Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nepal Day 2 - Part II: The Beginning

After we landed in Pokhara, we took a short taxi ride from the airport to the guest house that we would stay at the end of our trekking, to leave all those stuff that we wouldn't need for our trekking trip there.  Then Abi also did some 'shopping' around to rent each of us a sleeping bag, as well as a down jacket for me.  I had my own down jacket, but then just in case, we rented one more.

Breakfast at the guest house, then we went together to some government office to get our trekking permit done.  Abi was obviously not too familiar with the place, he had to ask the local nepalis for directions.  Anyway, we got our permits in about half an hour's time and we got in our taxi again, off we went to Nayapul, the starting point of our trekking journey.

It was a lovely weekend afternoon with a warm sun.  Along the way, I saw a lot of people gathering along the stream (or actually a river?) for picnic.  Smiles were all on their faces.  They looked so happy.

The 1.5 hours taxi journey ended very quickly and we arrived at Nayapul, a mountain village.  The first thing greeting us was the long line of Nepali soldiers marching on.

It was great to know that at least Nepal does not have a civil war anymore.  The rebels, which is a group of Nepali supporters of our great leader Mao Zedong, are now the ruling party of the country.  They managed to convinced everybody to dump the monarchy system. 

Haha, here is yours truly and his handsome guide cum porter - Abi.  Abi is from west Nepal, I don't know exactly where, but he can speak English, and is hardworking.  We were at the starting point of our trekking journey, of course, need to pose and take photos :P  Look at that down jacket I was wearing, it was an over-kill.  After 5 minutes of walking, I had to remove it and walked with my T-shirt on only.  Way too hot to handle.
Not long into our trekking, we passed by one of those checkpoints.  Abi did all that paper work, showing the people our trekking permits, etc.  The purpose of such checkpoints is not so much of checking your permit, more for tracking your whereabouts, so that just in case something happens, people may have a bit more clue of where you might end up.   But then I only saw such check points near our starting & end point, in between, didn't really see any other checkpoints.  And the checkpoints also reminded me of a notice I saw at Kathmandu Airport.  A Chinese solo backpacker had been missing since January 2009.

Back to our story, along the way, you could see children bathing on the road side, naked.  It is really back to a more innocent ages.

And I saw with my own eyes the horse gangs!  In Chinese, we called them Ma Bang (马帮), they are not gangsters, but merchants using horses to carry their goods to cross difficult terrains and looked for good profits.  In 2006, I visited Lijiang, Yunnan.  It used to be an important town for the Horse Gangs for the trade between wealthy Han Chinese plains with the more harsh Tibetan plateau.  But that horse route has beeen replaced with proper roads, and goods are now transported with trucks.  I didn't expect to be able to see a really horse gang in this modern era!

First day of walking was not too bad, although quite a bit of getting used to.  You walked along the horses, and the animals don't really stop at toilets to do their business, so their business is everywhere.  Every step must be careful not to step on their 'territory'. 

For the night, we stayed over at Tikhedhungga.  The guest house has a nice view of the mountain and all that rice field, and the smoke churning out from the chimneys during cooking time.

The night was quite boring as there is no TV, no other entertainment.  We met two other Singaporeans there, one is a teacher, Weil, the other guy is from SAF, didn't get his name.  Then during dinner time, we had a good chat and that made our journey a lot more interesting. 

You can find a complete list of blog entries about my Nepal trip here.

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