Day 17: Ghorepani to Tikhedhunga



164_6445-4.JPGWoke up at 5am this morning and hiked 45 minutes to the top of Poon Hill to see the Annapurna Range at sunrise. It was cool to see the morning light illuminate the majestic peaks, but it somehow didn’t live up to my expectations. That’s one of the ill effects of traveling this much. We’ve seen so many amazing things that beautiful sights like this morning lose their magnificence. Nonetheless, it was still a beautiful morning. We descended, ate breakfast, and took our time getting started.

            By 9am, we were on our way down the mountain and out of Ghorepani. Before we were even out of town, we ran into another Maoist checkpoint. This time, Joylani and I were well ahead of anyone else. As they told us to stop, we just kept walking saying, “We paid.” “Show receipt, show receipt!” they shouted, but we just kept walking and saying, “Paid, paid.” Feigning a weak understanding of English and walking briskly, we got through the checkpoint without payment or incident. Although we’ve gone through so many checkpoints, it still pisses me off. These ideologically-bankrupt bandits trying to extort money from us to pocket themselves. The other infuriating thing is that we passed Nepali police within five minutes before and after the checkpoint, but they do nothing because they get a cut of the Maoists illicit activities.

            The next four hours were a continuous downwards staircase. Apparently someone counted the step between Ghorepani and Tikhedhunga and came up with 3820 or 3280- I can’t remember. Anyways, it seemed like we were going deeper and deeper into the valley forever. The only thing more ridiculous than going down the thousands of steps was seeing people come up. I can’t even imagine attempting to climb so many steps in a day, for the steepness seems impossible. Arriving in Tikhedhunga, I took the new best shower of the trek and am now writing and chilling in shorts and a t-shirt in the warm sun.


joylani 130pxToday I tried something new without knowing it: buffalo curds. They came with my muesli as an afternoon snack. The appearance was a little bit thicker than normal curds and the taste was awful yet intriguing. It was part yogurt, part smoked salmonish flavor, part I have no idea what. My hunger and curiosity compelled me to finish them even though my mind told me “this is going to make you sick.” Much farting ensued. In other food news, we’ve been seeing lots of tomato trees. I don’t know if they’re actually tomatos, but what it looks like is a bunch of Roma tomatoes hanging off a fig tree. The tomato tree reminds me of a summer when my dad decided to grow tomatos. Instead of planting one or two, I think he planted seven or eight in the backyard. He watered them faithfully every day, which unfortunately led to their demise. The overwatering caused black fungus on the leaves. Fortunately, we were still able to eat some good tomatoes that summer, and Dad, those tomato trees reminded me of you. Back to the curds, they were homemade. How does one make curds you ask? Well, first the animal is milked; in this case, a buffalo. Then the milk is boiled for things such as tea, etc. (I learned this from the hotel owner’s son). The milk that’s left over is put in a pot, which is put on a shelf in the kitchen, where it curdifies at room temperature for a couple days until it is served to guests like me. I believe that most of the curd we’ve had on this trip is from cows, even though those have had a wide variety of tastes from your average plain yoghurt to a delicately sweet and icy tasting curd to more watery. And then there’s buffalo curd; thick, heavy, and with hints of smoked salmon- who knew? Buffalos.

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