Kagbeni -> Marpha – Wait in the Arms of the Cold Cold Ground

18. March 2023


Kagbeni is nicely situated on Kali Gandaki, about 500 people live there, it is considered one of the oldest places in the Himalayas and has an old part of town where it is good to walk around. However, it’s quite small and you get through it relatively quickly. But we had just arrived and were hungry for lunch. The Showboat was the first opportunity for lunch and we curiously took it. Husband, wife, toddler and baby greeted us. Wife went to cook lunch. Husband squeezed baby in Katie’s arms. Toddler jerked around and sloshed my tea. Parents didn’t care. It was all quite bustling. And not so clean. And the Showboat is named after the casino. Just like that.


We found another place to stay with another but pleasant toddler and no baby. And here are pictures from the old part of town:






ghosttrap 1


ghosttrap 2




watched over?






monastery courtyard


In the morning I went further to the river and there was a lot going on! All the devout people were doing religious acts. And I took pictures of it:


at river


many people


Pujagroups and others






And then my and Katie’s paths diverged: she walked on, I took the bus. The route to Marpha has to be walked on the road many times, which didn’t seem attractive to me. Besides, it was also clear that wind would soon come up again and that didn’t seem so attractive to me either.


At the beginning, it took quite a while for the bus to make its way through the relatively narrow road, because there were cars standing around and oncoming traffic, and it always took a lot of manoeuvring back and forth to gain a few metres again. The conductor won my heart with his St. Pauli sticker!


traffic problem




Landscape 1


Landscape 2


The landscape looked very great, but somehow more pleasant out of the bus window. I got off in Marpha, a much-vaunted place as particularly pretty and quasi apple capital. I went off to look for accommodation. The first one turned me away: they had a group, they would probably be quite noisy at night. Pilgrims. There was a paved path leading through the very trim village. Yes, Marpha has been spruced up a lot. But I didn’t really like it. Because it seemed so pleasing.




And then my friend coincidence came to my rescue: there is also a monastery with long stairs leading up to it. I looked, saw two people standing there – and they waved down to me. Michi and Verena! I had met them again and again since Chame and liked them. They were carrying big backpacks and were walking fast. But not any more. They also walked on the road to Marpha. And on this wide road with hardly any traffic, a car managed to knock Verena down. She fell really hard, was fortunately cushioned by her backpack, but had to go to the hospital in Jomson to have a large leg wound treated. They also examined the swollen ankle (nothing serious) and treated all the other small wounds. Now she was limping around on painkillers just to move a bit. Michi is a paramedic and was able to look after her very well. The hospital wasn’t the best, but the people were kind and caring and could at least look after her well for the time being.


The driver had a quick legal procedure without complications. The police thought of him paying for treatment costs. Would Verena agree? Yes. And the driver? Likewise. Problem solved.


We talked and talked and were just about to start the tour of the monastery when trumpet music wafted in and a procession arrived at the monastery. They carried the Buddhist scriptures and placed them in the monastery and then they stood in the courtyard and chanted and then left again.




carrying books




From the monastery, one could look down on the beautifully trimmed roofs:






I went with them to their accommodation, we had lunch and it started to rain. And rained and rained. And it was cold. Marpha is famous for its apples and they also make apple spirits, so we thought it would be a nice afternoon’s activity and set off to search. However, we were not successful. Nobody wanted to show us how brandy is made. Instead, we could see a horde of buses stopping at the shops and people rushing out to stock up on apple brandy etc. One shop was particularly busy.






selling of spirits


These buses looks sometimes quite funny. Here I took some pics:


Bus 1


Bus 2


Bus 3


We went back to the accommodation, shivered, had dinner (no heating system in the dining room) and then hid under the blankets. A fitting song can only be Tom Waits “Cold Cold Ground”!


I had considered the following options:

  • Driving to Tatopani and trekking from there on various options via Gandruk and so to just before Pokhara. However, I feared crowds as this trek is very popular due to its shortness, lower altitude and impressive mountain views.
  • A combination of drives and hikes to various other villages from where you can also make quite nice day hikes.


I made a decision…..