Nepal. “the place of dreams”
Chapter 1: Journey Begins: NEPAL 2006
Three hours sleep and an old Sting classic is what I woke up to this morning. “Thanks pal, what a night” groaned from the couch and as my eyes peeled open and confusion of being awake dimmed, a size 11 thwacked me across the chin. That same very stupid couch thought it was hilarious to knock me out with his very stupid shoe. Fuck sakes.
If I move very slowly and the couch behaves himself I could get my shit together and not faint.
Thus began my day, disorientated, nervous, unprepared and very late!
I was dropped early morning at Cape Town airport.
WHY IS IT SO MASSIVE!! This is not accommodating my delicate needs at all!
“Can everyone slow down!”
Where is the selfish porter and why is he ignoring me?
Where is the conveyor belt to the plane so I don’t have to walk?
Where is my Myprodol!?
Having some doubts here.
Maybe I should just turn back, go home and cry myself to sleep.
Wait. I see Vida. Lets (me and the stupid couch) keep moving.
I had to make a 06h00 flight to Bahrain. Yes, the arab place nobody talks about. It is a kingdom though and thats something cool I think.
What can you expect on a flight to Bahrain? I am thinking 9-11 kamikaze pilots, I am thinking the plane has a propeller on either wing, I am thinking there is not nearly enough fuel to get us off the runway and I reckon its a good time to call mom…
The flight to Bahrain was eight hours and straight up the Greenwich meridian flying over some of Africa’s most ancient of cities. For once I managed to get some sleep and gave the frosted window a good drooling. I must just say I really don’t get the neck pillow thing. Do you wrap it around the front so it stops your head from dipping and sacrifice your windpipe and overall breathing ability. Or do you put it behind your head, which for me just pushes your neck forward and can maybe create a little side cushion effect. All seems a bit shifty.
Waste of money completely when you fly BA, they have side cushions built into their chairs. Sheer genius that is. BA if you are reading this, I need to go to Vegas and write a story about lifestyle and travel. Make it happen. Seriously.
Its now about midnight and I am waiting in Muscat airport in Oman to catch my 01h30 connection to Kathmandu.
What I am about to write happened. No word of a lie.
I received an email from a mate while using the wireless at the airport. The email had a pg rating. As the boobs on magic island started to reveal themselves I received a criminal warning message on my laptop.
“ACCESSING SUCH INFORMATION IS A CRIMINAL OFFENCE AND VIEWING AND TRANSFERRING IMAGES OF A PORNOGRAPHIC NATURE CAN RESULT IN PROSECUTION”
Hang on. How the fuck can they know that I am accessing a naughty image on my private email account? So can they only access “naughty” images or do they have access to all your mails?
If they do only see the “naughty” mails, who gets to view it? Isn’t that also breaking the law? That thought pattern took approximately 5 seconds.
I have now slammed my laptop shut, convinced myself that someone is watching me and am now literally running down the corridor to the nearest toilet to hide. I freaked out. Badly.
I am not so sure on the Indian culture, but I have started to notice that they don’t seem to jump at the chance to help women. I had to almost help every lady on the plane get her bags into the overhead compartment. The men sit. Maybe I am just too keen to help… or maybe they are just embarrassed cause they cant reach the overhead compartments… not sure.
The airhostess, well the one I spotted, was everything you would hope for. Michelle Pfeiffer sexy, only with perfectly straight short black hair. She also wore a hat that dropped a cute little veil over her face. After ordering as much beer and whiskey as I could and everyone else had fallen asleep she came and sat in the empty seat next to me. Yes Mellon.
I was thinking Emmanuel.
I was thinking mile high magic.
I was thinking she lives in a mansion in the mountains where my next 6 weeks will be spent making Kama Sutra videos.
Conversation went well being comfortably drunk and we spoke as much as the other passengers allowed.
Her one trip took a little too long for my drunk body to handle and by the time she got back I was waking up in Kathmandu. Shit.
Safe and sound thus far and 4 flights, 27 hours of traveling later I have arrived in a country I know absolutely nothing about. AWESOME.
Chapter 2: Kathmandu.
I hope my bag arrived. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I get serious bag arrival paranoia. I am convinced that my bag is never going to make it and I am destined to sleep in the same clothes for the duration of my stay.
