The next leg of this trip is a good illustration of how bad my memory is… I think we arrived and stayed in the Pokhara area to wait for our guide for a few days…. Yes I write that almost confidently now….
Pokhara is a fantastic little place, a bit touristy but in a good hippy, market, relaxed kind of way. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos on this leg of the trip. We had come in the hope of organizing Para hawking here (paragliding while feeding birds of prey midair!.) Unfortunately the facilitator had flown to America to get married days before we arrived so we were absolutely gutted. Anyway Danielle still went paragliding which I gather would have been pretty special but wouldn't know as I was nursing another bout of gastro. Romantic tail this one isn't it haha.
Our guide arrived one rainy afternoon after a few days waiting and we organized the next adventure a four day trek to a peak called Poon Hill. Dipendra was our guide and had organized a friend to be our porter, to my surprise he was an English major and his friend a graduate in medicine. It's amazing that the regions unemployment is such that guiding is lucrative enough to draw graduates like these. I guess it's not a bad life though, trekking the Himalayas for a living.
The trek its self was amazing, ancient stonework and Rhododendrons dominated much of the landscape during the walks and strings of prayer flags adorning the paths were never far away. Poor Danielle was that determined her holiday plans were not ruined she was trekking with severe nausea and Gastro like a trooper, at least my bouts came when we stopped in hotels.
Side story- it just so happened that there was an all-female guiding group on the route at the same time as us and it just so happened that we ended up staying in a slightly more than coincidental number of tea houses with them. Ahh Dipendra, that's multitasking at its best haha.
The tea houses themselves were basic two bed dormitory rooms separated by thin chip board and not leaving much to the imagination with the neighbours (espescially if you got a room near the toilets..) but all you needed after a day's trekking and at about $5 a night I could have added another month to the trip in hindsite.
I won't write a blog about food for Nepal like my other travels, it wasn't my favourite and I could live with never eating Dahl Bhat (the hearty lentil dish staple) again. Nuff said on food.
Making it to the town nearest to the Poon hill summit we realized it was the Nepali new year and there were celebrations going on in the town center but we slept through the most of it readying for the 4AM walk to the summit in the morning. Up we got in pitch darkness and it was COLD, freezing cold, having been wearing singlets the majority of the trek so far, I hadn't thought about gloves and my hands were numb reaching the summit. I rushed to a welcoming coffee stall at the lookout center and started an intricate process of holding my steel coffee cup to warm my hands but not holding it so long that it would burn them, which with the lack of feeling was difficult to judge.
It was worth it though I can't deny the sun rising over the snowcapped fishtail mountain and surrounding landscape was something incomparable to experience. The photos are great but still don't do justice for the grand scale of the place.
Heading back down to Pokhara there was one final feature of this trek worth mentioning, members of several surrounding townships were engaging in a yak bloodletting festival. The locals were coming from miles to drink the blood freshly drained from the unlucky creature. I was keen to have a look so went with the guys the extra half hour off course to see the event, while Danielle stayed in the nearby village. Our porter was excited to take a sample himself but though I am open minded, fresh warm blood is even too much for me, so my plan was to watch. Well unfortunately the ceremonies were well over by the time we arrived and Dipendras disappointment was evident. The villagers were however dividing up the yak meat and we arrived to two hauling away the beasts head!
The idea behind it all is that the yak eats all the medicinal herbs found in the mountains so its blood is like a concentrated form of them all. Interesting idea but you really have to feel for the poor Yak that gets its blood drained and meat eaten while its slightly less hairy cousin, the cow, is sacred, untouchable and worshipped…