We struck out fairly early. It was a sunny morning, which I was beginning to understand was typical Himalayan weather. The days here started sunny and clear, slowly accumulated moisture and storm clouds throughout the day, which usually dropped rain or snow in the afternoon, before clearing up in the evening for a cool, crisp night.
“Did you sleep well?” Anker asked us.
“I was too cold,” Saffron said. “It get chilly at night!”
“And you’re probably not used to the cold, huh?” I asked, as if I hadn’t been shivering myself last night.
“Yah,” Saffrion said with a laugh. “We have the opposite sort of weather in Malaysia.”
“Hot,” Anker said simply.
“Very,” Saffron answered. “We are always sweating in Penang.”
We walked in silence for a minute or two, panting and sweating as we worked our way up some stairs in the trail.
“Your sleeping bag did not keep you warm?” Anker asked.
“No, I was cold,” Saffron said.
“I was a little cold too,” I said.
“Hmm,” Anker said, puzzled. “Where did you buy it?” he asked Saffron.
“I didn’t buy it. I rented it in Pokhara.”
“Ahhhh!” Anker exclaimed. “Nepal sleeping bags no good,” he said. “And you?” he asked me.
“I rented in Pokhara too,” I said.
“Tch!” Anker shook his head. “Not real. Next time you must bring from home. Nepali things not nice. Not good.”
I laughed. My experience shopping in Thamel had certainly taught me that lesson. I’d rented the sleeping bag because I had no other choice. I figured, worst case scenario, I would just sleep in all my layers. I’d been in colder situations back home in Colorado. Saffron though, from a warm place with little knowledge of cold weather, might be in for a rougher ride.
“Sooo many knockoffs,” I said. “That’s all they sell here!”
“Really?” Saffron asked. “Knockoffs?”
“Oh yes,” Anker said. “You know how you can tell if it is real? The zipper. Real zipper say ‘YKK.’ It doesn’t say YKK, not real.”
I looked down at the zipper on my base layer. It read ‘VKK.’
I smiled, and we walked on.