It happened to me working for the Kiteboard Tour in 2009. I will talk about the tour and kite travels soon within the blog. I was on my way to an event in Portugal. It was 45 degrees in the air-conditioned car and here is me travelling from UK in Jeans and a Jacket. They lost my bag and it only arrived a week later. Awesome.
I waited and waited staring at the “bench” that promised my bag for over 90 minutes until finally this miniature old Nepali man came from the distance with this massive trolley piled to the top with luggage.
He literally looked like a malnourished donkey on his last legs, carrying a load that will no doubt sentence him to eternal rest. He managed it all the way. My man.
Oh my sweat bag its hot in the airport! I flung my bag over my shoulder and walked through the last set of doors into the parking lot. Boom. The humidity hits first and then come the “bees”.
40 million taxi driving Nepali men have now surrounded me and are poking my bits to a point of madness. They don’t stop for anything. And push and push for the slightest attention you have to offer after 27 hours of traveling. I am freaking out. They are not stopping.
“You fucking little men are leaving me no choice”.
I am now furiously windmilling my way through the crazy and taking no prisoners. I wrestled my way to the tourist centre that offered nothing. Nothing. It did give me a chance to take a breathe and put my bag down. The way I usually roll while travelling is to trust only those who are not forceful. So I looked through the swarm and to this lonely taxi driver chilling with his feet up on the door smoking on a small wooden pipe. And that is how I met Dohli.
As we left the airport security and made our way into the city, we drove directly into a taxi barricade. A Taxi war between non-paying metered taxis and those that pay had broken out. Enraged Nepali psychos armed with batons and all sorts of garage tools surrounded my taxi. You don’t want that shit pointed at you let alone headed in your direction. When I say, these people get crazy eyes. You have no idea.They started smashing the absolute bejesus out of the car. I weighed up my options and the only solution was to use my whirlwind rucksack trick of greatness and get the hell out of there immediately. Here I am in survival mode swinging my bag furiously into these little monsters finally clearing a path for my escape. It must have looked hilarious and through the hysteria of it all I started to laugh. It was tears of joy. I wasn’t crying. Seriously.
I ran down the street screaming apologies at Dohli for leaving a soldier behind. Sometimes it’s just not your fight and best to run. Off I went through the capital, dodging cars, crazed Nepali’s and motorbikes that obey only the sound of other hooters and not the traffic signals. It’s insane.
Here I am again, day two, disorientated, nervous and unprepared with absolutely no clue where to stay. Shit.
Chapter 3: Big city life
I have never experienced anything like this city nor ever imagined that a place like this existed. A city built at 1000m in the widest valley in the Himalaya, with a third of Nepal’s population living here, with the majority of income being tourism. This explains the blindly desperate tactics they use with tourists.
It is run down to say the least, the buildings are old and decaying, the streets are filthy, with a slight rainfall that dampens the slow burning dump sights that are EVERYWHERE.
I managed to find a reasonably decent looking hotel and checked into a 400 rupee per night room. The room spoilt me with its fan that spread the heat around nicely and helped move the cobwebs from my bed.
I opened the “balcony” door and cracked my first Everest Lager. Everest is okay and tastes a bit like Hansa. A flat Hansa.
I had such a peaceful sleep and woke up just after 8. I forced down as much as I could at the free buffet breakfast cause thats what you do.
Leaving tomorrow, I have managed to organize a guide to travel with me through the Annapurna range for 16 days, 3 days stay at Chitwan National Park and an overhead flight of the mighty Everest, which gives me today to experience Durbar (temple) square and hook up some famous Nepali Hash!
Walking to the centre of town, most houses and buildings look like structures for supporting billboards and magazine clippings. I now know the true meaning in becoming a vegetarian after seeing some of the meat displays. They lie all types of body parts from all types of animals on tables in the street under thirty five degree sun, with incense sticks burning as fly repellent. Mmmmmm. Tasty.
“Hash?” “Oil?” “Weed?” “Pollen?” What the shit man. They have every possible weed variety in the world! Love this place right now.
