Being good people, after six days of toil, we have rested on the seventh day. Never mind that it’s a Saturday – that’s a minor issue. Resting in Manang isn’t a great hardship. Our hostal is relatively excellent – the bedroom may be unheated, cold and damp but we have an ensuite squatter toilet. At first, I thought this might not be a good idea because all toilets in this part of the world have an epic smell. Its one thing to have to use them but quite another to sleep next to one. However, our squatter was clean and decorated with pleasant smelling green discs of deodorant. There was also a solar heated shower across the corridor that wasn’t your typical power shower arrangement, more of a tepid dribble affair but it wasn’t too bad when we got wet even if we could see our breath in the air as we washed.
Better still, the hostal had a magnificent heater in the sitting/dining room which blasted out so much warmth that we ended up stripped down to our T shirts. And the food was good – veggie burger, Yak burger, donkey steaks. What could be better?
We shared a table with a lovely Dutch couple who taught us how to play ‘Shithead’ at cards. They had no idea why it was so called but, I suspect, in its purest form, it involves an amount of alcohol and a considerable challenge to remember the rules when intoxicated.
But, here’s another thing, and it seems to hold true for any slightly off the beaten track destination: there aren’t any Brits here. Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Antipodeans, even some Yanks. But it’s only us holding the British end up. Have all our fellow countrymen opted for brochure holidays that offer the soft option of littering a sunny beach and a slothful existence? As a nation have we lost our sense of adventure? I am beginning to think that there’s no point in the Nepalese learning English any more.
The one task we have to complete on our day off is an acclimatisation walk. This is a walk of at least an hour and a half that achieves an altitude some way above that at which we are sleeping. The effect is to speed up the body’s adaptation to the increasing lack of oxygen in the air.
As my right knee is swollen and sore, I opted for the easiest climb. This isn’t sufficient for Debbie who, after accompanying me and doing the washing, left for a three hour round trip to visit a meditation retreat high up in the hills where the resident Lama Tashi will bless her upcoming crossing of the 5,400 metre Thorung La Pass in exchange for 150 Rupees (GBP 1ish). He is reputedly over 90 years old and his daughter, a sprightly 70+, will bring tea. Perfect!