I slept well last night. Bereft of the usual horde of hikers, Thaleku was a very quiet place. The only down side wsa the lack of wifi — oh how dependent we are on the Internet even when we yet crave the solitude of the mountains.
As the trek gets higher, Internet is only available via satellite, and most likely, costly. Sometimes when we are forced to go on a digital fast, we realise it’s actually not as bad as we make it out to be. Ok, so we miss the a report home now and then…so what? Can’t always be worrying about the wife worrying about us when we simply have no choice, can we?
So far, the weather on the Annapurna Circuit had been sterling — every day clear blue skies with the sun keeping us warm in the chilly outdoors. The nights are not so kind though. The temperature drops rapidly once the sun slides behind the shadow of the mountains.
The terrain was also getting more rugged, harsher and the snow-capped mountains nearer than ever before. It was also getting noticeably harder for the lungs to process oxygen — it was good that our progress upwards had been a gradual one.
On the Annapurna Circuit, the day always starts on a glorious note. The mountains awake in the glow of the rising sun and the rivers gush their watery greetings as you ride alongside them.
Riding on a road that has been cut out of the side of the mountain never fails to awe you as you ride between the rushing river below on one side and the sheer rock face that rises up into the sky on the other.
This was a segment that was quite stunning — a magnificent face of smooth granite mountain. Bare and desolate, only a few hardy plants seem to have taken root.
The village of Pisang where I was supposed to stop for the night with the boys. I wonder if the villagers know it means ‘banana’ to us Malaysians?
After Pisang, the highway became a fun ride…a short, twisty downhill with plenty of switchbacks. Before I knew it, the trail levelled out and I was on the plains of Humde Valley.
Humde boasted an airport, mostly to serve Manang, the last village on the Besisahar-Manang highway.
Humde was a lunch stop for me.
While waiting for my order of instant noodles, I was invited to try some fried fresh buffalo meat that was being enjoyed by some locals who were huddling around the fire. The fried meat didn’t look appetising but it was just delicious.
Fresh buffalo meat being hung out to dry in the cold and dry mountain air.
The local Fried Buffalo Meat Appreciation Society in session.
Humde Valley…finally, it’s flat and fun to ride.
Happily, it’s only an hour’s ride from Humde to Manang.
The welcome arch to Manang.
And then a portal of some kind that finally led to the town itself.
Manang is a 1-street town with some very impressive mountains as its backdrop
After asking around a bit, I located the guys at The North Pole Hotel. These are their brand, spanking new cabins that had been just handed over to the hotel owners. Just in front of the cabins is the old building, still in use but these are definitely more fun, and private. Only 100R per pax.
Mike P in front of the hotel. The dining/common room is on the top floor overlooking the street.
We’re now at the critical 3,500m altitude mark. And it’s important that we acclimatize for a full day here in Manang. Tomorrow, as part of the acclimatization, we’ll be hiking up to Chhonger Viewpoint, the ridge on the left overlooking Manang. It should be fun.
Next: Acclimatization in Manang