January 21, 2016

About sunrises in Nepal and sunsets in India

This is a map of the five day trek -

Day 1

We started the trek at 8 AM. We were taken to Dhotrey by jeep. We started our trek from there. We were supposed to reach Tumling(2960 m), which is 7 km from Dhotrey, which is basically in Nepal. We stopped on the way in Tonglu(3070 m). 
Mr Thapas wife

We were welcomed by Raju Thapa to his warm house. We sat on the porch sipping hot teas and coffees. After some rest, we started the trek once again. The trek was uphill as well as downhill. We reached Tumling around 3 PM.
Thandi wali pout selfie 

The pahari's were making hot pakoras on the hill, which they sold along with tea

Trekking uphill is not an easy feat at all. Your heart starts beating wildly but there are times when you need to keep going. I could feel my heart beating in my ears, mouth and everywhere – it pleaded me to stop as I wanted to my gasp for my breath. You open your mouth and take dollops of air in even though you are told again and again to breathe with your nose. I feel my heart has increased in size after the epic five days :P
The Nepal India border
War and peace :P
The YHAI volunteer Mr Suryavanshi showed us our rooms and we were served lunch. We were given four meals a day during the course of this trek – tea at 6AM, breakfast at 7AM (puri bhaji, aalu paratha or bread butter) lunch around 1 PM (mostly aalu and soyabean vegetable, dal, rice and roti with pickle and papad) tea around 4 PM (tea and two pakoras/bhajiyas/samosas) and dinner at 8 PM (same as lunch mostly).  The meals though simple, were very good as they were hot and made by the locals hosting us. They were very pleasant people who prepared the meals with love. However, we all were really tired of eating potatoes and soya bean at the end.

After lunch we went to our rooms. Kritika, Rishika and me shared a room called ‘Sweet Peas’. They had named the rooms very creatively.  The pink décor felt warm and homely. Just what you would want to come to after the first day of a strenuous trek. This was my most favourite room in the whole trek. The wooden houses are also supposed to keep you warmer in comparison to the cemented ones.

The pretty pink room

Trust girls to not only get a pink room, but even have shoes with a little pink :)
In the evening we had tea and played Antakshari. Lots of old Hindi songs. Later, a teenager, Nikhil Gurung played the guitar for us. We sang while he played the guitar. He had a natural flair and was a talented guy. He played some old and new Hindi and English songs and one Nepali song. 

One of our group members Akhilesh was so happy with his skills that he presented him money to get a new guitar for himself. The evening was fun. We had dinner and went to our rooms.

Day 2

We woke up to see the sunrise at 5.30 AM. The dew drops had frozen to ice. We waited for a good one hour to see the sunrise, which was worth it. You first see the sunlight glistening on the Kanchenjunga peaks and then see the sun rising.
Frozen dew

Sunrise in Tumling

We had to trek to Kalipokhri (3108 m) covering 13 km. We started the trek at 8 AM. It was a straight road. 

We started seeing frozen waterfalls as we made our way back to India. We stopped at a placed called Gairibas(2621 m) for lunch.

Bandana like Dilwale – indulge in some Bollywood fashion to remember the normal lifestyle when you are surrounded by gloomy mountains

We resumed the trek and reached Kalipokhri just before tea. Kalipokhri is a little lake with black water. It is a revered place. 
Kali pokhri

YHAI has some volunteers to help us at camps. They are trekkers who have trekked with YHAI earlier. The volunteer in Kalipokhri, Ganesh was from Chennai. He was a little demotivating but I guess that was his way of motivating. He scared us by telling us about a guy from an earlier batch, who slipped and fell trying to ice-skate and got stitches on his head and was sent back to Darjeeling. Some of us were numb with cold and fear. He was forthcoming during dinner and told us he owns a dog parlour back home in Chennai.

Day 3

We had to reach Sandakphu(3636 m) trekking 6 km uphill, the steepest of all the days. Though it took a toll on us, the views were captivating which melted away the fatigue. All along, beautiful pine trees were peppered with icicles.

Looked like a scene out of a movie. Finally we reached around lunch time. The volunteer at Sandakphu, Sourav, was a Bengali from Kolkata. He took us for a mini tour around our camp post lunch.

Sourav told us about some medicinal herbs and how pine leaves can prevent foul smell. He showed us the wild strawberry bushes and also took us to the only water basin of Sandakphu.
The only water basin in Sandakhphu
That too freezes at times; hence there is a water shortage. We saw ice being formed live on the leaves- as we were higher than where it snows. We were where the snow is formed. There was just one washroom for women and none for men. We hopped our way to Nepal to see the sunset from one of the peaks there, but couldn’t as the weather was really foggy. Nonetheless, we had fun playing with frozen ice. We came back for tea and Sourav told us stories about the mountain people and the Sherpa community – the members of this society are supposed to climb mountains really easily. He also told us about the evidence of the Yeti in the Himalaya. (The word Himalaya is plural; people often misspell it as Himalayas)

Sourav warned us that it was going to be very cold in the night. He said if you keep your water bottle outside, the water would freeze, hence he asked us to take some hot water in the bottle and put it inside of our jackets and sleep, that would also help us fight cold. It was around minus 16 that night. Sandakphu means ‘cold wind’. You can see the wind blow fast taking along little icicles. We were able to hear the wind all night – like soft whistles.

