Asia | Nepal | Western Hills | Annapurna Mountain Range – 2670m-Marpha: on boasting, pebbles, fading light and batteries…

Asia | Nepal | Western Hills | Annapurna Mountain Range – 2670m-Marpha: on boasting, pebbles, fading light and batteries…

Just got back from a little stroll in Marpha, a really beautiful and fascinating place along our route.
From a distance it looks a bit like Kagbeni with the falt roofed, white houses with the wood supply neatly stacked upon those roofs. Once inside, you realise it’s much neater, nicer, more beautifulans inviting than Kagbeni…
Will have to do the same stroll again tomorrow morning – the light was nowhere near to what was needed to get some of the essence of this place on film… early morning therefore tomorrow!

Today was rather strange: had actually planned just to go to Kagbeni, supposedly a very nice little town. But due to my physical condition (yep, still have it running!), decided to push on untill Marpha. A choice between an ultra short day (Kagbeni – only 2 hours) or a rather long one to Marpha (somewhere between 5 and 7 long hours). The intermediate solution, overnighting in Jomsom, was out of the question: unless you need to catch a flight out, you do not want to sleep in this hideous, modern, big town.
The Group had set out to do the same… but they are stuck in Jomsom now! Despite their big mouths yesterday, saying that Kagbeni was for softies and, no we can do it, all the way to Marpha…

Kagbeni, nice and medieval indeed, merited a stop and some sightseeing with its tunnellike pass unders made out of small round trees, just as you would imagine it in small towns in the Middle Ages.
Not being able to restrain my curiosity, I popped over to some beautifully dressed girls to ask them if something special was going on: yes indeed, a wedding! I was invited over to have a look and even take a few quick pictures… so I went upstairs where everybody was sitting down, eating dal bhaat, and one guy shouting off the gifts and handing out white prayer scarfs if the donation was important enough… I ended up giving 100 Rupees. No idea whether this was appropriate or not, and the man adminstrating meticulously all the gifts was determined not to make my life any easier on that. Well, it wasn’t enough to make it to the scarfselection, but my 100 Rupees note did get shown to all the guests, under loud announcements of my name, my country and the height of the donation…
It was really fascinating to have a look at this, but the funny thing was that the bride nor the groom seemed very happy! As Amore explained later, they probably didn’t know each other (still common practice in Nepal) and the bride is probably about to leave her family and home town, to go live wherever her husband’s from. Not necessarily something to happily look forward to…life here sometimes seems so far away from what we are used to in the West…

There’s a world of difference as well between the Marsyangdi river valley, that we followed to Thorung La and this Kali Gandaki valley…
Where the other side was green and lush, or alpine looking but always with the water rushing down an narrow gorge, sometimes more slowly and closer by, but most of the times wild and far below where we were walking, here you can see we are on the edge of the Tibetan High Plateau.
The view from Kagbeni is accross barren plains and mountains, a very harsh and dry environment. The riverbed of the Kali Gandaki is over mile wide and the wind is continous blowing over this wide stretch with pebbles and rocks everywhere.
Not an easy place to be walking, as we’re taking the premonsoon route which is in the riverbed itself – because in fact, the bed is over mile wide, but there are only a few small streams running in it.
This is the shorter route, but I do fear not the easier one. After a while, you’re through with watching all the pebbles under your feet, the never ending whistle of the wind in your ears and let’s face it, that precious fossile might be right under my nose and I wouldn’t even recognise it…so that’s not really an incentive either. Add to that tiny bits of rain and a continuous threat that it is going to rain big time and you’ll understand this wasn’t exactly the most joyous of walks. Not nasty though, just tough.

We made it to Jomsom though and were rewarded with a great dal bhaat with spinach soup. Exactly what we needed.
Just as we were about to attack the last stretch of our walk, The Group dropped into the checkpoint opposite our restaurant…only to announce they’d stay in Jomsom!

It took us another hour to get to Marpha, so by the time I had had a hot lemon, changed my book (yeah, finally got some new reading stuff! for the mind blowing price of 500 Rupees I splashed out on the 4th Harry Potter!), the light for my picture stroll had faded as you know.

Disconcerting once again to see all the kids coming up to you to ask for sweets or chocolates or a rupee. Both here and in Kagbeni in a very persistent way… on the other side of the pass, it would go “namastesweet” or “namasteschoolpen” almost as if it were one word (namaste is the nepalese greeting), but if you wouldn’t give them anything, they weren’t pressing on like here…

When I got down to a small courtyard with a yak getting fed by a small boy, I had a marvellous shot… if only my camera battery had not given up on me at exactly that moment. I wasn’t really worried though, because I knew I had taken a spare one. WRONG! somehow I had bought the wrong battery and it just didn’t fit! I was imagining how the rest of the trip, with still a week to go, I would be unable to take pictures…and almost screamed out loud. Luckily enough the last shop I tried had exactly one battery that would fit… Ouf!

Category : Asia | Nepal | Western Hills | Annapurna Mountain Range , Uncategorized