Allyson Johnson

Pieces of my Mind

Archive for the tag “Tadupani”

Tips for Travelers in Nepal – Clothing

In general, women in the rural areas of Nepal dress very conservatively, with long sleeves and long skirts being the norm outside of Kathmandu and Pokhara.  Nepalese who run guest houses and other tourist services on the Annapurna circuit have become enured to seeing women in trousers, but bare shoulders and short shorts will draw unwanted attention.

To bring:

  1. Two pair of many-pocketed hiking pants – the kind with zip-off legs is good, although I never used that feature.  I had only one pair which I wore for 11 straight days of hiking – by the end of the trek they could stand on their own.
  2. A brimmed hat.  A baseball cap will not be enough to protect your nose and neck at high altitudes. Make sure the hat has ties for under the chin – a brisk wind can carry off your hat in the moment it takes to shift a trekking pole to your other hand and try to grab the hat.
  3. Lots of layers of clothes – short sleeve T’s, long sleeved T’s, preferably wick-away material that keeps moisture away from your skin. A water-resistant lightweight wind-breaker with a hood and lots of pockets. A fleece jacket.
  4. A change of clothes for evening.  I gained a new understanding of the rational behind the old tradition of “dressing for dinner.”  If you have been walking all day, if the shower has only cold water and the sink is for public use in the courtyard, , it is still amazingly refreshing to put on something different, even if the skin underneath is un-scrubbed.  My evening outfit consisted of clean undies, my long johns (top and bottom) and a long skirt, with a T-shirt on top. After dinner I could just take off the skirt and shirt and hop into my sleeping bag.
  5. A change of shoes.  Your feet will thank you if you let them escape the hiking boots for more flexible footwear at the end of the day. Thong sandals are useful for getting in and out of a wet-floored shower/toilet combination room, but they get chilly. DM used Tivo sandals;  I liked the watershoes I brought – waterproof, easy to get on and off, wearable with socks for warmth if needed.
  6. A Biffie – one of those lightweight knit loops of cloth that can be used as a headband, hat, neck scarf, or face-covering.  When a sudden dust storm envelops you on the dusty trail across a dry riverbed, or a giant lorry passes you by, being able to cover your mouth and nose on short notice is a blessing.
  7. A conservative bathing suit and wrap if your route takes you to Tadopani – after several days of iffy hot water supplies the unlimited hot spring should not be missed – even though the fence is lined with ogling Nepali men. A bikini would probably cause a riot. [ See post from Day 4  ]

Trekking in Nepal – Day 5 – Tadupani to Kalipani

If Pun Hill was the overture to the Himalayas, the road to Kalopani is the main movement – we walked all day in a lush landscape decked with marigolds and bougainvillea and ringed by snow peaks.

This was an easy but long walk – 8 KM. Most tours break this segment at Ghasa; our guides had combined what was normally a two day stint into one in order to provide some wiggle room in our schedule for returning to Kathmandu (a very good decision, as it turned out!).

We lunched at a stunning spot overlooking the Kali Gandaki river gorge, with the beautiful Rupse Chharara falls cascading 5000+ feet down the neighboring mountain. We then crossed the first of several spectacular suspension bridges over “the deepest gorge in the world.”  (This is somewhat of an exaggeration, since they count from the top of the surrounding mountains, not from the adjoining roadbed.)

At Ghasa DB decided on a different adventure –at 3PM she could not face another three hours of walking and decided to take the public bus to  (brave lass!).  DB and I kept on to thrill at alpenglow on the peaks, then the full moon rising over the mountains, and arriving at our guest house by moonlight. Bena, our guide, had gone ahead with Dianne, and the three assistants led us on the shortcuts- including a clamber up and across a rocky, pebbly, thin trail across the face of a cliff where we were literally sidling along the trail in the half-dark clinging with our fingertips… we decided we would rather have walked around, thanks, but once started there was no returning – and by that time we were too tired to be actually scared.  The two friendly dogs romping up and down the path around us were not helpful.  And then the full moon rose over the mountains, bathing everything in a silver light almost as bright as day.

Kalopani, like most Nepalese towns, closes at dusk.  We plodded through the town by moonlight, passed by  an occasional motorbike or bus, my feet complaining about every picturesque cobblestone they encountered.  Happily, our trek ended at the Kalopani Guest House, which to our eyes seemed as luxurious as a  Ritz Carlton.  We had a large room with wood paneling, and our own gleaming white ceramic tile bathroom!

The dining room boasted a carved and mirrored bar, a long table occuppied by high-spirited Germans,  and a high-speed internet connection. The charcoal brazier placed under our dinner table to warm our feet was the crowning touch. DB threatened to marry the smiling, English-speaking proprietor, but he demurred on grounds that his existing wife would object.  He explained that he and his family had recently invested their pooled savings to upgrade the guest house in hopes of attracting more tourists, and urged us to spread the word to recruit more trekkers among our friends.  He looked all of eighteen.

Trekking in Nepal – Day 4 – Shikha to Tadupani

Day 4 – Shikha to Tadupani

The morning is bright and clear and there is a view of Khilghari Peak out my window.  This is a great day of hiking – we are on ups, downs, and flats, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.  We cross swaying suspension bridges over chasms where the river runs white over huge rocks far below. (This had been one of my fears – that I would have an attack of vertigo in the middle of one of these bridges and freeze in panic.  Happily, these crossings turned out to be thrilling, not terrifying – though both DM and DB confessed to being afraid to look down.)

 The fields are golden with the buckwheat harvest.  Every home is trimmed with drying corn cobs hung from the eaves by the hundreds.  Sun means hot – we are stripped down to single layers of clothing as we descend  to rain forest levels again,  some but the brilliance of the flowers and the mountains makes it ok.

Due to our slow descent, we arrive at Tadupani quite late for lunch (3PM).  Hunger does not bring out the best in me!  Once fed, we are free to enjoy “the Palm Springs of Nepal.”  Tadupani literally means “hot water” and at the riverside just below our little cabin are the hot pools – one VERY hot, one deliciously warm, plus a shower with free-flowing warm water where one can wash one’s hair.  The pools are full of trekkers, and surrounded outside the fence by Nepali gawkers – young men staring at the Western women in their revealing swim suits.

The guesthouse at Tadupani comprises a number of little cabins surrounded by a tropical garden.  Our  cabin is a duplex with a shared shower in a separate room behind and a big bunch of green bananas nodding from a banana tree at the front door.  DB locks the entry and is enjoying the shower as DM and I explore the hot spring, but discovers to her embarrassment that the cabin door cannot be unlocked from outside, she must sprint buck-naked from the shower to re-admit DM and I, and meanwhile the other half of the duplex which she had thought was empty is now occupied by two young Frenchmen. They are sitting on the steps smoking as we go up to the lodge for  dinner, and greet us with bland smiles.

The dining room and patio are full of Germans and Americans and Dutch and Israelis and Koreans all swigging beer and swapping stories – in some ways tea-house trekking in Nepal is  a giant mobile summer camp for grown-ups.

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