Monday, May 4, 2009

Nepal By Foot - Day 05

We made two major decisions today. Instead of trekking to Tukuche (2590m), we decided to take the jeep to Marpha (2650m).

Despite paying quite a decent price for seats in the jeep, we were still packed to the brim like sardines. During the maximum loading, there were four people in the driver's row and five people in the back row. Nepali public transportation sure ain't for the beefy lots.

This league of the trek had it's fair share of snow-capped mountain views and desert-like valleys. Along the way, I spotted my first sighting of goats. Those were Chinese goats as they were shepherded from China to Nepal.

It took us less than 3 hours to arrive at our destination and upon arrival, I immediately took a liking to the town! One could easily lost himself in the maze-like narrow winding alleys amidst the white washed stone-stacked buildings. Even the toilet had it's natural appeal on me! According to Dendi, this is a good example of a typical Tibetian town.

Had a quick lunch of fried noodles and bought a packet of locally-produced dried apples before joining the throngs of Thakalis for the celebration of a local festival.

During the celebration, groups of men were sitted under the shades enjoying their lunches while the ladies were seated on mats under the hot blazing sun, happily chatting away. The highlight of the celebration was a game of bows and arrows where opposing teams made up of only men tried to aim and shoot at the bull's eye on a wooden tablet placed about 200m away on the rooftop of another building. Once the tablet is hit, it would be cheered upon by the audiences coupled with the thunderous beats of the drum. The winners would then be presented with stalks of wheat-like bouquets and the one with the largest bunch would be announced the overall winner of the competition!

We also spent time exploring the rest of the town and I realized that it is a common sight to see little boys heaving big sacks of rice the size of their body length into the town. In the poverty-stricken country, child labour is not uncommon and the children often has to start earning a living at a young age to supplement income for the family.

I learnt to count my blessings. Where people in Singapore are fretting over lost jobs, pay-cuts and lower bonuses, the people of Nepal are worrying about their next meals. Such is the irony of life...

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