We spent the day, Friday, acquiring necessary hiking permits and cards and exploring a bit of Kathmandu. As we made our way to the Tourist Permit Office mid-morning, we took every opportunity to lock in the vibrant, chaotic images of Kathmandu with our cameras, referencing our map along the way. Generally a twenty-five minute walk, we drew the voyage out to nearly an hour with our curiosity and so-excited-to-be-in-a-new-city-and-country typical tourist behavior.
The result? We barely made it to the Permit Office before their noon closure, which would have rendered us city-bound for the weekend if missed. Friday was the either the last day of Dashain, a two-week-long national holiday, or the start of a different festival (I'm still rather foggy on the details, and the answer was different depending on who we asked); regardless, government offices shut down in the afternoon so all could participate in the celebration. After furiously completing form after form and barely squeaking them in on time, we secured the necessary documents in order to legally trek the Annapurna Circut and were shortly thereafter on a mission to find hiking poles, Diamox and lunch.
We wandered the back streets of the Asan Bazaar just south of Thamel. Weaving in between women laden in vibrant red sequened saris with green accents and all - men, women and children alike donning a red abir/rice mix on their foreheads, we passed along the narrow streets lined shoulder-to-shoulder with vendors hawking their wares. Knockoff watches and sunglasses, traditional and modern wear, every spice, staple and cut of meat were available for the right price in the Bazaar. Along the way, we found an overly helpful Nepali city guide, a fantastic lunch (complete with Everest beers all around), and a small taste of a city unlike any that we've experienced before.
Tomorrow (today?), well, Saturday, it's an early rise to catch our bus! We will be teahouse trekking the Circut: all along the trails are small communities and lodges. Rather than carrying tents, food and supplies with us, we'll be able to stop off at teahouses for sleep and sustenance. Teahouse trekking is neither strictly self-sufficient remote backpacking, nor easy-living, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hotel/ hostel hopping. Instead, lodges are modest accommodations with simple local fare, generally offering only essentials: food, water and a bed. I do not anticipate an abundance of electricity or internet access, so this blog might be pretty quiet after we catch the bus this morning. Don't fret, though, friends - we'll take good notes and plenty of pictures and video, and will give you a full report when I can! Until we're able to check in again, happy trails!