The massive flat bottomed valley that had been a feature of the approach to Marpha disappears on the other side of the town and the route takes us away from the road, through a narrow wooded valley, towards the little Buddist refugee camp just outside the town. It's great weather and the white mountain tops glimpse in through the trees.
The refugee camp seems to be a place where Tibetans stay as they travel between Tibet to India - not a place where people stay. I may well have got this wrong but either way our arrival generates interest and shawls are spread on the floor, wares displayed and shopping with haggling initiated. It's all good fun and not quite what I had associated with a refugee camp.
Stopped for a tea break at Tukuche, on a roof terrace, with views of Nulgiri. We shared the views with a couple of walkers we have bumping into all the way around the circuit.
|More flat bottomed valley|
As we walked along after the tea break, I had a really interesting conversation with Jumba. It seems you can trace the history of Exodus Nepal, through a series of name changes, back to a founding British Army Major. It would be great if this turns out to be Lt Col James OM Roberts how is known as the father of trekking and who was also the first man to climb Mera Peak. Would make and excellent connection for my article on the Mera Peak Trek
The weather in the afternoon deteriorated with low cloud and a steady wind along the valley. After more walking across the huge pebbled flat bottomed valley we arrive at Largung. It's a strange setting, with the low cloud hiding the huge mountains on either side of the valley, Largung looks like some ancient fishing village at low tide. It's a poor dingy place with very few facilities even for trekkers.
After lunch and feeling marooned in this inhospitable place, a few of us decide to go and explore. After walking uphill for about twenty minutes we approach a village that looks even poorer than the one we have left. To the the left of the trail, and about 200 yards from the village we pass a large building which looks incongruously well built. Just beyond the building is a gate and for some reason we decide to go in. We hadn't gone 5 yards when a young Nepalese man bounds over and invites us in. As we enter the building he asks us to remove our shoes and for a second I thought we were entering a monastery.
What in fact it turns out to be is a small boutique hotel beautifully put together right in the middle of intense Nepalese poverty. As the welcome drinks are put together the young man takes us around some of the bedrooms and then onto the roof terrace. While we are on the roof terrace, and just to confirm what an amazing location this hotel has, the clouds part and we can see Niligiri, across the valley, but so huge you feel you could almost touch it. On a really good day we would also have had Dhaulagiri, which is immediately behind the hotel as well.
Later on we meet the manager, a very friendly man, who gives us the background to the hotel. It's five years old but took three years to build and was constructed before the new road came. Although it uses local stone virtually everything had to be carried to the site. It's owned by a Nepalese man, married to a Japenese woman, who also owns a hotel in Kathmandu. Maybe it's a sign of things to come in Nepal - luxury tourism.
Anyway back to the tea house and what may be a regular event on the trip around the Annapurna, Jangbu making soup for the porters and the other guides. A couple of us grab a spare seat and a spare bowl. It's a very distinct soup, definitely not Dal Bhat, very spicy and very alcoholic, definitely the sort of thing to keep out the winter cold.