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Memories will be made of this.....

Sweating in the Annapurnas!

NEPAL | Saturday, 27 October 2007 | Views [945] | Comments [1]

The last (and first episode) of this was all about a bit of daredevil jumping off cliffs etc. and i had arrived in Pokora for the 8 day trek to Annapurna Base Camp. The organisation of this was a bit of a farce to say the least (something you come to expect when travelling around - unless you're Israeli..). However, by the next morning there was our group of six, which consisted of myself and Dave, an older guy called Tom (who within the first minute of meeting us was immediately banished from our group by me for saying that all people from Leeds have special needs?!), a Swiss girl called Barbara (an absolute legend of a walker/climber/mountaineer - and for these reasons i didn't see much of her during the day), a Malay girl called Janice (who i insisted we call Jasmine, even though she reminded us on numerous occasions that it was 'not my name') and a very pretty boy from Portugal called Philippe. Janice and Philippe had just spent the last month of so in India doing yoga, meditation and meeting the Dalai Lama, so they were doing lots of ohms all the time. Our guide was called Deepak (but affectionately renamed D-Cup, for no other reason than it raised a giggle or two...some things never change!). I was apprehensive to say the least about doing 8 days walking. Quite simply, i don't like it in the slightest...Machu Picchu was okay, as i knew what i'd see at the end, trekking in Thailand acceptable, but the longest trek i had done previously was the Torres Del Paine in Chile and at 6 days was probably one of the worst travel experiences of my life! The trek was 5 days up and 3 days down and the hardest walking of my life. However, with the group (save for Tom), we laughed, played lots of songs on Dave's guitar, sang with the locals all the way up and met some amazing people on the trip. The actual trekking itself saw days of mostly beautiful weather, with views that would scare anyone with vertigo to their wits end! As some might know, i've never been so unprepared for a trip, so completing a trek without any of the following was pretty folly: sleeping bag, any footwear (apart from trainers), a jacket for the conditions, walking sticks (though this was definitely out of choice, as it just doesn't look cool going up hill with skiing poles!). Most of the events that took place on the trip were far too personal to write on here, but i'm sure that they'll come out eventually!! The highlight of the trek was reaching Annapurna Base Camp - this is 4130 metres altitude and the day we made the short ascent to the camp was glistening with sunshine and a perfect day for visibility for the Annapurna's (and Fish Tail mountain, which in Nepali sounds remarkably like Machu Picchu, so much so that most people seem to call it that!). Whilst at ABC, we experienced a bizarre phenomenon - the day we got to the top there wasn't a cloud in the sky, however the next morning we were calf deep in snow and had to encounter a blizzard coming down (remember the lack of appropriate clothing didn't particularly aid this at all!). It really makes you feel so small and insignificant when you reach the top - as though you're looking at the whole world. Unfortunately, not even the best pictures can quite describe it, but it was emotional! Upon reaching the top and getting the famous kodak moment, my only concern was to get back down as quickly as is humanly possible. Therefore, my suggestion that we hike for 11 hours (over terrain which isn't particularly suited to speed and was covered in ice and snow at the top and leech-ridden mud further down) didn't go down that well with many people - however, i seemed to be able to convince everyone that we wanted to get ahead of all the other tour groups as quickly as possible. This was a stupid idea - really daft. We had been doing about 6/7 hours of walking a day and D-Cup had been particularly adamant that 11 hours was not possible on the same day....however, i was in no mood to listen. After about 8 hours (and with darkness setting in), i realised just exactly why i'm no guide, as the last 2-3 hours was purely uphill - climbing over 500 metres step after step. That night, we are collapsed in our beds and i feared that i might not get spoken to again by anybody! The Dashain festival was taking place during this time and because of this, we witnessed lots of 'sacrificing' ('murdering' in any rational person's books) of plenty of goats and yaks. The pictures of these are a bit gruesome, but i admit to being a bit of a happy snapper. Each night, i'd collapse in bed with the Ipod in - Classic albums listened to everynight on the trek: 'Best of Cat Stevens', 'The Wall' by Pink Floyd, 'Rumours' by Fleetwood Mac, 'Urban Hymns' by The Verve, 'Abbey Road' by The Beatles, 'Graceland' by Paul Simon and 'Legend' by Bob Marley (Dave - told you i'd bloody remember them eventually!!) Getting back to civilisation was a bizarre experience - after 8 days of only seeing people, goats, cows, yaks (albeit it dead ones on the way down), goats (again lots of dead ones) the sounds of car horns had long been forgotten. However, within minutes of being back in civilisation the memories of just how normal nepali life was returned - a dead person on the side of the road (with his blood still running down the street - obviously a newly dead person), then riding on the top of the bus, hanging on for dear life again! Adrenaline returned, after 8 days of serenity and peace from the world. The next day, we eventually got back to Kathmandu (subject to yet another horrible bus journey, where nepalis were fighting over my seat and laughing at my height) where Thamel seemed like a different world. Straight back into being hassled for dope, tiger balm, crap necklaces and the like. We had met three danish people on the bus and seeing as it was my last night, we all hooked up for a drunken evening. And it was very drunk (mainly the Danish sheilas and Dave), and despite watching the Rugby World Cup Final i don't really remember it at all!! It was only the next morning, when the realisation that another trip was soon to be over that i cared (albeit not that much) that England had lost! Unfortunately, time to say goodbye to Dave - probably the first time in my life i've spent 24/7 with a guy for two whole weeks...the way we met, connected, buzzed off each other was great and think that if he'd have not come over on my first day there, how different the two weeks could've been. Excuse me all if i come out with any stupid Aussie sayings, but two weeks is a long time! The journey back was another bizarre affair - 30 hours (but thankfully no need for hitch hiking!). The real stand out points - being chatted up by a tall blonde russian air hostess on the flight back (and her attempts to seduce me....the fantasy can be better than the reality!), and having to spend 20 pounds on a one way rail ticket from Manchester to Leeds (thats 2,500 rupees!). When i arrived back in Leeds i realised that maybe this isn't the place to me when i was greeted by a boy rolling around on the floor begging for a Big Mac (i could have kicked the living daylights out of him at that precise moment in time)....welcome home!! Time to start planning the next trip.................

Tags: I should have known better!



good story mate, that dave bloke sounds like a bit aof a legend, rock n roll and keep travellin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  bruce day Nov 26, 2007 12:14 PM

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