Circuit Days 11 - 15, Muktinath to Pokhara

Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
1
75
135
Trip End Ongoing


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Friday, December 2, 2005

Circuit Days 11-15
Muktinath to Beni

There was a huge Buddist/Hindu temple complex at Muktinath that is a pilgrimage site for both religions so after breakfast we walked up to look at that.

The days decents were faster of course than climbing but we could feel it in our knees.

The landscape was already so different from the other side. Barren, stark and rocky. Very harsh looking. We knew it would be green further down though.

I now know why the food is marginally better over this side too. They have more road access. There are motorbikes and tractors here. The Tibetan looking ladies weave colourful scarves on looms and sell simple string, coral and turquoise jewellery at exorbitant prices.

Even though the scenery seemed less colourful it was still stunning. There are buddist cliff caves that are thought to be over 2700 years old. Some are supposedly still used in traditional buddist ceremonies. There are still plenty of pony trains to keep us on our toes though.

The villages are different. Little tidier. Some really sweet places. More are painted. Perhaps it has to do with when the routes were used during the salt trading times. Left over from grand times past.

We decended really quickly. Pushed on. We reached Tatopani (tato - hot and pani - water) where lots of people stay an extra day to soak in the hot springs. I thought the town was rubbish. David went with the seppos, Meg and Ryan and pommie Stuart for a hot spring dip but it didn't look that great to me, especially when a big tour group came down and beer swilling, sickly white, beer gut, skinny legged, english men took over in their revolting budgie smugglers (speedos, banana hammocks, dick stickers, whatever you prefer). Not apprealing at all. They were all ogling a french woman in a one piece because she was the only one wearing a real bathing suit. Everyone else was wearing shorts and t-shirts. Then a pretty blonde girl got in wearing a bikini. Sensing the competition, the french woman got out so all the men ogled the biniki clad blondie instead. The locals were washing under the hot taps letting all the dirty, lathery water drain directly into the raging river next to the hot spring. Nice environmental touch.

Peronally I thought Tatopani was a shithole and can't see the attraction of staying two days soaking in a bacteria infested, slimy rock pool. I couldn't wait to leave.

We decided to get off at Beni and not go all the way to Nayapul. We'd heard too much about the Maoists at Gorepani and couldn't be bothered dealing with them if they were there.

We were walking along larger vehicle access dirt roads a lot too which didn't seem right for trekking. There was an enormous riverbed which was practicallly dry. We walked it a lot. There are massive roadworks going on so soon vehicles will be driving all the way to Muktinath. Shame in one way but I suppose it will make life easier for the people living out of reach now.

I was glad to cross that final suspension bridge and see jeeps. I had enjoyed the trek but I was ready for a hot shower and some warmer nights.

We got a jeep from Gharkhola and then on to Beni where we got a bus to Pokhara. We were starving by the time we got there so we treated ourselves to pizza for dinner before heading back to our hotel.

I had bought some chocolate too, to eat in front of the tv but when we got to the hotel they gave us a shit room and said there were no tv's left. There wasn't even any hot water. I told them we were really disappointed and that I wouldn't be paying full price for the room. At least the room was warmer than those on the trek.

Summary of villages we stayed in:-

Night 1 - Bahundanda
Not too exciting, but brilliant shower.

Night 2 - Chamje
Very, very small village.

Night 3 - Danaqyu
Fairly long, hotel filled village. Quite nice.

Night 4 - Bhratang
Very small place. Only two shitty hotels but good food. They grow apples here.

Night 5 - Lower Pisang
One of my fav places. Probably because the hotel was nice and clean and the room one of the warmer ones. Nice fairly hot shower too. Upper Pisang was nice for a wander.

Night 6 - Manang
Tourist stretch boring but had bakeries. Cold, windy and dusty when the sun left. Yak burgers, Gangapurna glacier. Old Manang interesting wander.

Night 7 - Manang

Night 8 - Yak Karka
Very small but nice walk into the Yak pastures. Just a few hotels really. Should have stayed at Chullu West further up. Better views.

Night 9 - High Camp
Bloody PHREEZING. Highest prices (200 rupees for the room!). Shit everywhere. Behind all the buildings. Disgusting. But they've got you by the short and curlies. It's the only place to stay up there.

Night 10 - Muktinath
Other than the temples, just hotels and not much else.

Night 11 - Kagbeni
Great place. Probably my favourite. Yak Donalds cheese burger! The best! Interesting old town to wander round.

Night 12 - Marpha
Very clean little village with small buddist monastery. There are hillside chortens if you really want to explore. Known for apples.

Night 13 - Ghasa
Ok place. Hotels line the main drag.

Night 14 - Tatopani
Shithole. Nuf said.

Night 15 - Pokhara
Tourist-ville

We met loads of people. There's great camaraderie and we had big laughs. It was a fantastic experience but hard going at times and almost unbearably cold at night. I could probably be talked into doing it again.
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