AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Altitude: 2,210m Climb: 500m Time: 3hr 30m + 30min tea break Daily Cost: 3,360 rupees ($35/£20.50) Reading our Lonely Planet trekking guide there weren’t any decent lodges and stopovers between Chame and Upper Pisang. So that would result in either a long day of about 8 hours or a short day followed by a shortish day. We weren’t in any rush so we decided we’d stop in Chame after about half a day of walking. Plus Harry, our porter also agreed. Before leaving Danaque we turned the prayer wheels for good luck and good weather. The weather stayed rather cloudy that day so I’m not sure we turned them properly! Harry took us up a short cut as the road was just switchbacks here. The shortcut was incredibly muddy and steep but we made it up without any slips. Harry, carrying about 20kg, went up with ease, as if he had no weight on his back. We walked along the road for a few minutes and over a ford with stepping stones for trekkers. Then it was a long steep uphill walk through the woods on the path. The path levelled out to a steady but gradual incline and we walked for a while through the woods until we reached another steep uphill section. Not long afterwards we reached the village of Timang, described in the Lonely Planet as a ‘scruffy settlement’. It looked OK to us and had a pretty well stocked shop. It has been 3 years since the Lonely Planet team had visited. The village now consisted of many lodges for tourists but once again seemed devoid of any actual tourists. From Timang we were back on the road. The road was pretty much deserted and cut through the forest, making it a pleasant walk. Remember that the road is little more than a wide dirt track, more like a supersized footpath than a road. We stopped for a tea break and met another British couple, who had been away from the UK for about 2 years. They were from Rawdon, which is about 5 minutes from where we had lived for the past 5 years. They claimed to have given up on the traditional lifestyle and did want to live in a materialistic world. An interesting chat as we had rather different views on things, but it’s always interesting to hear a different opinion even if we don’t agree with it. We then followed a footpath which depressingly went steeply downhill, over a suspension bridge then steeply back up the other side. Although we are used to seeing this setup it’s still a depressing sight...

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Altitude: 1,410m Climb: 800m Time: 5hr 15m + 1hr 30m breaks Daily Cost: 3,630 rupees ($37/£22) We left at 8:15am and walked down into the proper village of Chamje. Still deserted, a ghost town! After Chamje the path lead down to the right to a suspension bridge back over the river to the path on the other side. I can’t see why people would skip this section. The scenery was excellent and varied and most of the walking was not on the road but on the path on the opposite side of the river. Sure, there are times when you have to walk on the road, for an hour or so. But, you still spend more time on the path than the road. It would appear, judging by the deserted villages we’ve seen so far that most people disagree with me though and would rather skip the first few days and start further up the trail. The valley was deep here and the path was passed under and around some huge boulders that had rolled down the side of the valley. One boulder was the size of a house! The path clung to the steep rock face as we made our way up the valley, but the road on the other side was more impressive as it looked like it had been blasted out of the rock face as it wound it’s way along the valley. This section had quite a few ups and downs, mainly steep steps up. Then we reached a tea house at the bottom of a steep section of the path. It was around time for our usual morning tea stop, but Annemarie insisted that Tal wasn’t far away and it would be better to stop there than here. Plus it’s better to stop and rest after a difficult section rather than before it. We followed her lead. The slope was steep but not too bad. At the top we had a great view back down the valley we had just walked up. But no Tal, only a sign showing the walking times from Tal onwards. We walked down the slope and a wide, flat valley came into view. The road was on the left of the valley and the path was on the right, leading to the village of Tal. Annemarie was obviously bored with pacing herself and walked off at a good speed, leaving me and Marco far behind. We followed her until she was little more than a pink dot. Tal was quite a large village and was pretty much empty, again. Annemarie picked a place for tea right at the end...

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