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My temporary life in urban Nepal

Autumn in the village

semi-overcast 24 °C

In the last week of my current stint at the village school, I was invited to spend a night in Kalabang. Apart from some final hours of family time, it was also going to be an opportunity for early morning mountain views from ‘the top of the hill’.

I already knew from the comings and (mainly) goings at school, that the village has been having a bumper harvest this year. It was not unusual to find a child was absent for a day when their family had reached the critical point of the rice harvest. But now the rice is in, and they have made a start on the millet and other crops, and the construction of haystacks that will feed the livestock over the winter.

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Taking a nostalgic wander around the village with the boys after school, I really noticed how lush and vibrant the countryside looked. And of course there were people everywhere, working hard, right up until it was too dark to see properly.

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At this time of year there are also a lot of baby animals around – buffalo, goats and lambs – including one lamb seemingly born while I ate my breakfast the next morning!

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Unfortunately it wasn’t a clear morning, so there was no point seeking the mountain views, but I enjoyed spending extra time in amongst the regular morning activities of feeding all the animals and getting ready for the day ahead.

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Posted by Andrea R 16:20 Archived in Nepal Tagged village autumn nepal Comments (0)

My temporary life in urban Nepal

Poon Hill Trek – Part 1

overcast 8 °C

I had always intended to fit in a short trek during this visit to Nepal, but I didn’t know when it would happen. Luckily, by leaving it till the end, I was able to go with a guide I already knew from last time. The Ghorepani/Ghandruk loop (Poon Hill trek) seemed like a good fit for the time available, but in an anti-clockwise direction.

On Day 1 we drove by car to Nayapul (1070m), about an hour out of Pokhara. Down in the valley, it was shady and pretty cold there, and I have to say it reminded me a bit of the Star Wars cantina scene – people constantly coming and going, some shifty-looking, others wide-eyed like me… We weren’t there very long before our jeep arrived to drive us up the unsealed road to Kimche (1640m), where we started walking.

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There were some pretty ominous clouds around as we set off, but the hour-long walk up to Ghandruk (1940m) was really quite pleasant. As we arrived we were besieged by mules taking their right-of-way on the trail. I soon learned this would be a common occurrence. Ghandruk is such a pretty village, and in the afternoon – for leisure, but also to warm up as it was so, so cold – we walked a little further up to Old Ghandruk, where some of the houses could be as much as 500 years old. It looked like a movie set; very clean and tidy and just oozing atmosphere.

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Overall, Day 1 was an easy walk, but no sign of any mountains due to the overcast conditions.

Waking to a slightly clearer day on Day 2, we set off through the forest to Tadapani (2630m), via Bhaisi Kharka. It took about half an hour just to walk up through Ghandruk, which goes to show how deceptively large the village is. But after we left Ghandruk behind we really didn’t see too many other people on the trail all morning.

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Arriving in Tadapani in the early afternoon the clouds were very low, so it was a bit like Ghandruk – cold and no mountains to make up for it! The village is very small and there wasn’t much to do, but luckily the lodge we were staying in had an excellent heater in the dining hall. I think I sat there in front of it for 7-8 hours straight.

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Day 2 was probably only about 3 hours of walking, excluding breaks, and although it was all in an upwards direction, it wasn’t too hard on the knees or the lungs.

Posted by Andrea R 04:14 Archived in Nepal Tagged trek village walk forest nepal annapurna Comments (0)

My temporary life in urban Nepal

Poon Hill Trek – Part 2

overcast 7 °C

The pre-walk briefing for Day 3 went something like “down to the river, up a bit, flat for a while, then up, up, up!” (Apologies to the guide if the paraphrasing is not quite accurate.) And that’s basically how it panned out.

Firstly we walked down through the forest to the small hydro electricity station that supplies Tadapani, then up the steps to a lonely (but nice) little lodge where we stopped to catch our breath before setting out to enjoy the walk along the flat - but disappointingly short - section of the trail to Banthanti.

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The rest of the morning was just a matter of gritting the teeth and pushing on, as we wound our way up the trail, often beside the river, to Deurali (2990m). At one stage we were sharing the trail with a herd of buffalo; probably the least people-shy buffalo I have come across in Nepal so far. We passed a section of river where many trekkers had laid piles of stones into little stupas for good luck, and as we climbed higher we began to meet quite a lot of people walking in the other direction. On balance, I was glad to be climbing up, as the trail was a bit slippery and precarious in places.

