Friendly village dogs greeting passer by.
I made the long bus ride yesterday from Kathmandu to Pokhara (which is not to be confused with pakhora, the vegetable fritters) that lasted about 6 hours long. The road was a reflection of the country’s state of economy – they were not constructed well, with no real highways, and the pot holes were deep enough to bury a motorcycle, I reckon.
This morning I started off early. The jeep drove from Pokhara to Siwai, which is the point where the hike was expected to start. The first hour was relatively easy and pleasant, but unfortunately I was hit with a terrible headache. I first thought it was the early signs of AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness), but eventually deduced that it was due to the bumpy ride of the jeep (imagine roads with twists and turns across the forest, with Nepali songs on full-blast the whole way). I took two aspirins and a short nap during lunch break at one of the tea houses along the way, and felt much better afterwards.
The rest of the hike today was just stunning. My guide, Ishur, took us past small villages and tea houses, all surrounded by mountain ranges, tall waterfalls and gushing rivers. This part of the hike was relatively low altitude – we walked past dense, thick Nepali forests swarmed with leeches. If you stop for more than 30 seconds be prepared to have at least 2 or 3 leeches climbing all over you. God bless my skin tight jeggings, I had no bloody attacks the whole day.
We reached our stop for the day, Chomrong, well into sunset. I had been hiking for more than 7 hours, and to be honest my legs were a bit shocked by the abuse. We were greeted at the top of the hills by 2 friendly pups who lead us all the way to the guest house. The guest house itself was pretty basic – a room with beds, blankets, no heaters, and no fancy towels. You brush your teeth outside in the cold before bed. There was also just one mirror to be shared by everyone at the guest house, and the girl inside me cringes.
Also, I had my first taste of Dhal Bhat! I local delicacy, it's basically white rice served with simple vegetarian dishes, and a bowl of dhal. It's quite nice actually.
I underestimated: The darn leeches. The climb up everywhere, even up to people’s necks!
I overestimated: The temperatures. It wasn’t as freezing as I thought it would be.
Tips: Bring some ointment for cuts, insect bites and leech bites. Itchiness is a liability when you’re hiking.
Every couple of hours you'll find small guest houses or villages
Small temples in the hills
One of the local porters