7am is starting time, my guide is already waiting in the lobby. We take a taxi to the local bus station (500 NRS and I am still thinking it was too expensive – never count on a guide to negotiate even if he is pretending!). And then we patiently wait until the local minibus gets full: They should out again and again the destination until they gather enough passengers. I am surprised we leave half empty but soon we stop again to pick up a family who seems to have prebooked. I shouldn’t have cared about not drinking anything because there are regular breaks to use the bathroom or get food. The lunch break is at Nepali time – meaning at 11am. The dishes look delicious although it’s already kind of precooked. I decide to take Pakaudas for only 100NRS. Great choice! These are fried vegetable balls with some kind of soup and dip. My guide Prakash takes Dhal Bat and eats in traditional style with his right hand, rolling everything into balls. I am sure I will get loads of Dhal Bhat on the trail and am very happy to have tried something else. Especially by hindsight, as I will never get the opportunity again to eat Pakaudas this delicious and cheap.
At around 2pm we finally reach Besisahar the starting point of the Annapurna Circuit at 760m altitude. A Dutch girl shared the bus and we have a quick chat after our arrival. We get our permits checked and after shortly thinking about taking a bus for the first part, I decide to walk instead.
Off we go – this is the start of my dream hike, finally! A few minutes later we see a big field where kids are playing soccer with a big crowd cheering. I watch for some time and it feels funny to me – I am so far away from Germany and still so close in a way.
Soon we cross my first suspension bridge. I am not afraid of heights, but something about these bridges scares me… it will never really go away during my entire trip! We take the alternative NATT trail so we don’t have to follow the road and soon we have to walk up our first hill and I am sweating and sweating in my T-Shirt! The landscape reminds me a little of Sri Lanka, rice terraces, flowers, everything is green! I meet 2 school girls in their blue uniforms and they want me to take their picture and look at it. And then there is my first glimpse of the real mountains covered in snow. I can’t wait to get closer!
The first hike is pretty short and after 3h we already reached Bhulbule and my first guesthouse of the trip. I am not yet good at negotiating so I only manage to get down to 200NRS instead of 300 for the room. The room has nice windows and is made of wood, there is one bed and a small table and the room is full with me standing in there. This is basically the same all over the Annapurna Circuit except that I will usually will have the luxury of having 2 beds in my room, meaning I can spread the content of my bag pack all over the second bed.
There is a German couple staying as well – but that’s it, not many tourists! I wonder where the Dutch girl is but there are a few more guesthouses! The couple is nice and we sit together with Prakash and talk about trail, gear and anticipate how cold it will get. I realize that I have much more warm clothes than they have and feel happy about it. Prakash is kind of acting as my servant which I feel very uncomfortable about but it seems to be common that not the owners or managers of the guesthouse serve the food but the guide takes care of everything – from writing the order down to brining me the food and clearing the table. When he also offers to fill up my bottle I tell him that this is really not his task and that I can do this on my own… I will get a bit used to it but not fully, when I can I do everything on my own.