March 19: Day 14
Chymche to Bahundanda
Yet another uneventful, dreadful day of walking on roads! Jan didn’t sleep well so we had a really slow start to our day and didn’t depart until after 9:30am. And of course, today was the earliest me and Travis were ever ready! It was just a short five hour walk, but the first three hours were awful – all on shitty Jeep trail roads. We ran into so many trekkers on the circuit (we were now at the start of the Annapurna circuit as the Manaslu circuit merges with it), and I swear 90% of them were Israeli! We were playing a game where as we walked, we would all pick a nationality of who we thought the next people we met on the trail would be -without seeing them. Our game came quickly to an end however, as pretty well everyone was Israeli! Continue reading
March 17, 2018: Day 12
Bimtang to Tilche
As much as one would like to say all is well now that we’ve made it down the pass, there was some drama last night. We were heading to our little cabin to call it a night, when we heard yelling. We saw one of the guides who had gotten very drunk, harassing a woman, hitting her around her middle, as she screamed back at him, struggling. And out of no where, our guide Tek the hero steps in to help her. The other guide kicked Tek and they really got into it, the woman too – she wasn’t sitting back while this guy caused trouble at her tea house. I initially thought there was a chicken involved because there were feathers everywhere, and I thought perhaps he was stealing a chicken and they were trying to stop him? But it turns out that the one guide had grabbed Tek’s jacket and ripped it, causing the down filling to spew out everywhere, feathers filling the air. At last Tek got him down and one of the porter’s, Chen Ho Susan came out and helped to hold down the struggling drunk guide. He had to be held down for a half hour while he screamed and hollered. And then cried. And then puked. And then was finally dragged limp to his bed. Good lord! I guess he let his celebrating get out of hand and he drank too much Raksi, the local moonshine. Some people just shouldn’t drink. He was of course deeply ashamed the next day and didn’t even remember what had happened. I was just glad Tek was around to help the woman! Continue reading
March 15, 2018: Day 10
Samdo to Dharmasala
Altitude gain: 770m
We had a team discussion last night to plot our our strategy for today. We are Team Take Our Time – which means we are the last ones to leave every day. We were headed to Dharmasala, which is the last camp before the pass. The camp is comprised of two or three private rooms, one dorm room and then 12 or so tents. Accommodation was on a first come first serve basis. We knew we could never make a fast enough pace no matter how early we left to try and secure a private room, or even dorm- but also, we didn’t want to leave early because that would mean spending a very long day in a very cold tea house/room trying to keep warm. We wanted to leave as late as possible. Bhim agreed to be a hero and leave around 7am with the pack by himself. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran the whole way to be honest. Bhim was 20 years old, lithe and spry and even with a 20kg pack on him he could nimbly jump from boulder to boulder, dance across unstable landslide debris and somehow keep his balance and never be out of breath. It was incredible. He was some sort of super human! Continue reading
March 12, 2018: Day 7
Lhogaon to Samagaon
Elevation gain: 350m
Finally! I slept better last night – nearly a whole five hours! It’s freezing cold at this altitude, but once I was in my sleeping bag for an hour it was nice and toasty. I awoke at 6:20am and packed and went for breakfast. The view this morning was spectacular! We didn’t have much time to enjoy it however as the clouds rolled in fast.
We set off around 8:30am behind the rest of the trekkers – ‘Team Take our Time’ is what we should have called ourselves! Always last! But what rush are we in? The trek today was beautiful with some snowy patches and lots of ups and down. We stopped at the monastery just outside of Lhogaon which was peaceful, yet bustling with monks going about their work on the place as it was undergoing major construction. We passed a long string of monks on the steep zigzag path up through the forest, all carrying huge pieces of wood slung across their shoulders to aid in the building. Continue reading
March 9, 2018: Day 4
Jagat to Dyang
Elevation gain: 390m
What a day. It’s so hard to recall all that happened; it all becomes such a blur so quickly when the mind settles down after the long hard day of trekking. Let’s see what I can uncover. I guess I should introduce our crew a wee bit better since you’ll be hearing all about them. Travis is my partner. We’ve been travelling together for the last 5 months, in Mexico. Jan is Travis’ Auntie. She trekked in Nepal the year before and fell in love, so it worked out perfect that we could meet up here. Travis and I were both relieved to have someone along who knew what the heck they were doing! Bhim is our porter turned friend (whom was all Jan’s porter on her last Nepal trip!). And Tek is Bhim’s older brother, and he is our amazing guide for this journey. Okay, onwards with the adventures. Continue reading
March 6, 2018: Day 1
Kathmandu to Soti Khola (by Jeep)
Today is the day! We have been planning, preparing, stressing out and getting wildly excited about this day for a long time now. Today we set off from Kathmandu to begin our two week trek into the heart of the Himalaya’s to circuit around the eighth highest mountain in the world, Manaslu. We used our two day layover in Vancouver to stock up on some trekking essentials and then spent a week in Kathmandu adjusting to the food and culture, and partaking in the amazing Holi festivities. But now the time has finally come! We’ve gone over the maps, the itinerary, asked a million questions, gotten to know our guide Tek and his brother Bhim our porter, and now all that remains is to get out there.
