It’s official, this is now the longest trek of my life, pushing Laos 2011 onto position 2.
The day doesn’t start ideal, at 4:15 the alarm in the neighbouring room goes off and doesn’t stop any time soon. It doesn’t make much of a difference though, the whole house is getting up early to see the sunrise on Poon Hill.
The whole house except for my guide and me that is. As much as I like sunrises, if there’s 150 people around me, I just don’t enjoy them at all. Sunrises ought to be quiet and peaceful.
I don’t fall back asleep and at 5:30 get ready for our departure to the hill. The views are amazing without sunrise, don’t want to miss that. Just want to miss the crowds.
On the way up everybody and their brother comes our way and when we arrive at the top, there’s a mere dozen people hanging around there. Score one for swimming against the stream.
The views of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna are stunning and unlike anything I’ve seen before. It is a clear day and on the top of Annapurna South, the rising sun starts building clouds that immediately drift away in the wind.
There isn’t much walking on the schedule for today, which means we can take it easy. It’s past eight when we have breakfast and 10:00 by the time we head out.
Today the way leads mostly down through areas with lots of trees. The heavily growing moss gives it an enchanted forest look.
At some point we climb over a random looking low wall and now the way is just a narrow path that winds down into the valley and up again on the other side.
At around 13:00 we arrive in Swante, our stop for the night. The next two days are to bring us up to 3700m, so better to take it slowly now.
There isn’t anybody staying at the guest house besides us and the whole village had a total of three visitors for the night. We are off the touristy track now.
Facilties are basic and in the kitchen cooking is done on the open fire. Guess that’s what my grandparents mean when they talk of the old days.
The kitchen is the central hub of family life and as soon as the sun goes down, it is also the only warm room in the house and accordingly where everybody hangs out.
Spending time there with the host family and their son gives it a homestay feeling. I like it a lot and I’d much rather spend my money with these guys than the owner of a big hotel, like the night before.
The food on the trek has been extremely good so far. Most ingredients grow on fields around the corner and people know how to prepare them.
I call it a night early and hope to catch up on some sleep.