10 April. Kagbeni to Marpha
JB: Usual usual first thing with packing, breakfast and generally getting organised for the day ahead. We are getting pretty slick at it and Chris' quote from day 1 ("I might be organised by the end of the trek") does have a ring of truth to it.
Harm and Chris returned to the monastery school to deliver pens, paper and other trinkets, demonstrates to the kids how we can lose with pride intact!
We then left Kagbeni first for Jomsom. Jomsom is the major town for this area and has an airport from which a large number of trekkers return to Pokhara.
The walk to Jomsom was along the wide riverbed of the Kali Ganaki. About 1.5hrs into the trek we came across a dead pony which had a couple of vultures feeding upon it. They flew off as we approached but after we stood very still but relatively close they returned. This brought a rush of other vultures to the scene, obviously the lure of dead pony exceeded the threat of us! Mark counted 15.
The entire experience was pretty base and gruesome but also very interesting and something you would not normally get to see, let alone from a few metres away. One of the notable things was how big the vultures were, when flying they had wingspan of 1.5m and had a body about the size of a very big swan (Harm thinks a big turkey is a better analogy) . Regardless they were impressive if ugly.
We watched, filmed and photographed for a while then after a couple of attempts to scare the vultures off and get photos of them flying we moved on.
Arriving in Jomsom we decided we wanted a real coffee and given the size of the town thought we'd have no problem finding one. The first place only served instant coffee but the lady did have a bowl of pokados (fried shredded vegetables with spices) on the counter so we got a couple of these to tide us over. After a search of the town we concluded Jomsom does not have coffee so we conceded defeat and moved on.
The trail out of Jomsom climbed steadily to the village of Thini (about 1 Haki) where we settled for an instant coffee from a little store. We then proceeded to go back down to and along the other side of the river bed.
After a number of ups and downs we could see our goal for the day, Marpha, on the other side of the river. Unfortunately the next bridge was about 20minutes walk south of Marpha so we had to traipse on down, over the river then back up the other side.
Marpha was a revelation, it is the apple centre of the region and a very clean well ordered little village.
MI: after we had settled in to the rooms, and the usual ritual of getting water prepared for the next day, we got lunch sorted and a cold beer. The beer informed my choice of a lentil burger. The great thing with this was the stale bun provided me with hours of enjoyment after sticking to the roof of my mouth, although it was a little dehydrating. The others settled for mutton curry, the name used to describe goat curry.
JB (again): after lunch we went for a wander around the village. There were a large number of small stores selling various souvineers for trekkers. We went on a bit of a shopping spree (I won't divulge what was purchased as they are surprises for when we get home). Notable was the guys with porters were more enthusiastic in their shopping than I although we all did pretty well.
Back to the lodge and dinner with the German girls (it was Suzana's birthday) so a piece of apple crumble with candles and local apple brandy made for a good night.
One of the notable traditions in this area are tables with bench seats, blanket skirts on the table and a tray of burning coals placed under the table. The effect is to provide really warm legs and feet. We all agreed this is a development we need to incorporate in our various beach houses. There are some obvious safety issues but nothing insurmountable, although our respective insurance companies may see it differently.