17 January 2013

The high cirrus clouds we had seen on the walk to Upper Pisang had thickened when we looked out in the morning. I had muesli with hot milk for breakfast. I tried plugging in my iPad to the outlet, but after ninety minutes it barely gained 1% in charge. Lal said the problem is the cold. Later I learned to use a hot water bottle with blankets or pillows over the iPad.

The stove in the kitchen is in a solid wooden basin on thick legs, and filled with soil or clay. The metal stove is set into it and sealed around the edges. As I was sitting on the bench next to the stove Kathy came in and sat next to me. She has a boyfriend from Indiana who speaks Korean fluently.

Julie felt better this morning. She will immigrate to the US when her boyfriend takes a job as a physicist at Los Alamos. She spent a year at the University of Arizona.

After breakfast we soon caught up with the Korean girls and their guide and fell in to hiking with them. We stopped for a tea break in Kamde, at the Maya Lodge & Restaurant. The Korean girls sat outside. Kathy peeled her cooked potatoes before eating them. There was a view of Pisang Peak; my map showed a route up it but Lal said it is hard. Lal gave me some butter cookies.

The real lunch break was at a restaurant in Mung Ji. The menu was the shortest on the trek, a small place. The dining room was cold. There were some ramro curtains of transparent gauze in blue, pink, and brownish orange.

It occurred to me that the summer would be a good time to come here. Tourism would be down because of the monsoons, but the trail from around Pisang to Muktinath, perhaps to Jomsom, would be in the rain shadow.

We checked into the Tilicho Hotel in Manang, elevation 3540, a solidly built structure of three floors. There was an extensive menu including yak steak, and wines from several countries available. I had my second hot shower of the trek, using the bucket system since the regular shower was frozen.

Lal told me later that in Manang, he does not pay the hotel owner, but a membr of a local committee. This is because in the past, ther were problems with lodges that offered free rakshi to guides in exchange for bringing them customers.

A fire was started in a big cylindrical stove in the middle of one of the dining rooms; everyone pulled up chairs around it. Julie and Kathy had checked in, as well as Mina and his parents (I can’t any longer call them the Koreans with poles, since the girls used them also). I plugged in my iPad at a table with an outlet, then joined them. They sang the Nepali trekking song again, then began pestering everyone for songs from their own country. Mina said sorry I don’t like to sing. I finally came up with “Clementine”; everyone repeated the first line as I was singing the second, and I couldn’t remember all the words. I considered “Amazing Grace” and “Satisfaction”, neither of which I could remember all the words to.

Julie’s boyfriend wouldn’t allow her to go trekking in Nepal, but Kathy’s pushed her to go.