We developed the habit of stopping at every settlement on the Tamang Trail. Each is unique and we like to spread the tourist money around. On this particular morning, walking through a landscape dusted with icing sugar, we were in no hurry at all.
We stopped Khanjim proper, perhaps 20 minutes from our hotel, before pushing on to Briddham.
The Nepalis (Tamangs) on the Tamang Trail are friendly almost without exception. Rosie and Tom are always receive much attention; people aren't sure whether they're girls or boys. In Thailand it was Tom who got the focus, here it's Rosie. We're often told she's beautiful. Which of course we know.
The trail was picture postcard; red rhododendrons coming into flower, pine needles under foot, yaks on the hillside, and always views of Ganesh Himal.
As we hiked along the kids played a rhyming game; two adjectives, one noun, one verb. Stupid silly sausages sizzling. Kept them highly amused for an hour or so, and removed some of our guilt for failing to deliver much home school in Nepal! They're certainly learning about humanity.
The kids were unusually vocal about the choice of lodging this evening. They were passionate about staying at the Potala Guest House, having been given a business card on the trail. When we arrived at the Potala, both kids seemed somewhat deflated, then later Rosie added that their advertising was highly misleading. She said it should have been three storeys high. The penny (rupee?) finally dropped. The business card had a picture of the Potala Palace in Lhasa!!! Much laughter.
The adults were adamant we should stay in a home stay - a cultural immersion. We did some searching.
And found the Buddha Homestay. Very typical of the local homes - dark, small, dirty, with rats - this one had a certain charm.
As the local Gompa (monastery) wasn't weather proof, they had been entrusted with the lama's prayers for safekeeping.
Together with the commonplace shrine, currently dressed up for Lhosar, this made for a very colorful living space.
Walking up to the very tired Gompa, next door to the local brewery, proved unpleasant. Drunk Tamangs, reeking of raksi and urine, stumbling along trying to talk to us.
Alcohol and remote poor communities never mix well. It seems that locals either drink a lot, or not at all (mostly, thankfully, the latter); no moderation. Unlike Shane and Helen who have their evening shot of Khukri rum in milk tea or hot chocolate. One of life's wonderful coincidences - both Helen and Shane visited Nepal for the first time in 1988 (over a decade before they met), and both discovered Khukri Rum!
The Homestay was reticent to include us in daily life, other than as an observer. Rosie determined to change this. A hive of activity followed: carrying greens up from the field, making momos around the fireplace, washing dishes. Curiously, we all take pleasure in domestic chores when they don't dominate our life.
We forgot to give Rosie ventolin a half hour before bed and she quickly developed a constricted chest again, once we left the warm room, so we hastened back to the fireplace and took hot black tea. As always, the hosts were very caring.
Shane, Helen, Rosie and Tom
Location:Boudha Main Road, Nepal