Start 26.04.09 Finish 9th May 2009
DAY 1 – Kathmandu
KATHMANDU: Arrival in Kathmandu.
Kathmandu is a fascinating almost medieval city full of extraordinary temples, monuments, and colorful street life. There are endless small streets jam packed with stalls selling cloth, pots and pans, spices, souvenirs, saris and a myriad of other merchandise. Scooters carrying families of 5, bicycles, taxis and pedestrians all compete for space and there is always something to marvel at. It was a shock initially as we were being drive through the streets of Kathmandu from the airport I was not expecting the streets to be so small or the people either!
Arrived at our hotel 8.10am to find that they had no trace of us on the register. The waiting was intolerable as we were very tired after traveling all night. We fell asleep on the arm chairs while we were waiting for them to find us alternative accommodation. At 11am we got an hotel nearby. It was not too bad really. We slept for about 5hours and then met to go explore the area and get our bearings. There will be 7 of us together and all seem nice. Dave/Canadian, Chris/English Chelle/English and Pat Eileen Denis and I. Santos is going to be our guide and he took us through the motions of what was to happen over the next 14 days or so. We went to Rum Doodle to eat as it came highly recommended. Steak was €4.00. Menu was fantastic. We chatted and got to know each-other a little, the why’s and reasons for taking on this trip, jobs, things like that. Settled down with a couple of beers and headed to bed early.
DAY 2 – Kathmandu
KATHMANDU: Morning walking tour of the market area of Asan, Durbar Square and Swayambunath Temple. Our guide was not particularly good and she was difficult to understand. The best way to explore Kathmandu is to spend a few hours wandering through the maze of narrow lanes in the old part of town which are crowded with colorful little shops. Most roads lead eventually to the Durbar Square. Here you find the old Royal Palace, many temples, and you may even catch sight of the Living Goddess, known as the Kumari, as she appears at window of the Kasthamandap, or House of Woods, which gives the maze of narrow lanes of the old city where you’ll find shops Kathmandu its name. We were blessed with a glimpse of this very beautiful young girl, 5 I think she is at the moment. This is supposed to be good Karma for us. She appeared for about 5 seconds and was gone again. We were not allowed to take photo of her. One person did and ran immediately after, was chased by the security guard. Don’t know the reasoning behind that. I’m not fond of the idea that she is locked up there on her own with very little contact with the outside world, but that is their tradition. She gets all her schooling and anything else she needs, obviously wanting for nothing, accept a cuddle which is vital to any child, I’d imagine. Eileen was given a great run down of the place by this guy that just came up to her, she was very interested in his knowledge of the history of the place. Our guide was not impressed. (he was like taking her job away from her) she told me this but I could have told her she was useless anyway! I didn’t though because I’m so nice!! He(Eileen’s new friend) wanted money from her after and told her that she would have bad Karma if money did not change hands. Eileen was furious at him and told him that he was not good person or something like, boy was that red hair glistening in the sun, she told him that and it was like a curse being placed on her. How dare he! There was a real heated exchange, even the local peddlers stayed away from her. She was savage! High entertainment for us looking on! I tried hard not to watch! Really I did! Think she gave him some pittance, just to get rid of him. It was not the money principal it was the shoddy way he tried to say that she would have bad luck if she did not give him something. That was our only run in with anything. Khukris (the traditional knife of the Gurkhas) and many other arts and crafts are freely being peddled on the streets by everyone and anyone. Had an hour long foot reflexology done, head and neck massage, it only cost €6.00
The famous Swayambunath Temple is perched on a hill outside Kathmandu and has a square golden stupa rising from a lovely white dome. Monkeys play on the steps up to this temple. One of these monkeys’s actually grabbed a woman’s plastic bag, she tried to retrieve it as she had her wallet in it, but the monkey ate the lot! The poor child with her was inconsolable.
Swayambhunath is said to be more than 2000 years old and is a very holy place for Buddhists as well as Hindus. You have a wonderful view over Kathmandu from here. We climbed 220 steps to get up to this temple. We passed a river on the way that was filled with sewage, the smell was stomach churning.
