Monday, July 4, 2011

Actually, Not. Freezing the Water Does Not Purify It. (Annapurna Circuit, Day One)

Unfortunately, no bacteria were harmed in the making of this ice-pop.
 Date:  April 22, 2011
Start:  Pokhara
Finish:  Jagat (walked from Syange to Jagat)
Distance:  5 KM
Elevation:  1240 M (walked 160 meters)

Seating: 35 (these were small, small seats)
Standing: As many as you can cram in!

The 6:36 A.M. Mini-Express from Pokhara to Besihara was neither mini nor express.  With seating for 35 passengers the bus left nearly full.  By 7:15 A.M. we had made half a dozen stops and added at least 20 more passengers. Now you may be wondering, where did these people sit, if all the seats were taken at the outset of the journey?  They sat anywhere they could.  The lucky ones were given small stools to place in the aisle.  Once the aisle was full, passengers stood in the doorwell or other space they could squeeze themselves into.  In fact, one guy squeezed himself between me and the seat in front of me.  At one point he fell asleep with his arm resting on my leg.  But, what the heck, we could all be friends, it was only a four-hour ride on rough, but paved roads.

A moderately full Nepali bus

My leg serving as a pillow and arm-rest for a Nepali man.

Around 10:30 A.M. we arrived in Besi Shara, took lunch, and then boarded a large jeep with seats for 11.  Surprisingly, we left with only 13 people.  The three-hour ride would take us along the newly constructed "road" (or an extremely rough jeep trail) from the original trailhead to Syange.  We opted to drive because the passing jeeps create giant dust clouds, shoot rock projectiles from their tires, and above all else, are driven by maniacs who could easily run a hiker off the road.
Sarah with our Remix Mustang Savari, the choice of any discerning traveller on the Besi Shara - Syrang route.
Charles, on the rear bumper, still looks pleased with his choice in the way-way back.
Packed in pretty tightly, we drove for ten minutes and stopped at a small town, where the driver hopped out.  Our guide told us we would wait here for about 30 minutes while the driver had lunch, which was nice, because I’d have hated for him to be hungry.  While the driver ate, I also ate.  And it was a poor decision.  Going for the ten rupee ($0.14) ice pop instead of the 50 rupee ($0.70) ice cream, I subjected myself to some serious gastro-intestinal difficulties.  Frozen inside the dirty, tasteless pop were thousands of (living) bacteria parasites.  So, in that moment, I was eating frozen water teeming with diarrhea, vomit, and nausea inducing critters (see photo at the top of the post).  But, for the time being I was still feeling good.

Once our driver finished eating, we piled back into the jeep.  Only this time we were 16 (4 up front, including two men in the driver’s seat, 4 in the back, and 8 in the way-back, including Charles, 3 very large German dudes, 4 Nepalese people and a giant propane tank).  Packed in like sardines we bounced, rocked, and rolled our way up to Syrange.  Lucky for us, the roads were in good condition and it only took us two hours.  We piled out to hear Charles's declaration that that was “the worst car ride of my life.”   The back must have been really bad.

The middle row was me (not pictured), a Nepali woman (half pictured), Sarah, and Ted.
Both Ted and I had to sit on the door as there was no space on the seat for all of our butts.
Around 2:30 we started our trek in earnest.  And our first observation:  porters rock.  
Introducing our porters (from left to right): Sundar, with the Martens's bag, Krishna with
Charles & Kate's bag, and Mila opting for backpack-mode of the Meshkov's Osprey convertible luggage.
We pointed out our heavy bags to our porters who heaved them up on their backs and headed to Jagat (our first destination).  Next, with only our light daypacks we hiked the wide trail with its soaring canyons, and gorgeous waterfalls. 
The trek was beautiful right from the get-go
JDMesh, on the road.
DSM: What do you want to have for dinner?
DSM: Do you think they will have pork noodle soup?
DSM: [reflective] I love pork noodle soup.
DSM: [freaking out] What if I don't like the food?!?  Can I order for both of us?
JLM: Ugggggggggh.
The first supertrekker group photo.
Look at all that high-performance gear.  Can you spot the Pohkara-Face from the North-Face? 
About two hours later we strolled into Jagat.  With our large bags waiting for us, we retreated to our rooms at the New Mountain View New Hotel [sic].

Sadly, I cannot say the same for the accommodations or facilities on the trek....
They were decidedly not beautiful.
And this was actually one of the nicer bathrooms, what with the half-tiled walls and all.

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