Day 2 (10th Nov 14)
Route: Bhulbhule – Lunch at Ghermu Phant – Jagat (7- 8 hours)
I get up at 6:20am, jump out of my sleeping bag and walk down the wooden banister, past the kitchen, walk down another set of stairs down to the shower and past the toilet shacks to reach the shower cabins. The water is relatively warm and little did I know this was going to be the only warm shower I was going to have for almost 1 ½ weeks. Back in our room, we pack our sleeping bags and tie them back to the backpacks which our Porter will shortly be collecting. The Porters, almost every day during the trek, pick up our bags and head to the next town well before we have breakfast.
Some of us have Tibetan bread for breakfast, some have eggs and I ordered a banana porridge today – for the first and last time. Porridges have a funny taste in Nepal unfortunately. Some have a strange aftertaste of cleaning chemicals, others are strangely crunchy – it simply does not have much gusto.
***I recommend Tibetan Bread, Pancakes (Banana or Lemon Sugar) Vegetable Noodle Soups or Plain Rice (which I start eating after I’m struck with mild symptoms of AMS where any other food makes me feel nauseous within half an hour). One day I tried the local Tsampa which is the Nepalese version of a porridge made out of buckwheat flour which is not very tasty either.
I figured, if Nepali eat hearty food for breakfast, such as Noodle soups, I might be better off doing the same and in fact it proved to be the winning recipe for my energy levels and to minimise nausea whenever I felt unwell. Ben and Ed once ordered the more hearty western choice of sandwiches with bacon which turned out to be so dry they had to drench them in ketchup to make them edible. The bacon was indeed so dry, it must have been a good few hours old before it was served.
After brushing our teeth we set off for an, unbeknown to us, very long and hard day.
***The walk from Bhulbhule to Jagat with a lunch stop in Ghermu Phant takes between 7-8 hours and has an elevation of 460m.***
The mornings are very chilly and I wrap myself up warm whereas some of our trekking mates have started their day in shorts already. In fact, throughout the whole trek I never just wore shorts – only occasionally I would roll up my leggings to my knees – but this is because I’m always cold.
The landscape is very lush and green, small waterfalls appear from nowhere and rice paddy fields catch our attention as we trek through still unfamiliar grounds. Soon we catch a glimpse of the first mountains – just in one week we will be trekking somewhere up there. The realisation kicks in of how much hard work lies ahead of all of us.
People are hard-working in Nepal which becomes apparent when we observe women in the grass fields, and later when we pass them with huge baskets on their back strapped to their head and backs walking down the hills in sandals. Some Porters, who rush past us, do not fear to slip on rough terrain as they trek in their flip-flops. Some of them carry more than 30kg on their backs! We, on the other hand, huff and puff with our small daypacks and don’t comprehend how they manage to walk up those hills with such ease despite their heavy loads and their flimsy footwear.
We pass many Lodges and notice the Nepali’s obsession with the Mona Lisa as, it seems, most of them are named that way. The contrast of colours is beautiful. The yellow grass blends in with the light-blue tiny river streams and the dark green shade of the trees. The sun tries to break through the thick vegetation and only a few rays penetrate through, giving the impression we are somewhere in Northern Europe on a misty winter’s morning.
There is another suspension bridge – this time built with more metal, coloured blue, and with less wood. The youngest Porter (19), Kishor, is always behind us with someone’s heavy backpack on his back and strapped to his head- and the big red first aid kit attached to his neck. From now on, he will always be walking with us in case of emergency, whilst the other two Porters make their way to the next village way before us.
Soon we pass a massive boulder with the hand-written inscription of ‘Bahundanda’ – we are about half way – and completely oblivious to it as some of us are already reaching our limits- there is still a while to go yet before we reach Ghermu Phant for our much needed lunch break.
The landscape is now reduced to shades of a light green wherever we look – grass and trees blend into each other. Our attention is focused on the floor as the rough terrain could mean we slip and hurt our ankles if we are not careful. Especially Ben and I keep our gaze to the floor much more than we want to, as we brave the trek in ankle shoes, as opposed to everyone’s (wiser) choice to opt for proper hiking boots.
We feel as if we miss out on the stunning scenery. After the Swiss Alpen Chalet the path becomes steep and we focus on our breathing more as we climb up and down. “I don’t like the fact we are walking downhill”, Ben says, “it means we are bound to walk uphill rather sooner than later again”. Two boys – one about 6, the other about 12 – start chatting to him. Their English is remarkably good. “Do you like foootball?”, “This is my mother and my sister”, “Where are you going?”. They keep flooding him with questions as Ben patiently responds to all they are curious about.
We keep walking with them and they slow down their speed so we can keep up with them.
On the next suspension bridge we see a gigantic spider hanging from the metal – the blue & yellow body makes it look like a toy spider. The cute two little baby goats we saw a while back are much more to our liking.
After donkeys pass us, and yet another suspension bridge, another big steep hill , we finally make it to Ghermu Phant where we finally sit down for lunch! The shopowner’s little boy – obviously accustomed to the many tourists passing this stretch- sits on the table surrounded by us and strips us off our sunglasses, piles them on top of his head and hands them back to us, requests a pair of sunglasses from each of us again, one after another, by gesticulating with his hands to give them back to him, just to give it back to us while we chuckle about his adoration of this game.
All of a sudden he jumps up as he sees someone pushing her bicycle up the hill. He stops the lady and climbs onto the bicycle frame – she pushes him several hundred meters while we all stand there watching amused about what was happening.
The last stretch, after lunch, to Jagat is fairly uneventful and we all just have one common goal: to finally arrive at our guesthouse as we are exhausted! We minimise the times we stop to take photos and speed up – with the little energy we have left. After almost 8 hours we finally arrive and are shown to our rooms. After a quick dinner, we all go to bed pretty early and we feel as if we are already settled into this routine of walking, eating, walking, showering (if we are lucky), eating, and sleeping…
Have you done a trek in Nepal? What were your thoughts on some of the Porter’s gear? I would love to hear your comments in the section below.