Cows are Sacred here and they roam the streets aimlessly as do some of the dogs and are to be found on many corners eating the rubbish. The poor dogs look so lonely and starved. I actually saw a cow eat a full cardboard box on the mountain so it’s not just in the towns that this happens. Don’t think that beef would be nice anyway, if that is the diet that they live on.
DAY 3 – PHAKDING (2,600m): Up at 5.30 for flight from Lukla at 8.30. Like everywhere else it was not on time. Fly to Lukla. Here we organize our loads with porters and Sherpas then set off to Phakding, in the mountains. 3 hrs trek. The views on the flight are stunning. As you leave the airport you have superb views of the Langtang and Jugal rangers that surround the Kathmandu Basin. You then fly over Rolwaling Himal with striking views of Gauraisankar and Menlungtse before reaching the Everest region and the airport at Lukla. Landing was another thing there is only about 250M of a runway and it latterly starts at a cliff edge! We have hot tea at a lovely Lodge, which I believe we are going to spend the night in before returning to Katmandu. Namaste is both Hello and Goodbye and we are to acknowledge everyone with this.
Lukla – Phakding
The trail starts from Lukla with a gentle climb up the mountainside on the left bank of the Dudh Kosi (river). In the distance you may be able to see Nupla (5,885m) rising above the ridge. The path continues up and down along the side of the river before arriving at Phakding. Nearly lost the camera today. Left it on a ledge but realized it early in the time. I retraced steps with Santos and he asked a sherpa on the way up, didn’t he have it in his pocket! Gave him 200 Rupee for it. Was thankful to get it. We crossed 7 bridges today. Gosh I waited for so long to do Carrig Na Ceide in N Irl. and here there were part of t
he norm. Lunch at River View Lodge. We were advised to get Momo which is basically veg. in pastry. We got them steamed instead of fried, as advised by Santos. Sometimes these places are very busy with trekkers, so we are advised to get the simplest thing on the Menu. Won’t be having them again, it was like having raw pastry. Yaks and Naks passed us all the time carrying their heavy load. It was hard to watch. The animals were not allowed to stop for a drink because if they had got just a taste they would just sit down and not move on anymore.
The Sherpa equally took huge loads, some as heavy as 120K. Some would have 5 drums of 5L Oil for cooking. Others bring up these huge ceramic type of pipe for the Hydro power, seemingly 120k. Some had 8 planks of 4×4, more had 6 doors or windows on their backs! What with them being so small, but so wiry and wearing only flip flops or sandals, the mind boggles. There are women Sherpa too.
All start from a very young age. Well this lady must have nearly put down her time.
There is a great choice of food on the menu and very reasonable. I tried the Chicken Curry but should have let it after me I’d definitely say it was a hen or Road Kill! I did not hear Santos tell us not to order meat. Lots of these T Houses do not have any fridges, so ovoid meat in all these places, at all costs. Dal Bhat is the main dish eaten by Porters Trekkers and Sherpa alike. It is composed of Rice Lentil soup with some green vegetable pureed in it and a curry paste, really nice. All soups are good and everyone tried to have Garlic soup as often as possible as this is good for acclimatizing and the thinning of the blood. I got so sick of it after about two rounds. All soups seem to have a garlic base to them so I moved on to Vegetable soup. The vegetables were not a plentiful, as on the Inca Trail, nor were they as tasty. I was disappointed in that, because they are organically grown. Here below 3.000m they get a crop twice a year, above that height only one crop. In the evening time the stove is lit in the dining hall. The porters gather around it like flies. So strange! There they are with layers of clothing and padded jackets, huddled around the stove and guess what? They are wearing flip flops! I cannot understand it. If my feet are cold so is the rest of me, would have to wrap them up first. Eileen tells us that Santos is fascinated with Denis; Santos thinks that he is so quiet and yet misses nothing. He is going to keep his eye on him! Like we all do or is it the other away around? Slept well tonight.
DAY 4 – Phakding – NAMCHE BAZAR (3,440m): Just outside where we stayed the Prince Everest there is a prayer stone. On the way up you must always walk to the left of the prayer stones. It is believed that the God’s will grant you favor and goodweather if you abide by this ritual. There are many many prayer stones on this journey.
