“I am not afraid of you!” That was my reply to Mr. Handsome immediately after I’ve regained my composure. Mr. Handsome snapped an identical photo of the Himalaya Hotel & Restaurant. Apparently, he thought that was a good photograph spot for keepsake too. Not wanting to appear awkward, I chatted a little with Mr. Handsome.
Me: “Where are you from?”
Mr. Handsome: “Germany. And you?”
Me: “Malaysia. Have you been there?”
Mr. Handsome: “Nope”
To keep the conversation going, I asked whether he was heading to DEURALI or MBC? Mr. Handsome answered, “DEURALI will be enough for today.” Our conversation ended with a short and succinct, “Great! Enjoy your lunch!” I didn’t know then but that was not the last time we saw each other.
I returned to my seat and rummaged through my first aid pouch for some ointment and bandages. After lunch, rubbed some muscle relaxers onto my sore knees before bandaging them. Had macaroni with tomato and cheese for lunch. It was such a huge portion that I felt bad for not being able to finish everything. Should have offered my porter some in a separate bowl before I started eating away.
The journey from Himalaya to DEURALI took approximately 3 hours. There were many huge rocks to climb and streams to cross before getting there but the scenery were spectacular. Trekking was a mindful routine. I needed to only focus on eating, walking and sleeping every single day. I couldn’t recall exactly the number of times I’ve greeted strangers with “Namaste” and vice-versa. It must have been more than a hundred times. I would have enjoyed the trek so much more if I had stronger knees. My left inner thigh muscle was torn as I couldn’t lift my left knee to my chest. Micro tear easily turned into significant tear up in the Himalayas.
Every step was painful so I sort of hopped and at times even limped my way up to DEURALI. Getting to DEURALI was one step closer to my goal. I realized that trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp was very similar to forgiveness – both were not easy. Many a time I wanted to give up. Quitting was way easier. But not before seeing the mountains up close.
I was dead tired by the time I got to the tea lodges. Had my first hot shower in 4 days. Usually I’ll just wash my hair and use baby wipes to clean myself. That night, I shared the room with 3 other guests from Singapore, United States and Chile. I was glad that we got along really well. Together, we made a great team. I offered the Singaporean girl some antiseptic cream and calamine cream for her blisters. On the other hand, the kind girl from the States borrowed me a tennis ball for massaging my thighs. The girl from the States also had blisters but someone had already given her a specialized plaster for blisters. It was so bad that she shed a tear after Chomrong. She hadn’t the time to break the hiking boots prior to attempting this trek. I suggested that she could bring her hiking boots back to the store as there is a device to stretch those boots.
The girl from Chile was hilarious. She had gotten so used to earthquakes that magnitude 7.0 felt like nothing. She had a friend waiting for her at Chomrong. Her friend decided to discontinue trekking. She was already chanting “I hate you” while climbing the infamous 4000 steps. It defeats the purpose of a pilgrimage if one cannot refrain from blaming others when unpleasant situation occur as one made the choice to be there. Nevertheless, everyone agreed that Chomrong was indeed a badass. It was freezing cold that night. We were all snugly tucked within our respective sleeping bags just like Egyptian mummies and most likely passed out by ten.