I surveyed the area and chose my “target” carefully. It wasn’t easy. Dealing with far too many awkward winks and uncomfortable uncertainties. I decided this time I would go with the most forceful guy. Hope this works. You really don’t want to get caught here and end up in prison. I saw the prison, trust me on this one. Its fucking hardcore. Be careful.
I have been following this guy for ages now. I cant hear anything this guy is saying and the mumble is just annoying me cause I am trying to concentrate here. I am freaking out trying my best to remember each corner and alley we were trekking through. I don’t want to get lost, especially high. Maybe I should rip off a piece of my shirt and leave a path back to the centre of town. Kinda like red riding hood. Or is it Hansel and Gretel. Maybe both. Am I going to get eaten by a wolf? Will I find my way home?
We made it to his house eventually. We sat for a cup of tea and he dropped the most disgusting piece of hash brick I have ever seen onto the table. Oh boy. “Wanna smoke?” Favourite question of the week for me and off I rolled. We sat for about 5 minutes and spoke about my plans in Nepal. Didn’t take very long as I had none…
Pockets loaded, big smile and off I went.
That day also happened to be the day the Maoists of Nepal held a rally through the centre of the capital. There were over one million people armed with red banners symbolizing their cause marching through the capital. The march was to celebrate the recent peace treaty between the government and the Maoists. It seemed peaceful and quite a sight from my balcony highly stoned, drinking my flat hansa.
“Want some tea Sir?” This is a line you will hear all the fucking time and I was none the wiser when I took Chilli Chocolate up on his offer. Yes. His name was Chilli fricken Chocolate.
He told me about his magical plan to make me rich by “returning” stones back to SA for him.
Shit. Could I make it? Is it worth it? Who the hell cares, I am feeling adventurous and reckon I am the man for the job. Bring It Chilli.
I was with him all the way until Lucy walked passed.
Lucy had just come through India and was on her way to Thailand the following day so we agreed to meet in the evening for dinner and watch a friend she had met in India play the flute at the Moonlight Cafe.
The evenings have very different sounds and none that I to familiar with. There are not the usual sounds of hustle and bustle like any capital city, but more an eerie calmness with strokes of the odd temple chime and a powerful hum blowing from the mountains this city lies in awe of.
We had the perfect table raised slightly, with each lit by tiny Christmas lights and the stars. It was very romantic and probably in the all time top 5. Jeepers the guitarist has gripped my attention. He is unbelievable, playing chords I never new existed. A mix between Slash, John Butler and Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin, because of the timing thing obviously.
I ordered the Dhal Bat, a combination of rice, lentils and curried vegetables. The Nepali people pretty much only eat Dhal and play around with the flavors and vegetables for some variety. The evening came to a close in the early hours of the morning as I had to prepare for my journey up the Himalaya and Lucy has her trip to Thailand. A kiss goodnight made the confusing, dark and long walk home allot lighter and I hope to keep in touch with Lucy. I closed my eyes on my short double bed. The sounds of Tracy Chapman’s new album and the absolute exhaustion from the last couple of days gave me all the sleeping pill I needed for the excitement of what the following day has install for me…
Chapter 4: Pokhara
I have woken up completely exhausted and worn out, but super amped to get a move on and see what all this Himalaya talk is about.
Mika was waiting downstairs and off we went to the bus station to get tickets on the “tourist” bus that leaves at 07h00 for Pokhara. This city has the second highest rainfall on the planet and somehow manages to hit temperatures of way above 40 degrees Celsius in the monsoon months. And yes, it is monsoon time of year right now…AWESOME.
I don’t know how to even begin to describe how terrifying the bus ride was and not sure any human should go through something like that. Every picture, story, movie made showing overcrowded bus’s in India going crazy speeds around the sharpest bends with a sheer drop for support, has nothing on Nepal. Trust me. I changed…
The trip was a long, terrifying experience with the bus screaming around tight narrow bends on the frame of a mountain the size of the Himalaya. After six long hours and only 200 km’s covered we drove into the centre of Pokhara. The city was at a screaming temperature that day, the dust had lifted from the road and formed a thick fog that we made our way through, dodging oxen, taxis and motorbikes eventually finding our way to Bedrock Inn. At this point I won’t lie… I feared for my life. Pretty much eyes closed all the way, sitting on my hands.
