Details of Life on the Road: Street eats, cheap sleeps, budget travel experiences

The Annapurna Diaries: Day 4

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The Annapurna Dairies: Day 4, Dharapani to Chame

Israelis, at times, are the most impolite people on earth (big generalization, I know). Behold, random notes. I just woke up from a nap, it’s 5:30pm. I seem to be the only really tired person after a long day of hiking – am I that out of shape? I just had my first hot shower in 4 days and it was great, now time for some ginger tea and writing. I’ve had a slight headache each day which I’ve been battling with ibuprofen, which isn’t ideal especially since I’m not even at high altitudes yet. 6 hour day today, 5 hours hiking, now sitting at 2710 meters. Isn’t it always the case that you have things to write about when you’re without the tools to do so, and then when the times comes you’re at a loss for most of the words. 56km in, 16km down today, about another 84km to go. Today I hiked from Dharapani to Chame and the views were spectacular. The first time yet that I’ve walked among the snow-capped peaks. The snow-tipped mountains were never far from view which made walking all the more pleasant. I strode in awe at their perseverance (although it may not take much effort to continuously tower over millennia) and magnificence. Boulder-scattered rivers, to jagged cliffs, to mossy forests, up to blinding white, avalanche prone beasts. The weather was much nicer today, blue skies all the way. Blue skies mean strong sun, though. Cloud covered skies definitely make for easier hiking, even if I do have protection from the sun – hat, sun screen, water, etc. 3.5 liters of water drank today, probably 4 by this evening. 3.5 yesterday, 3 the first two days. I’ll try to stay awake a little later this evening in hopes of sleeping better. Unlike the two Israelis who boasted about sleeping for 12 hours last night, if I go to bed at 8:00pm, I’m waking up at 4:00am or earlier, probably having already woken to urinate two or three times. I hiked with two Israelis for most of the day, nice guys, then they caught up with other Israelis, of course, and now there’s a bunch of them at the guest house. Smart phone staring, Hebrew speaking party. I’ve heard from other travelers, on different occasions, that Israelis are the worst travelers – now, I don’t want to get into any trouble, but I may now agree (however, I’ve met many wonderful people from Israel, and have made some great friends). Of course, they or other nationalities may think the same about Canadians.Tthey don’t have to speak English if they don’t want. Hebrew, being their mother tongue, is obviously more comfortable for most of them. Of course, people who speak only English are the only people with this ‘problem’ – wanting everyone else to speak English so that we can understand and participate in the conversation. A little assuming, pretentious, no? However, English being the most commonly spoken language, most travelers agree that it’s polite to speak English while in a group, even if it’s being spoken between their own countrymen/women (if from a non-English speaking country), as to include everyone in the conversation. People think I’m a hard bargainer (which I kind of am, but I try to be fair), but think again. What a time the local people must have. I won’t get into it too much, but bargaining is normal, a pastime that each party can benefit from. And travelers have it hard sometimes, too, having to haggle down a thrice inflated price of which they don’t know the cost of the product to begin with. Many people try to squeeze every rupee, and although these mountain people (in this instance) may never get out of relative poverty, the extra cash they make from not being bargained so hard may allow them to live a little more comfortably for a while. The rule of thumb in the Annapurna region, especially in the low season, is to agree to purchase dinner and breakfast from the guesthouse in which you plan to sleep, and in return for eating there you sleep for free. For example, the group I was with today wouldn’t accept sleeping for free: not only wouldn’t they accept sleeping for free, they wouldn’t accept a 25% discount on their food, they wanted 35% off and haggled until they found it. Moreover, a couple of days ago my company haggled down about 25% off for dinner and then said ‘we should haggle for breakfast, too’ (which I already briefly wrote about previously), to which I said something like “people need to have a livelihood” to which Jane said “1000 rupees (4 of us times 250 each for dinner) a day is a lot for these people”. Sure 1000 rupees ($10.00USD) is a lot when you’re living off of $1.00 per day, but need we think that way and limit a person’s income? We’re being hosted, catered to, cooked for, being provided water and shelter, it’s not just like someone is giving us food – food that they paid for. Long, hard hours are being worked.

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