The first full day of our trekking holiday in Nepal and it was a fairly abrupt beginning. We arrived mid-afternoon in Kathmandu after a long journey from Madrid via London and Delhi, and at 7 the next morning we were on our way. It took us about 4-5 hours driving to the small town of Besi Shahar where we were due to start our walk. We'd arrived in the country in the midst of the Hindu festival of Dashain. This meant it was a good day for travelling, being a holiday for many Nepalis and with little traffic on the road. The weather was good and from the car we caught our first glimpses of distant peaks.
Once in Besi Shahar we couldn't possibly start walking without having lunch first, so I had a big plate of noodles to prepare myself for what lay ahead. All set to go, we had our guide and, to our surprise, only one porter for both of our bags! This seems to be more or less the norm for treks on the Annapurna Circuit, but it came as a bit of a shock. Although we had tried to follow the advice on not taking too much stuff, the reality is that you need clothing for almost all weathers on this route, and half of my rucksack was filled with the thick sleeping bag that I hoped would help to keep me warm at higher altitudes. We were expecting more basic conditions and less facilities for washing clothes than we encountered in the end so only in that sense could it be said that we carried a bit more than we needed. I was wondering just how well I would cope with my small day rucksack, I could never have done this route carrying all of my stuff.
Off we went, walking alongside the river on a broad, easy, track. Many of the people we saw on the way were celebrating the holiday, their faces gave them away.
The weather was warm and the surroundings seemed to be more semi-tropical than Himalayan. The landscape was lush and green, there didn't seem to be any water problems in this area and terraced rice fields were all around us.
Then, after just a couple of hours walking, we stopped! A little bit short of the village of Khudi. It hadn't been a very challenging start to the walk, not that I minded as I settled down with a book for the rest of the afternoon. The hotel was simple, but comfortable enough and the temperature still warm enough for it not to matter about the cold water in the shower. For anyone feeling the need to do more walking the village is not far up the road and from there you can walk to a waterfall tumbling down the hillside.
I was told by friends who know people who have done this trek that the food would be very boring and that I would come back hating lentils. When I saw on the menu for our dinner that there was buffalo curry I thought that things were not necessarily going to be that bad. As it turned out the buffalo in question was probably a grandfather judging by the chewiness of the meat. Still, you have to try these things. That night we slept with the background noise of the roar of the river not far below our hotel - this would be a familiar sound for the next few days. The heat of the day gave way to a cool night, even at this relatively low altitude.
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