A team of Egyptologists ponders why the boy-pharoah Tutankhamun was so hastily embalmed and entombed. Sunday, 8.30pm, National Geographic.
When a skier and snowboarder head to Alaska full of derring-do, things are bound to go bottoms up. This 2008 action thriller stars Michael Madsen and Eric Lively. Monday, 8.30pm, Movie One. Susan Kurosawa mountains reflect the moonlight as we follow the narrow path through the snow. The pre-dawn darkness gives way to the rising sun, lighting up the peaks. At times my legs sink knee-deep in the snow. My water bottle freezes. Someone takes it from me and tucks it inside his jacket so his body heat will melt it.
After five hours, we reach the top of the pass. The celebrations are marked with tea, yak cheese and chocolate. So far this day we have climbed almost 1000m and have another 1600m to descend. At times it is easier to slide down rather than walk. I roar as I sit down and hurtle towards the bottom of a slope.
We have walked for an exhausting 11 hours by the time we reach the next town of Muktinath. After making it across the pass, there are another 51/
2 days ahead. At Jomsom, planes take off over the mountains from an airstrip near our guesthouse. We cover our faces against the wind and dust as we follow the Kali Gandaki River.
At Thakali, we pass apple trees and stop for fresh juice. There are also plums, carrots, wheat and an apricot brandy distillery. Rain drips from the lush gardens of Tatopani. Steam rises from the hot springs.
On the path to Ghorepani, it feels as if we have emerged from weeks of winter into spring. The red flowers of rhododendron trees look like pompoms. We stop to buy mandarins.
There is evidence of a past landslide on the descent into Hille. Boulders lie where they have come to rest on the hillside. We pass a funeral ceremony, with its incense, food, flowers and colourful saris. Our guide says funerals bring in a good new life in the cycle of reincarnation and can last up to 13 days.
After almost three weeks of walking, we are met by a bus at the shops of Birethanti. We bid the Annapurna Circuit goodbye, but return sooner than expected. In the excitement of finishing the trek, one of our guides has forgotten his backpack. The bus turns around to pick it up before taking us to the lakeside town of Pokhara, where we share a feast.
Afterwards, I am fascinated to watch Nepalese men dominate the dance floor. The party continues at a pub where a band plays Jimi Hendrix covers and stops for daal bhaat at midnight.
Back in the capital, Kathmandu, I wander through street markets selling flowers, fruit, vegetables and meat. The head of a pig, separated from the rest of the carcass, appears to watch the comings and goings.
Elsewhere, cars are being decorated with flowers. The traffic comes to a halt around a marching band leading a wedding procession. In Durbar Square, the site of the old royal palace, three boys ask me where I am from
Intrepid Travel’s round-trip Annapurna Circuit from Kathmandu costs $1235, covering accommodation for 21 nights; meals are extra (Intrepid recommends you allow $525). The physical rating for the trek is level five (six is highest); porters carry trekkers’ big backpacks but you are required to carry your day pack. Intrepid uses the local trekking company, Himalayan Encounters, based at the Kathmandu Guesthouse. More: www.intrepidtravel.com; www.himalayanencounters.com. Susan Kurosawa’s next week.
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