Annapurna Circuit - Day 2 (Bhulbule - Bahundanda)
Bahundanda Travel Blog› entry 44 of 136 › view all entries
Up and moving around 7 AM, there was some rain overnight but it was mostly dry this morning. A quick breakfast at 8 AM and then back on the trail. Crossed the suspension bridge to the opposite side of the Marsyangdi Khola and continued upstream. Shortly past town there was a small waterfall and then past that Patrick realized he had left his large water bottle back at the teahouse. He pressed Chitra to return to town and get it and since we were only about 30 minutes out he headed back down the trail with Raju accompanying him. The rest of us continued on to the north up the trail. Our slow climb continued through multitudes of terraced fields and the small towns of Ngadi and Usta. The river was our constant companion until we began a steeper climb past Usta.
As we were preparing to depart we saw Patrick and Raju on the trail below following the switchbacks up the trail. They were accompanied by two strangers that I did not recognize although I knew who they were - Nikki and Santosh. Nikki was finally catching up to the group after arriving late in Kathmandu. Santosh had remained in Kathmandu waiting for her and was our final assistant guide.
Had a late lunch at our teahouse, cleaned up a little bit, and set out to explore the village. Scattered houses and lodges dotted the hilltop and we also visited a small school in the village as well. We returned to the lodge for a killer game of Travel-Scrabble that Claire had brought with her. Game was forced into the dining room by some rain, which quickly turned into a gale storm with lightning, thunder, and heavy wind.
After dinner, UNO followed for a bit and then everyone quickly went to bed. Still no full power as I write this at 9:45PM. The lodging rooms have no power at all right now (which I found out when Jess, Nikki, Ciaran, and I headed to our rooms - Ciaran, with the only flashlight detoured to the toilet, so the three of us had to navigate the to the building in pitch black conditions).
Teahouses and Teahouse Life
Many of the major trekking routes in Nepal are not wilderness expeditions. One is travelling through settled land with villages and towns dotting the landscape. The local Nepalis being an entreprenerial sort have converted homes and built separate lodges for trekkers to stay at in these villages and this has become a major source of income for the area. Most teahouses are very modest affairs although there are a fewer nicer ones in the occassional village (especially on the Jomsom side as this is more heavily trafficked with tourists and easier to get materials for building with the jeep road).
Typically the teahouse consists of a dining area and kitchen (I'll talk about the food in a later post). The dining room is typically the only heated room in the lodge, so during the evening it is customarily the center of activity (beyond being the place where food is being served). In a separate area of the main building or in a separate building entirely are the sleeping rooms. The rooms are very spartan, typically just the two twin beds with a mattress, blanket, and pillow. If one is lucky, there is a small table or window sill for placing some items in the evening. And often the interior rooms are separated by very thin walls (sometimes just plywood with no other insulation). Depending on the location there might be power in the rooms (and a place to charge batteries).
Toilets run the gamut. Some Western style toilets exist but most are of the squat variety. Cleanliness varies as well. Some places have shower facilities, but warm water is not always abundant or available. More and more places are installing solar showers but this doesn't help at night or when it is cloudy so one needs to plan their times to get clean well. Also where hot showers are available there is often a nominal surcharge to offset the cost of heating the water (these Nepalis do find ways to make a bit of money from the trekkers).
Rates at the lodges are quite cheap (often no more than the equivalent of less than $5 US per night).
That said the accomodation works. One doesn't come on Himalayan treks for the 5-star lodging. Once one gets accustomed to the set-up, fatigue usually sets in quickly in the evening and sleep comes rapidly. And the views from many lodges are simply superb. I only had two lodges during both treks where I was truly disappointed - in Pisang on the Annapurna Circuit, and Labouche on the EBC Trek. Beyond that every other lodge was satisfactory.