The New Yak Hotel's Disputed Shelter
The comfort. The well-being. The heat. It will not be the visitor-walkers who are spoiled. The need is universal.
During the Annapurna circuit, as soon as the sun disappears behind the mountains, life seems to revolve around fire. At the New Yak Hotel in Braga, the competition for places around the fire was repeated, in that case, fired on the establishment's stove.
A group of Germans that woke up with the chickens and with the day already planned from end to end, won again.
We left the room, showered and more or less tidy stuff. When we entered the inn's living and dining room, the Teutonic youths monopolized the heat.
The room was arranged under the length. There were only a few seats left at the far end of the stove, near the counter and off the kitchen.
With no alternatives, that's where we settle. We ordered dinner. Before, during and a long time after the meal, we participated in another classic pastime of the inns on the Annapurna Circuit.
The New Yak lacked room outlets. Everything that was device battery charging was concentrated in a single tower with dozens of entries.
Strange Electric Hobby
Whether or not it was on purpose, the entrances to this tower Made in China they didn't hold most of the chips. The problem would be serious with three or four chips to be connected.
But there were more than thirty competing for the tower. As soon as we put our devices there, we realized how fragile the contact we got was. If another guest tapped one of his tokens, two or three around him would turn off.
In practice, this failure meant that none of them was comfortable with the shipments. Instead of chatting quietly at the table, they kept coming and going to the food tower.
As soon as some left it, others appeared immediately worried about the possibility that the previous ones had turned off their devices.
We were sitting right next to the tower. We could even have been last in the dispute for the fire, but we made up for it in the intimacy we achieved with that capricious power station.
Another consequence of its dysfunctionality was that no one had the patience to wait until the devices were fully charged. That night, we, like the other guests, entrusted its operation to powerbanks that we brought loaded for emergencies.
Not even the owner of the inn would allow big nights out. Having made their usual profit, at the usual post-meal time, the employees of the New Yak stopped putting firewood in the stove. The room quickly turned cold. It was the sign everyone knew that it was time for bed.
The afternoon entrance to the village, he had foreseen a stunning Braga. Okay, we slept as best as possible.
New Day, New Braga
Shortly after dawn, we sat on the terrace in the company of the Turkish walking companion Fevsi. Under a sun once more radiant, we devoured the porridge with apple and honey to our delight.
German Josh, who had retreated a few miles to Chame to retrieve your permit of the circuit, it was already there. After half an hour, another group of hikers that both Fevsi and Josh knew arrived. It was Bruno and Cris, both Brazilians.
And Lenka and Tatjana, Germans, the first of Russian descent. The second, the daughter of a German father and a German mother, but half Kazakh, half Chinese.
We fraternized for a few moments. After which each one follows in the mode that they were most interested in. Fevsi was vegetating on the terrace. We, Josh, Bruno and Lenka set out to discover Braga.
As had happened the day before, a few yaks grazed the sodden grass on the gentle slope between the two limestone walls that enclosed the village to the east and west.
It wasn't just yaks. Five or six foals that had joined the herdsmanship made up the bucolic setting with which the morning held us.
The Mysticism Overlooking the Monastery of Braga
As much as the nature and geology of the place there glowed, it was the human components that made Braga special: its eccentric Buddhist monastery, embedded in the base of a miniature mountain range replete with sharp peaks, a gompa with a unique history and importance to match.
And the intriguing houses that, on sight, seemed almost troglodyte installed below and around.
Kama Chhiring, a resident, gave an online statement to the University of Virginia's Mandala cultural repositories website.
In this testimony, he explains in dialect manganese that a great Tibetan lama – Khatu Karma Lapsang, of the eleventh incarnation – passed through that area more than half a millennium ago.
After some time, this Karmapa he had the monastery of Braga built there to house a few Tibetan idols that, today, Buddhist religious continue to protect and preserve.
These days, the temple houses many more. It houses hundreds of Buddha statues, some more sacred than others, according to their antiquity.
Thanks to the monastery, Tibetan Buddhism spread to the villages and hamlets of the region. Today, the undisputed faith is maintained, not only of the speaking populations. manganese like many other of these parts of the Himalayas.
A gompa Braga is not, however, the type of monastery that receives, every day, large retinues of believers. Despite having more than three hundred residents, Braka seems deserted to us.
We had read elsewhere that a visit to the monastery entailed a down payment. But when we ascend to the roof-terrace on its heights, we don't find a soul to pay the ticket.
A Stunning Panoramic Dome
We went up to the last floor by a small carved wooden staircase.
From up there, for a good half hour, we were dazzled by the majestic view of the Annapurna III (7.555m) and Gangapurna (7.455m) mountains to the south, with their lofty peaks still well snowed.
From that top, we also examined the row of houses made of gray stone, adobe and wood, one perched on top of the other, each with its own multicolored Buddhist banner flying, all of them leaning against the opposite slope where Braka had nestled.
This was the secular and genuine Braka. The one that outsiders like us scoured in passing. There was another one, much more recent.
The one located on both sides of the Manang Sadak road, with the Marsyangdi River in sight, where the inns and teahouses succeed each other, in the most convenient positions to capture the ravaged and hungry hikers. First to New Yak.
Soon, several others, lined up in the direction of Manang, which was already less than four kilometers away. Manang is the largest of the surrounding villages.
The hikers there make the final preparations and procedures for the circuit's supreme crossing: the one at Thorong La canyon, at 5.416 meters above sea level, almost two thousand above the Braga that we continued to explore.
Passing through, through the tenuous life of Braga
We left Bruno and Lenka in a moment of contemplation and meditation that required silence. We went back down to the base of the temple. We wandered through the alleys of the village still covered with ice or snow in the nooks that the sun's rays had not yet ventured.
A few homes were abandoned. Its ruins plunged into the narrow alleys. They forced us to walk over piles of slippery stones.
These homes, like the others, had wooden lace windows and, even if without the color of other times, elegant.
Almost every house included corrals at the base. And over these corrals, there were porches that the residents stuffed with dry firewood, on which they installed their clothes racks and, here and there, small television disc antennas.
We returned to the edge of these houses, where the homes bordered on the soaked meadow that kept the pack animals occupied. In this borderline zone, we end up with some human life.
Between Goats and Yaks
One family was carrying large baskets overflowing with a dark mixture of straw and pine needles. They did it between a propped heap of the substance and a corral to which they gave a new bed.
Farther down, a herd of goats returned to their shelter.
To the delight of Tenzin, a two-year-old Nepalese boy (or younger) who was busy trying to block the way for the little goats and whom we watched, smiling, when Sonan Tchincap, his young father, handed him one of them, brown. of course, very fuzzy, for the lap.
We came across more yaks again. Two of them, black, already almost more cows than yaks from so many past crossings, stood by a wooden fence, motionless except for their mouths that seemed to chew and taste the air.
As we realized, the owners had only recently released them from the frigid night of their rooms.
Chilled, stiff to match, the animals recharged with the morning solar heat, even more slowly than cell phones and powerbanks at New Yak.
We still turned back two or three times. We never got to see the bovines move.
In those wanderings and preparations, the day was almost halfway through.
It was time to return to the inn's logistical base.
There was so much more to explore around Braga so we extended our stay for another night. Manang and the dreaded Thorong Pass could well wait.