This city is no doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world, framed by the most luscious green snowcapped mountain ranges, the Annapurna Heights. Pokhara exhales a sense of peace into your lungs immediately and my tired legs seemed to take on a new level of tolerance.
My room is on the second story of a 5 bedroom house and I think I am in the deluxe suite, purely because no other travelers are stupid enough to come to Nepal at this time of year. Outside the window stood a 12foot marijuana tree and probably one of the biggest I have ever seen. Let me just add that I have seen some ridiculously oversized dagga plants. And this one was GIGANTIC.
Most evening attractions take place at the one end of the mighty Phewa Lake. The men kick around soccer balls, play some volleyball and smoke weed. The children enjoy what shore the lake offers and splash around on old canoes and tyre tubes. The women don’t do much but sit and knit.
I walked through and around the city before choosing a restaurant for my evening vegetable curry and beer. The owner was extremely friendly and we had a good chat about South Africa, Nelson Mandela of course. He mentioned our President, Thabo Mbeki by name which didn’t actually surprise me as I have come to realize that every bit of information on offer to these ancient people is stored away and locked in their minds as if were gold. It’s quite refreshing speaking to someone, even in broken english and they truly want to know and understand every word. Even breathes are remembered.
After dinner I took a walk through the centre of town and came across a tailor who had his own store making t-shirts, shorts and other goodies. He made me a cup of tea while he sewed a Yak to my shorts as a present for having the patience to stop and offer some conversation. I “designed” a shirt each for my sis, Lee and Bobs and off he spun. I also managed to buy a few grams of hash from him, which looked like it was gonna give me more problems than good times, but I was on holiday so I rolled a joint and took a slow walk home.
Bedrock Inn had a warm shower and a double bed, which is more than I was starting to become accustomed to. I lay there that evening with a slight haze over my eyes from an unexpectedly powerful hashie, an odd smile that seemed to set itself on my face since I arrived, and my mind wondered into the thoughts of the mighty Himalaya. Am I ready? I don’t reckon, but I am super keen to give it a go… And I have hash now.
Chapter 5: (Tikhe Dungha)
I had to do a quick repack of my bag and leave some stuff behind in Pokhara for when we get back. I did not fancy the idea of 30kgs on my back for 17 days. Its hotter than 2 mice fucking in a wool sock! I am dripping with sweat.
We made our way to the public bus stop and caught a 2 hour bus that lasted a lifetime. The bus’s capacity was overloaded by almost 4 times and you really shouldn’t look out the window! I had a peak of course and all you see are remains of other vehicles that have taken the valleys head on. The tight bends seemed to speed this driver up. I was frozen stiff and held the child that had been piled ontop of me very tightly! I felt like a bit of a girl when the child told me it was all going to be okay and didn’t look shaken at all. This shit is life changing man.
Finally the bus stopped, Mika shouted some words at me and off we went pushing at least 36 people from our path and finally jumping from the doors and onto a road that lead nowhere. Seriously Mika?
“That’s someone’s farm my man.”
It was now nearing 9am and the sun had set directly above us and there it was to stay for the rest of the day. Walking through thick forest and 30m high bamboo trees did help to cool things down, but it didn’t seem to stop the constant flow of sweat pouring from every orifice throughout my body. The temperatures sore above 40 degrees and I am not sure if it’s the altitude or the humidity or if it was both, but I was really struggling to keep a constant breathing pattern. Lets get serious here. I am completely freaking out again, it’s day one, and this is not good…
After 4 hours of trekking we stopped at the nearest home that offered food and sat for lunch. I loved the fact that we had to wait an hour for my food. She could have taken as long as she liked, I need to keep my legs horizontal.
I started to realize that contour paths were not in the Nepali vocabulary and they believe in up and over, which may seem quicker, but only if your legs are made of pure sinew and leather!
We were now walking upstream, jumping rocks through a valley in the mountain until Mika shrieked at me. He leant behind me and told me not to move for a second.
Who says that!?
“Mika, you better tell me what’s fucking going on right now!”
He showed me a leach on the back of my leg that loved the Mellon blood and had doubled in size. He yanked it off with a bit of salt and I was saved. Only thing is, once you pull the leach off its almost impossible to stop the constant flow of blood from where the leach struck, it’s quite disgusting actually. Savage little buggers. What you should do is let them take their fill of blood and let them fall off. Trust me. That’s not what you want to do at all when you see this slimy little vampire sucking on your leg.
