Woke up pretty early due to going to bed so early and everyone else in the lodge getting up (the walls didn't stop any sound - in fact they didn't stop much light either). Since the hike was only supposed to take three hours we lounged around and took our time getting out. We finally left Tadopani around eight. A pretty hour's hike (lots of forest with the peaks unexpectedly showing through) brought us to the tiny village of Bhaisi Kharka - not really a villages, just two tea houses. Since it was the only stop before Ghandruk we stopped and had a late breakfast / very early lunch - it was actually about the best food I've had in Nepal. From Bhaisi Kharka it was mostly downhill - unfortunately it was sometimes very steep. It only took us about an hour and a half to get to Ghandruk. As we came in to Ghandruk the mountains were peaking through the clouds and we had some great views. Unfortunately they seemed to hide right when we got to town.
Ghandruk is something different. It's by far the biggest village we've seen and unlike the others it's clearly not based on tourism. All the houses are traditional stone with slate roofs and large courtyards for drying grain and vegetables. It took us a good half hour to find our way through the maze of paths - and we saw tons of people working - none of which spoke English! On the far side of town we found the tourist area - mostly traditional type tea houses, but also some three and four story cement monstrosity hotels. We had a couple recommendations and finally found one of them. It was a beautiful old tea house that had been recommended to us by a Nepalese man we met on the trail. It's by far the most expensive place we've stayed at (still only $1 each), but the room is large, the bathroom clean, and the shower was hot with great water pressure! It's also by far the nicest place we've stayed in.
Since we were checked in before one we had the whole afternoon ahead of us. I took a great shower then spent some time reading and working on my journal. It looked like a storm was rolling in so we just hung out. At three when the power came on I was able to plug my camera in (the battery died last night so no digital photos today). Around 4:30 we got tired of waiting for the rain to start and decided to go explore the village.
Ghandruk is amazingly photogenic. The small houses are all stone with slate roofs. There are flowers everywhere - we saw lilies, geraniums, impatients, roses (including a neon red color I've never seen before), rhododendrons, daisies, and many more. Plus the village is on a valley side with terraced green walls below, above, and across. And the whole thing is crowned by the most amazing mountain peaks - up where there should only be clouds. The people seem friendly and polite, but in a different way from the tourism driven villages that we've been in so far. Here everything seems to revolve around farming. We saw men and women on the terraces weeding and harvesting. In the courtyards we watched old women thresh the grain, separate chafe, and spin wool. There were also kids playing and running. The only drawback is that this is the only place we've been on the trek where we've had to deal with begging - the children were particularly bad.
After two hours of walking around the village we made it back to the hotel. We had a great diner - both of us agree this is the best place we've stayed so far. Another early night - sometime around nine it was bed time.