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Lost in the Jungle - yes Literally lost..

NEPAL | Monday, 7 July 2008 | Views [1470]

This one was giving me the eye..

This one was giving me the eye..

A few days ago a Nepali friend - Ashok and I decided to go trekking for a few days only an hour out of Pokhara. What initially was going to be a trek around the lake turned into a trek to a village called Punchasee which was supposed to be a nice easy 2-3 hour walk, in Punchasee there would be a tea house and we would the walk to another village the next day and then back to Pokhara, a nice easy walk in the hills.... Well that is what was supposed to happen, but 'This is Nepal...' and this is what did happen:

10:00 am - Take a 1 hour bus ride from Pokhara to the starting point of the trek

11.00 am - Start the trek, before starting we confirm with the locals that this is the start of the track to Punchasee. Little do we know that there are 2 tracks to Punchasee, 1 which starts a little further up is the main track locals use, which does indeed take 2-3 hours and goes directly to Punchasee, the other which we started down is a track that tourists use when they are want to turn the walk into a 2 day trek. It was doomed from the start!

1:00 pm - After walking for several hours it doesn't appear to that we are any closer to Punchasee and everyone we ask tells us several more hours. This still doesn't seem unusual to me as Nepalis have a notoriously bad sense of time. Also everything I have been told about monsoon trekking appears to be completely untrue, there hasn't been a drop of rain or a leech in site!

3:00 pm - Still haven't reached Punchasee! The other disturbing thing is the lack of villages to get anything to eat at on the way. We come across a local woman who offers to cook us some Chappatis. As far as I was concerned this was much better than a tea house, we sat outside her house on little stools covered with animal skins while she made chappatis inside and a grandfather weaved a bamboo basket outside, it was really nice to see day to day village life not just from a teahouse point of view.

4:00 pm - We set off from our tea break assured that it is only 2 more hours walk away. Now I have to say, that by now I am a getting a little annoyed, the walking has been hard - up hill the whole way, as bad as a day on a mountain trek, and it wasn't really what I was prepared for. As soon as we start walking again the rains came, real monsoon rains and with them came the leeches! And I have never seen anything like them! If you stopped walking for 1 minute you would have 20 climbing up your shoes towards your legs. Luckily we had bought salt, and as the leeches managed to find there way even onto my stomach salt was smeared pretty much everywhere in an effort to keep them away. So we walked up and up and up some more, and got very very wet.

6.00 pm - By now I am convinced we are lost. The rain has made a complete mockery of my $4 nepali raincoat and everyone we pass tells us a couple more hours, but I was under the impression it was only a couple of hours when we first started! I am now quite ready to kill Ashok, but refrain as that would mean I would have to carry the pack the whole way to wherever it was we where going myself...

There are no more people to pass, no signs of life and the stone track has become a bush trail, I am CONVINCED we are on the wrong path and we have about 1 and half hours till darkness. From the top of the hill I can see some houses in the valley below, they are a fair way away, but at least they are there, so I convince Ashok that we should head down towards them, as at least we know there there and we have no idea where this track is going.

So we head down and eventually come across some rice paddies, so I assume that the people who farm them mustn't be too far away. At this point I am ready to beg anyone I come across to just let me sleep on there verandah, the alternative right now is to sleep in the jungle with the leeches.

7:00 pm - Cornfields! Ashok tells me that they always plant the corn near the houses, so we must be close to a house, and then there it is a small village of about 9 houses! Which as it turns out all belong to one FANTASTIC Gurung family.

When I get there Ashok is already talking to them, I am desperately hoping they won't mind us staying. As it turns out they where beyond hospitable! No tourists ever come through here, I was the first one they had ever seen!

They where genuine village farmers, a clay mud house, no electricity, not even gas, they cooked everything over an open fire. They lit the fire to warm us, I sat down, my face stil covered in Salt residue and drank a glass of the local millet wine which I needed to warm my insides and calm myself down while they cooked us an incredible dahl bhat! All cooked over the open fire. The daughter gave up her bed for
me and I had the best nights sleep I've had in a long time!

So, although I was really quite stressed, everything worked out better than you could have planned. You can plan village stays, but this was genuine hospitality, unplanned and incredible. Definitely getting worth getting lost in the jungle and eaten alive by leeches for!

The next day we aborted the Punchasee plan and walked about 4 hours to the road for a bus back to Pokhara.

At that is what happened when I went on a 2 hour walk to Punchasee..

Tags: jungle, local hospitality, nepal, trekking

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