~ Om Mani Padme Hum ~
Om Mani Padme Hum has no direct English translation, but often used as a guide is “Hail the jewel in the heart of lotus” or “Behold! The jewel in the lotus!”. The Dalai Lama has given a synopsis of its meaning as “Thus the six syllables, Om Mani Padme Hum, mean that in dependence on the practice which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.” It is thought that all the teachings of the Buddha are contained in this one prayer, and that the recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom. Speaking, writing, or viewing the written form of this sacred prayer is beleived to benefit karma, invoking the benevolent blessings of Chenrezig (Tibetan) Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit), the embodiment of compassion. Believe you me. I bought the “Tibetian Incantation” as advised by Santos. It is playing since 8pm. I am on the laptop doing this diary with 8hrs not sick of it yet. There must be something in it.
We follow the Dudh Kosi river, passing villages interspersed with magnificent forests of rhododendron, magnolia trees and giant firs to Namche Bazar, the main settlement of the Sherpa area. 6 hrs trek. Continuing from Phakding you get your first view of Thamserku (6,623m), which looms above you on the opposite side of the river. The path climbs up a terraced hillside passing through small villages and rhodedendron forest and across a number of small streams. There are many ascents and descents but the final hike up to Namche Bazaar is quite hard going with a steep path that zig zags up the hill. However, it is all worthwhile as you finally reach the top of the ridge and there are superb views of Everest (8,848m) and Lhotse (8,516m). Saw no Everest today though, as it was cloudy. Bummer! A final short walk through pine forest takes you to Namche Bazaar, the centre of the Everest Trekking region. In the town there is an interesting Sherpa Traditional Museum from where there are fabulous views of Thamserku (6,623m), Amadablan (6,812m), Island Peak (6,160m), Lhotse (8,516m) and the top of Everest (8,848m). Dinner was great tonight. Steak again and we allowed ourselves 1 beer. T House was nice and clean and there were hot showers! Yippee! The dust from the track was lodged everywhere on us. Must cover my mouth tomorrow. Sun screen is an absolute must and the dust gathers on that so only and hour into the journey, if you had a knife you could scrape the dirt off yourself like a barber giving you a close shave! Now drinking 3L of water a day (have to hydrate) and it’s taking its toll. I have to go to the loo so many times it’s not funny. At least Chelle is the same way as me and I don’t feel so bad, nipping off the beaten track to go. How can the others hold on to that much water? Dave is a nurse and he says that obviously my body does not need it as much, so out it goes! From hereon in I have to cover up a little more too, as in my shoulders and no knees visible either, they are a very reverent class of people.
DAY 5 – Thame – Namche Bazar
THAME (3,800m) – NAMCHE BAZAR: A day to acclimatize. We hike to Songbuche for superb views of the snowy peaks of Teng Kangpoche (6,500m) and Kwangde (6,187m). 6 hrs trek. Denis and I are still in shorts and T shirt as is Dave. Locals are in padded jackets and layers underneath too, they look at us as If we have 4 heads. Found a fabulous bakery in which we had Americano coffee, and the most gorgeous apple pie! Everyone is so friendly; they cannot do enough for us. Even with it being a day of rest it was 800m we hiked to acclimatize. The Cyber café’s here are very quick so we all sent a few messages home. 1.50 for 30 minutes, but like everything else, the higher we go the more expensive everything is getting, obviously because of the Sherpa having to bring things up. A Dairy Milk here is about 1.00. We can have laundry done here but D and I have not a lot to wash yet so we just did our socks, even though there are clear notices not too. I’m not paying a Euro to have a pair of socks washed for me! Sleep is beginning to elu
de me as going to the toilet in thee middle of the night is getting to be a problem and I cannot get to sleep after the first round out.
