When we arrived at Kutumsang, our hopes were dashed cruelly: No hot shower, no WiFi and we learnt that, tomorrow, we would have another 8-10 hours of hiking. Everyone was stunned as we all thought today was the last day we would be hiking in the dark. We asked one of our porters for confirmation, just in case our guides were pulling our legs. When he confirmed it, everyone fell silent, contemplating about our bleak future 😭
Day 9 (Dec 20, 2016): Kutumsang to Chisapani (2115 m)
It was a very cold, foggy morning in Kutumsang. If you looked out the window, you could see nothing but white. Ghatta Raj, our guide, predicted that snow would fall in four days' time. We started the trek cheerfully but halfway towards our lunch place, the PAIN grew harder and harder to ignore. Madihah and Shu had knee troubles and the rest of the girls weren't doing too great either.
When we reached Chipling, lunch was a sombre affair. Achan asked how everyone was doing and judging from the unenthusiastic response, he made arrangements for us to hitch a ride with a lorry to get to our next destination. The decision was met with cheers and applause.
The mood was considerably lighten and for the first time in days, we had hours to talk, joke and socialise (for the past few nights, we usually slept right after dinner). In Chipling, we saw humbling sights: a 15-year-old girl bent double carrying a 50-kg load, a grandmother carrying firewood and kids who looked older than they actually are. Life in this remote, mountainous area is tough and beyond my comprehension. I've realised that travelling is not only an eye-opening experience; it's a humbling one too.
At last, our lorry arrived and we all hopped onto it. There's just one small thing: we had to leave Chiko behind. Remember the stray dogs that had followed us in Dhunche? Well at first they were four, then they dwindled to two, until Chiko was the only one left. He followed us for six days across the most challenging terrains! But we had to say goodbye now. Our guides assured us that Chiko would be just fine; he would soon follow other hikers that came across his path; that's the nature of his nomadic life.
With heavy hearts, we said goodbye to Chiko and the lorry sped off. But Chiko chased after the lorry for a good half an hour! It was heart-rending and Aishah even started to cry. We lost him in one of the villages we passed by. Hopefully, he is now cared for by other hikers or the kind villagers there 😢
The lorry ride was bumpy, exciting and scary, all rolled into one. Each time the lorry made a sharp turn, we cried in alarm and excitement. It was oh-so fun! I asked Suraya: "Is this moment worth not showering for days? Is it worth having dry skin and suffering pain for?" Suraya answered YES emphatically.
That night's dinner was a festive affair. At long last, we had WiFi and could catch up on what's going on at home. Plus, Hairi cooked Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Padi and all of us devoured it heartily. That night was to be our last with our porters, so all of us delivered farewell and thank-you speeches. Afterwards, the porters started to dance to their folk songs and urged us to join them. Having not a single dancing bone in my body, I pray that the videos from that night will never see the light of day.
Day 10 (Dec 21, 2016): Chisapani to Kathmandu
Before we could board the bus to Kathmandu, we had to hike for another 14 km! Everyone was excited to go back. The past 10 days (and 100 km!) had satiated our thirst for adventure (for now at least). It's now time to hit the hot shower 😄
It was the most fun adventure I've ever had. I will miss the breath-taking scenery, the deep conversations we had about family, work and love life (or the lack thereof) and the jokes we shared. Until next time, guys 💜
Oh, I'll end with some practical tips on what to bring if you were to hike during the off season:
What you should bring:
- travel insurance (that includes a helicopter evacuation if the need arises)
- a 60L bag (to be shared with another person. This will be the bag your porter will carry, if you choose to hire one)
- a daypack
- thermal wear
- a down jacket
- hiking poles (2)
- -10 degree Celsius sleeping bag
- high-energy food
- water-purification tablets (alternatively, you can always buy mineral water from the guest houses but it gets pricier in proportion to gains in elevation)
- medication: painkillers, motion-sickness pills, analgesic cream, etc.
- spray (for ablution)
- 3-in-1 Teh Tarik / Nescafe / Hot Chocolate sachets
- Alat Bantuan Makanan (e.g. sambal, serunding, chilli tuna, etc.)
- enough Nepalese Rupee to cover your food and shopping expenses. And do remember to tip generously!
- And most essentially: crazy friends to ensure that your trip will be enjoyable & unforgettable 😉
This trip was made successful by:
Pakatan Bejalan, and