Trek today from Ngadi to Syange at 1190 m (not Evergreen yet, definitely higher than Austin) continuing to follow the Marsyyanga Nadi. We continue to intermittently cross the river on swaying foot bridges. Dad is getting use to these! We stop to rest under pipal trees at intervals. The pipal trees are large trees, usually at the top of hills. The trees have a platform of stone steps, a chautara, built around the base. The pipal trees provide shade and rest for the travelers and porters and are preserved from being used as firewood. Most heating and cooking is still done over firewood in the rural areas outside of the towns, and deforestation is being talked about as a problem that so far does not seem to have a solution. It was under a pipal tree called the Bohdi tree that Buddha was sitting when he attained enlightenment. The Buddha is often pictured with one hand reaching down to touch the ground which signifies that Buddha was a living man connected to earth. In fact, Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal in 563 BC. His birth name was Siddhartha Gautama.
At one hill, the pipal tree was circled many times over with string. Our guide, Tendi, explained that a son or daughter will do this after a parent dies to ensure an easy trip to the next life. Frequently, the pipal trees will have marks of orange and red …tika blessings for the tree. The tika is a symbol of blessing from the gods. It also represents the all-seeing, all-knowing third eye and is an important energy point. Even in the villages and farmers we pass, the women, more than the men, frequently have fresh tikas (the red decoration on the forehead). By the religious temples, we have seen dogs and cows that are marked by tikas. As we trek, it is evident how much religion shapes the lives and day to day structure of the Nepalese.
Everyone is feeling well. Nepalese bread is a new favorite (fried dough) served with jam and honey. Dad is loving all the fried rice...Fried rice with veggies, fried rice with egg, fried rice with chicken, fried rice with...You get the idea.
Today, we also hiked to a town that was right on top of a pass. Bahundanda, as it was called, was a small town with 120 residents. We ate lunch right in front of the trail, meaning we could watch other hikers arrive. The trail before Bahundanda was all uphill for about two hours-the steps leading up to Bahundanda were the worst. They were very steep. Anyways, we watched weary hikers finish the climb and their reactions. Jesse thought it was very funny.