DAY 6 –
TYANGBOCHE (3,800m): From Niche we trek to Khumjung at the foot of sacred Khumbila peak (5,761m). Khumjung Gompa possesses what is said to be the skull of a yeti. Continue to Phunki and Tyangboche for one of the most magnificent views in the world; an awe-inspiring panorama of Himalayan giants: Kwangde, Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Kategna and Thamserku. 5 hrs trek
There are two routes to Tyangboche and we take the left fork via Khumjung at the foot of Khumbila Peak (5,761m). Khumjung Gompa possesses what is said to be the skull of a yeti. From Khumbila we descend through forest to the village of Trashinga and then down to the Dudh Khosi which can be heard thundering through the valley. After crossing the river it is a long steep climb to Tyangboche. As you reach the top, the incline gradually eases off and you finally pass through a stone gate, built by lamas, which marks the entrance to Tyangboche. In front of you is one of the most impressive views anywhere in the Himalayas, an awe inspiring panorama of Himalayan giants: Kwangde, Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Amadablam, Kategna and Thamserku.
Find yourself a seat and settle down to watch the sun set over Everest. Feck it we left 3440m climbed to 3650 and had to drop down to 3200 Bummer that, having to go down what was so hard to climb in the first place. A very dusty trail. Took Broaca last night instead of orange evereffecent and did not get a wink of sleep. This drinking 3 liters of water is getting to me too, can’t stop going to wee all the time, have a reputation for it at this stage, have no idea how everyone else are able to hold it in! Chelle is so funny though, we nip off together to piddle so many times. She came back today and says in her best Suffolk accent ” Cor I never knew that there could be so many different variety’s of human Turd!!!! Yeah it’s hard to look at but when you wanna go you gotta go!!! Mist is in all day today, no view of Everest. Visited the Budda temple, they were in the midst of prayer. Lovely to see. No flash photography allowed or videos. We had to take off our shoes to enter the temple. There was a bakery here too, talk about slumming it! Met Andrew North again today, gosh he’s handsome, a BBC news reporter. We met him some where earlier too, can’t remember where. His camera-man has taken ill. This is the 1st evening that Denis and I wore our jackets, it’s getting soooooooo cold at night. T House is more than basic, but at least we are in from the great outdoors. Had to get up about 5 times to wee and the toilet was down two flights of stairs and I had to use my head-light. The air is getting thinner and the effort at night is tremendous just because I have to go to the toilet. Out of the sleeping bag, put on the clothes and shoes in the freezing cold and find a toilet, the effort is tremendous in the dark. Have to use mind over matter when my heart is pounding and tell myself that I am not getting a heart attack! Then you try to suck in air and there is none there to breathe, de-robe again and back into the sleeping bag and try to sleep, but I don’t cause the mind is racing, I suppose because it is at night time and everyone else sleeps through this sort of thing that one feels so alone and it’s so quiet.
DAY 7 – Dingboche
DINGBOCHE (4,300m): Cross the Imja Khola and continue through terraced fields and rolling pastures where yaks graze, to Pangboche (3,860m). 7 hrs trek. Up at 5pm today, a slow leisurely trek.. It rained last night so we got our first glimpse of the distant Everest today, small but there! It was amazing this morning to find ourselves surrounded by so many mountains, we could nearly reach out and touch them, they were no where near visible last night. Had our first taste of the local juice too. It is made from the local berries and called Seabuckthorn. It was given to us as a hot drink. Unfortunately Denis had put out something in his back as he was just getting up out of a chair, hope it does not hold him back. It’s our first day coming across people with altitude sickness. Many in the group are talking about headaches, most have had diarrhea, and T.G. all symptoms have stayed away from us. The division between the rooms in these T Houses is a thin piece of plywood. Denis was getting into bed tonight and Chelle shouts from the other side ” Cor. Denis is that you? You’ve knocked me clean out of my bed”!
DAY 8 – Dingboche
DINGBOCHE (4,300m): Rest day.
Did 400m today to acclimatize this morning. Very windy and the dust was crazy we were covered in dust when we came back down. It was really tough but a little over half the way up, suddenly I did not feel I had to make that huge effort anymore and climbing came a bit easier, guess I am acclimatized now. I hope so anyway. Have to wash some clothes today, so off to the stream I go like the locals. There was an older woman watching me doing it and I’d say she was thinking to herself “this dumb ass hasn’t a clue how to wash clothes” but I do clearly remember scrubbing the clothes back at home on the Washboard. Firewood is gathered by collecting the Yak dung and drying it out, on the rocks and they use it in the stoves. It was so funny to see some of the clothes that were washed draped across the heaps of dung to dry. Missed getting the picture of it though because by the time we came back from our hike it had started to rain and the dung was covered and the clothes were taken inside. Those clothes surely cannot have had a what kind of smell!
