Day 7 – Nepal Diary: In Search of that Religious Experience


Annapurna I

As we left Tolka, the innkeeper told us that she had a brother who owned an ‘airplane restaurant’ in Pokhara, that we should stop in and see him and have dinner. We said we’d try and headed off to the next village, but not before I got this great photo of the sunrise on Annapurna I. We trekked about 6 miles, on mostly what they refer to in Nepal as flat, a little up and a little down (the little ‘up’ was 1200 feet and the little ‘down’ was 1700 feet). The great views that we thought we were going to get by going this route were obscured by a heavy cloud cover.  We thought we’d stay in the village of Dhampus, but when we got there we were told there was no power and no wifi, so after having lunch, we continued down the mountain for another 3 miles and thousands more of those stone steps. There just seems to be no redeeming quality to those stone steps, they exhaust you if you’re going up, and pound your knees if your going down and they keep you from seeing anything else around you as your total focus must be on you next step or you’ll be doing a face plant in one of them. When I get home, I’m taking out the stone steps I have in the back yard – they’re flat, but I just don’t want the reminder!  We reached the village of Phedi at the bottom of the mountain and there was actually a road and we see moving vehicles for the first time in 6 days. At the bottom we have a decision to make; our goal is to get to the village of Sarangkot at the top of the next mountain. People from all over the world come to Sarangkot to view the spectacular sunrise over the Himalayas. They say it is like a religious experience.

Village view


It would indeed be a religious experience for me, because if I attempted to go that extra 8 miles, straight up, I would be meeting my maker. Dom looks at Sarangkot then looks at me and says, “Are you ready?” Then breaks out laughing and says, “We’re taking a cab to Sarangkot”. Who knew that a cab could be part of the whole trekking experience? Where were the cabs on Days 1-2?

The cab ride was an experience in itself. Four of us, plus the driver and all our gear crammed into a car the size of a refrigerator. I got to sit, knees in my face, up front with the driver, whom, I’m guessing hadn’t showered since February . . . 2013. Of course after trekking for the last 7 hours I wasn’t exactly a bouquet of roses myself. The fact that they drive on the ‘other’ side of the road didn’t help the white-knuckle experience of going up the mountain. The cabbie ultimately let us off about a half mile from the village as the road was too rutted and muddy for him to go any further. We happily walked the rest of the way in the fresh air.


Sunrise from Sarankot

Sarankot offers a great view of the city of Pokhara and Lake Phewa Tal, it was a little hazy, but still a great view and a great resting place. After a cold beer and dinner we watched a movie on my computer, Into Thin Air – the story of death on Everest. Not exactly a musical-comedy, but everyone seemed to enjoy it. We settle in early and set our alarms for 5:00 a.m. so we could wake up then walk up to the observation point and watch the spectacular sunrise over the Himalayas. The alarm went off and I looked outside and I could barely see the dog that was right outside our window barking all night – everything was socked in. No spectacular sunrise today. No religious experience. I rolled over and went back to sleep.







Day 6 – Nepal Diary: Room, Board and a Himalayan Cremation


The teahouses that we stay in are all very similar, there are anywhere from 8 – 20 motel-style rooms; there is a main kitchen and dinning hall and a sitting area typically overlooking a spectacular view. The rooms are Spartan-like, 12 x 12, two single beds with a mattress that is about three inches thick (although I must admit, fairly comfortable) and usually one electrical outlet that typically doesn’t work. We always get a room with bathroom, most rooms don’t have one, but the bathroom is also very Spartan-like. It is about the size of a small closet and consists of only a toilet and a spout coming out of the wall, which is the shower; no sink and no mirror (thank god) and a drain in the middle of the room. Because there is no separation, no curtain, no anything except the spout, you could actually take a shower while you’re going to the bathroom. (Nope, haven’t tried it yet). There is one light in the bedroom about the size of a golf ball and it doesn’t work during the day when the power is shut off. There is usually a clothesline outside your door so that you can wash and rinse out the cloths you wore all day and hang them out to dry. The ‘deluxe’ room, the one with the shower, also has a Spartan-like price; on average about $6.50 a nigh!. But you don’t get a mint on your pillow, in fact sometimes you don’t get a pillow.


Every food looked so foreign to us that we really couldn’t figure out what to try, so we’d order something that we thought looked good from the Beerpictures on the menu. When our food came, Dom and Kirin’s food always looked better, so next time we’d order what they had at the last meal and they’d order something different . . . that looked better than ours. One of their favorites is Dal Bhat, a combination of rice, lentil soup, potatoes with curry, chili peppers, throw in some chicken or other meat and viola! What’s interesting is they eat it with their hands – remember they don’t attend too many black-tie dinners. There is virtually the same menu throughout the Himalayas and they try to do a little bit of everything, Italian, Korean, Mexican, Japanese, Indian and American – most of the Asian dishes are the best. Some of the unusual items on the menu include:


Not your mother’s apple pie

Porridge, I thought that word died with Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. Goat cheese and Yak cheese – Patrick says, with a smile and a twinkle in his eye (which means he’s bull shiting), that he can taste the difference. Curry everything, Momo (pot stickers), Chicken lasagna, I actually tried this one and it was pretty good, although it tasted nothing like lasagna or chicken for that matter. Another fine Italian dish I tried was Tuna Pizza; don’t hold your breath waiting for is one to come to the states! any time soon.  I couldn’t bring myself to try the Himalayan burrito (who knows what’s in there?). Most of our meals, even breakfast, have some sort of noodles in them, and every place serves apple pie, although it looks nothing like apple pie – but very good. The most expense item on the menu is in the $4 range.

On the beverage side, you can get about 50 varieties of tea as well as Coke, Sprite and Orange Fanta in a bottle. Of course I had to try the local beers, two main brands, Nepal Ice, which has an alcohol content of 7%; combine that with the thin air and you’re buzzed before you’re half finished. The other beer, my favorite, is Everest, it taste really good, but what I really like is their they great marketing slogan: “Our beer is colder than your ex-wife”.

The Himalayan Cremation



When we reached Tolka I discovered that I was missing my prescription glasses. I looked all through my pockets and pack and they were nowhere to be found. I remember having them the night before while reading in bed and then setting them on the window ledge next to the bed. While reaching for my watch or flashlight during the night I must have knocked them off and they ended up under the bed and out of sight. In Tolka, the lady who owned the teahouse where we stayed, called back to the teahouse in Jhinu and asked if they found the glasses. Kirin had volunteered to go back early the next morning and get them – that’s just a quick 16 miles before breakfast! I think he has lungs that could breathe on Mars. Fortunately for Kirin, but unfortunately from me, when the lady hung up the phone, she said, “They found the glasses, but they were broken, they threw them in the trash and they have already burned the trash today.”  So my glasses have been cremated and the ashes have been scattered in the Himalayas – so I guess I’ll always have that going for me.