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Published: March 20th 2016
So Sonia and I went to our meeting and met our fellow travel companions who were stuck with u for the next 2 weeks…and met our tour guide Pre…After the meeting we packed our bags, then repacked, then repacked again trying to get the weight down – somehow even when packing light and using the list provided to us our bags were too heavy – if only we knew then what we know now and realised we could have packed it all if we wanted to…but it was being carried by someone else so we wanted it as light as possible.
We had dinner with the new crew (amazing group of people…you will hear more about them soon)…then we had an early night before our early flight in the morning
DAY1 – Phakdang (2610m)
We all met in the lobby – our bags were packed, our clothes were clean and we were bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for the adventure of a lifetime! We threw our bags into the bus with excitement and climbed onto the bus ready to take on the crazy traffic of Kathmandu…we arrived at the airport ready for our
flight…only to find the airport was closed…what a let down!! Finally we were allowed into the airport, a good sign the flights were going to run…after being patted down several times (once just wasn’t enough it seems) we were in the airport and ready to go…
The 12 of us were loaded onto the teeny tiny plane and I was lucky enough to get the front left seat meaning I got to see the mountain range and had a drivers seat view of the takeoff and landing…takeoff wasn’t so bad being an international airport but the landing was a different story…anyone heard of Lukla airport? The most dangerous airport in the world? Well one end I a cliff face into the valley and the other end is the mountain…so the piolets have to be accurate and good…we had perfect weather and a perfect landing but it sure was heart stopping stuff.
After some photos were taken we walked along the stone and dirt pathways (no vehicles here) and headed into our first of many tea houses to have breakfast in the sunroom watching planes take off and land. Sonia an I had a wander
around town and a rooster posed in the sunlight for me. There are buddist prayer wheels everywhere and it is so so so different to home, our excitement was building!!
We met our assistant guides Dawa (the player), Pemba (the rock star) and Isy (no nickname for Isy…I know I’m disappointed in myself too) – we had 6 porters who were super shy…didn’t stop me from saying hello constantly tho!! We put our day packs on and headed off through the memorial gate to start our adventure. It was an easy walk to Phakdang and a false sense of security for us with how well we were going to cope with the Nepalese ups and down…but we made it to our teahouse and put our bags in our rooms…luxury! We had our own ensuite…well a toilet anyway…ignore the gaps in the walls and roof we had a flushing toilet attached to the room!! …we just couldn’t flush any toilet paper down the toilet and had to use an open bin next to the toilet…only smelled a little bit!!...but it was a western style toilet and it was attached to our room so we were happy…
We had our first of many Nepalese meals – there aren’t a lot of options on the road as any food has to either be grown in the area or brought up by people carrying it on their backs and sometimes by Yak/mule so it is either rice, dhal, pasta or potato dishes…and don’t eat the meat…they carry that up from the bottom too which can take a week to get there…not good for sensitive western stomachs!!
Dawa and Isy took us on an afternoon walk up a hill…now a hill in Nepal is nothing like a hill back home…you know the 1000 steps? Multiply that by a whole bunch and you will be halfway right – we crossed bridges and steep dusty paths to find at the top…a school?!? Seriously these kids walk that path twice a day just to get to school and back…and I barely made it up there!! I walked into the classroom and promptly hit my head on the doorway…did I mention I am a giant over here? The kids proceeded to laugh loudly and were shocked at my giant stature so I encouraged a kid to stand up and rested
my elbow on his head which caused even more laughter from the kids…I left, ducking this time, and tried to say thank you in Nepalese…after a pause with many confused faces the laughter started again…something I said?!?! Ha ha ha
We were warned about the effect of alcohol consumption with altitude sickness so abstained from any beers but had our first of many many many lemon ginger honey teas and headed to bed ready for our next day of adventure…or better known as hell day
DAY 2 – Namche Bazaar (3440m)
Today was a difficult walking day – most of it was uphill…and stairs…did I mention the stairs…the never ending, ever uneven, giant sized stairs…a constant uphill, downhill, uphill, uphill, uphill battle!! We followed the river along then climbed upto a suspension bridge which was an adventure all on it’s own…the scenery was breathtaking but the path was even more breathtaking…because I literally couldn’t breathe…I nicknamed myself the asthmatic grandma!! But what matters is, one foot infront of the other I made it…sometimes it took a lot of willpower and mind over matter to get that one foot infront of the other but
I made it…
Along the way we bonded even more with our fellow travellers…I, of course, started handing out nicknames…the human calculator of a math teacher was nicknamed Pi after both Pythagoras Therom and…well…the number Pi…The young man from the UK who wore a bum bag everywhere (he claimed after a drunk night out on the town he lost his passport and money so had a bum bag so nothing will go missing) got nicknamed Bummie (more on this Bum bag later, it is a story all on it’s own)…there are more but trust me when I tell you they were the best (shows the quality of my nicknaming abilities!)