It snowed today too. Wow snow on the 2nd May. It’s Chelle’s birthday today. The big 40. We had a cake baked for her. Not sure how they managed that as the kitchen does not have a stove or oven! The cake was nice though. Chelle got the best present ever according to herself!! Her first shite in a week!! That coming for Chelle, just is not rude. It is totally normal. An American came in this evening, how could we not hear him? “I did this, I did that, I was here, I was there but the guy listening seemed to be enjoying him, unlike me. We had a quiz that night, Chelle was the quiz-mistress. As we went along the group amused themselves by playing 7’s and Memory. (Cards I hate them, cards that is ) but have no problem watching on for a while. Questions were geographic and about Nepal. I asked the American guy to join our team! He had “I know this I know that” Eileen turned around and said to him “You are in a team, it is spelled T.E.A.M. there is no I in team”. That was saucy for Eileen! AND it silenced him! Turns out he is 70years old and heading off up like our-selves, but had a young 35 year young woman with him! Wonder what he is on? He did not look a day over sixty. Ashai was the other guy he had been talking to, an accountant, very, very nice guy traveling on his own, we had good craic with him, the rest of the group got to know him better that we did, but he participated in a lot of our foolishness.
DAY 9 – Lobuche
LOBUCHE (4,900m): The trail climbs through a grass carpeted valley to Khumbu Glacier and reaches Dughla. 5 hrs trek Got up this morning to frost on the ground, tried to pull back the curtain but it was stuck to the window. It was a gradual ascend and we had all layers of clothes on, coats caps gloves the lot. After about an hour the snow stopped and the sun came out, we were able to peel off a few layers but I did not peel down to the shorts like Denis and Dave! People on the way down were muffled up to the last, like Ski’rs, some asked them if they knew where they were, if they were going to
the beach! Think they thought Dave and Denis were suffering from real altitude sickness!! I thought that we would be muffled the same as them on the way down, but no, we must be made of hard stuff here in Ireland. Don’t mind Dave he has to put up with -40 in Canada so this was a piece of cake to him.
Pheriche – Lobuche
Today we pass the terminal moraine of the Khumbu Glacier and, after fording the stream that emanates from it, continue up to Dughla. We pass a memorial chorten which is dedicated to sherpas who have met with disaster on Everest. At the memorials we were fortunate enough to witness an avalanche. First there was a roll of thunder and then down it came. Amazing! Cool to watch when you are safely in the distance. The prayer flags were flying high here too. They are another ’emblem’ believed to bless the countryside. There are 5 colors. Blue White Green Red and Yellow. Blue (symbolizing sky/space) White (symbolizing air/wind) Red (symbolizing fire) Green (symbolizing water) Yellow (symbolizing earth).
The clouds were in so we did not get a glimpse of Base Camp as was expected. Then we continue upwards with great views of Pumo Ri (7,161m) and Nuptse, Santos told us of his friend’s wife that climbed Mt. Everest twice. Then she decided to do Nuptse which is 7.873m. She fell to her death coming down. It is written (or myth) not sure, that no woman should be on this mountain and this is how the Gods retaliate, something like that anyway but it is amazing that she was able to do Everest twice and then slip on a mountain that is 2.000m less in height. They say no woman has survived Nuptse yet. So Sad. We arrive at Lobuche. The scenery is harsh and forbidding, but still absolutely stunning.
