Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Day 3 - Khandbari to Bhangkharka

The day started with Tulasa and her niece preparing morning Dal Bhat. The Nepali traditional knife is interesting. It sits on the floor and is held in place by a foot.

It is traditional for Nepali to eat with their hands. We were fortunately provided with utensils though I carried a spork with me just in case.

 After morning Dal Bhat we went to visit the orphanage for the first time. I was amazed by the children there. They were happy and friendly.

I brought a couple of Rubik's cubes to use an an ice breaker when we visited the orphanage. I don't think you need an ice breaker but the kids certainly enjoyed the cubes.

I sat to show them how the Rubik's cube works and I was straight away surrounded by all 12 children. Having just arrived in the country and wearing fresh clothes it was a little close for comfort. 12 children that wash and do their own laundry once a week don't exactly smell like roses. I did get my revenge by trekking for three weeks before I would go visit them again. The reason MAST exists is to raise funds for the orphanage. Please see my first post for more information.

We started our trek with a short day. The destination was Bhangkharka, a small village where we would be welcomed by the community.
We had decided to walk with just two guide porters. We would give them our sleeping bags and some clothes to carry and we would carry all other items ourselves.
Longman was pretty slow on this first day, so slow that we gave him less to carry on future days. In hindsight we think we were played a little.

Everywhere we went people were busy cleaning and painting their houses and shops. The most popular colour was blue as in this picture.
It turns out we had arrived the week before Dashain, the biggest festival of the year in Nepal.
It is traditional to clean and paint before the festival.

It was common to see local people ply their trades at the side of the road. These guys were stuffing and sewing bedding. The stringed object that looks like a musical instrument is used to prepare the fill for the bedding.
Another thing that was obvious on the walk is that children do not have fancy toys like western children. It was very common to see them play with toys they made from discarded objects. It was also amazing just how happy and friendly children were everywhere we went.

We stopped for a break at this monastery. No monks were present on the day but the building was pretty cool with it's all seeing eyes.

When we arrived in Bhangkharka we we brought to the local community centre where we were given prayer scarves, flower leis and tikas. We went straight from the trail to the community centre so we were quite sweaty for this little ritual.
Part of the premise of MAST is that you use local guides and experience local culture.
The community homestay in Bhangkharka is part of this. We found the welcoming ceremony a bit laboured and wasn't really blowing our hair back.

Tejanath made some speeches, mostly in Nepali. We were just the second group to come through Bhangkharka and I think much of the ceremony was for their benefit rather than ours. Tejanath was explaining to them how tourism could be a revenue source and how it needs to be promoted etc.
After his speeches the locals played music and danced for us. Again it was all quite laboured and they didn't really look like they wanted to be dancing for an audience in the middle of the afternoon.

Fortunately the power went out and the dancing part of the program came to an abrupt end before they decided we should join in.

After dropping our gear at the home where we would stay they brought us on a tour of the village.

One of the sources of revenue for the village is making traditional rugs that would be sold at the market in Khandbari. They showed us how the separate the goat hair, spin yarn and then hand weave the rugs.
We had come across these rugs in Khandbari and truth be told they are quite itchy.

We were also brought to this swing. Apparently they are constructed in each village as part of the Dashain celebrations. I couldn't resist having a go but I think I entertained the locals rather than impressing them.

Back at the house where we were staying we were served Tongba, things were really starting to look up.

Tongba is the local version of beer.
Millet is fermented in a bucked for a couple of weeks.
Hot water is then poured over the fermented millet and you drink it through a perforated straw. As you drink you add more liquid. You refill with hot water about five times. Very tasty and not the last time we would find tongba on our travels.

Evening Dal Bhat was served at the house where we stayed. It was served with goat meat which was quite tasty.
We did find it odd that our guides and all the locals ate in another house and were were left alone.
I don't think they quite understand the notion of community homestay. I think it would be much better if they ditched the formal greeting at the community centre and instead sat and drank tongba with us.

These were my digs for the night.
It was perfectly comfortable though I did have longman sleeping on the floor.
Mark and Elaine were in another room upstairs in the house.

Weather - Definitely a One Hat Day

Accommodation Rating:
House was nice and had the nicest toilet in Nepal.
Docking a cup as we weren't overly impressed being left eating alone while the party was going on elsewhere.

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