Very well, dear fans, friends and family,
After a week in the mountains, nothing seems more luxurious than some meat, power and running water.
This is the f!§"ing middle ages here, people. Yes, some houses have electricity, but 93% here still survive on what they can farm.
No, you eco-freaks, this is not a good thing.
The life of a farmer here is as hard as they get. Which means: Work all day, go to bed early, get up as soon as the sun rises. No, wait, half an hour before.
One good meal a day (dhal-bhat, rice and lentils, some meat maybe once a month), the rest is just toiling away, beating and shouting at buffalos, oxen, wives, kids or other relatives to work faster...
And yeah, there´s nearly no rain (once the monsun has gone, that is). Once a day, mostly in the evening time, a few drops come down.
Something like the mac book I´m writing on now (and have lugged across the frickin himalayas, here) could as well be from an extra-terrestrial civilisation.
They know that something like that exists, but it´s as far out of their reach as the stars themselves.
Coming back to a favorite topic of mine: Food.
The Dhal Bhat in the lower, non-touristy areas is quite spicy, often with a hint of ginger. As you get further up in the mountains, everything starts to get blander, as well as more expensive.
My personal recommendation (and diet plan) for all of Asia: Get the pre-packaged noodle soup (RAmen!, oh ye faithful, RAmen!). For less than 20 cents, this is not a bad deal. Especially if you add some vegetables and more chilly. Yum! This is the safest possible way to eat, and one of the most nutritious as well. Other than that: deep-fried Samosas for less than 5 cents rule.
As to a fitting drink: Why pay about 2€ for a liter of warm beer, when you can get a glass of the local "wine" Raksi (home-distilled corn/wheat/whatever) for much less? Less than 35 cents, that is.
And if you buy outside of Khatmandu, you just might get a quality that doesn´t cause a headache the next day.
Water can be a problem, if only a small one. Basically, if you have it boiled, it´s okay. So the local chai is a good drink on the road (tastes universes better than warm coke and costs less than 10 cents).
This rough price guide only applies to the non-touristy areas (meaning everything except anapurna circuit and everest base camp). If you on one of the big two, expect to pay a lot more for less quality.
Some highlights of my sojourn so far: Scrambling almost straight up for 6 hours (without my 10k backpack) and then stumbling down again. 800 meters of height difference isn´t half bad. Another bright idea: Walking/climbing/freestyling down an unknown canyon with my trusty camera (didn´t get good shots though) and then wading barefoot through the rice paddies.
Ah yes, being a caucasian with a beard, I´m the main attraction at any event I attend. Funny, but can be somewhat bugging if you can´t get those frickin kids to go away and leave you in peace. At the Tirpura Sundari festival, I was the center of a very big group of kids wherever I went.
To my original plan: Finding anything here somehow related to the ancient warrior culture that surely at some time must have existed here is, well, impossible. The farmers simply farm, about the same way they did about 2000 years ago. And the noblemen that possibly once practiced some form of martial art have gone extinct, which is not wholly a bad thing. I did find a wonderful Kukhuri today, though. Forged by an ancient smith in his .. ah, shed (compared to which the old hammers of the Ybbstal where I´m from also look like the frickin Starship Enterprise) and bought for less cash than you normally spend thoughtlessly on fast food.
I´ve not given up on my plan, however, and still want to visit a British training camp and perhaps interview one of the officials there, perhaps even get a demonstration.
Oh, we´ll see, shan´t we?
Now, back to food. Apparently, it´s a question of honour for the farmer here that a guest staying at his home shouldn´t leave the table if he´s still remotely able to ingest anything. The servings are huge, and it´s considered polite to ask for seconds. I mostly ask for halves, and still can´t move a muscle after a decent Dhal Bhat. Strangely enough, my stomach hasn´t started the usual travelers rampage, hopefully it will stay that way.
As this post is far too long anyway, that´s all for now, folks!
I`ll try to have the first episode of my audiovisual work ready in the next week or so. (If I can find a suitable place to edit. Probably Pokhara.)