The Annapurna Morning Show!

with David and Maddie

David:
Our top story tonight, a Canadian couple in what friends describe as “barely passable” physical condition completed a nine day trek to Annapurna Base Camp today. The pair emerged through a steady rain at Birethanti fatigued but smiling after spending the past four days descending over 3,000 metres from the spectacular mountain theatre known as Annapurna Sanctuary. Despite the relentless climbs, the challenges presented by altitudes over 4,000 metres, the unexpected appearance of several feet of new snow at the top and toilet facilities of questionable comfort they appeared none the worse for wear outside of one terminally damaged toenail and a mild case of bandy-leggedness. Maddie is with our triumphant hikers now, probably regaling them with her in depth knowledge of frigidity and the joys of being uptight.

Maddie:
Thank you, David. Factually correct and painfully bland as always. So, Laynni, how would you characterize the views in the Sanctuary?

 Plenty of snow to go around

Laynni:
Incredible, Maddie! I mean, just being surrounded by all those mountains was, well, incredible. At first were worried because we heard about all this snow, and we talked to these guys who were on their way down, all the way from Annapurna Base Camp to Chomrong in one day, which is pretty crazy, and they said there was lots of snow and it was really wet and slippery, and then the one guy described coming down as “terrifying”, so we were pretty worried about that, because I’ve never been very good at going down – yeah, yeah, grow up, Dean – and then in Deurali it started raining, then sleeting, then hailing, then snowing and we thought, frick, this isn’t good, since we were planning to climb 1,000 metres the next morning but by the time we got up it was clear again, like every morning was, luckily, and so we went up and hoped for the best.

Maddie:
Very brave.

 A terrace for every day of the year

Laynni:
Yeah, I guess, then we got there and it was a gorgeous sunny day, even though there was lots of snow already, but then after lunch the clouds rolled in and it started snowing, getting harder and harder – yeah, yeah, grow up, Dean – and within a couple hours we were buried again. They literally had to shovel the snow out from around the windows of the rooms. The windows! But then it cleared up again and the night was cold, but not too cold, cuz we got extra blankets and stuff, and then the sunrise was incredible. Really incredible. Nice and clear again, like every morning was.

Maddie:
So are we to believe that every morning was nice and clear?

Laynni:
Yeah, did I forget to mention that? Nice and clear, every morning. Then at, like, 1 the clouds would roll in. Every day it was the same.

Dean:
More like 1:30.

Laynni:
1, 1:30, whatever.

Dean:
Just sayin’. And you didn’t say how cool it was that we could see the mountains right from day one.

Maddie:
Yes, well. I’m sure some days the clouds came at 1, and some days it was closer to 1:30.

Dean:
No, mostly 1:30.

Laynni:
Just drop it.

 Mount Machupucchare

Dean:
Yeah, whatever, it doesn’t really matter. I’m just sayin’, in my opinion it was usually closer to 1:30.

Maddie:
Back to you, David. Please.

Dean:
Don’t you wanna know how this trek compared with the Annapurna Circuit?

Maddie:
Of course we do. My apologies. I’m sure our viewers would like nothing better.

 Up into the gates of the Sanctuary

David:
Careful, Dean, she’s using her “men are always trying my remarkable female patience” voice…

Dean:
Um, yeah, anyway, there were a lot of things about it we thought were better than the circuit, you know, like the mountain views, they were more consistently impressive and, like I said, they started right away, we didn’t have to wait until the 4th or 5th day like on the Circuit.

Laynni:
It was our 4th day of hiking, soon after we left Tal.

Dean:
Whatever. The point is it took longer.

Laynni:
Three days longer.

Dean:
(sigh) Ok, we got it. Anyway, the snow made everything seem a bit wilder and cooler, although it could have been a problem if the timing hadn’t worked so well.

Laynni:
We are good weather magnets!

Maddie:
Yes, well….

Dean:
Anyway, yeah, the views were probably more impressive. But it was harder. A lot more, like, ups and downs. One minute you’re panting up a hill, ten minutes later you’re going back down and you’ve got sewing machine legs –

 Hooray

Maddie:
Sewing machine legs?

Laynni:
You know, when your legs start shaking really fast like you’re working an old time sewing machine!

David:
I’ve always been a fan of fast up and down motions…

Maddie:
Save it for the hostess at TGI Friday’s, David.

Dean:
Anyway, the thing about the Circuit is that the villages were, like, more real, you know? They were real villages, with farming and shops and stuff, not just trekking lodges. Not that there was anything wrong with that, I mean it’s not like we are much good at “getting to know the locals” exactly –

David:
I’m sure we could all appreciate “getting to know a local” through a long, cold mountain night.

Maddie:
Don’t go using up all your clichés at once, David.

Dean:
Anyway, I think the Circuit was a bit cheaper, too. I mean, we understand the food and stuff has to be brought in by porter, cuz there’s no roads and all, but still, it seemed like the prices went up a bit too fast. I mean, like, Birethanti is right at the bottom, on the road, and it was still, like, 140 rupees for a Snickers.

