Syangboche (3800m) to Tsarang (3560m)
My day pack is getting heavier by the day. I find I am now carrying apples, cheese and homemade biscuits courtesy of Dhana. I'm not sure if it is
a) an attempt to increasing my general fitness
b) an attempt to vary our diet (I order pretty much the same thing every day)
c) an attempt to reduce our food costs, or
d) excellent pre-planning to avoid the risk that every teahouse on the journey will be closed and we will have to completely provide our own food.
Whatever the answer (my money's on c) we decide to eat the food as quickly as possible so as not to have to carry it any longer than necessary, especially in view of the fact that Dhana's pack has disappeared completely and appears to be strapped onto a horse that we met yesterday. It transpires that a deal has been made with the horse guy to transport D's stuff in exchange for drinks! There are 2 guys and a few horses heading to Lo Manthang to meet up with a small party of Japanese who are to be helicoptered in and then
walk out. Sweet deal for Dhana.
I digress, walking up and out of the village this morning was gorgeous. Really incredible, clear views of Annapurna I and impressive chortens. The chorten are very unique to this region, generally white but daubed in stripes of muted shades of terracotta, ochre, sage and grey. We follow the horses across the Tama Kola. The terrain is hilly, the hills to the east are a yellowish colour and covered in low scrub and a bit of snow- sort of 'Scottish Highlandesque'. We reach the small village of Tamagaon after 50 mins and are greeted by a friendly local woman goat herder who is eager for us to photograph her. We oblige, we add another 30 photos to the collection- woman with goat, goats as a herd, goats on their own, woman with tourist, tourist with goats, etc, etc, etc.... There are more amazing views to be had here- another spectacular gompa (square shaped) and views over the village of Cheling (the Belgians detour over there to take a look). We continue on toward Chukung/Zhaite, arriving at a little teahouse about 10am. Time to reduce my day pack weight!! We sit out in the
courtyard in the sun with a big pot of tea and an extremely big plate of chopped apples, cheese and biscuits. We share with the teahouse couple and the Belgians when they arrive 1/2 hr later. Mission accomplished- 1/2 kg down!
Post morning break is a long, slow ascent. It is really enjoyable. More amazing views from the top and another terrain change. We now have grey/green hills and some snow and to the south are snowy mountains- it is really clear. On the initial descent we are trekking through mud, slush and snow which gives way to a decent flat stretch. The approach to the village of Lo Ghami is slushy and muddy with stream crossings. The village itself is quite large and picturesque- lots of barren trees, colourful prayer flags and stacks of wood on the flat roofed square white houses. Mary indulges in a Tibetan butter tea- her first (and last), I enjoy the lemon tea. Rest up in the sunny courtyard till after 2.30. It's always a nice time of the day. Leaving the village- not so nice, out the back it is a gigantic rubbish dump, complete with decomposing horse. The rubbish flows all
the way down the hill to the river.
The river is quite unique- it is actually a confluence of two rivers- both of distinctively different colours. One is blue, the other brown. It was an interesting sight. Cross the new bridge which lies over the old bridge and begin the next upward slog. It's warm ,the sky is blue, there's no wind. Really nice conditions. At the top of the climb is the longest mani wall in Nepal. Admire it a duck around the back to have a quick look at the Ghami Hospital where the 2 nurses in attendance offer to show us around. It is a small 15 bed hospital staffed by nurses and an ambulance driver, visiting doctors are few and far between. They see 1800 - 2000 patients/year. Last year they treated 15 trekkers, the rest were locals and people from surrounding villages. They see lots of accidents/trauma plus the usual run of the mill chest infections, etc. The hospital was set up by the Japanese but has been pretty poorly maintained. Lots of expired stuff, anything vaguely complex goes to Kathmandu. It is still an interesting visit.
The next long climb takes us
to Choya La at 3870m, at the top we find a chorten, a stone wall and.... the Belgians. There is not another village in sight and it's after 4pm at this stage. We see yet another colour change in the hills, and we see the Tibetan Plains. Another hour down hill we spot a large goat herd- got to be a good sign right? Yep, not much further on is a large village with an impressively large chorten marking the entrance. We have reached Tsarang/Charang- the former capital of the Upper Mustang before Lo Manthang took over the role. The streets are wide and as I walk into the town looking for Maya's Lodge, our overnight destination, Pema from Mayas finds me. She bundles me up to a really large room overlooking the horses and the 5 storey dzong- a run down fortified palace. Very cool! The place is a hive of activity- there are the Belgians, the Nepali horse guys and an English woman and her son. The toilets are blocked, it's utterly chaotic, but , ohhhh what a view- great place to stay! We chat to the English woman over dinner- the son is stationed in Pokahara and
has been involved in the Gurkha training programme. But get this - he sounds exactly like Callum Maxwell (the one we met in Jorsale, then on Gokyo Ri, then again in Jorsale), AND, when I tell the son this he tells me he has had an email from the very same Callum Maxwell that very same day!!!! Spooky! He is going to be interviewing Callum for his admission to Sandringham!!
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