Sorry, but this post won’t be available in English, unless we get very bored

Ganges, ghats and garbage

29 October 2008


After a 7h bus ride from Pokhara to the Nepali-Indian border and
another 2:30h bus ride to the awful city of Gorakhpur where we stayed
one night in a hotel that could have easily been a set for the movie
“Trainspotting” (we slept in our clothes…) we boarded the train to Varanasi yesterday a 6:30am.
After a nice but slow train ride we arrived in Varanasi in the early
afternoon. We got a quite expensive room, which overlooked the Ganges. It was in a small tower of an old palace house, but even if renovated was already aged.
Today we changed the hotel as we wanted to save some money. Instead of walking along the ghats with our luggage we got a boat for 150rupees
(around 2,20 EUR) and could watch the scenery from the water that we
experienced from the land the day before. Here you are swarmed with
touts, rickshaw drivers, boat drivers, sellers of everything, begging
kids, post card selling kids and men that try to point out things to
you in exchange for some rupees. In a country such as this with 38% of
people living in slums in Varanasi (in Mumbai it’s 56%), in their
position we would most probably do the same. But as a tourist you are
simply pretty annoyed. On top of this you always have to look down to
your feet as you need to watch out for cow shit, rubbish, ominous
liquids (that could be everything from just water coming off a freshly
bathed man, leavings of clothes washing, to human or cow pee) or
sleeping dogs.
Most of what you see are things that you await, but would never see in
a western city of the same size. People bathing and brushing teeth in
the Ganges, washing their clothes on the steps of the ghats, mud and
rubbish everywhere, cows, goats and water buffaloes trying to feed on
this rubbish. You see people peeing in the galis (very narrow alleys),
dying cows covered with flies, drying clothes on stairways, people
hanging around at the ghats, sadhus walking around in their orange clothes awaiting alms, bodies being burned before their ashes will be thrown into the river. In the ghat next to the old burning ghat people are actually catching fish, which you would never expect to even live there. The river itself looks very muddy with flowers and plastic stuff floating in it, but smells surprisingly normal while floating on it in a boat.

Yesterday was Diwali, which is the
biggest festival in India and at the same time brings the new year.
Yes, somehow we always have the phenomenal skill of being in a country
during events like that. There were less lightings at the houses as I
had expected. But still there where candles, oil lamps, chains of
lights and fire crackers and fireworks everywhere. The fireworks and
crackers are not as much as in an average German city at new years
eve, but the crackers blast your ears. I insinuate that here are more
accidents related to fireworks than in western countries…

Yesterday we had nice Indian food in a nice restaurant more or less
overlooking the Ganges. Today we will have middle eastern food (oh my
God, there will be hummous!) in the hotel we stay in. Tomorrow we will
hopefully have self-catered dinner on the train to Agra. At the moment
we are on the waiting list for a sleeper seat on the night train to
Agra. Our waiting list numbers are quite low, so the chances aren’t
too bad to get seats confirmed, but any fingers crossed are

Annapurna Circuit Part 2

25 October 2008


Now some details to the Annapurna Circuit. In brackets you find the
time we walked, the hight of the destination above sea level and the
title of the soundtrack of the day including the artist:

  • Tag 0: Bus transfer Kathmandu – Bhulbule (way too long, 830 m, “The
    Art Of Driving” – Black Box Recorder)
  • Tag 1: Bhulbule – Jagat (8 h, 1.250 m, “Walkabout” – Red Hot
    Chili Peppers)
  • Tag 2: Jagat – Tal (5 h, 1.620 m, “Du riechst so gut” – Rammstein)
  • Tag 3: Tal – Danaque (5 h, 2.082 m, “Highway to Hell” – AC/DC)
  • Tag 4: Danaque – Chame (4 h, 2.720 m, “Steady as she goes” –
    Voodoo Glow Skulls)
  • Tag 5: Chame – Pisang (4,5 h, 3.180 m, “A little less
    conversation” – Elvis Presley)
  • Tag 6: Pisang – Manang (4,5 h, 3.530 m, “Bridge over troubled
    water” – Simon & Garfunkel)
  • Tag 7: Acclimatization day in Manang (2,5 h, Prakin Gompa at
    about 3.9xx m, “Daily Lama” – de phazz)
  • Tag 8: Manang – Yak Kharka (3,75 h, 3.980 m, “Run to the hills” –
    Iron Maiden)
  • Tag 9: Yak Kharka – Thorung Phedi (2,75 h, 4.450 m, “Elevation” –
  • Tag 10: Thorung Phedi – Thorung La – Muktinath (9 h, 5.416 m respectively
    3.790 m, “Take my breath away” – Berlin)
  • Tag 11: Muktinath – Kagbeni (2,5 h, 2.800 m, “Go down” – AC/DC)
  • Tag 12: Kagbeni – Tukuche (5,75 h, 2.590 m, “Riders on the storm”
    – The Doors)
  • Tag 13: Tuckuche – Ghasa (6 h, 2.010 m, “Down by the riverside” –
  • Tag 14: Ghasa – Tatopani (4 h, 1.190 m, “Buffalo soldier” – Bob
  • Tag 15:Tatopani – Shika (3,5 h, ca. 2.000 m, “Im Rhythmus
    bleiben” – Front 242)
  • Tag 16: Shika – Ghorepani (3 h, 2.874 m, “Stairway to heaven” –
    Led Zeppelin)
  • Tag 17: Rest day in Ghorepani (Poon Hill at 3.120 m, “Alkohol” –
    Herbert Groenemeyer)
  • Tag 18: Ghorepani – Hille (4,5 h, < 1.540 m, “Insomnia” –
  • Tag 19: Hille – Naya Pul – Sarangkot (in total 4,5 h, 1.070 m respectively.
    1.700 m, “Everybody hurts” – R.E.M.)
  • Tag 20: Sarangkot – Pokhara (2 h, 820 m, “Heroes” – David Bowie)
  • And as lists are just great, here you find some items of a usual menu
    you find on the trek with an average pricing in nepali rupees (1 EUR =
    100 NRP; 1 USD = 78 NRP):

  • Black coffee: 40
  • Coke: 90
  • Muesli with apple: 120
  • Daal Bhat: 200
  • Garlic soup: 90
  • Fried rice with vegetables: 130
  • Vegetarian Pizza: 200
  • Cheese-Sandwich: 150
  • Fries: 180
  • As you can see, you have quite a good choice.

    Glueckwunsch aus Fernost

    25 October 2008


    Wir gratulieren Matz und Chrischtel zur Geburt ihres Sohnes und hoffen, dass Mutter und Kind wohlauf sind. Willkommen, Erdenmensch!!!

    Annapurna Circuit Part 1

    23 October 2008


    Back in civilization after 3 weeks of trekking around the Annapurnas.
    You cannot imagine how incredible the landscape is. We have seen Annapurna 1, Annapurna South, Daulaghiri, Manaslu, Fishtail. In morning light, in full sun, with snow blowing off the peaks, surrounded by stars and lit by moonlight. But the best view, not because of the view itself, but of the reward it made for us, was the view from the Thorung-La (Thorung Pass). Standing, sitting, sipping tea at 5416m above sea level was unbelievable. And it hurt. The way up to the pass started at 5 in the morning. The headaches of the previous evening that developed during a acclimatization hike where gone – thanks to Diamox and some hours sleep. But then we forced ourselves up the mountain. It’s cold, it’s still dark, you are huffing and puffing and after an hour you are only at 4800m. This will never end… We walked in snow, supported our legs with our walking poles. But the worst is that everytime you breathe close to nothing enters your lungs. There is air, of course, but it’s so thin you have the feeling that not enough oxygen reaches your lungs. And you are huffing and puffing even more. But then after 4:30h we saw a crowd of people and knew it’s only some steps to the pass. What a feeling. After catching breath it feels so much better. Okay, the headaches began again, but we knew that we would sleep lower than the 2 previous nights and the headaches will go away. Sitting on the backpack at the pass with a hot tea in the hands enjoying the feeling that we really made, did not turn back, is just great. After 45 min and some pictures with our porter cum guide Yakpu Sherpa we set off for the long descend to Muktinath (3800m). This descend hurt even more. The further we went down the better the oxygen supply get’s. But it’s poison for the knees. We had lunch an hour before Muktinath, got the temple complex shown and happily fell onto our beds at 15:30. What a day.
    The usual Daal Bhat for dinner and a night of deepest sleep followed.

    More on the whole trek follows the next days…

    PS: Thanks for all the birthday wishes! Esp. Uli! Wow! What a mail! And I had a birthday cake, 2 presents and a cinnamon roll 🙂