Laynni:
Yeah, what the hell?

Maddie:
Ok, so your overall impression?

Dean:
I think I liked Annapurna Base Camp better. Maybe because we had a porter carrying our heavy stuff this time. Ha ha.

You're right, Nick, it IS cold

Laynni:
It was different. They were both amazing. I don’t know. Just different. Cold, still. Really cold.

Dean:
But amazing.

Laynni:
Yeah, pretty amazing. Pretty cold, but pretty amazing.

Maddie:
Ok, we have to break for commercial. When we come back we’ll talk to an Annapurna porter/guide and get his take on the whole experience.

<Jaunty fiddle music, picture of a tiny 6 room guesthouse is introduced via star wipe>

Male voice with heavy Nepali accent:
Welcome to Annapurna Guest House, your home away from home! But in the mountains!

Slightly less accented female voice:
At Annapurna Guest House you’ll enjoy a plain uncluttered room with two narrow cots with thin mattresses that allow you to literally get in touch with the natural plywood of the region. The paper-thin walls let you commune with other guests and fall asleep to soothing sounds such as humorous Dutch stomach rumbling, gentle Chinese snores and the occasional soft German fart.

Man:
The bare bulb hanging precariously from the open socket will light your way, from 9am to 10:30 am every second Tuesday.

Woman:
For a half hour each night our dining room will be heated with a combination of kerosene and love, mostly kerosene, though, and the fumes will help you drift off to a dreamless, semi-comatose sleep waking up refreshed and slightly forgetful.

Man:
And our restaurant menu is literally identical to every other hotel between Phedi and Deurali so no difficult learning curve. I suggest something fried.

Woman:
Our shared toilets have special spots to put your feet while you squat!

Man:
Simple!

Woman:
Basic!

Man:
Not really that dirty!

Man and Woman (in unison):
Annapurna Guest House – slightly better than living in a tent!

Maddie:
Hi, welcome back to the show. Now we’ve got Nick Cage with the local weather forecast. It still feels a bit like winter out there, Nick. Is this snow going to be gone any time soon?

Nicholas:
How would I know, Maddie, I’m just the Weatherman. Ha ha. Seriously though. We can expect some morning sun, clouding over in the early afternoon, followed by rain and the occasional bit of sleet or snow flurry. Up at ABC they’ll be getting a foot and a half of snow again tonight which will mostly melt away tomorrow morning. Count on it.

Highs of 15C, lows of -10. Seriously. I can tell you more later if you’re, um, up to it, if you know what I mean.

Maddie:
I do not.

And nary a leprechaun to be found

Nicholas:
Sure, whatever. At lower elevations there should be some late afternoon rainbows so close you can practically reach out and touch them, except that, as you know, that’s not a good idea as rainbows tend to be fairly sticky and can often cause hepatitis and temporary epilepsy. And that stuff is no friggin’ joke. You and me, that’s no joke either, Maddie. Think about it.

Maddie:
I will not. Thank you, Nick.

 
Maddie:
Now we’re happy to have Rajneev with us, certified Annapurna porter/guide. David, if you could just put away your hip flask and get on with the interview?

David:
Oh Maddie, you know it always takes a couple pulls to properly appreciate those beige power suits of yours. Rajneev! Great to meet you! Why don’t you tell us what it’s like guiding tourists into the Himalayas while carrying all their unnecessary gear on your back.

Rajneev:
(cough, cough, hack, large glutinous spit)
Is good. I tell “slowly slowly”. Up – “slowly slowly”. Down – “slowly slowly”.

David:
Sounds like my last date.

Rajneev:
(cough, cough, spit)
Any what date. No matter. Slowly slowly.

A Porter's Life

David:
Okaaay, um, Rajneev, how did you find the snow? Is it a problem for you, you know, carrying all that stuff?

Rajneev:
The sun is better. Will see. Is better.
(cough, cough, spit, takes out his cigarettes)

David:
Um, I’m sorry Rajneev, you can’t smoke in here.

Rajneev:
Ha ha. (cough, cough) Is better. (cough cough, lights cigarette)

David:
No, seriously.

Rajneev:
(spit)

David:
Back to you, Maddie.


Maddie:

Well, it was another busy week in sports – isn’t that right, Claire Danes?

Claire:
That’s right, Maddie. Card games were once again in vogue on the ABC trek this week. In afternoon action Dean downed Laynni 2 games to 1 at Yanniv, although he later struggled through another tough stretch in Solitaire, falling to 2 for 17 for the season. An Israeli guy was surprisingly skunked twice at his own game after teaching the Israeli version of Shithead. Meanwhile, a round of British Rummy had to be called on account of supper after being delayed by plenty of friendly jibes and off-colour humour.

