Annapurna Circuit Day 12 Marpha

The schedule now includes a couple of short walking days which the trip notes say are included just in case bad weather stops us climbing over the Thorung La at the first attempt.  

Makes sense but for some people in the group it does create a certain sense that the momentum of the walk has been lost.

Leaving Kagbeni

The weather is brilliant and in the morning at least we can see the tops of the mountains, this means Nirigiri north to the east of us and Dhaulagiri to the south west.  The dominant feature however is the huge flat bottomed gorge which we either walk along or alongside all the way to Jomsom.  It's quite a strong wind blowing down the gorge but in the morning at least it's behind us, a really nice walk.

We stop for lunch at Jomsom, quite an important town with a military base, an airport and an ATM machine.  The military base looks a bit run down and the ATM machine doesn't seem to work.  Planes are coming in and out of the airport and Christine and I pretend we know what we are talking about and designate the planes "Little Fokkers" - we just like the name although "Twin Otters" is also popular with us.   The airport at Jomson means that lots of walkers choose as either a start or stop point for their trip so it's another important staging point along the route.
Battling against the wind south of Jomsom

The gorge seems, which seems to disappear on either side Jomsom, returns with a vengeance about a mile out of town. The wind has now changed direction and is blowing directly into your face, talking and breathing at the same time is difficult and dries out your throat.  It's a very distinct setting.

Still it's not far to Marpha and the tea house which is just on the edge of the town.  A number of us go for an explore and discover that it's a relatively prosperous little town with lots of little shops selling the usual range of products for the tourists.

A long road near Marpha
It's almost impossible to exaggerate the influence of tourism on the towns and villages along the trail.  Commercial activity exists almost exclusively for tourists.  The tea houses, for example are only used by tourists and the food they serve is completely different to anything Nepalese eat.  The tea houses, although fairly crude places by western standards, are getting better all the time and the gap between the world of the tourist and world of the Nepalese seems to be getting bigger.  It is strange, to look after tourists the Nepalese, have had to acquire a whole range of skills which are hardly used in their normal lives.  This includes cooking food which western trekkers will eat and, in the rural areas,  but also includes skills associated with building and maintenance of tea houses which just not needed in what is essentially subsistence village life. 

Had a nice dinner and a great discussion about multiracial Britain.  Helped by apricot brandy it seems that the ordeal of Thorang La is now in the past.

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