Friday, November 12, 2010

Week 6 - Trekking!

Arriving in Pokhara
Early Sunday morning (11/7) we began our journey by taking a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara - a beautiful lakeside city near the Annapurna range of the Himalayas. The flight was amazing as we flew parallel to the countless mountains belonging to the majestic Himalayas! Our first day was a day of sight seeing around Pokhara. It also was an important day of Tihar, Bhai Tika day - where sisters worship their brothers. This meant that the city streets were pretty quiet during the day, but in the evening it became very busy! There was cultural dancing in the streets and we had the opportunity to see a cultural program during dinner, which included tons of music, dancing and drama. Even during this vacation part of my practicum, I was able to continue my cultural research! 
The next day (Monday) we again awoke early to catch a van ride to the starting point of our trek, Nayapul. We arrived, had tea and took advantage of the last toilet... well, squatty potty. We began walking at 9:00am, periodically resting to rehydrate, take pictures, catch our breath and eat, then arrived to Ghandruk at 4:00pm - right on schedule! 

Tom & I having tea :) 
Mom & I enjoying the amazing scenery before we started

Beginning the trek - with walking sticks in hand! 

We encountered many surprises on our trek! 
  1. It was MUCH warmer than we all anticipated - the temperature + 7 hours of elevated heart rates = massive sweating! 
  2. We shared the narrow trekking paths with many visitors - other trekkers, as well as donkeys, goats, oxen and cows! 
  3. The climb of more than 12 miles upward was MUCH more difficult than we imagined! We misinterpreted the phrase “easiest of the treks” for “easy trek” - let me tell you, they are NOT synonymous! Haha :) 
  4. Expected most of the trek to be windy paths with gradual inclines - the majority of the hiking was done on steep grades of stone steps. 
  5. Water seemed to be in abundance as it freely flowed in multiple waterfalls we crossed and in the pipe systems - while there is a proclaimed water shortage in Kathmandu. 
  6. Our trekking guide, Tin, was not only awesome, but also a Christian - a total unexpected blessing! 
Climbing those steep steps! 
Some of the visitors I mentioned! 
Although it was harder than any of us thought it would be, we completed the trek in the average amount of time! Being dirty, sore and tired, we checked into our simple hotel, showered, ate dinner, played a little bit of hearts and went to bed early. 

At the top - DONE!
A typical Gurung village home
Tuesday we shared breakfast outside surrounded by the gorgeous scenery of Ghandruk. We spent the day walking through the village areas, witnessing the Gurung (the people group/cast of Ghandruk) way of life - farming and harvesting. We even visited a small museum full of artifacts - current and historical. We learned some of the vast differences between Nepali village life versus Nepali city life by truly getting to experience some of both! The houses in the village area were more developed than I had pictured - made of brick and cement and were actually larger than I imagined them to be. Of course these observations are relative and subjective to the comparisons I was making in my own mind, having visited other developing countries. Even considering such observations, the living conditions were vastly different from my own. The simplest things, such as transportation or cooking a meal, require much more work and effort than I have ever had to put forth in my life at home. I am sure this teaches them to appreciate and value the product of such tasks more than I could ever comprehend. Observing their hard work has further led me to admire Nepali culture. After our day of more walking, we returned to our hotel and enjoyed a wonderful evening of togetherness - eating, discussing what we’ve seen and learned, drinking multiple pots of tea, playing cards and laughing a lot (mostly about me teaching them all how to be a pro at using the squatty potty)! 

Family pic :) 

One of our sunrise photos!
On Wednesday morning my mom, Brenden and I watched the sunrise on the Annapurna range that was easily visible from the roof of our hotel - it was undeniably one of the most memorable and beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. After enjoying this and taking multiple pictures, we packed up our things, ate breakfast and prepared to trek back to Nayapul. This day of trekking was significantly easier than Monday’s trek because we were simply taking the same route back, which was almost 100% downhill. I found that I was able to enjoy the scenery more this time, having to focus less on my physical endurance. The level of difficulty aided in the duration of our trek this time - we began at 8:00am and had already made it to the bottom of the mountain by 12:15pm where we had lunch! After lunch we only had about a half hour left of walking, which was mostly flat. Once we reached Nayapul it felt like such a huge accomplishment to have completely finished a true Nepal trek - even if it was the “easiest of the treks.” For not having any trekking training or experience, we each did quite well. Praise the Lord for no injuries or sickness! We again had a van ride back to Pokhara, where we rested and got massages to help with the soreness we all felt :) It was honestly one of the best massages I’ve ever had, as well as the cheapest - double score! 
Trekking back down
Group picture with our two guides at the very end - we did it!
Thursday we took a flight back to Kathmandu, rested for the afternoon and then had dinner with the same missionary family I met a couple weeks ago. It was a blessing to get to introduce them to my family since I hope to get to serve with them in the future. This was also their last full day here in Nepal - I seriously could not believe it! Their time here has flown by, but we’ve savored every moment and memory together. This morning, Friday, they packed and I took them to the airport in the afternoon. My mom, Tom and Brenden are actually in the air currently on their way back to the states! Prayer for their safety is welcomed and appreciated :) It is a long journey back home. Mine and Brenden’s goodbye was much less tearful this time knowing that I will see him again in only ten days! In comparison to the beginning of my trip, this next week and a half apart will be a breeze ;) I am also really looking forward to wrapping up my research to complete my time here in Nepal - praying for diligence in my writing, reading and concluding cultural experiences! 

Our last pic all together in Nepal!
Derai derai dhanyabad (“thank you very much”) to all who have kept us in their prayers as we’ve been away from internet access, unable to post updates as often as before. I have been continually in awe of God’s provision and hand in my time here, bringing together so many connections and blessings. He who is worshipped in Nepal, even among a small number of surrendered hearts and He who will be worshipped by every tribe, tongue and nation - remembering who He is and His care for me is ever humbling. 


Ann said...

Hi hon! We are boarding now for Seattle. God blessed us with 2 days of luxery at the Hyatt! I know you have one night there as well...guess what...they ahave a full Korean Spa for hotel guests! So be thiniking about the Olympic Spa and enjoy. My skin is sooth as butter and totaly relaxed! It will be a great flight home. Looking forward to Skyping with you on Monday evening, your Tues AM. See you then. Loved our time tpgether, I will cherish it in my heart forever. All my love , Mom

Virgil said...

Hi Lindsey,

Doris & I are now in Yuma for the winter and have been wanting to get back to reading about all of your great adventures and experiences in Nepal. However, there was a long delay in getting our computer connected here. Now we can catch up and also learn more about the time that your mom, Tom & Brenden spent there with you as well.

The pictures add so much to what you are writing about. Your mom called us when they returned and when everyone has more time we will want to hear more of their time there. It will also soon be time for your own return. You will have so much to continue in your memories of this incredible experience to add to your education and to your life.

We love you very much.

Virgil & Doris