10 October 2008

To ABC - in a Nutshell

It's rather difficult to wrap up an amazing 14 day trip in a single post, but I'm going to do my best.

Day 1 - Riding - Kathmandu to Mugling
  • Plan: Get up super early (ie 5 o'clock), beat the traffic get in as much as possible while it is still cool in the morning.
  • Actual course of events: at midnight, am still up frantically trying to work out how to make all the stuff fit into my bag. Question whether 7 pairs of underwear is too many, decide to toss the Rubik's cube and second book. Actually depart at 6.30 after a sleep in, a breakfast disaster and managed to lose a waterbottle before making it to Patan (2 km).
  • Traffic bustling, took a wrong turn in a part of Kathmandu I have never seen, almost die from pollution and contemplate the weight of my pack and the potential that I might have bitten off quite a bit more than I could chew.
  • By 8 am, made some distance but weather sweltering. Smile, wave and laugh at buses passing me by with boys sitting on the roof and waving.
  • Make friends with guys on a passing motorbike, only to catch them just after lunch and go for a swim together in the Trishuli River. Start to freak out as they point out they don't actually know how to swim. Realise this is the kind of thing you can only do when travelling alone, as if I were in a group not only would I have not met the boys, but probably not have jumped into a river.
  • Swearing at the heat and my bum - which was screaming in agony at this point - roll into Mugling, a truck stop town, with nothing but dust, yelling children and a broken fan in my room.
Day 2 - Riding - Mugling to Pokhara.
  • Down some panadol to quell the aching pain in the muscles and bones that I didn't even know existed in my nether regions.
  • Swear at why I thought this might have been a good idea.
  • Come around the side of a mountain, look up to curse Life, The Universe and Everything, to be smacked in the face by the most amazing view of the mountains watching over me as I ride. Remembered again THAT is exactly why I was riding and why I wanted to do it alone.
  • Wonder why I haven't seen a single bus, taxi or truck all day.
  • Reached Pokhara University with a sigh of relief only to discover it is another 10 km to go.
  • Discover it another 10 km to get to my colleague's wife's house to deposit bicycle. Get there to also discover the magical Nepali equation that cultural differences multiplied by married woman, white man and adding sweaty, sunburnt and dirty condition meant it too much to expect a nice cup of tea.
  • Found out there was a nationwide strike meaning no buses etc, and that I would have to walk the 15 km to my hotel.
  • Hitched 2 seperate rides with motorbikes, the latter taking me to his home for a cup of tea where I found myself trying to convince him that I would rather stay in a hotel overnight although his hospitality was very much appreciated.
Day 1 - Hiking - Pokhara to Phedi and Pothana
  • Rain, bueaucratic nonsense, bad directions and a ride on the roof of a bus found me leaving Phedi at about noon.
  • Met Bruce - insane hippie man from NZ, "locked up by Sir Joh under the Vagrant's Act". Using a golf club as a walking stick. Up what I thought to be one of the most collossal staircases ever created I found myself refilling with water in the tiny one shop town of Damphus.
  • There a towering American from Delaware called Bryan appeared in front of me and enquired if I was going to ABC (Annapurna Base Camp). After replying in the affirmative we became travelling buddies.
  • Asserting to share a room to lower costs, the young boy (about 9) at the second lodge we came to in Pothana dropped the price from 200R to 50R before we even started bargaining. Boy ran around for us all night, more than excited to do anything imaginable for us. I have a strong feeling he would have hiked up the mountain and taken the photos for me had I asked him to.
  • Continually smacked in the gob by images of Machupucharre (Fishtail mountain)
Day 2 - Hiking - Pothana to Jhinu
  • It's all uphill baby.
  • Survived leech attack.
  • Bathed in the hot springs while creepy old man watched on and smiled contentedly. He hand signalled that I should wring out my underwear to dry off "no ladies, no problem". Elected to wear wet undies back to lodge.
  • So close to mountains that we can't see them. Literally "can't see the mountains for the trees".
  • Not a fan of squat toilets - particularly when cold and legs tired from exercise..
Day 3 - Hiking - Jhinu to Dovan
  • As we passed Chomrong (where my theory on the stairs of Phedi where laid to waste [in a rather uncomfortable sticky and smelly way]) the road from Ghorepani joine dus and became that much more busy.
  • A couple of Dutchmen walked past us in the other direction - no bags - assumed they had a porter (sad looking Nepali that carries immense weights up the hill). 10 minutes - no porter - tried to communicate to Bryan - "I wonder where the dutchmen's porter is" - misinterpretation due to waterfall.- thought I asked "have you heard of Dutchmen's Porter?" - acknowledged that that was a pretty cool name for a band - and thus the travelling "Dutchmen's Porter" was born.
  • From that moment onwards whenever we crested a massive hill you could hear the cry "Dutchmen's Porter" with much posing like rock stars and we would pound fists as the Americans are so fond of doing.
  • Stairs up and down from Chomrong started playing agony on my knee.
Day 4 - Doban to Machupucharre Base Camp (spelling alters based on altitude sickness, age of map, amount of beer consumed and which sign you are looking at)
  • Starting to feel the cold.
  • Made it by 1pm, at lunch and qould have contemplated the beauty of the mountains, if we could have seen more than 10m through the fog.
  • Billions of sheep that sound like humans imitating sheep.
  • Now at an altitude of more than 3800m, but have hiked higher tdue to up and downness of the road on the way (at times fearing we might end up back in the ocean).
  • Met Cloe, the insane Belgian who had made it from Chomrong to MBC in a day.
Day 5 - MBC to ABC
  • 4am wake up
  • Bryan without enough clothes - wore everything he owned and two blankets, almost died from cold*
  • Climb to ABC for sunrise and breakfast.
  • Many photos with loud obnoxious Australians, Cloe, Bryan and passing Norwegian group who seemed to have no idea they continued to walk in on everyone's photos.
  • Enjoyed fantastic breakfast with beer and a rising sun.
  • Moment ruined by being asked to move to make way for Norwegian group (that apparently all need to sit at the same table regardless of the fact that with a group of 20 people, you can't talk to them all anyway)
  • Resolved to be dark at confrontational to all future group travellers.
  • Determined to touch some snow - climbed up a major rock fall - much to the digust of aforementioned knee. Almost made it (about 200-300m above ABC)- decided I liked life too much. Got some beautiful fresh and freezing water. Climbed back down - also to disgust of knee.
*Not really

The return trip has many lovely anecdotes, including a deaf man with a marijuana tree, a bald man with gum boots, some codeine pill popping, a running Frenchman, some Israelis (one of whom walked a little like Frankenstein or the BFG), mountains peeling like bananas and the second most beautiful view of the whole trek covered by inpenetrable clouds. But I believe that's enough for now.


Amy xxoo said...

That sounds ike the most incredibly mind blowing, life changing journey - and its only the first half?

Plus, digging the mo....

Yeti said...

THIS was a fun post to read. I did the trek to ABC in January 08...puked at the top...apparently the mix of altitude and mashed potatoes (which aren't even REALLY mashed) were not a good mix for my stomach :)

beautiful. absolutely beautiful.