As quiet and as harmless as Mika was, he was starting to irritate me by making the trekking look easy! And this whole leach story was pissing me off a little. I had to check my legs constantly for the blood suckers of death. I HATE leaches.
The next issue of hate to work through is the amount of flies. They don’t leave you alone and trust me when I say thousands I mean millions! It freaks you out and started to drive me wild. I wore my rain jacket, pulling the hood over my head that covered most of my face and it seemed to help. Only thing now is that I am boiling, but probably a good idea to keep my temperature regulated. What the hell am I talking about! This is shit…
I had now walked a total of 7 hours today with a 25kg bag on my back and finally made my way to the first guesthouse, Zaxmi. It lay in a tiny town called Tikhe Dungha.
As luck would have it there was this mystical young girl that lived at this home named Mushami. Huge language barrier problem, but she did take a liking to my camera and enjoyed looking at the pictures I had taken. She seemed in awe of what pictures I chose to take and what grabbed my attention enough to capture it, which in her mystical way, was trying to establish my curiosities and likes. I am in love.
Mushami sat with me for the entire evening and made me the most amazing tomato and onion pizza and some not-so-nice cinnamon tea. I made my way to bed and tried to ignore the hugest spider that had nested very close to my pillow.
Not too worried about the spider as much as I am that leaches can climb beds… Sleep time.
A quiet little voice whispered, “namaste” and woke me up. This is a good start to any day, besides the cinnamon tea. I usually like the tea very much, but Mushami was getting it wrong somewhere. She had washed and rinsed out my crusty clothes, but I didn’t really give a shit. They will be drenched in my man sweat in 3 minutes anyway…
We sat for our morning oats and yak milk coffee, packed my bag and off we went back on the path to nowhere.
At this point I couldn’t work out which was hurting more, the unbearable aches and pains from muscles in my legs I never knew existed or the thought of the 6 hour step climb that Mika kept threatening me with. And kept mentioning some bullshit army story about some guy who did it in like 40 minutes. Idiot.
According to Mika these steps, we were now slowly conquering are one of the toughest parts on this trek and in this region. At one point I was so dehydrated and exhausted, my body started to shake heavily and almost rolled back down. I was having visions of weed plantations amongst corn(millie) trees on the side of the greenest mountain range you could ever imagine. Wait. This is real. My head is fine. My body. Completely BROKEN. We had no choice but to rest and drink some sugar water. Mika also snuck out his secret chocolate supply incase of emergencies… Sneaky little Nepali. Where the hell did he keep it the entire time?
I got a little scared at this point. What the fuck am I doing here?
The sight of our lunch stop was a true blessing. I almost started to cry.
I ordered the vegetable pasta, which definitely gave me a good hour to recoup and get the boots off to dry the damp socks and granny white feet.
After MANY encouraging words from Mika and 7 hours of walking through some of the most captivating scenery I could ever have imagined, we strolled slowly into a town called Ghorepani. This town seemed a little busier and bigger than the towns I had been passing through lately. It even had internet, which allowed me to send some emails out and let my family know I was alive, but not sure for how much longer. My poor mother… Everyone back home thought I was on the tv series, Survivor. Idiots.
I went for some food at a local “restaurant” and sat down to some of the best Nepali tea I had had so far. The lady “didi” did not speak a word of English, but did understand my pointing finger at the vegetable pasta and for everyone else, dhal bat.
There was another trekker who spoke English at this guesthouse, which was great as I was starting to become a mute. His name was Anthony and was from Singapore, he kept me quite entertained for hours telling me stories from Singapore.
He was saying that the punishment for drug smuggling in Singapore is to be hung. For a crime like stealing a professional caner disciplines you. They have actually created careers for men who are taught in the art of discipline and various methods to inflict pain, the most commonly used being the cane. He says the severity of the punishments prevents crime, as criminals are too scared to even try anything, which is fucking awesome if you ask me.