Trail jockeying season is in full swing as well. Young Germans led the way in speed hiking, flashing their trademark discipline by spending as little time as possible in the mountains, as little money as possible in the lodges and as little time as possible partaking of the view. Large groups of French hikers diligently stymied faster hikers while talking loudly and portraying studied indifference. Meanwhile, Chinese and Korean groups could routinely be found smiling broadly, dispensing affable hellos to fellow hikers and hugging the mountain wall in a fright like their inevitable world domination depended on it.

 
David:
Now we join Pauly Shore for this week’s Annapurna Celebrity Spotlight:

Thanks, Dave-o! I tell ya, it was an exciting week in the Himalayas!

The sun, it burns!

–         On days 3 through 5 we repeatedly encountered large groups of Korean woman resting, smiling and using umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun. Looks likesomebody wants to be white!

·         On day 5 there was a rare sighting of non-douchey Frenchman. Unfortunately, on Day 9 it turned out he was a douche after all.

·         On day 7 we were lucky enough to spot an idiot with huge beard, obnoxious orange robe and pointlessly massive straw hat. Naturally, he was surrounded by amateur Asian photographers delighted to experience the cultural side of the Annapurna Sanctuary.

·         And then, on day 9, Nelly Furtado was once again spotted stroking a local yak in a seductive fashion. Oh, Nelly, you are just incorrigible. Back to you, Dave-o!

David:
Now just a quick reminder to check out our website, www.bighills.np, for more on these breaking stories:

Hikers bemoan end of an era as plastic water bottles are banned above Chomrong. “They stay shiny for years”, laments one saddened tourist.

Authorities ramp up investigation of local rubbish bins, baffled by mysterious trail of empty Hot Rod packages.

Hiking fuel

 Maddie:
Ok, now we’ve got a special segment for you. Special guest Ed Harris is here to walk us through a typical mountain toilet facility and show us how it’s done. Take it away, Ed.

Ed Harris:
Thanks, Maddie. Ok, listen up, punks. I want you to watch me very closely, because when it’s 3am, 10 below and you’ve already spent more time than you can afford getting yourself untangled from your sleeping bag, finding your head lamp, tracking down whatever pansy outfit passes for pants in your world and finally made your way out into the snow, you’re gonna need this to be second nature. No time to think, just instinct. So here’s how it’s gonna be:

1.       Small steps, baby steps, across the ice. You don’t have the balance of a warrior like me, so you need to be extra careful, see.

2.       Now you need to find the outhouse. Pay attention to all your senses, but you’re probably gonna recognize it by the dirty brick walls and smell of old kidney stones.

3.       The door never fits right so you’ll need to put your shoulder into it, give a good yank on the dead bolt. I hope you remembered your gloves, Nancy.

4.       Take a deep breath before you open the door. The cold will dull the smell a bit but there’s always enough left over to trigger a gag reflex. And, trust me, you can’t afford that right now.

5.       Ok, now take a good look at the floor, it’s gonna be icy, and slippery, and your feet are gonna want to do that baby deer thing, Lucy, but at least some helpful child in a labour camp in Southeast Asia was willing to spend their weekly 10 minute lunch break building special spots for your feet, as a special treat for retards just like you.

Brrr

6.       Now position yourself over that big hole in the floor – that’s your spot, chief. Now this is where you have to start moving quickly, got it? Pants down, but not too far, past the knees and you’re going to be taking your visit back to bed with you. Into a crouching position, and if you’re not that flexible you’re gonna need to grab onto something – the door, or maybe just a crack in the bricks, whatever you can find solid enough to keep your flabby ass upright, understand?

7.       Now do it! Stop daydreaming about clouds and puppies and Enrique in his jockey shorts and just get it done! You want your junk freezing off and falling down the hole? No, I didn’t think so. So step up, son.

8.       Wipe, or don’t wipe, I really couldn’t care less. Whatever your pencil pushing daddy taught you when you were still begging for the nipple. Whatever you do, don’t use the water. First of all, you’d have to break the ice. Secondly, if you really want hemorrhoids that badly just get them the old fashioned way – riding an electronic bull.

9.       Now stop your crying, whining and shaking, pull yourself together, and get your frozen ass out of there, Lisa. Retrace your steps, and try not to fall and shatter your tail-bone because your future boyfriend is probably gonna find that useful, and then get the hell back to bed.

10.   Now go back to sleep.

 Fabulously deep-fried Gurung bread

David:
Well, on that note, I guess we’re about out of time for today.

Maddie:
But don’t forget to tune it tomorrow to find out what the French mean when they say “blah blah blah Mike Tyson blah blah blah” and laugh like crazy people.

David:
Also, learn how a simple suit of black merino wool can transform a normal Canadian woman into a fearsome burglar of the night.

Maddie:
And, finally, is Gurung Bread to blame for those pimples on your buttocks? Find out tomorrow.

David and Maddie (in unison):

Good night, Annapurna!

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