This morning my water in the drinking bottle is frozen and my thermometer shows -5°C. I am “only” at 3600m, how will this be at much higher altitude? Luckily my sleeping bag is cozy and warm. Getting out of the sleeping bag into my clothes is a completely different thing though. I will probably be a master of changing clothes inside my sleeping bag at the end of this trip. I started to sleep with some of my clothes inside the sleeping bag to dry them and also have them warm in the morning. Furthermore, I am sharing my sleeping bag with all my technical gear (Kindle, torch, camera etc, stuffed into a dry bag) to keep the batteries going.
The morning view is again stunning. Beautiful Ghyaru and it’s buddhist flags are sunlit and shiny, the view on the valley just jaw dropping. I am walking slowly, taking pictures, soaking in the atmosphere.
After Ngawal we take the dusty road, not a very nice walk. I shouldn’t have trusted my guide though, apparently the high route continued until Manang. I am very upset when I learn about that in the evening and have a dispute with my guide. He doesn’t seem used to confrontation and basically runs away from the conversation. I cannot trust him anylonger and this makes me feel quite uncomfortable continuing the journey with him. I am upset I took a guide at all, but luckily the next days will be spent together with other hikers I met on the trail.
We arrive in Braka at lunch time and enjoy a nice meal at the only guesthouse that is open at that time of the year. Following the recommendation in my NATT guide book, we walk up to the Gompa for a visit. There is a number and my guide calls someone to come and open the Gompa for a few rupees. The Gompa has a great atmosphere and is stuffed with all kind of buddhas. The women is in a hurry though and doesn’t leave me a lot of time to visit, so quite soon we have to continue another half an hour to Manang.
Manang ist big compared to all other towns we saw so far on the trail. Usually people take a rest day here, so there are plenty of guesthouses. Mine is very luxury – my own “toilet” (well, water is frozen again), hot shower (more or less), my own electricity plug in my room,… and most importantly: a heated dining room! The fireplace is heated with yack poo, which doesn’t smell at all when it’s dried. I am taking a shower and wash my socks and T-shirt. The sun is shining so I hang it up outside – only to realize half an hour later that it is completely frozen!
I am taking a walk around Manang. I need to buy some toilet paper but my guide told me it’s very expensive up here. It turns out I have to pay 100NRS which is about 1$! In my world, this is nothing at this altitude, but it shows me the level of income of Nepali. You can get almost everything is the small shops in Manang – hats, gloves, chocolate bars,…. The even have “screening halls” or cinemas showing movies like 7 years in Tibet. That must be quite fun during the season.
In the evening I cannot believe how many people are here in Manang, in my guesthouse! After having been almost on my own the last days there are at least 15 people sharing the dining room and we have a nice chat around the fire. I just hate the 10minutes you need to be in the cold to brush your teeth etc before you can warm up again in the sleeping bag… everyone is even dreading going to the toilets! Ah – the nights can be tough but the days are so worth it!