Tuesday, 19 December 2017


Two long days of walking northwards up the Manuslu trail from the road end brings you to a village called Phillim, perched on the hillside above the river. The valley is steep and the trail ascends and descends over and around obstacles, whilst steadily climbing towards the high mountains, such as Manuslu at over 7000 metres. 
The village of Phillim, clinging to the mountainside.

Phillim is found at 1800 metres high, up a steep 30 minute zig-zag path from the suspension bridge that crosses the rushing river.

You can hear the river almost anywhere in Phillim, and see it from many of the houses. You can also see the onward trail stretching ahead, contouring the steep valley side, until it goes over a small bluff and into the next village, Chisopani, which means ‘cold water’.
Looking up the valley from Phillim.

In the recent re-organisation of local government, Phillim has been agreed as the administration centre of the new Municipality of the Tsum Valley and Manuslu.  This mountainous area is characterised by steep sided valleys cut by the rushing rivers which feed into the Buddha Gandaki Nadi river, bringing water down from the snowy peaks of the north. It is sparsely populated area with small villages of stone houses, some of which support tourists trekking the Manuslu Trail.
Village houses 

The stone steps lead right up through the village
to the Gompa at the top.

The people are of the Gurung ethnic group, speaking their own language as a mother tongue, and with their own customs and traditions. They are predominantly Buddhist and Phillim along with many of the neighbouring villages have a small gompa, a Buddhist place of worship. Around the village and on the trail there are prayer flags fluttering and small chortens with a few carved mani stones. At the top of the village of Phillim, up many flights of stone steps, is the village gompa.

The decorated inside of the village Gompa.
The eyes on the chorten look over the village.

Inside one of the village shops.

Phillim has a few shops, small businesses selling a huge range of wares; one shop sells material, ribbon, clothes, and wool through to biscuits and bottles of coke. When I asked for paracetamol for a sore throat, the shopkeeper rummaged around in a plastic box to find five left in a plastic strip. He obviously sells them individually as he asked me how many I wanted!

A laden donkey. Notice the river far below.

All supplies in the shops have to be brought by porter or mule up the valley. During the day there are frequent trains of mules passing through the village in both directions. The ones trotting down the valley are often unladen, whereas those toiling upwards have heavy loads tied on their backs. The mules have bells around their necks so you can hear their approach, which is useful so you can get out of the way. We were warned to stand off the path if possible, on the inner hillside, to let the mule trains pass, as if you are on the outside you may be knocked down the steep hillside. I was knocked off the path once, fortunately only down a soil bank, giving me dirty hands but no injuries.

The office of MCAP, the Manuslu Conservation Area Project is situated near the centre of the village. During our visit this seemed to be the only place which had Internet, and we needed to use it to send emails etc. However even here the Internet was weak and it took a long time (45 minutes) to log on and to send an email. It felt strange, in 21st. Century to be completely out of contact with friends and family at home.

On the mend! The foot after treatment.
The village has a Health Post, a sort of rural clinic run by trained medical workers, but mostly without a doctor.  Shamilla, one of the health workers, at our asking, visited a boy in one of the nearby villages, Pangsing, who had a badly infected foot. After treatment for the wound and a short course of antibiotics it was good to see him fit and well and back at school. 
The boy with a broken arm had 3 days travel
to hospital.  Look carefully and you can see
his feet hanging over the basket edge.

However, during the same visit she had to send a younger boy with a broken arm to the nearest hospital in Gorkha, three days walk away!

The village income is mostly generated by providing food and lodging for passing trekkers. There are several small guest houses, with rooms and restaurant and these are usually busy during the main trekking seasons; March and April, and October and November.
The trekking lodge where I stayed in Phillim.

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