Saturday, January 03, 2015

From Charikot to Kalinchowk, and My Best Meal of 2014

Mid October, 2014, after our church's team's 2nd Mission Trip to Nepal (as in for this particular team, others have gone before us, of course), on the way back after an eventful three day trip to the outreach at a little town called Mainapokhari, on the road from Charikot to Jiri (apparently the last stop by road before the Everest climbers begin their hike), a few friends and I left the team, said our farewells, and proceeded on a three day adventure, which included a spot of trekking to a place called Kalinchowk.


We began walking from the dusty town of Charikot, which seems to be a crossroads of sorts, and very hustling and bustling, and after walking about 20 minutes, we left behind us the cacophony of sounds, and started on our trek, which really wasn't what I was expecting.  It's definitely no Annapurna Base Camp trek, far less commercialised, with hardly anyone, for starters, so much so, I kept asking my buddies every 10 minutes, are we on the right track?  It really was a case of the blind leading the blind, for none of our posse, although 3/4 were Nepali, and the other, a pseudo Nepali, (Pastor Franklin Karong, our very own Bidayuh export to Kathmandu) had done this trek before, and it wasn't like there were signboards showing the way.

 Do you know, where you're going to???


There was a matter of speculation where our destination lay, as Franklin pointed vaguely to some mountain that looked a galaxy away, and I was thinking, NOOOO WAYYYYY, it CANNOT be.....

After trudging for about two hours, we came to a little place where we had our lunch stop, a fabulous meal of Thuppa, and Sukuti, (the former being the soup noodles, and the latter, buffalo jerky). 





It wasn't long before we were rewarded with these splendid vistas of the Himalayas.  I was actually expecting to be walking much nearer to the mountains, but I guess considering no training was done, and it was all very rushed planning, this was a spectacular bonus. 



Do not try doing this in Malaysia...or you risk dying of leptoserosis.  However, here in the mountains of Nepal, the spring water is really living waters... 

As we walked, we were told to follow the telephone lines, (and where they got off the beaten track, we were wondering, HMMM....), and at one point, when the younger uns had gone ahead, I heard a voice calling us... I was exhausted, but I was sure I was not hearing voices from above just yet.  Lo and behold, a friendly chap appeared out of nowhere, and told us were were going the wrong direction.  Like a guardian angel, and guide, Ramesh then followed us the remaining journey.

 Ramesh, our guardian angel...

To top it all, it turns out his family owns a lodge in the hamlet of Kalinchowk, ..and as we we had yet to book any accommodation, it really turned out to be a blessed turn of events, although the skeptics amongst us said, "what if the lodge is horrible, and we don't want to stay, and risk offending him?"...



A sight for sore eyes, after a 7 hour trek, the  hamlet of Kuri, where we rest the night before making the final ascent to Kalinchowk, the following day .

As we continue our descent to Kuri, we are greeted by this spectacular sunset, (picture courtesy of Nepal Franklin/Sagar), and the word 'AWESOME' really should be reserved for panoramas like this, rather than a burger or some french fries. 


It was with great relief that we find that Ramesh's family lodge is comfortable and cosy, and okay, this is where my story begins about My Best Meal in 2014.  Famished, and tired, we were invited by Ramesh to warm ourselves in the "smoking room", unbeknownst to me at the time, was the family "kitchen", a sacred place to the Nepali, which would explain why we didn't see any of the gwai lou guests hanging around the fire. 

It was an amazing place... strings of buffalo meat were hanging over the smoky fire, and we sat around huddled, warming our hands and feet, chatting with the family, and the matriarch of the family, who exuded the regal air of an apache chief...or his squaw...




I meanwhile partook of the local drink, in exchange for some of the Jaegermeister I brought with me.  This fascinating drink, called, Thongba, is made of fermented millet, and is one of the most fascinating local plonks I've ever come across.  A mug with a straw is filled with the Thongba, and hot water is poured in, and you sip slowly through the straw, and continue adding hot water as it finishes. 

The matriarch and me...
A kettle of water to top up the Thongba

Unbelievable, this most delicious EVER fried chicken, (to begin with, the free range chickens roaming around look plump and healthy, so you can imagine the meat!)... in that fireplace, in that freezing cold, with a mug of thongba in my hand, with great fellowship, and company... seriously at that moment, all the troubles of this world seemed a universe away...

The fermented millet.

When dinner was ready, we returned to the main building, for our most delicious meal, of dhal bat,

Roasted papadums, which in itself was new to me as most of the ones we've had are fried, so not only was this delicious, but it was healthy as WELL!


This wonderful buffalo jerky dish, fried with spices and onions, ...I love the texture and gaminess of the sukuti, it has such a natural flavour of goodness, surprisingly, not tough,....

And this INCREDIBLE chicken broth, reminiscent of our soto ayam soup, but a hundred times better, thicker, and more flavourful.  Such a simple, but delicious meal.  Perhaps it was the altitude, perhaps it was the exhaustion, perhaps it was the splendid company, perhaps it was a combination of all the above, but this was truly my most memorable and delicious meal of 2014, and I am so thankful for the privilege of sharing this experience with my dear friends and buddies, Franklin, Sagar, Sabi and Simon.

The pic is especially for bro Sabi, as he has FOND memories of the Khazakstani, called Ozzy. 

The next day, we walk through Kuri to ascend to Kalinchowk...


Don't play play, here also got Hilton...


At the top is the temple of Kalinchowk, a place where devotees of Kali go to worship. 

Five fine outers...


On the way down, we stop by and have our sardines which were lugged all the way from ...err..KL... and when we reach the lodge, another round of Thuppa for lunch.  

Aerial view of Kuri from Kalinchowk.

Thanks guys for a great and wonderful and memorable trip from Charikot to Kalinchowk. 

Epilogue: I enjoyed the Nepal trip so much, I actually brought my family to visit Nepal again in December 2014...and that is another story in itself....





3 comments:

sam rai said...

awesome blogging n memorable memories bro........

Ciki said...

I can just imagine how sweet living waters taste! sigh... a great travel log... And Happy New Year ahpa.. here's to 2015! :)

Sushant Bajracharya said...

Really enjoyed your blog. I will be traveling there in may and i will be traveling completely alone. How dangerous is it to travel there alone?