November 9th, 2009: Day 4 of Circuit
At 6 am, the sound of bad Asian pop music begins blaring from somewhere, all distorted and scratchy. I don’t know where it’s coming from but it strikes me really funny. At first I thought it was someone sleeping through their alarm clock and I was cracking up imagining any alarm clock being this loud. When it continued to play for several minutes, however, my curiosity pulled me from bed and led me outside towards the source. Soon I realized that the music was coming from a monastery sitting high up on a hill, blasting this terrible music out of little speakers for all the valley to hear. I stood there looking up at the monastery with a big smile thinking to myself: don’t try to understand– all you can do is smile– welcome to Nepal.
Yesterday, we crossed a line into the part of the Annapurna Circuit where the villages and culture are now characteristically Tibetan Buddhist. There are prayer-wheels that line the thoroughfare, and as you walk along you spin each of the wheels, honoring Buddha and sending your prayer. There are colorful prayer-flags strewn about the trees and building, dancing in the wind. There are shrines along the trail and piles of rocks with chiseled inscriptions of Buddhist mantras. It’s very different than the Brahmin villages from the first few days of the trek.
Refreshed and happy from last night’s merry encounter with the Czechs, I began my day’s hike with extra zing in my step. I cued up Coldplay in my iPod and began cranking on down the trail. The day is a gift: the skies are blue, the sun is shining, and the trail is surprisingly flat all the way to Pisang as we pass through an evergreen forest and walk along the river. Every day the views continue to get increasingly dramatic. The massive snow-capped Annapurna is beside us and I can’t stop observing it in the many angles under the sun. It’s completely awe-inspiring.