Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Day 05 (Ghyaru to Braga)
I’m not sure when I woke up this morning since the battery on my iPhone died last night, but it was some time before 06:30; I got ready, packed, and went downstairs to eat breakfast (oat porridge with apple slices and a cup of honey ginger lemon tea). After breakfast, I settled my bill at the lodge, and then started hiking. I continued on the Upper Pisang trail, glad to be off the road, which I could see in the distance on the valley floor, and glad to be hiking through some more lovely woods (the air felt fresher to my nostrils as well); further down the trail, I could see the ruins of Ghale Dzong (a fort used by the Ghale family when it ruled this valley seven to eight centuries ago), perched on a vantage point just below the trail. After about two hours walk from Ghyaru, I reached the town of Nawal, which was very picturesque in a rustic fashion. I then continued on, descending down to the. derelict-looking town of Julu, situated near the Julu Khola and some meadows. Next, I reached the town of Munchi, where the trail rejoined the dirt road (ugh); Munchi was a pathetic looking town with none of the charm of the towns along the Upper Pisang trail, so I quickly passed through and hurried onward to Braga, my stop for the day.
I reached Braga and got a room at the Hotel Buddha (evidently I am the only guest, which is strange since the adjacent hotel is full and the other two in town have many other backpackers), which is a nice looking hotel and my room actually has it’s own toilet (no going outside in the cold dark for me!). I then had lunch (I had a vegetable mushroom pizza (the vegetable toppings thus time were diced cabbage and carrots) and a lemon ginger tea) before setting out to visit Braga Gompa (a nine hundred year old monastery); I climbed up the steps to the Gompa and was fortunately able to enter thanks to a group if French tourists who had gotten the caretaker to open its doors; inside I was greeted by a protector god, positioned next to the entrance to repel bad spirits; I then entered in to the main prayer hall which had many Buddhist statues lined against the walls on different levels of shelves, ribbons and masks hanging from the support beams, sunlight pouring in from an opening in the ceiling, and many other religious artifacts displayed around the room; after walking around inside the prayer hall, I exited the Gompa and walked back down to the hotel. I relaxed inside my room for some time before heading out to one of the local bakeries to buy some chocolate cookies and a brownie slice. At 17:50, I ordered dinner and had fried cheese balls (it is worth noting that this, as well as most cheese in this area, was made from Yak milk), steamed rice with vegetables and a cheese sauce, and masala tea. Also, at 18:00, the town regained electricity (most, if not all, of Nepal is on a schedule when it comes to electricity distribution and allotment), so I was able to recharge my iPhone; this means, that after dinner, I was able to research and plan out the rest of my trek (I think I will take my time to see much if what this trail has to offer) and I was able to type out some more journal entries (for the record: typing on an iPhone sucks big hairy baboon nuts). Across the street I heard singing and looked outside the hotel window to see a group of Nepalese men and women singing and dancing around a candle flame; next they moved in to the hotel I’m staying at and the didi (“elder sister”) of the lodge lit a candle and incense for them; after about twenty minutes they moved on to the next hotel like Christmas carolers; this was all in celebration of the Hindu festival, Tihar. Eventually, much later than I would’ve liked, I went to bed.