May 25, 2014 (Sunday) Arughat-> Soti Khola
Another early morning! Life in Nepal starts way too early! This time, the noise outside began at 4:30am. We dozed on and off until 6:30am, got up, repacked our bags, and headed downstairs for breakfast. We ordered porridge with milk and banana and Tibetan brown bread with Jam and honey. Tibetan brown bread is more of a pan fried bread, similar in consistency to a funnel cake but flat and much less greasy. Really delicious! We sanitized three liters of water and hit the trail. Krishna took the bus with our bag so he could see his family and drop off some of his load at home. He hasn’t seen his family for three months because his son was sponsored by a previous client of his to go to a nice school in Kathmandu, so he lives there with his son while his wife, twin daughters, mother, etc. live in Soti, the town we are staying in this evening.
John and I followed Tek along the dirt road that wound it’s way around a gorgeous river. We passed through several villages and greeted the locals with “Namastes”, which they always returned with big smiles on their faces. A wedding was going on in one of the villages, which seemed to consist of a group singing and playing instruments while others danced in front of a small audience. They stopped playing as we walked by, said, “Namaste”, and a woman motioned me to dance. I smiled and laughed and kept on moving because John and I both know what happens when we take part in a foreign wedding! We figured Tek wouldn’t be too happy if they dressed us up and married us like they did in India!
We passed tons of children walking to and from school on the road. They were all in uniforms and many travel long distances between villages to go to school. Every so often, we would pick up one or two kids as part of our group and we would do our best to talk to them using very basic English until they got to their village and we would say goodbye. One little girl walked with us for a while and her name was Manisola (not sure of the spelling). Her English was pretty good for only being 13 years old, so we talked for a while and I learned that she walks over an hour each way to Arkhet Bazar from Soti Khola for school. We also were headed to Soti for the night, so she walked the rest of the way with us. The views the entire way were gorgeous: rice paddies, beautiful green hills, corn fields, banana trees, and numerous goats and cows. We crossed a suspension bridge at one point and continued to follow the gravel/dirt road until we arrived in Soti.
We entered a really nice tea house, got a room with a mountain/river view, and enjoyed potato momos, dal baht, and hot lemon ginger honey tea at a nice table overlooking the river. This tea house thing is pretty cool! No setting up tents and we get to shower after a hot morning hiking (spoiler alert: this “shower thing” didn’t last much longer!). The journey today took us less than 3 hours with a short break. Tek says it usually takes 4-4.5 hours, so we were proud of ourselves. It was an easy first day but the rest of the days will get longer and longer, higher and higher, and colder and colder (although we welcome some cooler weather, it was blazing today!).
We were glad to have the afternoon to relax! We passed the time napping, doing laundry, knitting (me), reading, and drinking a lot of water and tea in the gazebo overlooking the river. And as usual, we chatted with Tek. Dinner was comprised of more potato momos and dal bhat, although the cook was different than the one we had for lunch, so they both tasted like completely new dishes.
We also saw a huge spider which freaked me out much less than it used to, although I did move my chair so that I was more than two feet from it. We no longer have electricity from power lines, but are instead connecting our room’s lightbulb to a battery. The water situation is very strange because some of the faucets run all the time and can’t be shut off while others, like our shower head, never turn on. We crouched below a small water tap beneath the shower head to bathe. The water cut out as soon as my hair was completely covered in shampoo! Luckily, it turned back on a few minutes later so I could rinse off. No matter how you slice it, a shower is a shower at the end of the day and you just need a bit of water and soap to feel like a new person after a sweaty day of hiking.
It is currently pouring down rain and thundering and lightning, so we are very thankful for the shelter of our tea house. We hope this isn’t an early start to the monsoon season, but Tek says rain in the evening is good because it means the morning will be clear. We think our relaxing day was the calm before the hiking storm and we will be much more exhausted as each day passes.
I already have a blister on my toe from my new, cheap, made-in-China, knock-off hiking shoes that I bought in Kathmandu for the trek. Let’s hope it heals quickly!
Tek tells us to drink at least 3 liters of water a day, but prefers we drink more. We are doing our best to stay hydrated and physically and mentally prepared for what lies ahead! Tomorrow is supposed to be a 5-6 hour day and we are…
Whoa! A beetle the size of my hand just chased us around the room for a few minutes before I could get it to fly out the window!
…Anyway, as I was saying, tomorrow we will be hiking 5-6 hours and will start at 7am to try to beat the heat. Tek has told us a few times today that if we see a donkey tomorrow, we will wait for them to go. If we are already on the trail, we always go toward the mountain so we don’t fall off of a cliff. John’s response was “Sweet!”. Mine was, “Oh dear”. Only time will tell how we fare!