Next day we started from Tatopani
towards Gorepani. Its a tough walk uphill for about 7 hrs. This was also the area where the Maoist activity was high. We could see bill boards and posters announcing the presence of Maoists and their ideas posted. We had to climb steps for over 2 hours before our lunch stop and it really took everything out of us. Our backpack seemed to become heavy after each step and we were stopping more frequently for rest.
We were around a village called Chitre when the clouds opened up and started raining. We took shelter in front of the last house of that village, hoping the rain would stop after a few minutes. Instead it started pouring down heavily and was followed by hailstorms.
The hails were initially the size of marbles but later the size increased to the size of lemons. That's when the owners of the house we were standing in front of, invited us inside. It got really cold outside and we were asked to sit beside the fireplace in the kitchen. It was a big relief as looking at the rain and hailstorm outside we could not imagine what would have happened if we had to walk in that weather. Our kind hosts, 3 girls, made sure we felt comfortable, they put on some Nepali, Indian music, played the TV and served us hot drinks. We got to eat egg omlettes and drink the local liquor "Roxy" to keep us warm and cozy. The rain was pouring outside and we were all chatting beside the fireplace and did not realize how fast the time flew by. Finally the rain stopped after some 2 hours and we thought we can continue our journey.
But the fact was that I was too drunk to carry my backpacks and make the way to the next village of Gorepani. My guide took my backpack as well and started leading the way and all I had to do was follow him without falling down. Took a few photos with our hosts, got their addresses and promised to post them the photos.
After experiencing the amazing hospitality of the Nepali people from the mountains, we started our climb to Gorepani, fully drunk and swirling and bumping we did not realize how we walked the next 1 hr 30 min. When we reached our lodge, I went flat and do not remember what I had for dinner, where I ate or for that matter which place I was.
Next day early morning we started our climb towards Poon hill from where we get an excellent view of the various mountains, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri.
And with clear weather, the sight was simply amazing. But before we reached the top, my knees started to pain like hell and it became difficult for me to climb. Took some amazing photos in panoramic view and cursing myself for not being able to go to the top.
We started our way back to the tea house and were having our breakfast when some Maoists came to collect "donations" from the tourists. Two of them sat with us and we had a discussion for over 20-30 min talking about the past events, present situation and the future. They told us about the good job they are doing with the donation money like running schools, hospitals and helping the poor who are not accessible and not in the mainstream... yeah sure.... They mentioned they had complete control over 60 % of Nepal and not worried about the army guys.
One of them showed us their weapons, a local made pistol and hand grenades and i have to admit we did got a bit intimidated. We paid the donation amount in INR (they had an old calculator to convert the currency from Nepali rupees to INR at standard conversion rate of 1.6)), got a proper receipt and were informed that we can show this receipt in case were stopped again during our trip. We asked for photos and they declined, laughing and saying we might be spies trying to identify the Maoists. They left for the next house to collect the donations.
We continued our trek to the next stop for lunch and then overnight at another tea house in another village called Hille. The last 2 hours of trek was really horrible as it was a steep decent over steps and my knees were paining like hell. I was carrying my backpack also trying to take some photos. Somehow we made to the tea house and here I attended to my knee, had a hot water shower and rested. Come night and the local people had planned a program of singing and dancing along with the country liquor "Roxy". We were treated with local Nepali folks songs, danced around with the locals and got completed drunk. They enjoyed the Indians songs I sang and we were awake till 1am. Finally when could not stand or sit we retired for the night.