Hands down, the best hike of the journey award goes to the Poonhill trek. Four days of the majestic Annapurna scenery and timeless tranquility. Tiger Leaping Gorge and Kalaw were great, but they pale in comparison of the grandeur of Annapurna. After completing the hike I was hungry for more of this and was ready to go straight on. Maybe to Annapurna Base Camp or why not the whole Annapurna circuit. Alas, we had to go back to Pokhara.
The mountains are unbelievable. They just stand there in their majestic glory not giving a damn about worldly matters. There are no cars and the only means of transportation is walking or riding a horse. Same goes for delivering goods. Villages are made of stone and have stairs instead of paths. They are neat and idyllic without being tourist traps. A rare sight in this globalised world, indeed! Everything is detached from the rest of the world. Time has got its own pace here.
Hiking in the Annapurna region is dead easy. You do not need to carry any camping equipment or provision with you. The area is dotted with numerous guest houses, restaurants and grocery stores. Accommodation is ridiculously cheap, but prices on food and drinks are highly inflated (to the tune of 2-4 times as much as the rest of Nepal) and controlled by a cartel of each village. You are expected to eat where you stay and there is no room for bargaining. This questionable business practice triggered a lot of discussion about fairness and forced us into the “no spending” mode. Instead of indulging in soft drinks and sweets, we did not buy anything except essential meals and an occasional cup of hot lemon with honey. Nonetheless it was way cheaper than normal travelling at least for us. In retrospect I wish we could have supported locals more, but without getting this feeling of being ripped off. Oh well.
Anyhow it was awesome. I miss Nepal.