Day 1: Besisahar to Bhulbhule
Good morning, Kathmandu!
Today is the day we begin the Annapurna Circuit!
Part One: Getting there
We spent the night in Kathmandu and booked a six hour bus to Besisahar- the beginning of the Annapurna Circuit if trekking counter-clockwise. Early the next morning, before heading out to catch our bus, I asked our English-speaking Nepali receptionist to check our ticket and ensure our taxi took us to the correct bus station. He read the ticket and looked confused. He was completely unfamiliar with the bus station on our ticket. You can imagine my response. What do you mean everything isn't going according to plan?! We haven't even STARTED hiking yet! Although my going-with-the-flow-ness has improved drastically, I am still constantly suspicious that I am getting scammed. Getting scammed feels like the ultimate travel fail. Fortunately, since I had a weird feeling about buying this [super cheap] ticket in the first place, I took all possible precautions. I had our salesperson/bus driver write down his phone number (I called him on the spot to confirm he gave me the correct number) and I also took a picture of his stand. Our receptionist called this number and it turns out we got a local bus rather than the tourist bus. No wonder we were the only white people in a sea of hundreds of Nepali people at the bus station! It'll make for a more authentic experience, right?
When we got to the bus station, we saw one other white guy- Rob from London. Rob was also starting the Annapurna Circuit that day, so it was comforting to know we were in the right place. We sat down and quickly realized why our tickets were so cheap. Once the bus was full, the driver squeezed an additional 20 people on the bus. One guy tried to squeeze in with me and Marissa, but I wasn't having that, so instead he just hovered over us for five hours until another seat opened up. The bus lasted almost EIGHT hours because it was stopping every 15 minutes. The bus went on roads no bus should ever go. Thankful to be alive and excited to start our journey, we arrived in Besisahar at 3:30pm.
We climbed 820 meters to 840 meters from Besisahar to Bhulbhule
Part two: Hiking
We had our permits stamped at the tourist checkpoint and we began the 2.5 hour trek to Bhulbhule. We trekked the scenic route, which was a bit longer but was preferable to being chased off the road by psycho bus drivers. About two hours in, it started POURING. It was also getting dark. We saw a bridge that connected to scenic trail to the road and took it. Walking the last mile or two was not worth being miserable and cold walking in the dark on our first night. I safety veto-ed that (shout out to my AT gal, Danielle, who usually assumed the role of safety veto-er). Marissa and I gladly decided to take the next bus for $0.50 to Bhulbhule, a short 10 minutes up the road.
Our friend, Rob, kept hiking in the rain. We later found out that he did, indeed, get lost. He knocked on a door, thinking it was a small bed and breakfast, and asked if they had available beds. They didn't speak English, but lead him to a legit manger to spend the night. All night, rain and freezing winds blew through thin walls and the roof practically blew off, but he didn't really have a choice because it was dark and he was wet and miserable. Don't worry, Rob turned out just fine.
Part Three: Bad Vibes & A very Bad Forecast
While waiting for the bus we met a horribly depressing group of Germans. They had returned from Manang (3540 meters) after having been snowed-in there for five days. Apparently there was seven meters of snow up there and no one is allowed to trek the Thorong-la, the highest, most dangerous part of the circuit. They said the pass would be closed for at least one week, but it was also supposed to snow for two weeks. We realized how horribly unprepared we are for those conditions. Still, we decided if we were gonna turn around, it would be when we felt we weren't prepared to trek further, not because of some grumpy, vibe-sucking Germans. We anticipated reaching Manang in a week or more anyways, so hopefully it'll all melt by then, right??
Anyways, sad, soaked and freezing, we checked into the first tea house we came across. We ate Dal Baht Set and shared a pot of milk tea. Full and tired, we snuggled into our sleeping bags as rain pelted on the tin roof above us.
Why didn't we check the weather? Why didn't anyone warn us it'd be the cold? What have I gotten us into?