AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Annapurna Circuit: Day 19 – Tadopani to Ghandruk

Altitude: 2,710m
Climb: Descent: 700m
Time: 1hr 30m
Daily Cost: 2,400 rupees ($25/£15)

That morning we left the lodge around 8:30am. The path led down into the forest. We were walking at a good pace and Harry was just behind us for most of the time. It was nice walking through the forest, but the rhododendrons were gone, so not as nice as the day before. The path was on a reasonable slope and the going was easy. We passed a few lodges on the way, filled with people having a break and a cup of tea.

After only an hour and a half we reached some buildings and a proper paved footpath. It looked like Ghandruk but couldn’t be, we’d only walked for an hour and a half. Ghandruk was supposed to be two and a half hours. We asked Harry and he confirmed it was Ghandruk. Wow, we’d walked it in a little over half the time it was supposed to take. At the point the Swedish lady we’d met the day before caught up with us. We decided to go to the bakery in the village and get a snack. But it was only 10am and nothing was fresh. They hadn’t learnt that bakers should get up in the middle of the night and bake fresh for the day. But then again, demand wasn’t exactly high so why bother. We bought a drink then continued the walk down towards the road. From there we could hire a Jeep or get the bus back to Pokhara.

It was a 45 minute walk to the start of the road. As we approached the bus was about to leave. We were surrounded by young guys trying to get us on the bus. I asked prices for a Jeep, they responded with statements like, “The Jeep is expensive, get the bus”. And, “Whole Jeep is 5,000 rupees”. They pressured us to get on the bus, every question or statement was responded to with something about the bus leaving and get on the bus. It was cheaper than the Jeep and was leaving immanently, so I cracked and got on the bus. It was 350 rupees each because I hadn’t really haggled the price. Stupid me!

On the bus we were bouncing down the hill, getting thrown everywhere. It was really uncomfortable. The person next to Annemarie said they’d taken the bus there too and it had taken 4 hours! Whoa! The Jeep was about 90 minutes. I began to regret my decision and thought I should’ve got the Jeep. We could have got the Jeep for about 2,000 rupees, the bus was 1,050 rupees in total. That’s about £10 difference to save a few hours and get us back in comfort. After about 30 minutes, mostly of getting thrown around and regretting the decision the bus stopped. It was 11:30 and this was a 30 minutes lunch stop. Oh great!

I went for a look around and found this was a Jeep stop too. Lots of Jeeps parked up. Someone was asking about a Jeep and I said we were willing to share for a good price. What happened next was basically compete chaos. A guy handling the Jeep negotiations signalled that we had a deal, a shared Jeep for 1,800 rupees. At this moment the bus started its engine and everyone was getting back on. I quickly ran to get Annemarie off the bus. I also had to get Harry, who was just ordering his lunch, and tell him not to bother and also to quickly get my bag off the roof of the bus. Once this was done I went back to the Jeep guy who seemed to re-start the negotiations. Annemarie asked what we were doing and at that point I had no idea. In the space of 10 minutes the price went up and down, up again, then back down. We would be sharing a Jeep, then have to get our own Jeep, then back to sharing. I hate people who operate like this and I did half jokingly tell the guy we had the ice axe for Jeep negotiations. Finally, we had an answer. 2,100 rupees to share the Jeep with an Israeli family of 3. They were paying 4,500 rupees and when they found they were sharing with us they demanded a discount. They ended up paying 3,500 rupees.

Just as we were about to leave two Polish trekkers approached, also wanting a Jeep. They also squeezed into the back with us. The ride was cramped but not too bad and we had an interesting chat with the Polish guy. Even with our huge delay we were in Naya Pul at the same time as the bus. When we reached the main road the bus went in the opposite direction. I’d made the correct decision in the end.

We reached Pokhara in good time and went back to the hotel to get a room. Then off to get lunch and we met Marco.

That night we had a good meal in the Moondance restaurant with Marco. It was a very good meal washed down with a decent Chianti. A great end to a great trek!

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