DAY 10 – Everest Base Camp
EVEREST BASE CAMP (5,300m) – Trek from Lobuche to Gorakshep. Up 5.30. It’s freezing. Had another hard night of getting out going to the loo. My poor heart does not know what I am trying to do to it. The palpitations at night are unreal. We had lunch at 10.00am. I was only able for porridge again. After lunch proceed to Everest Base Camp
EVEREST BASE CAMP
This is the base camp for mountaineer’s attempting to summit Mt Everest via the Southeast ridge. For trekker’s this is as close as you will get to the mountain, though the peak is not actually visible from here. During the climbing season this can be a busy spot, with teams of mountaineer’s setting up base for their assault on the summit. It is very harsh and unforgiving land. We left around 11, it was tough going, and I am very weary at this stage from lack of sleep, but am thankful that, this is all that ails me. No headaches or any other sort of symptoms. I was moaning away to myself(in my mind) about the madness of doing something like this, feeling sorry for myself and longing for a nice shower while I was perched on a rock having a rest. Guess what? A man passes me by with only one leg on crutches! I kid you not! I was not long getting over myself!
Some people have the strength of the Universe!. God Bless Them all. Base Camp is on a glacier and I think this must be one of the coolest things I have done, is to walk on one. It was the strangest feeling, wondering if this is the day that it is going to move suddenly and we will be history!
We witnessed another two avalanches crossing the glacier and I prayed that it would stay far away and not roll all the way down to us.
We cannot go down into the campsites where the climbers are, as, they have paid a fortune to go and do their climb and the last thing they want is to pick up some cold/flu or the like that we might be carrying. There were two Base Camps. In the furthest away one there is actually a Bakery with the most fabulous Apple Pie! You pay through the nose for it, but the funds go to the recycling of the plastic bottles which is a big problem in this country. Thought I would have been a bit more excited about getting here? Guess it’s the tiredness. Then we return to Gorakshep: Round trip from Gorakshep to Everest Base Camp: approx 4 hours trek. Think we took 5hrs, the apple pie was too irresistible for some and they dallied and savored the moment. It snowed heavily this evening, lovely soft snow. Tonight we had the privilege to meet Young Park Seok. A very modest and shy Korean guy. He has climbed 14 Himalayan peaks, done the 7 continents and the North and South Pole and Mt. Everest twice. This time he is making a new route up the South West ridge of Everest, which as never been attempted before! His producer is a very funny guy. We met him many, many tines on route here! They had reached Base Camp 3 and had come back down to Carb. Up for the final assault.
Not for the faint of hearted and certainly not me. This is as far as I go, well I’ll do the extra 400m in the morning but that is it.
DAY 11 – KALA PATTAR
KALA PATTAR (5,600m) – Climb Kala Pattar, the best vantage point for viewing Mt. Everest. The highest point on our trek, and the best place for views of Mt Everest from the base camp to the summit, is from Kala Pattar. Goraskshep the original base camp for Mt. Everest, the path first descends to an ancient lake bed (which now contains a small lake and a helipad). The path then ascends through a series of steep switchbacks before leveling off as it traverses the eastern side of the mountain. The trail then becomes steep once again until it reaches the wind-swept summit ridge. From there, a five to ten minute scramble over boulders takes you to the top, which is marked with prayer flags. Denis myself Eileen Dave Chris and Chelle got up at 4.30 and set out at 5.10. It took us 1.45hrs. The sunrise was spectacular which rose to the left of Mt. Everest. There she is! This is why we did it, this arduous climb. There she was Mt. Everest one could almost reach out and touch her!
Everest does not look too far away, but all mountains are like that. This is our Top of the World. Congratulations to all. Mission accomplished. We did it again Denis. What’s next says I ? That is Everest, there higher one to the right of the sun!
Got a little blood in my nose but that is all. Chelle was not able to make it unfortunately, half way up she decided that it was best to return, she could not get her breath. Pat decided not to try at all as his head was throbbing. This was it, I’m definitely elated today, a great sense of achievement and wanted to shout from the hilltops! So I did. I sang Amhran Na Bhiann, waved our Irish flag and danced for joy. Going down was a tricky as coming up as the rocks were slippery with the snow. After enjoying the spectacular views of Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse, we descend
to Gorakshep, approx 1.5 down, had breakfast and head off Pheriche ( 4,280m). It was very windy in the valley and D and I had no wind-cheaters with us, we packed them away in the bags the porters took, what if we made it all this way without any problems and ended up with colds, I would kick my F’n ass ! Approx 4 hours trek. No showers with about 5 or 6 days now, have lost count really, it does not matter any more. The baby wipes are a godsend but we are running low on them.