The Jeep bounced away from our hotel at 9am and we were off. Almost. Continue reading
*Due to the water damage my MacBook obtained, I am unable to access writing and photos from our last month or so in Mexico. The post I wrote on Las Pozas in Xilitla, as well as my Nikon photos from San Miguel and Guanajuato are all on my external hard drive which I can’t access until I return home and buy a new laptop. I have a few iPhone photos so the rest of the Mexico posts will have to get by with these photos for now and I will update once I get home!*
As the bus rolled along the mountain roads from Xilitla to San Miguel, the scenic views changed from lush jungle mountains to the rolling desert hills and the brown scorched lands of the Guanajuato region. It was a long, quiet empty bus ride and we arrived after dark. A taxi took us to our hostel, creatively named ‘Hostel Inn’. It was just outside the old city centre in a perfect location and we had a 12 bed dorm room all to ourselves! The staff were lovely and we were lucky enough to makes friends with one staff member, the lovely Anel, a person who personifies the Mexican people – kindhearted, friendly, helpful, funny and an amazing cook! We shared a charcuterie board with her that we made one night and brought it to her at the front desk while she worked, and she returned the favour another night by making oh so yummy tacos dorados and crema de Chile poblano soup – what a treat! Continue reading
It felt good to leave the monstrous Mexico City behind and escape the smog and chaos of the big city life. We weren’t headed far, just an hour and a half away to Pachuca, in the next state over, Hidalgo. This was a stop over for some nature adventures in the state we were excited to explore. Our stop over ended up being extended a few days however, as we fell in love with our oh so comfortable king size bed and quiet guest house. We hadn’t slept too well our last few nights in Mexico City in our noisy budget hotels, so finding a place with a good bed and no noise was a welcome respite. We decided to extend our stay mostly to just relax and catch up on some writing and sleep. Our host was so wonderful and welcoming and there were no other guests so it was extra quiet. She even got wine (and grape juice for me!) to share to help her celebrate the opening of the place, whilst burning copal. I highly recommend staying at this cute little place, ‘Downtown Pachuca’; Gina is the host and her place can be found on booking- definitely get the King size room! Continue reading
After over three weeks in Oaxaca where we spent the holidays, it was at last time to move on. We were moving north, to el Monstruo (as Mexico City is affectionally called), but decided to stop off in Puebla on the way there as we heard good things about this old city. It was a big city in and of itself; at over 1.5 million people it is the 5th largest city in the country. I’m not much of a big city fan, but it was just a couple day stop over, mostly to see if we could find some good food!
We checked out the massive cathedral in the centre of the town, took one of those cheesy open concept bus top tours, and stopped in at the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, a gorgeous library founded in 1646 , making it the first public library in colonial Mexico. Some even consider it to be the first public library in all the America’s! The Bishop of Puebla at the time was a total book nerd and donated over 5000 books to San Juan college under the stipulation that they be made available to all the public. Over 100 years later the library was created and given the name of the Bishop, Palafoxiana in honour of his donation and love of books. Continue reading
With our upcoming plans of trekking the Himalaya’s in Nepal, we needed to get a trek or two under our belts. There were plenty of hikes online with pricey tour companies, but we didn’t want to have to pay someone hundreds of dollars to walk with us, we were quite capable of that, thanks! After digging around some more we found there was a company in town that helped coordinate treks through the Sierra Juarez mountains and the Pueblos Mancomunados (united villages) for a fair price. The best part was the money went directly to the guides who lived in each of the villages so your money was actually making it to the villages. What made these villages united was that they pooled resources to help each other out, and 6 of the 8 communities came together and created the ecotourism programs that helps sustain the villages today.
And so, on the first day of the new year, I awoke at 6am after not really sleeping at all (thanks anxiety!), caught a cab to the second class bus station and hopped in a collectivo van headed for the village of Cuajimaloyas, resting at a mighty 3100 meters above sea level. Continue reading