Annapurna Circuit – Part VI: Chame – Pisang (2710m-3310m)
Kiwi Bird had a headache and felt dizzy just before dinner time in Chame. He’s worried he’s suffering from altitude sickness, because at the elevation (2710m) we are, some people may begin to suffer from altitude sickness. Our lead guid, Ashok, thought he might just be dehydrated, and got him to drink lots of hot lemon drink to rehydrate. Though seeing we are only going to get higher and higher for the next few days, and our doctor back home did advise taking Diamox prior to ascending to 3000m, Kiwi Bird decided to start taking his.
Diamox is somewhat viewed as a “wonder drug” for altitude sickness. People seem to still debate how it really works. One girl from our group already started days ago because she knows she gets affected by the altitude beyond 2500m. Most of the people in our group carry some, but many are unsure about when to take them. Everyone’s doctors seem to give different advice too. Our doctor recommended taking them preventatively, but other people’s doctors say to only take them if symptoms occur. But then none of us really understand what symptoms are alarming, and what are normal. Our guides told us most people will get mild headache and dizziness at some stage, even themselves. All the porter boys told us they get light headaches higher up, and if the ache is not severe, it’s perfectly normal. The general advice from the guides is “drink plenty of water (4 litres a day!), go slowly, and think positively.”
I decided I’d keep my Diamox as a backup because I was feeling fine, and Ashok assured me if I just take them when I’m feeling unwell, it’d only take 2 hours to kick in. Most of the group thought the same way too. One girl, Sarah, didn’t have the option, because she’s allergic to sulphur, and therefore cannot take Diamox which contains sulphur. Kiwi Bird eventually felt better after all the hot lemon drinks and a game of cards as a distraction. We also decided we’d buy some hydrolyte to help replenish the electrolyte we are sweating out in the heat.
In the morning, I woke up before the sun really came out and snuck out to the balcony. It was so amazing to feel such a big snow capped mountain being so close. It looms over, and I could see so much details from the snow fields. All of a sudden, the tip of Lamjung Kailas (~7000m) turned gold with the rising sun. The gold quickly sweep the face, then the whole world was bright.
We were on our way around 8am, still following Marsyandi river upstream. We passed some engraved and painted prayer stones, walked across more swing bridges covered in prayer flags (prayer flag makers must make a killing in Nepal!??), passed more pink buckwheat fields, and also fields of marijuana. And of course we witnessed more of Nepal’s advanced bridge building techniques and strong-necked Nepali carrying a small truckload on their forehead. Our walk was also filled with riddles! The toughest riddle involved some Aussies, Kiwis, and Nepalese at a dinner party full of plates and complicated math! This riddles had Brian so caught up during lunch, he got badly sunburnt by the fierce midday sun.
A big highlight of the day was coming upon the astonishing Paungda Danda Wall. When we first came upon it, it seemed nearly vertical, and very imposing. As we traveled by, the perspective kept changing, and many of us thought it’d be absolutely fantastic to hike up and snowboard our way down in winter. There’s a story involving Krishna and his dog associated with this wall, but I can’t remember the details. The view of the wall accompanied us for many hours of the day, all the way to our destination of Lower and Upper Pisang.
We arrived at “Pisang Peak Hotel and Guest House” at Lower Pisang early that afternoon. After dropping off our packs into the rooms, we took a walk to Upper Pisang and the little Buddhist temple at the top. It was really nice to wind our way through the narrow steep streets of Upper Pisang, and let the local tranquility envelop us.
We enjoyed some quiet time looking inside the temple, and Sarah even took some time to meditate while I enjoyed some biscuits in the warmth of the afternoon sun on the steps outside the temple. The autumn fields of contrasting colours in Lower Pisang is absolutely stunning, and made us lingered for quite a while until it finally grew cold, and it was time of some warming and filling Daal Bhat (traditional Nepalese meal of lentils and rice) for dinner.