22nd October - As usual up at 6 AM, breakfast at 7 AM and on the circuit for another long day by 8 AM leaving behind Hotel Shangri-La and its ‘ensuite’ arrangements. Again it was steadily up with some more severe climbs. The scenery was stunning.
It wasn’t just trekkers on the circuit. There were mountain bike riders too.
Porters come in all shapes and sizes. Kalyan’s brother who is a student seemed particularly small for such a heavy load. There seemed to be an affectionate bond between porters. But being a porter isn’t the domain of men only. There were women as well.
We crossed wooden and suspension bridges sometimes no handed!
A deceptively slight porter
Crossing a wooden bridge
It was during this part of the trek we first encountered snow, ice and an avalanche that had taken out part of the trail. It was evidence of the snow storm that had inundated the region on Tuesday 14th October.
Day 7 - Lower Pisang (3200 m) to Manang (3540 m)
23rd October - As we journeyed up the trail we became more and more aware of the Buddhist influence. In the villages there were long lines of prayer wheels. We passed stupas with prayer flags and stones that were placed on top of the walls inscribed with what the guide indicated were prayers.
Alongside Buddhism is Hinduism. The Festival of Tihar was being celebrated. This is the Festival of Lights. Apparently the first day of the festival is called Kag Tihar, the worship of crows. Offerings of sweets and dishes are placed on the roof of houses. The cawing of crows symbolizes sadness and grief in the Hindu mythology, so devotees offer the crows food to avert grief and deaths in their homes. Were these crows arriving in Lower Pisang for the offerings?
From the third day onwards we saw and heard children singing with an accompanying drum and collecting ‘offerings’ which we understand possibly go towards a community picnic.
We encountered more snow and ice and a family attempting to travel by motorbike.
We passed a girl herding goats and Manang Air Strip which is no longer used as it is considered unsafe to fly aircraft in and out because of cross winds.
And so at last we reached our destination Manang (3540 m).
Standing upon the avalanche
The trekkers encounter snow and ice
Prayer flags fly above a Stupa
A murder of crows
Children collecting ‘offerings’
That night was not just a celebration for us but for the guides and porters a chance to let down their hair for the Tihar Festival.