We arrived at Namche Bazaar and whilst I would have loved a good walk around the town my legs just wouldn’t let me leave the comfort of the teahouse – this teahouse had western style toilets but they were shared (the start of the lack of luxury begins!) we had two nights here so we attempted to wash some underwear in preparation…unfortunately it took over 2 days to dry!!!...it was starting to get cold…luckily Sonia and I had thought ahead and had brought some
puffy pants and puffy shoes, along with my puffy jacket I was a fashion statement waiting to happen!!
DAY 3 – Namche Bazaar (3440m)
Today was an acclimatization day. That is basically meaning you walking uphill a long way then have to walk all the way back down and stay in the same place you were…no rest for the wicked!
First we walked up to the Everest view point where there is a museum of the Sherpas and the history of the area…it was uphill and not easy to get to but our group was all so supportive of each other and our goal was always to help everyone get there…I can’t count the number of times I was told “you are doing well Mel” “good work mate” “nearly there”…what did I give them? All these stairs ladies and well will be able to bounce a two dollar coin off our bums…so I just called out “just think of the two dollar coin ladies!!”
After this we went back down the hill then were faced with an even larger hill with a teahouse at the top…after much struggle and the
return of the asthmatic grandma we made it to the tea house. Some of the group went further up the hill but my legs were down so I at in the teahouse marvelling at the mountains around me and ordered a honey lemon ginger teas for all…after a couple of teas I felt the energy return to my legs and I faced the last hill before me…everyone else had already been up and come back so I got to go up there on my own…once I was on the hill I could see the guys at the teahouse but when I sat down to contemplate my navel I was surrounded by the Himalayas and nothing else…a beautiful moment for me to have and find that quietness inside…not something that can be captured in a photo and something that can only be experienced it was a truly beautiful moment for me…unfortunately the bitingly cold wind forced me back down the hill to the teahouse and onward we went…back to our accommodation!
We had a walk around town before heading back to the accommodation and our entertainment of the night was playing cards…more specifically spoons, which became heated and
ended in several bruises! The dares for those that didn’t get a soon became wilder and varied and ended with one of the guys having to do the robot shirtless to get his washing off the line (I’m sure that isn’t the reason he got sick later)…well only kind of sure!!
Day 4 – Phortse Gaon (3810)
This may become repetitive so I will give a brief summary – the views were mind blowingly amazingly beautiful and inspiring and the path was difficult and my breaching became harder every step up I took. The company was supportive and full of laughter.
We arrived at our teahouse of the night to find 3 monks chanting in the meals room…it was calming and continuous…the toilets were squat toilets…and some of the boys (I’m blaming the boys here) had no aim and unfortunately with the cold weather ice formed next to the toilet making it difficult to stay steady when squatting…the start of many toilet adventures!
I had the worst…and I mean the worst…dhal bhart of my entire trip…it tasted like dishwater…very disappointing…some people started getting altitude sickness here…Sonia and I were on
our altitude medications so didn’t get sick at all…don’t know if we would have been sick without it but better to err on the side of caution!
Day 5 – Dingboche (4410m)
Another early start to the day and multiple layers which came off after an hour or so of walking…the landscape became more sparse as we rose above the tree line but the views remained spectacular and the people amazing…my breathing only became more difficult the higher we went and my sleeping was broken due to altitude. We arrived at Dingboche and it was cold cold cold…the rooms had a shared bathroom and we had to go outside to use it…it was a western style bathroom but we shared with a boy who had no control over his functions it seems and so no puffy shoes for us!...Sonia and I thought it would be a great idea in these freezing conditions to wash our underwear again…well lt me tell you and outside sink in freezing cold weather is not a good idea…I ran back into the room asking quite rapidly for a towel to dry my hands…even after watching this exposition Sonia decided to wash
hers…and repeated my display with somewhat less gusto since she took towel with her…
It was one of our Yak Poo fires…it barely warmed the room but it was better than a kick in the head…we had all bonded so much we decided to pitch in an buy a bag of yak poo to all sty in the meals room together with a the yak poo fire…So 9 of us dragged our sleeping bags and rearranged the meals room…once everyone was in bed we realised it was time to restock the poo fire…it came down to who needed the bathroom first…good on you Alex thanks to your pea sized bladder I get to stay in bed…until the dramas of the hot kettle on top of the yak poo fire needed to be moved…it seems since I was closest to the fire it was upto me to assist…so in my long johns I got up and refilled a yak poo fire causing much laughter and mess…then the owner came in and picked up the kettle with her bare hands (HER BARE HANDS!!) and looked at us like we were crazy…what’s your problem lady I’m just standing here in
my long johns filling a fire with poo and sleeping in the meals room leaving a perfectly good bed free…what’s the issue here?!?!
