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Trekking can be fun...
by Judy Smith
Judy goes to the mailbox and end up trekking in Nepal!
The closest I'd ever gotten to trekking was walking to the mailbox (well almost). I was at a loose end in Kathmandu and went to visit a friend of a friend, who just happened to run a trekking company. I was half way through my complimentary cuppa when, before I knew it, I'd signed up for a 3 week trek around the Annapurnas with a person I hadn"t even met ! Although Martin was almost twice my age we hit it off and I felt sure I'd be able to keep up with the 'old guy'.
We set off at 6 am to catch the bus from Kathmandu to the start of the trek. We were lulled into a sense of contentment sitting in our padded seats watching the world go whizzing by as we rounded endless hairpin bends to our breakfast stop, a few shacks on the side of a cliff. The views were great and the tea was hot. Back on the bus we headed for lunch at Mugling, a nondescript town which seems to cater for bus meals and seriously stranded travellers. Finally, a few hours later we arrived at Dumre, which didn't look like a place to start a trek from. There were dirty buildings and a lone cattle truck. Our guide, Krishnaman, told us he would buy our tickets. Tickets for what?! Martin and I looked at each other, then at the cattle truck. Yes, this was the only transport left that day to take us to Besi Sahar, the town where the road ends and the trek begins.
By the time all the people and luggage were loaded on, there were about 60 people standing, sitting and lying in the back, on the roof , or anywhere else there was a handhold. The 'road' was dusty and very bumpy, and the Americans who had decided to perch on the cross struts realised that if they ever wanted to walk normally or have children that perhaps they should squeeze in down the bottom. The 5 hour trip in the boiling sun felt like eternity, especially as one of the local women threw up over people and luggage for most of it.
Finally we arrived at Besi Sahar, hot, tired, hungry and very sore. Our hotel was a multi-storey wooden affair which seemed to have been constructed entirely of packing cases. Even in the upstairs rooms there was a dirt floor, and all the walls were covered with Nepali newspapers to cover the holes where the packing cases hadn't quite met. Time for a shower; a cold (very) tap high in a little outdoor packing case washroom. The views of the Lamjung Himal were impressive and helped to distract me from the iciness of the water.
Krishnaman brought us the restaurant menu for dinner. After such an arduous day of not actually doing anything, but feeling like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards, we took one look at the culinary delights on offer and became quite hysterical. We were both convulsed with laughter and had tears streaming down our faces. Poor Krishnaman didn't know quite what to make of us. A sample of some of the delights on offer is: Tomato Shop, Filter Pai Chines, Thinara Roat, Pose Eggs and Toast (for all the bodybuilders?), Mainas Butter, Pical Pice of Papor Ral, Shinaman Rice Puding or Musly. Gosh, what a selection. How did we ever decide? After a quite delicious meal, though I have no idea what it was, we played a few card games and then off to bed. Unfortunately sleep was out of the question due to : the generator, the dogs, the mosquitos, and the trucks and buses which seemed to be continually ensuring their engines were okay by starting them all night.
The next day was the true start of the trek and we soon got into a routine. Up at 6.30 or 7, quick breakfast and wash, the load up the packs and walk till morning tea, then lunch, finally stopping at about 4 to rest for the evening. The scenery changed daily, from the paddy fields and cultivation of the lowlands, with the accompanying heat, to the bare earth and snowy mountains of the higher reaches of the trek.
Of course there were times I would have given anything to be just about anywhere else, especially when it was cold, rainy, snowing or just uphill for what seemed like forever, but every day brought such wonderful new scenery and experiences that I quickly realized it really was fun after all. So much so that I signed up for another trek a few months later. In fact, I still regard the cattle truck ride as the worst part of the whole exercise, and at least we got it out of the way early! And no, I didn't always keep up with the 'old guy'.
So go on, try it. You just might enjoy it!