Tuesday 6 November

Tikhedhunga to Nayapul

“The Boys”

Waterfalls near Birethani

Several more donkey trains pass in the early morning. There are no curtains to block out the light and quite a breeze blows in between the window and its frame.

We spend most of the morning walking near the river at the bottom of the valley towards Birethanti. There are several calendar-photo views of waterfalls and trees, but the valley walls obscure anything grander. We stop at one point in a small formally laid out garden next to a particularly photogenic waterfall.

Again we make good time and reach a riverside café at Birethanti by half past ten. Since we are almost back at the bus (we hope a more reliable one this time), we stay here for a while, and have something to drink.

Crossing the river, it is clear that we are returning to civilisation, although it is not entirely clear that we have ever been that far away from it, or indeed, what passes for civilisation. A lorry is manoevering its way down the bumpy dirt track between ramshackle buildings on either side. We find the bus waiting on the main road at the end of the track. Ray, Simon, and Siling decide to travel on the roof, undeterred by a violent lurch of the bus and the sight of an upturned bus in the ditch at the side of the road.

On the way back to Pokhara, we stop off at a Tibetan refugee centre. Inside the Buddhist temple, the lifestory of the Buddha is depicted in very stylised drawings around the walls. It shows how he left his palace of luxuary after seeing an old man, a sick man, and a corpse, and after trying a lifestyle of ascetism, chose a ‘middle way’ as the the path to enlightenment.

For the remainder of the journey to Pokhara, Alex joins Ray, Simon and Siling on the roof. Just as we turn into the road of our hotel, a police motorcyclist pulls us over, ostensibly to to ask them to get down off the roof, but more probably just to show off his motorbike.

We have the afternoon free in Pokhara. I wander for a while, but find nothing new to see on Lakeside. The shopping is disappointing. I buy a bootlegged Eric Clapton CD, but am not interested by trinkets and tourist tat.

Nepali Dancing

Dinner is back at the hotel with ‘the boys’. Apparently it is traditional to treat the porters in this way by buying them dinner after the trek. They demolish a huge chicken tikka each. There then ensues ‘singing’ and dancing and much merriment and mirth. That tune, the one we are all growing to know so well features prominently (‘Resham Firiri’). They take it in turns to drag each one of us onto the dance floor, and James makes quite an impression with his gyrations.