(Oct 22 note: Photos related to this post will be posted later this week.)
Ten minutes to the walk, I felt a pinch on my knee. Left side of the left knee.
It was 6:40 am. I was heading downhill to Kakri. They said the village was about 30 minutes of walk away. There was one brief moment of confusion when I couldnt find the path that disappeared into the excess soil from the road work. I made a couple of jumps and found the path.
I felt another pinch on the same spot of left knee. I thought about yesterday’s walk. I could feel pain on calf. And on both legs. Thighs were paining too. But this particular pinch, piercing pain, was different. For calf or thigh pain walking more is the way of cure. Muscles get used to with the process in a matter of hours. I wasn’t worried about those pains. But this pain had a needling effect.
This pain started to grow as I walked. Soon I was limping. It took me 1.5 hours to cover the trail that others had said I would cover in 30 minutes. I think I could have walked that distance in 45 minutes if my knee hadn’t let me down. Now I was hardly dragging myself on the route stopping mainly to give the knee some rest and to take photos of two dense neighborhoods of Kakri village. Continue reading
DW at Cubang pass. This is before he took the wrong trail and got lost for about half an hour in the jungle.
From Nishel Dhor to Kakri via Taka Shera
(Oct 17 note: Photos related to this post will be posted later this week.)
Waking up in Nishel Dhor: When I sleep early, like 8:30 or 9 pm, I wake up before the alarm clock comes to life. This was one of those mornings because that was one of such evenings (when I slept early and, more importantly, fell asleep early). But I remained in bed till 6:15 am, thinking about the day ahead and about those things that are not significant. I enjoy such moments- the self-imposed pressure to wake up and start the journey. To move ahead. And the desire to remain in bed, to get some more sleep. To go (back) into dream as the sun appears on the horizon.
Hunger strikes: I woke up and I paid. The lady was already awake. She was cleaning dishes with warm water. She made a cup of tea for me upon my request. I also asked for a packet of noodle and stuffed that into the side pocket of the backpack. Later in the morning, as I became hungry and thirsty and somewhat afraid of the uneasily quieter and lonely journey that witnessed me crossing one mountain after another in a thick jungle crowded by not a single human but all sorts of noise that, when combined- and that came as combined- produced one big, weird and somewhat frightening sound, I realized the importance of that substandard noodle that some profit-oriented company made especially for such rural areas where price, even by a rupee, matters a lot and the quality comes a distant third. The second, if you are interested to know, is the access to the noodle itself. Continue reading
I woke up at 8 in the morning. Unusual in normal times. Unusual when I am traveling. When I am not traveling and staying home I wake up very late. Like around 9:30. When I am traveling I generally wake up very early, like 5:30 or 6 because of the pressure involved. It’s better to walk early in the morning before sun comes up to suck up your energy.
First day’s walk had been longer than it should have actually been. That had made me more tired.
So I woke up at 8 am even though the alarm bell on my cell phone had dutifully alerted me at 6:30 am. After having a cup of tea and a Tibetan bread I was ready to explore the valley. It was my plan to explore the Dhorpatan valley in the morning before resuming the walk for a few hours to reach a place called Nishel Dhor (or Nishi Dhor). As per the suggestion of the sahuji of the hutel, I took the shortcut to reach the other side of the valley. That meant avoiding the proper trail which has a bridge to cross the river and saving myself from walking about an hour just to reach the other side where offices of the hunting reserve and a Tibetan refugee settlement are located. Both are close to the airstrip under maintenance. Continue reading
'Pinging' in Pingdanda of Baglung
(Oct 14 Note: Pics will be posted later when I reach Kathmandu. I am still on the move. Libang, Rolpa is the current location.)
A long and tiresome journey. Walked for about 10 hours to reach a place that is a small valley surrounded by jungle on all sides. The forest is where hunters come to aim at wild animals. Dhorpatan is Nepal’s only hunting reserve. You are permitted to kill animals of your choice (there are some conditions to abide by and royalty to pay). Western hunters land in helicopters to venture into the jungle. A river flows through the middle of the valley. Houses are scattered on the laps of the hills. Eastern and western parts of the valley- opposing ends of the river- have comparatively ‘densely populated’ neighborhoods. The space in the middle of the valley is empty and open. Apparently the river occupies most of that land in rainy season. In other times, however, this serves as a grazing field for horses and donkeys. River water is cold. This whole area is covered by snow- as much as two feet in the valley- in winter. Snowing will start in a couple of weeks, I am told. A small and rarely used airstrip- apparently under construction- is on the northern bank of the river (north-eastern side of the valley). The river flows from east to west. I am not sure about the altitude of this place at this point. (Added later: 2850 m to 3000 m in the valley.) The valley itself may not be that high (Poon Hill, for example, is at 3200 m.)
Sunrise on Poon Hill, with a view of 26,795-foot Dhaulagiri. Pic: Ethan-Todras Whitehill for NYT
The New York Times and Time magazine are working closely, so to speak, to cover Nepal in the past couple of weeks. First came Jim Yardley, former Beijing bureau chief of the Times now posted in New Delhi, with an analysis titled “China Intensifies Tug of War With India on Nepal.” That was in mid-February. Two weeks later Jyoti Thottam, Time‘s woman in New Delhi, saw, from Delhi, Nepal “Caught Between China and India.” [Prithvi Narayan Shah, the king who unified Nepal some 250 years ago, had realized that long time back when he said, "नेपाल दुई ढुङ्गाबीचको तरुल हो । [Nepal is a yam between two boulders.]“
Both stories are worth reading but they are not something that we can cheer about. This week NYT and Time came out with two travel reports that are certainly helpful to promote Nepali travel and tourism industry. The Times publishes an excellent travelogue from Annapurna Circuit while Time highlights Kathmandu Valley as a weekend destination. I was particularly interested in the Times story, by Ethan Todras-Whitehill, because I have done parts of the Circuit- Ghandruk Ghorepani (which counts as separate route that passes via Poon Hill) and Nar Phu trek (that touches many parts of the Circuit including Dharapani and crosses via Kang-la Pass that is only a few meters shorter than Thorang-la). The main photo- brilliant- published alongside the story- people enjoying the view of Dhaulagiri range and the sunrise- reminded me of my own moment at Poon Hill three years ago. Continue reading