Thursday, June 13, 2013

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit: Learning Lessons (Days 1-2)

This is the first of a few blog posts that are after-the-fact transcribed from my trekking notes. Some are more complete posts, some are more thoughts along the road as Sister2 and I take on Nepal for a month!

Day 1
Alright, well, mistakes have been made and lessons have been learned. After a seven-hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Besi Shahar, and two hours spent waiting in an unmoving bus that was destined never to move, we decided to give up on transportation, start our trek from Besi Shahar, and walk to Bhubuhle.

Typical roadside village (Day 1)
It was about 2 1/2 hours of fast hiking, and when we arrived in the town, we weren't entirely sure what to do -- Is there one "tea house" for trekkers? Or are they all the same? So we walked through to scope things out.

When we got to the end of the one street and were about to turn back, a smiling man jumped up from a porch. "You are looking for guest house? Yes yes come, I have! Follow me!!!" And so we did, because when traveling, for whatever reason, that's just what you do. We followed him outside the town...down a muddy road...through some fields and brush...until we arrived at his "guest house," a concrete and metal structure that we soon learned he just built himself.

He was super chatty and enthusiastic, and though we only understood every fifth word, before we knew it we were drinking tea, eating coconut biscuits, and had been talked into staying. Damnit.

On the bright side, there's a waterfall literally outside our door. On the downside (the side on which I am currently residing), there's no running water, the power just went out, and we are pretty much sleeping in this guy's first floor/basement room, separated from the kitchen by some metal sheeting that has cracks in places. I just came back from the "bathroom" on the verge of tears because there is NO RUNNING WATER. But we feel trapped by our own politeness to stay. Plus we already took our boots off. And the actual town is a bit of a hike back. And it's getting dark.

Lessons learned: next time we say 'no thank you' and if necessary, just walk out it is WELL worth the inconvenience and awkwardness and/or potential  insult. (We have no pictures from this experience, because we were too busy escaping asap.)

Day 2
The next morning we awoke to our enthusiastic innkeeper friend's Bhuddist gong/chanting/sounds-like-a-major-construction-project music at around 4 am. When he called out, "Sista!?! Sista?!" at 5:50 (we had told him we wanted breakfast at 6:30), we groaned and got up because the sooner we ate the sooner we could leave. As he chattered at us through our very mediocre breakfast (Is it good? Not too salty? Yes! Yes! Very nice! Tea is good? Omelet is good? You sleep well? Really? Really?) Sister2 looked at me desperately, "I hate him."

But at 6:50 we left Hotel Peaceful Rest for good (promising to recommend it to all our friends -- HA), and everything just got better and better. We were on a jeep road, trekking along, and reached our planned destination by 11:15 (it was supposed to take 7 hours to get I guess we're hiking champions?). We kept on going to the next village, arriving around 1:30, had a hot shower (!!!) and settled in for an afternoon of reading and napping and card games. Glorious.

Terraced fields and a hillside village (Day 2)
I am SO happy to report that our first night's experience was nowhere near the standard. All the guest houses are variations on a theme -- two twin beds with mattresses, some have bathrooms in the room, some have a shared bathroom, ALL have running water and most have hot/warm water. Other owners are polite but do not sit down to talk your ear off through the whole experience.  On the bright side, thanks to starting on such a low point, everything was comparatively AMAZING for the rest of the trip.