Day 4 (12th Nov)- Good Karma and Eric Clapton
Route: Danakyu – Chame (4-5 hours)
Today we leave the villages that are predominantly Hindu. Prayer-wheel (or Mani wheel) walls make it obvious that we are in Tibetan Buddhist areas. The walls stretch from anything between 2m to 20m. The wheels are meant to increase wisdom and merit (also known as good karma) and to clean you from bad karma. You turn the wheels one by one – always counter-clockwise – while focussing your mind on the activity and chant the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra.
Doing this, supposedly doesn’t only increase your good karma brownie points, but keep your mind in the present moment while your body is in motion – which is ultimately what you aim to achieve in everyday life: Body in motion – Mind still. It’s a meditation practise.
Holly starts spinning the wheels, as she reckons we will need good luck on this trek. Some of us follow her – while others are a bit more reluctant hoping not to offend the people in the village by our actions.
After a few hours we need to cross a shallow river stream and hop from one rock to the next – our group is ahead of us and Ben and I attempt to cross when all of a sudden we have a herd of donkeys behind us and retract from our plan when we almost fall into the water. After about 5 minutes, we manage to join the rest of our troop.
The landscape reminds me of Switzerland now – we might as well be somewhere in the Valais valley. Visible big patches of blood are visible in the water which makes it obvious we are in Asia. “I guess we better don’t fill up our filter water bottles with water from rivers” I say to Ben.
We stop for a short tea break, like all the previous days, and enjoy the snowy peaks which we can see from our chairs. There is a stillness in the air – it is beyond quiet. If you close your eyes, all you can vaguely hear, is the sound of a soft wind blowing.
My lemon – honey – ginger tea tastes delicious, but after struggling to fall asleep at night, I convert to drinking fresh mint tea as I realise that the huge amounts of tea I had been consuming the last few days was actually just flavoured black tea, full of teeine.
The snowy peaks do not seem to be too far away anymore and we almost find ourselves to be level with Namun Bhanyang and Lamjung Himal, which are in reality a good 3000-4000m higher. The height we have reached is really deceptive!
After only a short walk, we settle into our little pastel-coloured house cabins in Chame before heading down for a lunch of Swiss (Nepali style) Roesti with a fried egg on top. Today we don’t get to choose what to order for lunch- we assume the Roesti must be very tasty, hence Ganesh not leaving us to choose – or maybe it’s the only thing they have got. I think all of us would have preferred to choose something else as only the day before yesterday we had eaten Roesti and well…once was enough.
We feel like we are still spoilt for choice. The menu, which is always the same – no matter if lunch or dinner – has yet enough to choose from for our dinners to be relatively novel when it arrives. This would change soon – of that we are sure. If you are not a big fan of carb-heavy meals, you would struggle to do a trek in Nepal. The reason why starchy meals are served is simple: they are cheap, high in energy and actually help alleviate or even prevent symptoms of AMS.
After lunch, I decide to take a nap as my cold seems to be dragging for a long time now and after over 2 weeks of feeling under the weather, I’m exhausted! Plus, my teeine overdosing, with the huge amount of tea I had been drinking, means I don’t sleep at night or lay awake for a long time before tossing and turning myself to sleep.
At 4pm we make our way to a Tibetan temple to observe Buddhists chant and perform their daily ritual. The chants have a calming effect on us and we feel relaxed when we stumble out of the temple. Off we go to the hot springs to give our feet a well-deserved break! The water is so hot, Ben and I, with our sensitive skins, don’t manage to withstand the heat on our feet and only manage to briefly dunk our toes in, before quickly taking them out again grimacing at the same time as our feet burn from the heat. Ganesh, on the other hand, seems unfazed by the heat and does not need any time to adjust to the 50 C, plunging his feet right into the water seeming totally unfazed and confused about our strange facial expressions.
Back at our abode, Ben, Raphaelle and I join the Nepali family in their kitchen as the room, which is elevated by stilts, is warm and cosy. We sip on our teas and soon follow Raphaelle to the dining area where the trio plays a round of cards.
After a while we start playing a game of ‘guess who I am’. Everyone writes the name of a celebrity, politician etc, on a piece of paper ( in our case: cheap white paper napkins) and places it under the hat of the person next to them. This person now needs to guess who they are by asking questions which can only be answered by ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Our game is interrupted by dinner and we soon start playing again forgetting about time. Everyone laughs at Ben not guessing that he is Eric Clapton for the night and coming up with very funny and abstruse alternatives instead. Holly and Ed don’t know they are the same person, sitting across from each other. I must have been a child when I last played this game. It’s lovely to play something so simple and yet entertaining.
Have you ever participated or seen a buddhist ceremony? What were your thoughts? I would love to hear your comments in the comment section below.