Days 15 -17 Dhaulagiri Circuit - Back to Kathmandu

The last few days were frustrating and perhaps Jagged Globe need to think again about the schedule for future trips.

It's standard practice on a trip like this to have a contingency day. But by combining the last two days into one - the descent down to Marpha, we ended up with two.  This meant three nights hanging about: two at Marpha and one at Jonsom, before we could get the plane back from Jonsom via Pokora to Kathmandu.  Having watched the planes fly in and out on Monday and Tuesday it was ominously quiet on Wednesday.  It turned out it was foggy in Pokara so no flights, and we ended up having to get back to Kathmandu by "road".

With any other group this could have been totally grim but with this group it was just grim.  In my experience groups go through a distinct life cycle. As the trip draws to a close you start to think about the journey home and life after the trip. The group, whose only purpose is the trip, starts to lose cohesion as people disappear into their own thoughts.  With this group this didn't happen and everyone continued to get enjoyment out of each other's company to the end.

The best example of group "dynamic" was the end-of-trek party.  All Nepalese treks end with a celebration - an event with all the Sherpas and porters when tips are distributed, drink is consumed and efforts are made at dancing.  Now everyone always wants the party to work, it's a chance to say thank you; the trouble is sometimes it doesn't and can be grim, even embarrassing. The language barrier and the cultural differences can prove insurmountable.

The end-of-trek party in Jonsom was definitely the best one I have ever experienced.  We had the whole tea house to ourselves and the covered inner courtyard provided the perfect venue.  There was plenty to drink including some of the truly disgusting local concoctions (Mustang Coffee will never catch on internationally) but it was the willingness of "the group" to throw themselves into the party that really made it work.

Special mention should be made to Mandy whose personality propelled the whole thing forward. Strong young western women have a particular effect on Nepalese men and ours were clearly entranced.  She had them wrapped around her little finger.

Before the party the money rituals had taken place, when the crew gets paid and debts are settled.  In the afternoon before the party all the porters sit down in a semi-circle and Pem dishes out their pay - a huge wad of crisp notes is shared out.  Then there is a second settling when one of the porters brings out a ledger, money is divided up again (the Sherpas get involved as well) and gambling debts are settled. Every spare minute on the trek has been consumed by card playing and judging by the number of entries in the book there are definitely losers as well as winners.

The road journey back to Pokara the next day meant a return to Beni, the grim and dirty town we had visited just before we started the trek.  This time we made the journey in a couple of four wheel drives and along the new "road" which is supposed to be destroying the Annapurna Circuit.  It took 7 hours to complete the 35 mile journey and although it's a very beautiful trip its clearly going to be some time before coaches full of western tourists are using it.

After a night in a good hotel in Pokara and an early start we were back on the road to Kathmandu. Fortunately the weather was better than on the journey out and it was a good trip.  Still it was 3pm before we got back to the Summit Hotel leaving very little time (and energy) for last minute shopping in Thamel.

The end of trip meal was at the "Everest Steak House" which I had never been to before and which, as the name suggests, was a meat extravaganza.  It was actually really good.

So the end of a very special trip.  Everything was perfect.  The scenery, the remoteness, even the uncertainty provided by the weather, all contributed to what was a real adventure.  It was also a special group, a nice bunch of people to share what has turned to be a great experience.

1 comment:

  1. Dear John,
    Thank you so much for sharing the great stuffs and we are so glad to see and read your nice blog about your great trip Dhaulagiri Circuit and Dhampus Peak. Yes, definitely it is a genuinely challenging and technically difficult trip. We would like to congratulate you for your great success.
    warm regards,