We’re not very good tourists.
Waking up, we had breakfast in the cozy hotel courtyard and then began our day searching for a suitable trekking company to provide us with a porter for our 2-week hike through the Annapurna circuit. The number of travel agencies in Thamel was told to us to hover around 400. That pretty much means when you walk through Thamel, for every 5 stores there are 2 fake North Face stores, 2 travel agencies and one random store…. it’s ridiculously overwhelming.
Hiring a porter isn’t as easy as it sounds, because you don’t want to be stuck hiking for 17days with some guy you don’t like. Prices also varied from a quoted $12/day to $50/day!!! W T F? After meeting all kinds of different people, the uncle of a fake North Face shop owner, a pro-salesman who wouldn’t let us meet the porter, a crazy outdoor junkie who sits on the Nepal rescue team board and was busy with the aftermath of a guide who died on a peak, and finally we settled with this guy whom we ignored twice on the street until the third time…
At first, we were a bit skeptical as most people are immune to anyone who talks to you on the street. When we got to his travel company, it was even worst as it was this sketchy looking shop. The moment we got into the store, a group of Chinese tourists were there talking to the boss saying how their trip was good last time but want to join again this time if only the price was lower blahblahblah. The craziest part was, they were talking in MANDARIN!!! The boss knows how to speak perfect mandarin! While we sat there, I thought to myself “Man, this feels like those scams where the scammers have ‘help’ in order to persuade the chums that they’re getting a deal!!!”.
Then, our thoughts were somewhat cleared after he gave us a run down and assurance of everything. The most assuring part though, was the fact that he had this thick guestbook with all kinds of GREAT comments written down by various people, but we read through most of the Chinese remarks and they were all extremely positive. Looking again online, there were positive reviews and at the end, we met the porter who was a young fellow with a great smile.
So we settled everything and will be on our way to see Annapurna in 2 days! And to celebrate, we had Korean food for dinner, owned by a Nepalese who spoke Korean with all the diners.
What an interesting place.