty large group of European trekkers strung out along the track with loaded up horses and mules trailing them. Reach the very long suspension bridge and just
for fun decide that it needs be crossed and recrossed. Mary is instructed to get some photos - I want to try to show the huge scale of it all, even with a hundred shots I don't think you can really capture the depth of the gorge.
Just after the bridge we hit the road building centre- there is a giant of a bulldozer and lots of road building materials. Civilisation begins. The walk into Chele is a stroll really. Arriving at 1030, we stop at the Bishal Guesthouse for a cup of tea and some biscuits (I cannot believe we are still eating these biscuits- Dhana must have shares in McVities). Dawa (and his Tibetan Gift Shop) remembers Mary and brings out the perfume bottle that she was looking at a week ago- he offers it to her again, this time at 40%!o(MISSING)f the initial asking price, he makes the sale. It's a nice momento; turquoise, coral and silver. Didn't get a photo but you can get the gist of it from the google images below. https://www.google.com.au/search?q=tibetan+perfume+bottle&rlz=1C5CHFA_enAU503AU504&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=4lW0UbDCO4jniAfXo4HgDA&ved=0CEAQsAQ&biw=1896&bih=875
Something that is noticeable about our stop this week is the change in colour. The fields are a
deep green and the blossom has come out, it's very beautiful. It's a stark contrast to the barrenness of the Upper Mustang and its rocky, sandy terrain. We pop up to the roof for a sentimental look at our old room, still complete with its Noddy sheets and pillow cases. We head out into emerging sunshine, there is no wind (yet). It's a flat track into Chungsar and only takes 40 minutes. Lunch time! Luckily we ate our biscuits sparingly! We go back to the little guesthouse that we ate lunch at last week, it has had a complete paint job in our absence. As we are tucking into our vege fried rice with egg another couple arrive, we get chatting, as you do. It turns out that Wolfgang and Ingrid are from Germany, they are in their 60's and Nepal veterans. Both speak fluent Nepali having first visited in 1968 and then again in 1982. They lived in Kathmandu for 8 years while Wolfgang worked on the ring-road project. Fascinating.
However fascinating this conversation is, I am completely distracted by a sight out the window. There is a young Nepali guy who looks a lot like Narajen walking
past, closely followed by 3 familiar Belgian looking guys!! Yes, it is them- the Belgians come in, we joke about the superglue effect that we have had on each other. It is a wonderfully unexpected reunion after a final
goodbye only about 14 hours ago. They are actually only there because Tetang, their destination for the day, was closed and no accommodation was available. They will stay at Chungsar and attempt the Pass to Muktinath tomorrow. We finish up and say goodbye, AGAIN. Nicolas remarks that we can actually really
say goodbye this time; having met there 8 days ago, the full circle is now complete. Everyone agrees it is a fitting final farewell.
Ahead of us is the 3-4 hour walk to Kagbeni. We are heading into the wind, I love it. It's an easy walk with only one significant stony hill to climb, a few gentle inclines but pretty much downhill all the way. The river is higher, the wind is getting stronger. The blossom is incredible. We walk right through Tangbe and keep powering on until we see Kagbeni in the distance. It takes us another hour from the first sighting to the sign that tells
us that we are leaving the restricted zone. As we reach Kagbeni a group of 7 are coming off the Annapurna Circuit. I wish we were continuing and going on the Annapurna Circuit! Anyway, we reach the ACAP office in 3 hrs and 20 mins. Total distance covered today - 26.37km - a good effort. Heading into Kagbeni it is warm, sunny and very familiar. Mary and I are planning on a visit to The Green Kitchen. First though we stop at the Hotel Shangrilah, it marks a change in routine, Dhana sends us in to check it out- the decision is on us!! He likes New Asia Trekkers. We prefer Shangrilah- the room is bright, sunny, warm, clean, smells awesome, has a great view, has been freshly repainted and has a flush toilet with a seat that stays on. It also has hot water and a powerpoint, the owner points out. Do we look like we need a shower and a power point? I check myself out in the mirror- yep, I do need a shower, not sure about the powerpoint.
Half an hour later we're at The Green Kitchen, the chocolate cake's in front of us and
I am the little colourful speck in the middle
the coffees are ordered and..... the power goes out..... but not for long. Good coffee! We chat to 2 Germans also hanging out for coffee and cake. They are doing a mountain biking trip and loving it. Their favourite destination to date is West Cuba. They are staying at The Red House with a 300 year old Buddha, we go have a look. Coincidentally, Wolfgang and Ingrid, told us about it at lunch. They were there in 1968 when it was a scary hash house. It is a 3 storey ramshackle hotel with a lot of old stone art and a wonderful, huge Buddha in the temple inside the hotel- very cool. Make an email checking stop at YacDonalds before darkness descends on Kagbeni. We have the Hotel's Special Dish for dinner; new potatoes with sesame seeds, carrots and spinach and a nutmeg cream sauce- interesting. They have put a brazier under our table, it's very cozy. I'm glad we stayed there (thanks Belgians for the recommendation).
Can't sleep. I listen to the dogs barking for many hours. 1 more night.
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