AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Altitude: 1,370m Climb: 140m Time: 4hr 50m + 1hr 30m breaks Daily Cost: 3,320 rupees ($34/£20) We set off that morning with our new friend Marco. The day before he’d kept up with our pace but said it was a little fast (he was carrying his own bag whilst we only had our day bags), so we decided it would be a good idea to try and pace ourselves at a slower walking speed. That meant we might notice more of our surroundings, allow Harry our porter to keep up with us and also talk with Marco. Plus, the path and towns were almost deserted, so there wasn’t the rush to get a lodge, unlike on the Annapurna Sanctuary trek. The path started on the high ridge and quickly dropped down to a mainly flat path high above the river valley. The valley was lined with terraces. The road was now on the other side of the river and nothing more than a mark on the landscape. Because we were still at a low altitude it was hot and we stopped for some tea. Where we stopped was rather basic, but for a tea and toilet break the standard doesn’t have to be very high. The lodges we had encountered so far all looked very basic and were all deserted. We hoped that the standard of the lodges was going to rise soon, presumably when we reached the part of the trek where most trekkers seemed to start from. As we left the village there was a man and woman and a group of children with them. He stopped me for a chat. He was drunk and slurred his words lots, making him even more difficult to understand. When he found out we were British he wanted to know where in the UK we were from. This happens lots in Nepal, even though the people have only heard of the cities which have famous football teams. Some people know lots about football and have therefore heard of Leeds, most only know Manchester or Liverpool or London. So we usually say near Manchester, they almost always respond with, “yes, Manchester United, I know Manchester”. But this guy had a brother in the Gurkhas and he lived in Bristol. Lots of people in these remote villages have brothers or uncles or grandfathers in the Gurkhas who are now living in the UK. And every person I ask say they will never travel to the UK to visit. Obviously, these Nepalese villagers could never afford that trip, but I assumed the family in the UK would have had some spare money for...

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Altitude:Ngadi = 900m Climb: 370m Time: Bus = 7hr Walking = 1hr 15m Daily Cost: 3,850 rupees ($40/£23) We had booked the bus from Pokhara to Besi Saha (the traditional start of the Annapurna Circuit trek) a few days earlier through the company where we booked the porter. This was a journey of about 110km (68 miles) and was expected to take about 5 hours. But, we were feeling fine about the bus, it was a tourist bus and not the usual crowded local bus. The bus departs from the tourist bus station at 6:30am and cost us 400 NPR (£2.40) each. We had arranged for our porter to meet us at the hotel at 6am. But, at just turned 6am we went down and no-one was around. We sat in the garden in front of the hotel and waited. 5 minutes passed and no porter. Then 10 minutes passed and still no porter. We were getting worried so I tried to ring Guru, the owner of the company that we hired the porter from, but his phone was engaged. We were quite nervous as Guru had told us a story a few days ago about someone he’d employed in the past who had become an alcoholic so he’d let him go, but after a while he’d given the guy another chance so long as he cleaned his act up. Very charitable of Guru, but we didn’t know if this was a random story or whether he was talking about the guy we’d just hired. It was almost quarter past and still no porter, our worst fears seemed to be confirmed. We’d hired an alcoholic porter and he was late on the first day, possibly meaning we’ll miss the bus and be delayed. Finally, 15 minutes late and with only 15 minutes before the bus was due to depart our porter arrived in the taxi, ready to take us to the bus station. As well as his own small rucksack he had a huge ice axe and pick, a menacing looking piece of equipment which seemed a little bit of an overkill for what is in reality just a long walk! At the bus station we quickly found our bus. We jumped in whilst Harry (our porter) jumped onto the roof to secure the bag. The bus had only tourists on it, which is a good sign, no nightmare local bus journey! As the bus started up and got ready to leave Harry was not in sight, he’d gone off into one of the buildings dotted around the bus station and hadn’t reappeared. The bus started to drive across...

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