Imagine bending over a perp in SA and try cane him… ha. “Awe! Dis Kinky”
Another interesting thing he said was that in Singapore the people there eat 4 meals a day rather than the usual 3. They eat breakfast, lunch, light dinner and dinner every single day, PIGS! (thats a big lean towards greedy if you ask me) I also met a man named Xavier, from Madrid and seemed a very well traveled and interesting person, but once again his english was limited and he just smiled allot. As most Spanish do when confronted with English.
There was so much food and as I finished more was added to the plate until I couldn’t have fitted one more bite. I needed it badly. I had/ have no body fat I can afford to lose.
The rain seemed to be getting allot worse and more frequent as we climbed higher, not to mention the temperature drop and the gusty winds. But it made good sounds for my mind to drift away into a very comfortable and much deserved sleep that night.
Did I mention I am still rolling on the hash…
Woke up to one of the most captivating and humbling sights I have seen in my entire life. The Annupurna range reaches heights of over 8000 meters, with luscious green forests and snow tipped summits all painting one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever stood in awe of, it literally can take your breath away.
The sun was now rising from behind this 8167m giant of a mountain and Mika managed to capture the perfect picture with me attempting the climb.
We then made our way to a nearby village where Mika had spoken of these special pancakes and boy was the man right! Fair enough I was so fucking hungry I could have chewed on his toe wart and felt comfortably satisfied. After eating a large quantity of pancakes and drinking as much cinnamon tea as possible we made our way onwards to reach the destination for the day, Tada Pani.
I am feeling far fitter and stronger today, I think my body is starting to adjust to the altitude and the trekking seems far easier. We managed to complete
the supposedly 6hour trek in 4 today even though I had to stop and pull the odd leech out from my leg. Leeches have suckers on both ends of their bodies and catapult there way up your boots and onto your legs. They first spray an anesthetic onto your flesh so you don’t feel their presence and as they launch their heads through your skin, in a similar fashion to ticks they release an anti-coagulant, which encourages blood flow and is then feasted on. Fucking leaches man.
As we arrived the rain bucketed down and continued to do so all day, giving me the perfect excuse to relax indoors and catch up on some rest. We sat by the fire and I mostly listened to Mika and the few who lived in the house speak Nepali and every now and again they laughed, which made me smile. They did teach me a card game similar to a game we play back home so learning it was quick and easy and before no time we were betting matchsticks.
I was annihilated very quickly and decided to take a shower after the days’ trekking. The shower was completely overrun with over 50 leeches all ready to pounce at the first mistake you make. Massive decision to make here… do I sleep disgusting or do I risk death with these sick evil fucks. I showered in my boots and checked the floors every second to ensure no leech had the audacity to try and drink my blood, DEVIL CREATURES!
Up there on the list for most traumatic event ever.
A few minutes reading and the odd page written in my diary provided the perfect ingredient to close my eyes. I think that either the altitude or the fact my body is being pushed to its outer limits during the day, that by night my dreams are filled with some serious levels of imagination. I was having some of the most abstract and strange dreams. Who needs psychedelics when all you need to do is walk for 7 hours a day with 25 kgs on your back, not much food and very little sleep. Worth it.
Chapter 8: Chumrong
No need for an alarm and I am up and ready to go before 6 and had my first opportunity to wake Mika. The luxury of pancakes does not exist in Tada Pani so I settled for my usual jungle oats and yak milk, whilst Mika settled for his morning curry. Highly weird if you ask me, but it definitely works for him.
The mountains were completely covered in cloud this morning and gave no allowance for the perfect “tourist” picture. Summit views at this time of year are VERY small. The belief is that if your karma is clear and you are pure of thought then the mountains will bless you. This is not good news if you are Richard Mellon.
The distance traveled today was the shortest we have had to combat so far on the trek, but the combination of leech checks and the amount of flies that swarmed your sweaty body all lead to the usual 6 hour walk I had now become accustomed to.
My shoulders were the source of most pain today and they had really began to burn. I am not even wearing half these fucking clothes I am carrying cross one of the largest mountain ranges in the shitting world! I dream of a massage, or even better I dream that one of the Nepali that we pass along the way offered to carry my load to the next stop. He never came.
After the final ascent, jumping from rock to rock we made our way through one of the largest and longest valleys in the world, the summit being Chumrong and another completed day.
