Woke up early to catch the sunrise again. One of the roosters is refusing to shut up.
What a typical breakfast consists of:
1. Fruits (pomegranate, apple) carried by our porters
2. Nuts and cheese carried by our porters
3. Whatever we want to order off the teahouse menu: Most of the time I get a veggie omelette, honey toast or a vegetable soup. Better to stick with veggies on the mountain - last thing you want to deal with while trekking is an upset stomach.
With great reluctance we bid farewell to Little Paradise and its friendly owner, Manoj. Highly recommended guesthouse. Reviews here: www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g2403091-d5607918-Reviews-Little_Paradise_Lodge-Ghandruk_Gandaki_Zone_Western_Region.html
The path to and from Little Paradise runs along a scenic ridge. Feels like I'm in The Sound of Music.
The dogs from all the teahouses we've stayed at have a habit of following us after we leave. They'll walk with us for about 20 to 30 minutes before turning back. I'd like to think that it's their little way of saying goodbye.
Suspension bridges are fun to walk on. Just don't look down... or is that part of the fun? :/
Met a bunch of adorable kiddos. Namaste, you guys!
We're at Ghandruk, a relatively large village with a population of 4,750. Haven't seen a concentration of this many houses in a while now so it takes some getting used to.
On this trip I've learnt that in order to get animals to look back at you for a picture, you have to sound like one of them. I stood outside the goat's shed for a good minute going, "Mmmmeeeehhhhh." What? I can't tell when animals are judging.
I've developed a Twix obsession. Had one pack right before lunch, which was (surprise!) dal bhat with an extra double fried egg. I'm eating like a sherpa without actually doing any of the work a sherpa does.
Bellies filled anddd we're off.
I've given up on using my trekking pole and suddenly I'm moving so much quicker. It was useful going up but I find that it hinders my balance heading down. It's like I have an extra limb I don't know what to do with.
Now that I'm not fixated with trying not to fall I stop and marvel at the simple and effective infrastructure that's in place throughout the route. Steps constructed from slabs of stone, winding footpaths carved into the sides of hills, little wooden bridges that look rickety but are sturdy enough to bear the weight of humans and mules. These are truly feats of engineering.
Two of our four porters at break time.
These guys somehow manage to reach every break point before we do, laughing and singing merrily as they walk with giant sacks pressed against their backs and strapped to their foreheads. It's amazing how sure-footed they are, helping us down slippery slopes when we're (not least yours truly) are struggling to keep our balance.
Splashes of vibrant colors in unexpected places as we walk through a farming village.
Been thinking that if I were a farm animal I would definitely want to live in the mountains in Nepal. Vast expanses of grassland to graze on, mountain views, no cars to scare me. Even better if I'm a cow - most Nepalis are Hindus and won't be able to eat me. Notice how I'm already referring to myself in first animal. Worrying.
In their yard two children are taking turns to play on a swing fashioned out of rope, shouting with laughter. They glance shyly at us when we say hello.
These two didn't do it, but it's a little heartbreaking to hear some children in these villages go, "Chocolate? Chocolate?" when they see tourists. Apparently they've gotten used to passing trekkers giving them chocolate or money. Mahesh discourages us from doing that as that kind of behavior teaches them the wrong values. Well it's not like I would part willingly with chocolate under most circumstances anyway, but it's still nice to have a valid excuse for not doing so.
Okay so I really, really love donkeys. I love how they're not quite sure of what to do when you're in their way.
This one regarded me for a little while with the most guileless and woebegone look, then silently worked out a detour around me, trudging slowly along.
That's "Happy New Year" in Nepali for you. Of course I googled it.
A group of young women are scurrying up staircases to their homes. They're clothed in deep red saris embellished with intricate gold embroidery, their raven black hair gathered into long braids. The village is aflutter with villagers getting ready to welcome the new year.
It's party time down here in Syauli Bazar. A group of Nepali guides are gathered in front of the dining hall at our teahouse, singing and dancing to the beat of tambourines. Next to our table a bunch of rowdy British travelers are toasting the heck out of their drinks.
Zoha, Lynda and I turn in early after dinner (we're grandmas at heart) but lie awake in the dark chatting about well, girl stuff. I'm going to miss these two.