Day 48 – Location: Dhampus; Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Nepal.
At 5:30am I crawled out of bed and went up to the grassy knoll. There were only 4 other tourists up here and thankfully they were quiet. The sunrise was very nice and the big mountains were fully visible, having been covered in cloud the previous day. The valley was layered as the sun peeked over the hills.
A “Tommy” (dog) was lying down enjoying the views as well. It was very peaceful and there were no annoying Chinese tourists shouting! You could hear locals playing instruments for their morning worship down in the village below, and of course the horrible hawking of the people waking up and phleming for the morning.
After the sun was up I walked around the village taking photos, and after breakfast bid Kumar farewell and we set off down the hill into the Pokhara valley, along steps and through rice and millet fields. The last section was steep and hot and we passed struggling tourists on the way up. I thought if they’re struggling on this beginning section they’re going to have real problems in a day or two.
After an hour or so we reached the main road at the valley floor. We hardly had to wait for a local bus to appear, and we hopped on. Along the road we passed massive herds of goats, some being moved along the road. They would soon be the unfortunate victims of the Daisin festival which was now in full swing across Nepal. At this time, every Hindu family that can afford it will buy a goat or sheep and sacrifice it. These goat herds get brought down from the mountains, sometimes taking weeks of travel, to be sold for the festival. A goat can cost as much as 60,000 Rupees (600 pounds), a very big chunk of money by Nepali standards. Shiba was bemoaning the cost he’d be paying for Daisin, having to buy a goat and then weeks of partying. It’s a bit like Christmas for us, but more expensive!
Two women with massive bundles of grass piled onto the bus and it soon filled to the brim with people. After an hour or two we reached Pokhara, and walked to Lakeside, arriving around 10am. After finding a quiet hotel, I gave Shiba and Krishna a tip I thanked them for their hard work and bid them goodbye. I’d heard from Anja, the Swiss girl I’d met in Kathmandu at the same time I’d met Rose. She was on holiday in Pokhara and we arranged to meet at Devis Falls, a few km from Lakeside.
I enjoyed a nice hot shower and took all my clothes except the ones on my back to a laundry service, catching a taxi at 11am to the falls. It was still within Pokhara town and the entrance was lined with souvenir shops. There wasn’t anything to see in the ugly walled grounds so I went to the falls. The river had hollowed out a path through the rock and then plunged into a deep hole in an impressive torrent.
It was nice but after a few minutes it was done and I wandered around trying to find Anja, who spotted me outside the entrance. She was accompanied with two other Swiss-German guys like Anja in their early 20s; Nick, a bearded chap in his early 20s, and Balthi (prounced like the curry), a short guy with curly hair. They were travelling around for a while and had met Anja though a friend in Switzerland. They’d already been to visit her and her host family in the town of Besishar, where Anja was volunteering in a school.
After chatting we took a taxi back to Lakeside and randomly ran into Rose, who I hadn’t seen since the hot springs. She joined us for lunch. It turned out she’d had a few awkard last days with her guide on the trek, who had started acting very strangely, hardly talking to her and being rude. She didn’t know what she’d done to annoy him but it had soured the end of her trip. One of the problems of solo trekking. After lunch Rose left us and we browsed some shops. It was very hot and I didn’t have the energy for any activities after the early start and so I just hung out with the others at their hotel for the rest of the day. In the evening we went for a super cheap and tasty meal at a place called Laughing Buddah, which did amazing vegetable chilli. The guys taught us a simple gambling game using 6 dice which was pretty good. I had an early night, looking forward to some much needed rest after the trekking!