Friday, 6 May 2011

The Manaslu Circuit - Part 3

Day 10 - Bimtang (3720m) to Tilije (2300m) 7 hrs Good Teahouse
As we left Bimtang the trail soon entered the forest and with the sun warming up the pine needles it smelt a lot better than we did. The rhododendrons gave splashes of colour through the trees, red and white and every shade of pink inbetween together with the occasional liliac.

Our lunch stop was due to be Gho but the little village stretched on and I was hot, hungry and grumpy by the time we stopped at the unsurprisingly named Mt Manaslu Hotel. It did however distinguish itself by having a sign advertising its facilities with not a single spelling mistake. While waiting for lunch I managed to wash my hair for the first time in over a week. We didn't really want to move on but then Team Italia turned up and disrupted the peace as usual so we continued for another hour to Tilije. Although the hotel in Tilije had a lot less charm it did have clean sheets and duvet as well as the first western toilet we had encountered on the trek (although it didn't flush).

That evening it started to rain and this meant more snow in the mountains. Not good for our attempt to climb Pisang Peak. But more troubling that evening was that half of my tooth fell out. I didn't hurt and is thankfully a back one but I'm not too keen on seeing a dentist in Kathmandu.

Day 11 - Tilije (2300m) to The Annapurna Circuit, Dharapani and then Upper Danaque (2210m) 2 hrs Excellent teahouse
The morning dawned clear and even better my tooth wasn't hurting. Today we said goodbye to our porter Nabaraj. He had gained the experience he had needed by joining us on the Manaslu Circuit (although the pass had spooked him and he wasn't keen on guiding on it himself) and was going to return to Kathmandu to find easier and better paid work as a guide. Gopal had found us another porter from one of the camping expeditions. He was called Gakul and looked reliable - or so we thought. As we walked out of Tilije through the apple orchards the clouds began to gather. It wasn't long before it was raining again but our spirits were lifted when we saw the Annapurna Circuit cut into the valley side ahead of us. The Manaslu Circuit finishes along the well traveled Annapurna Circuit and we were looking forward to the prospect of electricty, clean toilets, soft beds, solar showers and a dinner that wasn't Dal Bhat. Besi Sahar, the start of the Annapurna Circuit and finish of the Manaslu Circuit, was another 2 days walk away if we had turned left but we turned right to continue up the Annapurna Circuit. We planned to walk to Upper Pisang from where we would climb Pisang Peak. The difference between the two areas was already striking. Dirty faced, snotty nosed children were replaced by children in school uniforms. Men rode small ponies at a fast trot up the track wide.

Ducking into a colourful teahouse just before the rain became torrential we made a beeline for the menu and started planning what to eat for the day. 40 mins after ordering a pumpkin soup the waiter-cum-kitchen hand-cum-chef returned from the kitchen to report that there was no pumpkin soup. Similarly, later that day, he managed to forget the teabag part of the tea when I ordered a cup of tea.

The rain continued and we watched soggy trekkers plod passed in dripping ponchos and brightly coloured rucksack covers. Gopal headed back down the valley to try to find our second porter and bag containing all our mountaineering equipment.

Today James and I had been together for 9 years (or at least I remembered this) so it was a good day to have a rest/eating day. We ordered a vegetable curry for dinner but when we saw a plump white chicken being apprehended outside and carried through the dining room into the kitchen, oblivious to its fate, we quickly changed our order to chicken curry. It was delicious and the first meat we'd had on the trek.

To finish the Manaslu Circuit it is another 2 day walk to Besi Sahar (or Bhulbule which is closer but a very uncomfortable bus ride to Besi) we would walk this section later and my post can be found here. Many Manaslu trekkers also continue up the Annapurna Circuit, crossing the Thorung La and finishing in Jomsom. For now we would be continuing on to Pisang Peak.

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