Tuesday, 10 May 2011

'Take Cover!' on the Annapurna Circuit

Day 18 - Upper Pisang (3310 m) to Chame 4hrs Teahouse
The legs were no better in the morning and we hobbled to Pisang village, where for the first time we saw Pisang Peak from the bottom of the valley - we hadn't seen it on the route we had taken on the walk in, which was probably a good thing, as it looked intimidating.

We would now be retracing our steps to where the Annapurna and Manaslu circuits joined, but this time against the flow of Annapurna trekking traffic, which would confuse all the Annapurna trekkers.

James was in an extremely bad mood this morning. We needed to have a blazing row to clear the air but Gopal, not sensing the atmosphere, had decided that we needed especially close supervision this morning. In the end we had to insist he let us walk on our own. Once he was out of ear shot we had a massive row mainly based around James's dislike for climbing and the fact that I force him to do it. I quickly decided to change the subject to James's favourite topic of discussion - food and in particular what he was planning on eating when we got to Pokhara.

It was Easter Monday and getting to Chame gave us an opportunity to send an email home. We stayed in the same teahouse as before and watch in great amusement as a completely crazy guide had a conversation with 3 stoned Israelis.

 Me walking into Chame

Day 18 - Chame to Lower Danaque 4 hrs Teahouse
As we were now trekking against the 'traffic' we got a good idea of the main nationalities trekking the Annapurna Circuit. The overwhelming nationality was Israeli. I speculated that this is due to the fact that trekkers do not need to hire a porter or guide and therefore Israelis can walk the whole circuit without actually talking to anybody else, but just my theory. In second place came Germans and in third Koreans. Then there were French, Slovakian, Ukraine, Poles, Japanese and Danes.

We descended through villages where wild strawberry plants were in flower and then the peace was shattered by a series of huge explosions. The noise rattled around the mountains repeating it back to us again and again. It was the sound of blasting for the dogged road building which was creeping up the valley. Still must make the Israelis feel at home.

Goat jam - not for eating.

Dal Bhat power for 12 hours!

Day 19 - Lower Danaque to Syange 8 hrs Teahouse
Gopal was keen to stay in Lower Danaque again and we didn't mind too much as the we had another fantastic meal with chicken curry, but this left for a long, hot day today. We begun the day in sub-tropical forest and the strawberry plants had given way to swathes of cannabis.

The trail was fairly pleasant to Tal but afterwards it became a steep, narrow, dusty path where we had to constantly dodge oncoming locals, trekkers and mule trains. On the other side of the valley the valley side was under full attack from the road builders. The sound of pneumatic drills and generators for hours on end was not what I had in mind for a trekking holiday. We descended to the valley floor and two soldiers barred our way. We protested but soon realised when they crouched behind a boulder that it was probably for our own safety. We copied and after about half an hour several explosions ripped up the valley followed by plumes of dust.

Back down to the tropics

Day 20 - Syange to Bhulbule 5 hrs Hotel in Besi Sahar
Today was actually quite a pleasant walk. The road, in the loosest sense of the word, had been completed here so there was not road building noises. As the road was actually little more than a track there was virtually no traffic on it and the vehicles which had ventured onto it were mostly stuck anyway so we had quite a peaceful walk. It did get very hot and by the time we reached Syange Gopal said that if we didn't get the bus then he'd pay for us to get on it. We then had a very uncomfortable bus journey to Besi Sahar which only got us there 30 mins quicker than if we had walked. And there ended our Manaslu Circuit trek.

If you can't go over and can't go under and get stuck going around then you just have to make the road wider!

The end. James had 4 samosas here and another 4 later on that afternoon.

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