September 17, 2008:
Acclimatization Hike to
Muktinath (3,800 m)
Woke up at 5 am but laid in bed for a
while longer. For breakfast I had oat
porridge with apple and an omelet.
Around 8 am, we left for Muktinath.
Darbir stayed behind in Kagbeni at
the lodge as he was not feeling too
well. Gyan, Yam, Suzi and I started
our hike. After a couple of hours we
had tea in a place called Khingar at
the Romeo & Juliet Teahouse.
By lunchtime we were in Jharkot and we ate at the
New Plaza Restaurant best known for their pizza.
Suzi had heard that Sienna Craig, an American
anthropologist, was supposed to be in Jharkot
and was looking for her but could not find her. We
were joined for lunch by a couple of Danish guys
we had seen on and off since our flight to
Jomsom. After lunch, we continued our way up to
Muktinath.
It was still quite a hike up to Muktinath. We
came through Ranipauwa where there was
the Bob Marley Lodge. Hey, there is a
marketing tool, name your lodge after a
famous singer and you get instant
recognition!! We finally were in Muktinath
around 2:30 pm, a lot later than we
expected. Already here, I had my first
doubts about our guide Yam and his time
management skills. Several times on this
trip he wasted hours hanging around and
bullshitting around with lodge inhabitants
(especially the female type) and then we
had to make up for lost time. And he was
not the fastest/fittest either....
For Hindus, Muktinath is the next holiest place in Nepal after Pashupatinath. Even a helipad is there so
that the rich (and mostly fat) Hindus can fly up here and don't have to walk. There are 2 main attractions:
One is the Newari style Vishnu Temple with its courtyard of 108 brass water spouts. Bathing under these
water spouts brings salvation to Hindus, frostbites to people like me.
The second main attraction is a small little temple,
called the Jwala Mai Temple. Here a blue flame of
natural gas is burning from a hole which also emits
water. The Hindus believe that this miracle of lighting
a fire upon water was an offering made by Brahma
(Hindu God of Creation) himself. Oh well, I did not
think it was that special, but then what do I know...
We left Muktinath at 3:45 pm for the long way to Kagbeni. We had a great view of Dhaulagiri now. When
we passed Jharkot in the afternoon light, the colors were beautiful! Further down, we had to stop again at
the Romeo and Juliet  teahouse for tea, as I said, Yam and female occupants of teahouses....
We finally made it back to Kagbeni at around 6 pm.  At the lodge, first things first and that was to have a
beer! So I had one which I shared with Gyan, something which became a ritual for the next 3 weeks. Gyan
and I were becoming close friends real fast. Then a long shower and dinner. I had tomato soup again and
ten spaghetti with eggs, veggies and cheese and then an apple pie as dessert which was delicious. At
dinner we were joined by Vittorio, an Italian chap who used to live in Bielefeld for a number of years and
spoke good German. Vittorio renounced Christianity some time ago and is now a Vishnaya or something
like that. We had a delightful time with him, although he was full of you know what!! Went to bed around
9:30 pm and slept good until about 4 am.
Barley Fields
Jharkot Gompa
Entrance to the Muktinath Temple Complex
Vishnu Temple
Jwala Mai Temple
Dhaulagiri
Chorten in Jharkot