- 1 - Besisahar to Khudi: Most People Walk Further to Work
- 2 - Who Says Trekking in Nepal Has to Involve Lots of Walking?
- 3 - Conquering the Annapurna Circuit’s First Hill
- 4 - Trek to Jagat and a Rant Against Guides on the Annapurna Circuit
- 5 - Jagat to Tal: Our First Real Day of Trekking
- 6 - Tal to Chame: Falling into a Trekking Routine
- 7 - Chame to Pisang: Just Takin’ the Goat for a Walk
- 8 - A Well-Deserved Day Off in Upper Pisang
- 9 - Pisang to Ngawal: A Hard Climb to Beautiful Views
- 10 - Drinking Yak Sewage in Ngawal
- 11 - Arriving In Manang…Two Weeks Later Than Most
- 12 - Trekking On Our Day Off From Trekking in Manang
- 13 - Annoying Trekker Abuses Friendly Guesthouse Owner
When the day came to set out for the town of Besisahar at the beginning of the Annapurna Circuit trek in Nepal, I was a bit apprehensive, as I knew it would be the beginning of up to a month or more of continuous walking. As a person who generally tries to keep his daily walking time under ten minutes, that seemed a little daunting.
The amazing scenery I’d heard so much about began even before boarding the bus with a spectacular sunrise reflecting off the mountains behind the Pokhara bus station. It was the first such sunrise I’d seen in almost two months in Nepal, partly because most of that time was spent during the rainy season, but mostly because it was the first time I’d ventured outside before 11.
The bus itself was a “tourist bus”, which differs from a regular bus only in name and in the fact that the seats are filled with tourists, who are attracted by said name. The spaces around the seats are just as full of locals as every other bus and it stops for every man, woman, child and farm animal waiting by the side of the road just like every other bus.
And like other buses, it also entirely lacks all features that generally provide comfort in vehicles, such as seat cushions, breathing room, windows that keep out the ridiculous amounts of dust that hover over every Nepalese road and a volume setting other than jet engine on the constant stream of helium voiced singers and obnoxious repetitive beats pouring out of the tinny speakers strategically placed directly next to my head.
As a result, I got off the bus in Besisahar five hours later with a splitting headache and muscles that felt like I was returning from my month of trekking, not embarking on it. By the time I had grabbed my bag and stretched and began looking out for the trail, pretty much the whole busload of people had vanished.
The only ones left were an older German man and a younger German couple who had grabbed a table at a restaurant for lunch. That seemed like a great way to start the trek, so I joined them.
During lunch I learned that the older gentleman was trekking this particular route for the third time in his life and was planning on making it to a town named Tal that day, which was quite a bit further than most people would go in one day, but he was going to try because……who cares really. It was very apparent I would never see him again. Even if he sprained his ankle along the way, I was sure he could hobble along at a quick enough pace that I would never be able to catch up.
The other two were more promising. He was clearly an athlete, but he was also quite sick at the time which would slow him down. They also both made it quite clear they had no intention of hurrying and would prefer to take their time and actually enjoy the scenery and the experience as a whole. That sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how few people seem to subscribe to that theory. “Get it done and cross it off your list” seems to be the more popular motto.
The three of us decided to head off together. I figured if they proved too speedy for my taste, I could just fall behind. When we took our first break after ten minutes and our second not long after, I knew I’d found some good hiking buddies.
On the bus, I’d overheard people mentioning the names of the second, third and fourth towns after Besisahar when discussing where to stop for the night. I figured I would end up in the second, as it was only a few kilometers down the road, but after half an hour of walking, the three of us realized we wouldn’t even get that far. No one on the bus had ever mentioned the first town, since it was just down the road and it was apparently unheard of for anyone who began the day in Besisahar to end the day in the very next town, but we were about to make history.
Between being sick or out of shape and not being used to carrying so much weight on our shoulders (no porters or guides for us, thank you), we’d had enough long before we ever even reached the first town, whose name I’m looking up right now………apparently it was Khudi. I have no recollection of that.
I do remember it being a nice town with a cheap hotel and attached hot spring. We didn’t notice that until the next morning, however, as we were too exhausted to even make it that far the afternoon before, when we basically just collapsed in the entryway to the first hotel on the outskirts of town. It wasn’t a bad place, but we could have had so much more for the exact same price.
We spent the evening lounging around on the porch outside our rooms overlooking the raging river below us while playing cards. We were at around 800 meters above sea level and it was still hot enough for us to complain about the heat. Thinking back now, we really should have enjoyed the warmth a bit more while we had it. We would soon spend our evenings shivering around various stoves.
Series continued in part 2: Who Says Trekking in Nepal Has to Involve Lots of Walking?