Day 11 (19th Nov)
Route: Muktinath – Jomson (lunch) – Marpha
We had a later start to the day than usual and the extra sleep was amazing. Today it’ll be an easy walk to Jomson. It is very windy and some of us cover our faces with our scarfs not to inhale too much dust. The grassland is dry and for many kilometres the landscape remains the same. It is also considerably warmer already. We pass a very polluted pond – which makes for interesting photos. I had bought a beautiful Yak Wool Shawl in Muktinath this morning and we pass many more Nepali women weaving their shawls on their canvases in the hope of making some money from us trekkers.
The hills seem very beige and grey today, and the grassland merges into the stoney landscape. Everything is full of gravel and pebbles – soon everything blends into each other. The wind is blowing strongly and our sunglasses need to be wiped off from the excess dust regularly. Jeeps start passing us in full speed and a group of horses unexpectedly emerge from the background.
After several hours of monotonous landscapes and monotonous walking and monotonous everything, we reach a touristy town called Jomson which reminds me a bit of a Wild West town from old movies.
Ganesh decides that we should take the bus for the last stretch to Marpha as otherwise we would not reach the town in time before the sun sets. The bus passes us and Ganesh starts running after it to stop the driver. After a good 100 metres the bus comes to a stand-still and Ganesh tells us we have to walk for another 10 minutes before we can hop on the bus and the bus would catch us up.
This does not make any sense. I still don’t know why we could not simply hop on the bus then and there – but we do as we are told and march for another ten minutes before the bus driver allows us onto the bus. Raphaelle, Ed and Holly settle in the back row – Ben and I a few rows in front of them.
This bus ride will be stuck in everyone’s memory forever – for certain. Especially the back row seats make for an unforgettable scary and adventurous story to tell as everybody is shaken from one’s seats like none of us have ever experienced. The drops to the right of us are frightening. One wrong turn and all of us would not survive the steep fall.
We giggle and laugh as we are all being pulled off our seats in regular intervals. The Nepali people on the bus turn their heads occasionally, probably thinking that we might have never been on a bus before. I imagine filming a bus ride on a bus in Switzerland, where everything is clean and orderly – where something like I was experiencing right now was unimaginable.
And then film what I found myself in right now and play the two clips next to each other. I can see how the Swiss bus ride scene would be filmed in grey and dull tones, whereas this scene in bright colours – as colourful as the interior of the busses. I look up to the ceiling and notice the pink and green and yellow. This is a veritable adventure and I would not want to miss this for anything. I have a huge smile on my face.
We survived. Thank goodness. Some of us whisper little prayers of relief.
Later we visit a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, having to climb quite a few stairs to get to it. We all gather inside the hall and sit on cushions observing the chanting of the dedicated Buddhists. A local serves us some Tibetan tea, which is basically hot water, salt and melted butter. In order not to offend anyone, we drink it – but don’t overly like it.
As I walk out of the hall, a dutch lady stops me and says “I don’t think they like it if you take photos” wiggling her Index finger in front of my face. She is the same lady who, in Manang, told us about her dedicated ‘expired cookie’ movement: Ben and I wanted to buy a fresh pack of Hobnobs. The ones on display in the one shop we found were expired – so we placed them back and decided to look elsewhere. The blonde lady looked at me overhearing our conversation and says “there is a new movement which has started – to eat expired foods”.
When we placed the Hobnobs back on the shelf, she murmurs annoyed: “go and find your fresh cookies then”. I do admire her stance – she obviously feels very passionate about her beliefs and I totally understand where she is coming from. But I never liked people who tried to impose their beliefs on other people. Live by example but don’t preach. ‘Do I have some sort of magnet attracting her or why does she always target me? And where does she appear from, all the time?’.
Tonight we all gather around a big table for dinner and even the Porters, Ueberaj, Rakes and Kishor, join us. They eat their Daal Bhat with their hands, while we tuck into our Western inspired dishes with our cutlery. Ganesh offers us some home-made liquor. I only take a sip as I’m still on antibiotics – Ben only takes a few sips as he is not overly fond of strong liquors.
Holly, Ed and Raphaelle have a few more glasses and start giggling at the silliest things which in turn make Ben and me laugh. Whilst Ganesh gives his daily speech of what awaits us the next day, starting his obligatory info session with the same phrase every day: “How was your dinner? How was your day?”, Ed stares at him attentively and with a comical glance –
Raphaelle who sits opposite from him can’t control her laughter and bursts out laughing. Ganesh stops his speech and observes what is going on. I reassure him that it has got nothing to do with him and encourage him to continue. The evening ends with us taking a group photo of a very entertaining evening.
Have you experienced any situations which made your heart beat faster? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.