DAY 12 – NAMCHE BAZAR
NAMCHE BAZAR (3,440m) – Up at 5.10am. We walk back to Namche. Approx 8 hours trek. The journey back is a lot less imposing knowing that we will be able to have a shower, God we really have lost the sense of living, and we are longing for our luxuries already. Now, having said that, it is great, to be able to feel a bit more normal again as in being able to breathe properly. The dirt is embedded under my nails and I can’t get it out. We had nice bit of climbing to do as well today. The challenge was not the same as we were on the way down (that sounds strange don’t it?) All the gang are great, will definitely keep in touch with Chelle and Chris. Chris is going to stay on in Nepal and teach English. The shower was heaven sent. Santos got us en-suite, did not think they even existed in T Houses! Gosh not to have to walk miles in the dark to the loo!!! They were even proper sit down ones! Dinner was fine too. Appetite gone, no interest in the food, dinner was fine but am so sick of the same thing day in day out., the variety is there, but eventually it’s all like paper, and I like my own cooking too much. I miss being able to eat fruit and salads. We went to a pub that night. The lads wanted to watch some soccer match at 1am. I know where I will be then! Cuckoo Land. Went to ‘Taste of Paradise’ Kismir works there he joined us on the trek somewhere along the line, he is a friend of Santos. Imagine that, he only tagged along to walk with his friend to Base Camp! There were us struggling. We played pool and I had a Bailey’s, it tasted like Mannah! I am still not sleeping properly so decided I need a sleeping tablet. All the Pharmacy had is valium. I bought them. Paid through the nose! She saw me coming of course, you know the Chulcie craic n all that but a night’s sleep would be worth it. I paid 5eur for 5mg of 10 tabs, they probably only cost 50cent out there, she made her profit for the week from me! She was closed the next morning when we were passing, pity as I was going to send Santos in to see what they would have really cost. He was laughing at me and said that I would not have been able to take anything like that on the way up, would have been too dangerous.
DAY 13 – PHAKDING
PHAKDING (2,600m) – We continue our descent to Phakding today. Approx 5 hours trek. Back to Prince Everest. Slept from 12 till 6, no trip to the loo, even had a dream! Normally I dream every night and I actually missed them. Sitting here in bed now, I can hear the ‘block layers’ chipping away at the stone. It takes them a day to carve one block from a stone. The good ones can do maybe two in a day. 8Eur roughly per block. The corner stone takes longer. The internet guy in Namche Bazar showed me house that took a month to build with only 25 guys chipping the stone from scratch. This is a house on the way up and then 5 days later on the way down.
The new houses with this stonework would be worth a fortune in Ireland or anywhere else in the world. Up at 7.10am but we did not leave Namche till 10. We bought a few souvenirs etc. Well, as we started out today D and I decided that we were going to take as long as we like to go down. Enjoy the surroundings, the sunshine and all the culture that came with it. We drove the rest of the group simple waiting for us. Eileen was delighted as it gave her the opportunity to get a few more pictures that she would have been too preoccupied to stop and take on the way up. Amazing how lack of sleep affects you. Think D was wishing I had stayed awake last night too. I yapped yakked yakked all the way down! Santos was even mystified and said OH she talks! He had to leave for a break from me too! We had serious climbing to do today but it is so different (mentally) on the way down and the air was getting more plentiful. We are as dirty as ever this evening, might as well never had a shower yesterday. Santos thinks (via Eileen again) that we are a lovely couple, says, he has observed many couples en route and says that all the stresses and strains do take their toll on the relationships, he thinks we are very balanced, what ever that means, but I took it as a compliment. I actually liked Santos a lot. He has this Indian look about him that appeals to me and I respected him. He is actually Nepalese. We had Everest beer to relax, well deserved and refreshing.
