Trekking in Nepal: A Diary - Part 3 of 6
By now our intrepid traveller is getting into her stride despite blisters, snowfall and the abandonment en masse of her fellow novices. With a rest day lined up in a village known for its hot springs and fantastic cakes, nothing could go wrong, could it..?
In case you've missed these exciting episodes...
- Trekking in Nepal: A Diary - Part 1 of 6
Twenty years ago I embarked on a trek on the popular Annapurna South circuit in Nepal. Nothing special about that, you might think, unless you take into account the fact that I was a city girl whose idea of a...
- Trekking in Nepal: A Diary - Part 2 of 6
In this enthralling second part, our intrepid trekker, more used to pounding London shopping streets in high heels, finds herself in the foothills of the Himalayas with an athletic Frenchman whose ego was...
DAY FIVE: GOREPANI – TATOPANI
Woke up to a layer of snow everywhere. The view was stunning: a vista of green tree-covered hills covered by a sprinkling of icing sugar fine snow. Underfoot it was deeper, but not so deep as to impede venturing out. Pierre read my diary yesterday and commented: ‘ees not very poetic, ees it?’ He’s right of course, I haven’t been feeling remotely poetic. But this morning changed all that – it was fun to wrap up warm (less to carry, too) before starting the downhill slide to Tatopani, village of hot springs and, so I’m told, decent cakes.
Our first break was about three minutes after we started, at a doughnut place, and then we walked for about an hour, Pierre stopping every now and then to throw me a snowball or hand me a rhododendron flower.
Astonishingly, he waited patiently for me at every stop with never a cross word, even though I was slowing him down. He taught me to walk more confidently, too, and how to place my feet firmly on the ground. As the morning progressed so the sun came out and and the forest was alive with the sound of droplets of melting snow. Every now and then the view would open up and I’d catch sight of the serious snow-covered mountains ahead, barren and unwelcoming, and we’d meet herds of mules carrying – I imagine – supplies to remote villages.
Over chocolate cake at the lodge I triumphantly showed Pierre the huge blister on my foot. ‘So zat’s why you’ve been walking like a duck,’ he said.
COLD SHOWER OUTSIDE
RUNNING COLD TAPS OUTSIDE
- Postcard from Burma
The following is one of two entries I made for a travel writing competition organised by Leaf Books, publishers of short stories and microfiction. The competition was to write a postcard from any destination...
- My Day with the Dalai Lama
I was in Varanasi, the holy city on the Ganges, with my boyfriend, who was struggling. As I marvelled at the holy men and the architecture, the boats and the daily activities taking place all along the...
DAY SIX: REST DAY – TATOPANI
It felt strange not to be getting up at some unearthly hour and starting another four hour hike. It was a chilly morning so we went down to the hot springs where I washed my hair, rinsed some clothes through and went for a dip in my undies. They weren’t exactly the wild, sensuous springs I’d imagined, but more of a Nepalese-style laundrette, really. An appropriate enough place to spend your day off, I suppose.
The countryside was more gentle here: gone are the rhododendron trees and the wild expanses of forest, here on the plains there are gentle hills and stone wall-lined paths – there’s a sense of order, as if the land here is cultivated. In the far distance a misty line of clouds reveal themselves to be mountains, and you’re reminded that this is Nepal, one of the highest places in the world.
We had a long, lazy breakfast before wandering back to the springs, which had become pretty hot by now. Amazing to think that yesterday I was wrapped up for snow, today I could strip down to my bikini. Unfortunately, when I did, I was horrified by what I saw. I’ve completely lost touch with my body. Where’s the suntan gone? Even worse, my legs were stubbly and marked all over by bites. The shame of it. I sat there for half an hour getting depressed, before wandering back up to shave my legs in the open tap beside the restaurant, in full view of other diners. I didn’t care.
The job done, I stayed chatting to an English social worker for a while before catching sight of Pierre who suggested we had some cake. Who was I to say no? What happened next was so stupid I can’t bring myself to put it to paper. (Editor’s Note: I’ve genuinely forgotten what this was, but it was extremely trivial). We’ve had a storm in a teacup (en route to Nepal), now there are clouds over the Black Forest Gateau.
I decided I could no longer trek with this idiot. I remembered him telling an American couple at Gorepani about an easy way back to Pokhara via Beni. I looked it up on the map and started to psyche myself up to take that route tomorrow. I hate to quit early, but the thought of a nice room with my own hot shower in Pokhara is certainly appealing.
In the restaurant I ran into Sarah and Doug, two of our initial group, who told me that the others had turned back. Doug, on his first trip out of Australia, said he was thinking of printing a T-shirt saying, ‘TREKKING SUCKS’. I told him I’d buy one.
Will our lovely heroine give her Frenchman ze boot? Click here to find out...
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