September 16, 2008:
Flying to Jomsom and Trek to Kagbeni
Did not sleep well at all. Noisy people at the hotel, frickin' dogs barking all night long and still jetlag, a
lethal combination for wanting to sleep! I was awake from like 2:30 am onwards. On top of that I had a
sore throat and my sinuses were killing me. Got up at 5 am and had a shower. Went downstairs to meet
up with Yam. He and our 2 porters, Gyan and Darbir, took the overnight bus from Kathmandu and he had
just arrived. He showed up at 5:30 am. A few minutes later we went to the airport where we met our
porters for the first time. Gyan speaks pretty good English but Darbir, who is quite young, probably
around 20, does not.
We checked in for our flight to Jomsom on Sita Air. The flight was scheduled to leave at 6:50 am, but we
were told it would be later. So we went up to the rooftop restaurant at the Pokhara airport and had some
tea.
Finally, our plane arrived and we
boarded it. It was a 17 seater prop. I
sat on the right side hoping to see
the Annapurna range, but the
clouds were heavy and low. On the
left side, however, we could see
Dhaulagiri, also Ghorepani and
Poon Hill was visible.
The flight only took 15 minutes and we landed in Jomsom. We got out of the plane and immediately could
enjoy the fresh mountain air! Yam took us to one of the lodges outside the airport terminal, the Moonlight
Lodge where I was going to spend 2 nights later in the trip. Here we had breakfast and Yam and the boys
organized the luggage and tied it into bundles for Gyan and Darbir to carry. Went to the bank and got
some cash at the ATM (!!!) machine. We finally left Jomsom around 10:30 am.
We hiked to the north towards
Kagbeni, up the Kali Gandaki,
the deepest gorge in the world.
The scenery was spectacular,
although the high peaks were
hidden in the clouds. The hike
was beautiful although it
became windy after a while.
Every morning around 11 am,
the wind picks up and swoops
through the Kali Gandaki. We
stopped for lunch at a place
called Eklaibhatti, 30 minutes
from Kagbeni. The wind was
blowing pretty hard by now and
we are glad we were inside.
Suzi had her momos and I ate spaghetti with tomato sauce for lunch. After lunch, we kept walking
through the riverbed towards Kagbeni. Nilgiri was now visible and we could also see the summit of
Dhaulagiri and Tukuche Peak. We arrived at Kagbeni, a village with mud brick houses dominated by a red
gompa and an old crumbling fort. We stayed at the Red House Lodge and Suzi and I each got our
penthouse suite next to each other. There were great views up the Mustang Valley from our veranda.
At 3:30 pm, we went to the gompa,
the Thupten Samphel Ling. The
gompa houses several small
statues, including one of
Sakyamuni, the Future Buddha.
The views from the rooftop of the
gompa were breathtaking: Back
downvalley towards Jomsom with
Nilgiri towering over us and
upvalley towards Mustang. Also
great views toward Muktinath,
tomorrow's destination. We stayed
on the gompa's rooftop for a while.
Leaving the gompa, we explored the streets and narrow passageways of the fort. It was like being in a
medieval city. We went to the ACAP checkpoint from where we could see part of our trek into Mustang. I
went looking for an internetcafe and found one, had a very slow connection and was very expensive (250
rupees for 15 minutes), but I wanted to get some more info on the hurricane. While looking for an internet
cafe, I made a turn and suddenly was in a different world. There was a guesthouse full of Hindus. With
Muktinath being one of the holiest places in Nepal for Hindus, there are lots of Hindu pilgrims in the area
and this was one of the places they were staying. It was like I entered into a different worl. Back at the
lodge I laid down for while. My sinuses continued to bother me and as I had no decent sleep in the last
few nights, I was tired.
We had dinner in the dining hall. I had a tomato soup and then fried rice with eggs, cheese and veggies.
We sat around with our guide and porters for a while and talked. The Lodge Owner started talking to us
and then he showed us the temple within the Red House Lodge, about which I had read in the "Trekking
in the Annapurna Region" book. Here, behind teh wall of the dining room was a 8-10 foot high buddha
statue and a temple. It was beautiful. Went to bed around 8:30 pm and finally slept good. Nice, clean
rooms and comfy beds.