Day 30: Pisang to Manang

Trip Start Sep 21, 2006
Trip End Jun 01, 2007

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

A month into my tour and I've gone from sweating under a fan all night to chilling, mostly dressed, in a sleeping bag.
Today Nar and I set off extra early, disturbed by a slow-rising climbing group, rattling in the guesthouse. We step into another season. Yesterday's autumnal colours are replaced by rotting leaves and a dusting of snow on the ground.
The path, a gentle climb, is dusty, wider and exposed. At Braka, an ancient Tibetan village I get my first sighting of yaks. Yak burgers are for sale alongside fermented seabuckthorn juice. On the approach to Manang (3540m) the valley is fenced by huge pinnacles. Prayer flags wave from masts on most hill crests.
200m above Manang are several chortens. To gain altitude, Nar leads me here above the lake fed by the slow progress of a mammoth, glacial ice flow beside Gangapurna. Clouds are bearing towards us so we head back down to Manang. We have enough time to take in the charming Culture Museum (mostly demonstrating a wealth of Tibetan wine-making and storing equipment) before snow falls. The possibility that the snow may block the high Thorong La (pass) concerns me but the fall is brief and quickly turns to rain.
The stages of the Annapurna Circuit are common to most trekking groups so we see many of the same faces each day, at the teahouses, checkpoints and guesthouses. There are large groups of Germans, French and (rowdy) Israelis.
When trying to conquer my fear of imminent altitude sickness, perhaps watching 'Into Thin Air' (a dramatization of an 1996 Everest disaster) wasn't a smart move. Leaving the tiny DVD cinema into the cold and darkness of Manang, it was a relief to reach the guesthouse but I guess I'll have a few nightmare before we reach the impending, menacing highest pass in three days (not that I'm sleeping much at this altitude!).
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