This town was the smallest of all the towns we had stayed in so far. There were only 2 people, man and wife that kept this little “guest house” alive and did a fair job of it considering the altitude.
Chumrong is a no mineral water zone. Most idiot tourists were littering water bottles and so the call was to only allow boiled water. After walking the six hour day and wrestling the madness that is complete dehydration, the thought of recently boiled water was not super high on my list. But trust me, when you need. you settle.
I showered in my boots that evening as the thought of one more leach crawling up my legs and feasting on my flesh just didn’t sit well, all I desired was a relaxing wash.
The clouds crawled in as if they were creeping upwind to disguise their scent, and all of a sudden they were upon you. The rain beat down to a metallica soundtrack and I was in the midst of my first Himalayan rain storm.
For dinner, we feasted on one LARGE Mediterranean pizza that seemed to have more slices than toppings and with apple jam for flavor and one Everest beer for accompaniment I was one happy trekker. But absolutely crippled with pain.
I sat on the edge of that valley for the sunset and took in a strangely cold Everest quartz. It’s funny, you pray for the feeling of simplicity when all you have is complication and when simplicity takes control all you have then, is time.
That evening was definitely one of the coldest so far and is obviously only going to get colder and colder the higher you climb.
Chapter 9: Tolka
The day started fairly badly with the rain beating down hard, the flies against everything that sweats and my legs shaking at every half step. The walking did become easier eventually when your legs warm to it. The rain subsided a little, but the flies that escaped from hell are always there eager to get up all in my face!
Along this stretch of the journey Mika and I started to talk a bit more, but not much. He told me that the Nepali calendar differs to the western calendars and that on this day June 9th 2006 it was the 6th (Zest) February 2063. I am 8 hundred years old…
Another noted conversation was the confirmation that when I am in Thailand, there will be a full moon party. Shit. I am going to kill myself…
The steps we were climbing became more and more agonizing and my bag began to burn holes into my shoulders. I had no choice but to take a break and drink some water for a little while. The weakest time of the trip for me was right now. I seriously couldn’t climb another step. And just when you feeling the most frail, a challenge drop kicks your balls.
Out from the forest came this old frail maybe 70 year old man. He seriously had strings for muscles and hardly any strain in his breathe. He came charging past us. I only came to terms with his achievement once I caught a glimpse of his back and the 5 cases of beer strapped to his forehead. I couldn’t believe it and I was not letting gramps beat me!! I swung my bag over my shoulder and bolted up this 45 minute climb with Mika strolling behind giggling to himself. By the way. The old fucking man won.
What Mika forgot to mention while I was taking my hero run up the valley was the 2 hour walk down! The ascents are a strain, but I had no idea how the descents can kill your knees and calves. I learnt a new pain that day and I was scared. I had one of the most enjoyable showers of my life that evening in Tolka, followed by a large pasta and some great Nepali tea. Job done. Coma time.
Chapter 10: Dhampus
I ended up staying in Tolka for a couple of days. You have to acclimatize as you get higher and the air becomes thinner. You start to take shorter breathes and your body exhausts allot quicker. Its noticeable and quite an awesome feeling to realize where you are and how magical these mountains are. I know, that was a bit hippy. Cut me some slack on this one.
I spent most of the day watching this bird dive bomb this quaint little waterhole/lake on the side of the village. This bird has to be completely blind and is starting to let me down. Each attempt is interfered with complete lack of depth perception and “stevie wonder eyes” pulls up just short of the water on every dive. “Come on little guy, you can do it”
The little 5 year old girl of the house then showed captain retard, that the bird wasn’t fishing, but cleaning the lake. Yes. cleaning the lake. The bird would swan dive to the surface collecting as many leaves as beakly possible and drop it away from the dam. Magic. That was my day. Right there. Watching a bird clean a lake.
Anyway, back again.
That evening I was treated to yet another form of Dhal Bat (curry and rice) and sat with the men of the town. About 8 of us sat around a fire at over 3500m up. They were passing around a “red indian style” pipe and of course I needed to taste what the fuss was about. Why not? What could happen in the middle of nowhere where no mommy can save you.