We woke in the morning to the locals coming in for breakfast and laughing at us sleeping there…I just raised my hand and waved at them, rolled over and went back to sleep!!..after finally rising we went back to our room and found our underwear from last night had frozen solid…literally frozen solid!! So we hung them up in the window on display in the sunshine and headed off on our day…
Day 6 – Dingboche (4410m)
Well you already know the start of my day…but today was another acclimatization day so up the hill we hiked…a hill in Nepal is not a hill in Australia…what they call a hill we call a mountain…so up the mountain we climbed…we ran into what we called “the Exodus crew”…because they were with Exodus…they paid twice what we paid and got a shower every night (did I mention we hadn’t showered since Kathmandu?!) Well we were getting stinky…but since we were wearing the same clothes every day we didn’t mind the old wet wipes
shower…but the Exodus crew were shiny and new…but gees they walked a lot slower than even the asthmatic grandma here!! We made it up the hill well before them and got to sit up on the rock at the top looking out at our world…before the exodus crew came and ruined it all by wanting to sit on our rock!!...so we went back down to the teahouse…it was freezing cold but we had the afternoon to waste so after a freezing cold lunch the yak poo fire was lit and Alex led us on a stretching class…it helped sightly but it was an early night for us ready to start walking in the morning and warm ourselves up…
Day 7 – Lobouche (4900m)
Another day of walking Nepalese “gentle” uphill and “gentle” downhill (not our definition but a Nepalese definition…and trust me when I say if a Nepalese tells you a hill is steep get ready with the oxygen because you are going to need it!! We passed many Yaks with their loads and porters with their even heavier loads and continued putting one foot infront of the other before reaching our beautifully warm and cosy
tea house…well the meals room was warm and cosy but the toilets were still surrounded by ice and the rooms were freezing..I was very pleased to have a warm sleeping bag and a liner with woolly hat and thermals…all worth it for the final goal!
Day 8 – Everest Base Camp (5364m)
Today was the day – we woke to the ground covered in snow and set out for our goal…everest base camp!! We trekked over rough ground and passed glaciers until we reached a tea house at Gorakshep where we had a light snack before putting our day packs back on and starting the long walk to base camp. The road was rough and we needed to climb over rock cliffs and snow covered ground with slippery ice before scaling the final hill to reach the Everest base camp…each and every one of us in the group managed to make it to base camp…there were lots of hugs and cheers and photographs and I took a moment just to look around and enjoy the moment…the ground was covered in snow and there were flurries around us while we soaked it all in.
We returned to the tea house and discovered it was one of the worst tea houses we have stayed out…it was warmer outside than inside and it was -20 outside…we woke to ice on the inside of the windows…
Day 9 – Kala Patar/Orsho – Day 10 Namche Bazaar
We were woken at 4.30 in the morning to try and make it to the top of Kala Patar – then we were todl the weather had closed in and we weren’t going up anymore…but it was -20 and I had already gotten out of bed and into clothes, there was no going back now! So we sat around the yak poo fire talking until the sun rose and the guides felt guilty about not taking us up now the weather had cleared so we all got ourselves together and went halfway up to Kala Patar…the view was beautiful but it was cold cold cold!!! We then started the long and tedious trek to Orsho so we could make to Namche Bazaar the next day where a warm shower was waiting for us – it was the first proper shower I had had since leaving Kathmandu so it
was amazingly wonderful and well worth walking the extra distance to make it there.
When we got to Orsho a couple of boys decided they needed rum to celebrate…rum at altitude is NOT a good idea and they found this out the hard way…poor guides who had to carry 2 fully grown men down a steep staircase to their rooms…lets just say the night was messy but slightly amusing for the rest of us watching the show…perhaps they didn’t feel it had been such a good idea the next day
On the way to Namche Bazaar we stopped off at the Buddhist monastery at Tengboche where we were allowed into the monastery…it was beautiful and calming but no photos were allowed it was just for the enjoyment of the moment.
Day 11 – Lukla
We made it back to Lukla!! We were back there for lunchtime but spent the afternoon in the teahouse celebrating…we had all bought a t-shirt and some markers and had fun writing messages on the back of each others shirts…we weren’t allowed to read them until the next day and it was a fun moment to
remember all the jokes and laughs we had had during our trip. We got to spend some time with the porters and learnt Nepalese dancing – I also tried to sing along to their music which seemed to amuse them!!
Day 12 – Lukla again…
OK so it seems 5 piolets could land their planes and we watched them reload and take off after an early morning…however our piolet couldn’t land his plane and turned around to head back to Kathmandu…so it was another day in Lukla for us…there isn’t a lot to see in Lukla so we ended up watching movies in the teahouse…until the inevitable Nepalese power outage…then it was time for bed and do it all again…luckily the next day our flight took off but then it was time to say goodbye to my Everest base camp family…now it is time for me to get ready for the Annapurna Circuit…here we go again legs!11
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