The last slow steps of our journey were made at twilight. We came to a little plateau with a small cluster of homes at its edges. Stumbling up out of a rocky field, I noted that there was no railing for the steps up to our guest house. It would have been ridiculous for a hand rail to exist at the end of such a long precarious hike, but still, I wanted it to be there.
The guest house was sparsely decorated and it looked very clean. It reminded me of hostels I have visited in the Swiss Alps. There was some concern when we were back in Kathmandu that we should have our own bedding because there might be lice and bed bugs. When I saw the place, I had no such concerns. We dropped our sleeping bags and clothes on the wooden beds, which were covered with a thin cotton filled mattress and a comforter. Then we returned to the dinning room where we spread ourselves out comfortably on the long benches. It was dark and quiet outside. Aside from the six of us, there were no other guests.
TN and JR ordered dinner for us. Butter cookies and barley wine came out immediately, followed by steamy fried puffy pink shrimp crisps! This is something like a shrimp potato chip. At the top of the world, a thousand miles from the ocean, in a place where every consumable had to be carried miles up on someone's back, I was greatly impressed by the home made shrimp crisps. After snacks, we had another excellent meal of dal bhat, which kept coming until we were stuffed.
It was an incredible high, literally and figuratively, as we were at 2,400 meters or 7,874 feet. TN admitted he wasn't sure that I would make it, but I did and I was feeling triumphant. The altitude made me feel a little light headed and, except for the ankles and knees, my body felt fantastic.
TN and JR had been telling us as we climbed the mountain that the hot springs were medicinal. 'People came from all over Nepal to be cured of many ailments, including arthritis and all manner of skin diseases,' they said. JR told me that his wife, who had stomach problems, made a pilgrimage to the hot springs once a year. She felt much better for about 8 months, and then she would start to plan another trip. Any arthritic person who was able to make the climb to the hot springs would certainly think themselves cured simply by virtue of their arrival, I thought. As for Tania and myself, the idea of jumping into a public bath with skin diseased people, possibly lepers, wasn't all that appealing, but we decided to see what the situation was before we got too worried about it.
After coming all that way, I was eager to see the hot springs, even in the dark. To my surprise everyone else was willing to wait until morning. Tania was so tired that she decided to go to bed even though it was only 8 pm or so. JR, TN, Belief and Atit accompanied me over to the baths.
The night sky took my breath away. It was a moonless night, filled with billions of dazzling stars. Even in the southwestern US, I have never seen so many stars so clearly. The last time that I saw stars that clearly was when I crossed the Tibetan Plateau. Though it was dark, there was enough starlight that we could see where we were going. JR offered his arm so that I wouldn't trip on the stones and in a couple of minutes we arrived at three stone baths with stone spigots in the traditional shape of an open crocodile's mouth. Far above us was where the natural hot springs originated. By the time the water traveled down the pipes to the spigots it was steamy but comfortable enough to stand under for a short period of time.
|Similar Crocodile Water Spigots|