It came my turn and up stepped captain green fingers. One hit. Seriously, only one hit. Man down. This special hash I was hoping for turned out to be freshly ground poppy seed from the town. Yes. OPIUM. I dropped my arms to my side and held onto my chair for dear life. My face was now pouring with sweat and when I say pouring… Buckets. I went neon white. Vomit, scared, hot, what was that, ooooolahlah thats nice, hang on…
These thoughts kept popping up and I meant to say popping. It was hectic. At one point I was closing my eyes tightly then freaking out and opening them wide. I was confused with what was scaring me more, reality or my imagination. I saw a purple reindeer. I dare you to believe me. Anyway, I didn’t last much longer and was dragged to bed to the sounds of the old guys chuckling to themselves and the never say die bird splashing the leaves from the lake. I heard it. Don’t be scared to believe me…
First major lesson of this trip. Don’t trust the SHERPAS! They lie. “Oh, its only 10 minutes over this 4000m high hill”; “Smoke this, it will make you feel nice”; “Curry in the morning makes you last the day”
In the morning, we had to carry on and couldn’t afford an extra day off for my pain. I was not feeling okay. After 8 hours of serious mental exhaustion and some hatred, I walked slowly into Dhampus. I don’t want to talk about the things I was thinking or saying that day. I was cussing everything. I even let a leach suck me dry in the hope that he would suck on some OPIUM remains and die. Die in his leach gremlin body. See what I mean. Hate.
Chopper me outta here!
Back to Pokhara:
The banging started at about 5am and did not stop until the selfish man claimed the satisfaction of waking up the entire village! Fair enough, there were only 4 of us staying in the village, but I reckon we could have taken him! As accustomed to these early mornings as my body clock was, it did not like 5am with drenching rain outside!
On a quick trip note. There are so many marijuana trees everywhere. Its absolute stoner heaven. Each little village has its own little plantation of over 20 or 30 plants. I figure they obviously smoke allot and sell most of it to the traveling trekkers on this popular route through the Himalaya. On another note I have been having the craziest dreams I have had in my entire life. Last night was a mental dream about my dog back home being stolen and used for some underground street fighting syndicate. She won every fight obviously. Its my story. My dog is a killer.
We started our trek this morning with a 3 hour climb up our last peak and last push to the pick-up point. Not sure if it was me finally feeling fit or the thought of actually sleeping in a bed and a shower without leaches that pushed me comfortably through the last day. It all happened so quickly. Thick jungle climbing mountains. Rain, leaches, humidity and flies. A road. A bus. Trekking over.
The bus ride home was a good 4 hours of pure terror. I was crammed at the back, eyes closed and suffocated in people. But I did have some time to reflect on what had just happened to me and how my life needs to change immediately. They found peace in family and respect it every day of their lives.
I checked into my room in Pokhara and woke early to rent a kayak to tour the Phewa Tal Lake. I motored along and came across this little island in the middle of the lake. The locals had built this pulley rope bridge which chartered people to and from the island to pray. And trust me when I say it was not the safest of bridges and I am not so sure all these people can swim. I am going to move on I reckon. I can see a Wolraad Woltemade all over this lake!
I pulled over at a sign leading up to a look out point, Stupa. It was a bout a 45 minute climb to 1570m at the top. This climbing mountain goat didnt even feel it and was up no problem. A huge golden Buddah had been erected on the top that looked over the magical city of Pokhara. It was quite the sight and I spent a good few hours smoking a little and chatting to the odd tourist that came once every 2 hours. I stayed a while… It was time for an Everest Lager so I made my way down at sunset and off to the hotel. What a chilled day. Needed that.
I keep thinking that I am waking up late, only to check the phone screaming 7am! this is not sitting well. I decided to rent an old Yamaha low rider and go for a cruise around the city. I took a route up to another look out point, Sarangkot. I met a very chilled guy playing guitar on a 6 string acoustic with only 4 strings. We shared a little Bob Marley ciggie and decided to take a mission into town and get his guitar some new strings and sort his shit out. It was definitely not the easiest mission in the world but we got it done and managed to spend the night chilling on the river playing some tracks and drinking beer. What a good way to end my time in the mountains before heading off to Chitwan National Reserve. I am keen to ride some elephants!
Thank you Himilaya. What an adventure!
This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 at 8:48 pm
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