11 April Marpha to Kalopani
JB: again the usual morning routine and we were off back down the road to the
Tibetan village at Chhairo. This village it seems was established by Tibetan refugees who settled from the refugee camp that was once located in Chhairo.
We walked past the derelict refugee camp. Interestingly the buildings appeared to be made of concrete something we had not seen anywhere else on the circuit.
After Chhairo we continued until there was a short but very steep climb to the village of Chimang. This village was situated on a plain about 100m above the river and could only be entered via a couple of wooden ladders, the reason being they keep the livestock in the village and away from their crop fields that lie below. Harm made a concerted attempt to get in via the closed gate but despite the language difference the locals made it quite clear he had to use the ladders.
After wandering around Chimang we descended back to the river level and proceeded to Tukuche. Eventually we came to a point where Tukuche was on the other side of the river bed and we crossed over. The first thing that greeted us on entering the village was a store with a sign saying "Dutch Bakery", in recognition of Harm's heritage we stopped there and had Apple Crumble and coffee.
Tukuche was the toll place for the Tibetan salt trade and hence a relatively wealthy village.
MI: the old houses had facades with small balconys on the first floor and under these the front doors that entered short halls leading to open internal courtyards. Cool design and something we hadn't seen before.
Coming out of the village the guide book instructions were somewhat vague, so true to form we set about creating our own path. We knew we had to get across the 300m wide river bed, with it's multiple flowing waterways, so we turned our backs to the easy road option and went exploring. No worries crossing using a combination of small wooden bridges made from heavy beams, or branches or just stepping stones. We even maintained dry feet. All of the bridge structures wash away in the monsoon so everything is very temporary.
The path we followed for the next couple of hours was a mix of trail in pine forest and taking shortcuts across the riverbed. At one point Chris was 100m plus away from the rest of us taking a riverbed shortcut and we were up 30m above the river. Although Chris's path was much quicker, nothing was really said about how he had whipped us! Yeah right! As a result, every corner was cut and shortcuts sort for the rest for the day.
The next few villages we passed through were quite 'same same' with no real redeeming features. The clouds had rolled in and we could see it was starting to snow in the hills/mountains around us. It started to rain enough for the second outing of Chris and Harms flying nun ponchos, about 20mins from our final destination of Kalopani.
After the beautiful clean and ordered environment of Marpha, and the quaint alleyways of Chimang earlier today, Kalopani is a dive. Sparsely located tea houses and buildings along the dirt/stone main road. The place we are staying is probably one of the nicest and at US$5 per night per room it is one of the most expensive. Had the best Dal Bhat for dinner, and Kukri Rum/beers, followed by cards.
We have managed, without really trying, to keep our daily spend on food, drink, accom to $25 pp.