Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nepal By Foot - Day 07

Started the day with my favourite breakfast in Nepal - porridge with milk - whereas Dendi ordered a simple breakfast of plain oat pancake. By plain, it means no maple syrup. Dendi simply wolfed it down with a cup of duud chiya (Nepalese for milk tea). It seems that the Nepalese have a taste for light flavours, unlike their neighbour in the south.
I also took a liking to this shrivelled bean-like snack. It is a little salty and it reminds me of the dried green pea kachiang puteh snack.
The highlight for the day would have to be the horse ride to Muktinath (3802m). It cost a total of 1000 Nepali rupee (equivalent to ~ SGD20) to hire the horse and the horseman.
Just before setting off, we saw another herd of Chinese goats headed our way - this time, they are dressed in a thick black coat of fur.
The journey took us merely 2 hours 30 minutes as compared to 5-6 hours by foot. The landscape along the way is still very much desert-like but as we made our ascend up the mountain, I noticed many 'holes' in the opposite mountain ranges. I was awestruck to learn that those 'holes' were previously the homes of Tibetians who fleed their homeland following the occupation of Tibet by the Communist Chinese People's Liberation Army in 1950. Desperate time calls for desperate actions...

As we paused to take a break, I noticed yet another Nepali innovation. In an attempt to overcome the problem of electricity shortage, it is a common sight to see the locals 'heating' up water in a kettle with this simple solar harvesting device during the day. And it really worked! The kettle was very hot to the touch! Pure genius! :)

The main trade along the trekking trail is the weaving of scarves from yak wool. It is relatively cheap to purchase the scarves here as compared to similar ones sold in Kathmandu or Pokhara. After my best attempt at bargaining, I purchased 2 small scarves and a large scarf for 1000 Nepali rupees!

I also had the good fortune of biting into a freshly-harvested, 100% organic Nepali apple along the way. Good things are meant to be shared and in my case, I shared it with my trusty horse. Nothing goes to waste!

By noon time, we arrived at the lodge in Muktinath and I decided to order off the menu - just a bowl of instant noodles soup with egg. Muktinath is a relatively small and quiet town with it's fair share of lodges for the tourists and convenience stores.

The main attraction here are the sacred Hindu temple and Buddhist monastery atop a nearby mountain which is the pilgrimage site for devotees. It is a good example of religion tolerance in Nepal - two religions sharing the same holy site with mutual respect.

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