The only thing that is pretty regular about me is my period and hence I don’t like to mess up with it. I didn't take any medicines to postpone it and as a result I got it on the day coinciding with the hardest trek. I wasn’t surprised; this has always happened to me – my board exams (both 10th and 12th), university exam, important events, dances and performances of my life – my period was always there for me – on those very days! :) I was prepared. I took some pain killers as I didn’t want to pass out with pain on a mountain and kept trekking. However, as night approached and we were warned about everything freezing, this dangerous thought crossed my mind. What if the tampon I was wearing freezes inside me? I knew it was impossible, still I was worried :P  Once a nagging thought enters your mind, it doesn’t leave easily. Anyway, my brains were working five times slower due to cold. I told Kritika about my fears and she said it was an interesting thought. She is really bright and she didn’t laugh it off, and even said it would be interesting, which irked me even more. I wanted her to say “that’s so stupid”, but she is a lawyer in the making. She would rather have her laugh than reassure me. (Just kidding, both her and Rishika were a great help)

Day 4

We had to trek downhill and reach Gurdum (2910 m). It was a 14 km trek. We saw some beautiful flowers and it snowed on the way. While trekking uphill is tedious and saps out your energy, downhill makes your knees pain as they take the entire pressure of your body. We reached Gurdum around lunch time.
It snowed on the way to Gurdum

Trekking downhill

The volunteer at Gurdum was a Gujarati from Ahmedabad, Dhawal. I even knew of the café he owns – Café Rocks. After tea, we made an actual camp fire (with fire and wood) and had Maggie. Himalayan freezing temperatures, camp fire and Maggie is something you must indulge in if you are trekking the Himalayan range.

Beautiful night sky in Gurdum

Dhawal brought back Ahmedabad to me. The Gujarati spirit of making the most and the best out of any situation – he played party songs and we danced a lot. Little Nepali children were handed torches which they kept moving, giving an illusion of disco lights. The tempo was set as we danced the starry night away. We also did some star gazing. Shardul, a team member told us about this app called ‘Star Chat’, which tells us about the stars which we are interested in. It is basically a real time map of the sky. He was pretty resourceful himself. Chintan, Lohith and Vishnu took some pictures of the beautiful night sky.

Day 5

The last camp was at Rimbik(2266m) and the distance was 14km. We halted at Srikhola for lunch. There was a beautiful waterfall in Srikhola. Most of us bathed in the waterfall! (I didn't) It was really cold (I just know)

We left for Rimbik after eating. The camp in Rimbik was really beautiful. Basically all camps we stayed at were local houses which had some extra rooms for tourists and trekkers. We headed out in the market to eat Momos. Though the Momos were alright, we enjoyed the market and the chill. 

We came back and were talking when we were told about a Budhimaan baba who lived nearby, who was at the camp that day. This man allegedly cures people of illnesses with mind power or his connection to the supreme energy. I have been troubled by nagging stomach issues of late and hence decided to get his blessings. I don’t really believe in getting treated that way, but the people who live in the mountains have pure hearts and I just felt like asking him to pray for me. It felt good.

After the bara khana – as the Nepalis call the big dinner, we were given the certificates for completing the trek successfully.

We danced on Bollywood and Nepali songs which they played for us. Particularly, this one Nepali song – Piratiko Chata Odauna - a really upbeat song, we loved dancing on it with the locals hosting us.

The 27 participants: 

Shardul, Ashutosh, Franklin, Akhilesh, Pankaj, Chintan and me from Mumbai, Maharashtra
Virendra, Kamal, Jayant, Kapil and Arshad from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Vishnu, Kritika and Rishika from Kolkata, West Bengal
Akshay and Lohith from Mysore, Karnataka
Kishan from Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Trushala, Dr Rajashri, Pradeep ji, Suresh ji, Raju ji, Bidri Rajshree and Jyoti from Solapur, Maharashtra
Prinkesh from Pune, Maharashtra

Pradeep Kumar Rai and Dawa Sherpa were our guides who accompanied us during the entire trek. One would be in front and other at the back.
With Pradeep Kumar Rai
With Dawa Sherpa

 A special thanks to them :) They are swift, able and strong mountain climbers.  

We were driven to base camp at Darjeeling the next morning. 

Check out Trekmunk if you are looking for unexplored travel destinations and experiences. 

No comments:

Post a Comment