DAY 14 – LUKLA
LUKLA (2,800m): Return to Lukla where we spend the night. Approx 3 hours trek. Up at 8.30. Santos tried to get us up at 7.30, but what was the point? There is nothing in Lukla. We took 5 hrs to do a 3 hr trek, again the other 4 were bored to death, as Laikpa waited at certain points along the journey for us to catch up. It’s pouring rain this evening. We were so lucky that the rain did not hit us. There would have no place to dry the clothes. I would absolutely hate to do it in the snow or rain. There is happy hour in Waves pub. Offer is Two for 1 in cocktails. We had “Everest” = Gin Vodka Rum and Mango juice, we were high after two, but had four! The porters joined us for dinner tonight, we had a sing song and they danced for us, their own traditional dance. The lodge tonight is like a 5* hotel to us, en-suite, showers, sit down toilet, there are even towels and soap provided, HEAVEN.
DAY 15 – KATHMANDU
KATHMANDU: Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu. Very interesting to watch the planes land on that short runway! Last Oct ’08 visibility was very poor and the pilot misjudged his landing hold, he hit the cliff and all perished. RIP. Well we took off from Lukla safely and landed in Katmandu nicely. It was strange to be following Santos and not actually have a climb or a long trek for the day in front of us. It’s so hot, gone is the lovely breeze that kept us cool. Transfer to hotel. Got our original 3* hotel back so that is good, mind you it’s not huge upgrade from the 2* we had. It’s so hard to get used to the noise of the streets again, the tooting of the horns of Taxi and Rickshaw’s and peddlers chasing us to buy the wares. Chelle took us to Northfield Café, said it was cheap for breakfast. Boy was it cheap! It was fantastic and the nicest food I have tasted in many a day. We made pigs of ourselves. Denis had steak for Breakfast, they put two fried eggs on the steak at breakfast time. We were not able to move for about an hour after. We roamed around exploring the streets. Denis found a shop that makes suits from scratch. This is at 11.30 in the morning. He was measured and the deal was done, he had a shirt made too, he was asked to be back at 12am.the following day. Note the moment!!! Price was never questioned?! Deal was accepted immediately the price was given and Denis shook the man’s hand and said “My good man you have a deal” Never seen him buy something so quickly.! Mind you when the gentleman was deciding between pleats in the front of the pants or not it was me he asked not Denis. Think that is huge for out there? Eileen D and I went for a full body massage. They walked on our backs, stretched legs arms and did deep tissue, it was soooooooo good. An hour and a half later and it was only 14Eur each! Course us girls had to have more, we had a manicure and pedicure done as well, 2 hrs later and for onl
y another 7Eur! Dinner in Rum Doodle with Santos. Chelle’s artistic nature came to light here, where she sketched pictures of the events of the 12 day trek on a big cardboard foot that was given to us, we all signed it and it was nailed to wall, a tradition in this place. She had herself and me behind rocks going for a wee! D with his red ankles and flag hanging off the Backpack. Chris taking pics. of floral anything! Dave n shorts n T shirt. Pat with the Shamrock. Aaah Eileen with her sunburned red hand! She had us all pegged. Astute woman. Gota love her. Had one San Miguel with meal. Only just managed to have a Bailey’s at the hotel and had to say goodnight to all, was absolutely shattered, slept the whole night through without even putting in the ear plugs!
DAY 16 – Kathmandu
KATHMANDU: Free day. Met at the Northfield for breakfast at 8. It did not even enter our heads to stay in bed later. This morning I was more reserved and only had tea and a muffin, all the others were still able to scoff a good breakfast. We wandered around the streets and picked up a few bits and pieces here and there. Denis’s suit and shirt was perfect, got a silk tie to match. Boy did the heavens open today! In 10 minutes flat the streets were like rivers, with about 3″ of water and rising, so dirty, definitely would not like to be here during Monsoon season.
I believe the mountains are gorgeous, though with the rhodeondrons and the many wild flowers blooming.
DAY 17 –
KATHMANDU: Tour ends.
What am I looking forward to? More than anything I want to be able to put the toilet paper into the toilet and flush it away. I am so sick of the smell and the bins with every-body’s else’s pee and doodle on it! That has to be to worst thing of the whole trip for me! Would I do it all again? Probably!
by Mary and Denis O’Mahony