Day 137: Ghara (Annapurna Circuit) – November 1st

Sleeping in a 4-person room last night was sort of like those camp days back in school. This time, fueled by some local Marpha apple brandy (Marpha is a big apple orchard) which didn’t taste very good, sleeping was easy at 830pm. Problem was, our sleeping bag was too a bit too hot and I woke up at 10 sweating buckets. What a massive difference already compared to a few days ago before the pass!

Being in the region of Mustang, this place is predominately Tibetan and as such, a Buddhist temple overlooks the whole town. Taking a short hike up to the temple, it was nice and cool while the streets were already awake with activity. Overlooking the town, a slight breeze blows over the rooftops with neatly stacked rows of firewood. Harvested corn lay under the sun to dry, while a middle-aged woman stands there combing her hair. There was something surreal and quaint about this town, a setting for fairy tales and perfect pictures.

Taking the local bus, we headed out to Ghasa. The bus was much better than the jeep last time, but still bumpy as hell and dust fills the air both inside and out. After the pass, the scenery has changed drastically and somewhat resembles Canada’s rugged landscape, but unfortunately the trails for trekkers has been converted to a sidewalk on a dusty road. Rather than taking a few days to walk in the dust, we opted to save some time and bus down to Tatopani, with a transfer from Ghasa. The public transport system here in Nepal seems sporatic and convoluted, without much adherence to any form of schedule. Seats are unassigned, and the service kiosks are horrible. And as we’ve been accustomed to, our porter is not to be trusted to take part in any form of useful engagement. He just lulls there, not really proactive in helping any situations whatsoever. There are times we want to punch him in the face, but lately we just try to ignore him and any of his useless remarks. A good guide/porter definitely makes a trip a much more enjoyable experience, while ours just manages to carry our bags and makes it more frustrating for most things.

Reaching Tatopani (elevation: 1200m), we were extremely glad to get off the bus and back on our feet. Squished into the back row, we can see all that’s happening and at one point the back wheel was off the cliff while the bus paused for a brief moment, almost as if the whole bus would fall sideways down into the white-water rapids below!! Gladly, the bus made it safely to our destination. Pani in Nepalese means water, while Tato means hot, so Tatopani literally means hot water, because there is a hot spring there!! After lunch, we checked out the rather unimpressive ‘hot spring’ and promptly decided that we should GTFO and head out to our next destination, Ghara, a mountain-side village before our final destination.

Our last and final destination on the Annapurna Circuit trek is Poon Hill (hehe), famous for its unobstructed view of a large chunk of the mountain ranges. The landscape down here in lower altitude is visibly different, and so was the climate. Crops grow more abundantly, and it was probably 10-15C warmer and without the massive drop in temps once the sun goes down. The people also seemed friendlier as children, although still ask you for treats, they just seem more genuine than most we’ve met. The children also like to sell you oranges. We bought 5.

So taking dinner in the village of Ghara, we sat out on a patio with a couple glasses of fresh, hot milk (we saw the family take in a bucket of milk, and asked if we can get a few cups ourselves!). They even have leafy veggies, which we haven’t seen ever since we started on this trek! The cooks really aren’t sure how to make it the way we like it, so we just asked nicely and cooked it ourselves! The veggies were freshly picked off the family farm, and Jiajia made an awesome veggie stir-fry while the Nepalese locals looked on, not really sure why we were cooking this way. Dinner was great!

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