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The morning walk was the toughest part of the trek so far, but the worst was to come after our lunch break, as we climbed up the short, steep path to the Deurali Pass (3090m). On a clear day I can imagine the views from the pass would be amazing, but alas… In the photo below you can see the Poon Hill tower just underneath the white prayer flag. Poon Hill is only a little bit higher than Deurali Pass.

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Even before reaching the Pass we could see Ghorepani (2860m), our destination for Day 3. It didn’t look to be too far away, but it took a while to get there. I rather liked it when we arrived, too! Ghorepani Deurali (or Upper Ghorepani) where we were staying, was more like a tiny town than the other villages en route. For example, it had not just one, but three bookshops in the main square. Oh yes, and it had a main square.

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So, all in all, Day 3 was about 6 hours (including breaks) of toughness, walking mainly up along some fairly steep stretches of the trail.

Posted by Andrea R 03:14 Archived in Nepal Tagged trek village walk forest nepal annapurna Comments (0)

My temporary life in urban Nepal

Poon Hill Trek – Part 3

sunny 20 °C

We’d been told that if the weather was clear on Day 4, to expect a wake-up knock on the door at 5am. To be honest, after the weather we’d had so far, I really didn’t expect it, so I was both surprised and quite excited when I heard the tap on the door.

We set off at 5:15am in pitch dark, for a hard, fast walk up the stepped trail to the top of Poon Hill (3210m). I could hear the blood rushing in my ears and my co-trekker almost threw up. That's how bad it was. It took just under an hour and we were arriving as the mountains started to become visible in the first light of the day. Along with dozens and dozens of other people, we watched as the sky became lighter and lighter, through the first rays of sunshine touching the peaks, to the full sun of morning.

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And did I mention it was literally freezing?? I ran into someone I’d met earlier in the trek, and I could barely speak to him as my lips wouldn’t move properly. But the cold was a small price to pay for being able to see such a magnificent sight.

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Back down in Ghorepani, we began our descent along the main trail by walking, mostly by the river, to another village called Banthanti (2210m). It was such a different experience walking through the forest in the sunshine. In fact, we were enjoying it so much that when we had our break at Banthanti, we decided to just go for it in the afternoon and walk all the way down. This meant we would be doing the hardest part of the descent on top of an already tough day, but we decided we’d rather be on the trail than cooling our heels in a lodge.

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The section of the trail from Ulleri to Tikhedungga (1540m) was steep and all steps – extremely hard on the knees - through agricultural land. But we passed countless breathless, red-faced people going in the opposite direction, and once again I thought to myself that I was glad to be going against the tide. To enter the pretty little village of Tikhedungga we had to cross the river by a couple of suspension bridges. I’d been looking forward to this, but had not realised I would be walking across the bouncy bridges with no feeling in my legs… I’m surprised I didn’t fall flat on my face.

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Not counting Poon Hill, Day 4 was about 6 hours of walking, including breaks, and mostly in a downwards direction.

After an overnight stop, all that was left for Day 5 was to walk back to Nayapul, mostly along another unsealed road from Hile onwards.

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This took about 3 hours. Then suddenly we were in the car and within an hour we were back in Pokhara for a long, hot shower (and a caffe latte).

Posted by Andrea R 06:32 Archived in Nepal Tagged trek village river walk forest nepal annapurna Comments (0)

Poon Hill Trek Day 1

Kalabang to Ghandruk

overcast 24 °C

*Text by Class 8 of 2074, Shree Bhagawati Basic School*

First we start from Pokhara coming in Nayapole. I saw orange trees and banana trees and I saw our national flower, rhododendron. Pradip I saw Ghatta Khola from bus. I saw many rivers like Ghatta, Midi. I saw a beautiful waterfall. I saw many red rhododendron. Sujan I saw the river and we are going from jungle. Shekhar I saw so many bridges. The rhododendron is very beautiful. Samiksha

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We went to the hotel and we eat noodles and we start our journey from there. Nirmala

I saw so many colourful birds and beautiful animals. Samip I saw a died snake. I feel little bit bad for that snake. Anjan

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I saw so many mules in Ghandruk. Rajesh Ghandruk is very very beautiful. Puja We saw monasteries and museum in Ghandruk. Sagar Today in old Ghandruk museum I saw a lot of thing that I never saw in my life. There are many things that are in the old house. I saw bamboo basket, weaving, agriculture, dhiki, etc. Bipana

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My new experience was the trek because it is the first time I went out of my house without my parents and out of my home for so long time. Anjan

Today I was excited in Ghandruk but I am a little tired when I am walking. Bipana

Posted by Andrea R 21:12 Archived in Nepal Tagged mountains nature trek bus village walk school nepal Comments (0)

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