Rhododendrons leaving Phakding
Actually they are staying put, we are leaving
We're all up and ready early- the soon to be 50 years old twins, Mark from Ann Arbor, their guide- Tendi Sherpa... The last real teahouse morning, last real bit of walking of the Everest Base Camp Trek- it's a bit sad that it has gone so fast. Chitra leaves before us again- he is from Lukla and is obviously keen to get home. Mary, Dhana and I set off, all three of us walking at different speeds by ourselves. It's cool this morning- we're in the forest and it's shaded, once again quite beautiful. Lots of birds, lots of trees, lots of flowers, lots of Koreans. Cross back across the bridge and make a very early stop for a cup of tea. There is a little shop with a window full of samosas, Dhana and Mary get stuck into them. I go visit my last squat toilet for a while. One of the Korean group arrives on the back of a horse. Meet a Scottish couple who have been walking from Jiri- I think that would be a great thing to do if you have the time. We walk past lots of bright, shiny tourists - they smell very good-
you can smell the deodorant and the shampoo! Say hello and tell them all what a fantastic time they are going to have... I seriously mean it. In no time we see the first plane that signals that Lukla is very close. We retrace our steps back through the gateway to Lukla- the end....
Actually we commandeer a teenager to take some photos of us- before the gate, walking through the gate, behind the gate.... It's a moment to be celebrated. No more planes though- the fog has dropped in and that's it for the flights for today. We are staying at Khumjung Resort Lodge,
after the teahouses it seems very big and impersonal. Our room is one of the cheap ones- no bathroom, but a killer view of the runway at the airport (shame about the fog- no planes to watch). It also has an extremely valuable commodity- a power point! Plug in every device that we collectively own to celebrate. Go get lunch- omelette chappati - the chappati arrives minus the omelette. Omelette arrives 20 mins later. Celebrate end of trek and safe omelette arrival with a shower. It is 200 NPR ($2.30 AUD) very well spent,
wash both body and hair- in hot water - running hot water- luxury. Dry hair in sun (fog has lifted), dry crocs (essential shower wear). Purchase wifi password for 500 NPR/unlimited time frame (might come in handy if we get stranded in Lukla) and get in touch with home again. Write a long and newsy email, cutting and pasting it in various iterations for various recipients. Essential tasks now having been ticked off Mary and I go in search of coffee, as we are leaving Dhana appears with an alternative plan.
We end up visiting Chitra at his home which is great because we can give him his tip and meet his family. He is living in a rented little room which has a fire/stove in the corner, a table and a lounge/bedroom area. The rent is apparently high so they take in borders (mostly porters) on a nightly basis to help pay the rent. We stay and have a cup of tea with them before Dhana whisks us off to a local momo shop. They are making the momos at the time which is interesting to watch. The place is full of locals watching a Bollywood movie. We
conspicuously sit down to wait our turn. Our vegetarian diet is officially over as we get served mixed meat momos- we eat them as we can't really refuse without being impolite - they are delicious but I am slightly worried how fresh the meat is (OK, a lot worried). We have been really lucky not to get any gastro this trip so far, I guess by 8.30 tonight we will know whether we will remain unscathed. Dhana heads back to the lodge and Mary and I go find the coffee. There are a few cafes down the main street offering cappuccino, etc, all have free wifi and a selection of western style cakes. None of them actually smelt of coffee when we went in, I dont think that there is any real way to chose one over the other. We end up at Starbucks Lukla- not memorable but no big deal, we had already had 2 decent cups in Namche.
Dinner that night is a celebratory one, we buy some drinks to go with dinner. Dhana and I have a couple of glasses of Australian cask red and Mary has a whisky with hot water and honey. Don't eat
much because we're full of momos and coffee. The alcohol immediately goes to our heads and we reminisce fondly about the trek. Mary most enjoyed the EBC day and her birthday, Dhana is hard to pin down- it is not in his nature to have a favourite/best experience, i think it might be a Nepali thing, but he says he really enjoyed the fact that we completed all 3 of the major challenges. Fair enough. It is very much in my nature
to have an absolute favourite thing/s and absolute worst, an absolute highlight, an absolute low light, an absolute best sunset, an absolute best sunrise, an absolute best......you get the idea.... so i rattle off my top 3-
1. Gokyo Ri summit
2. Mary's birthday day with the scenery and the animals and the cake
3. Shiny, sparkley post-Dhole day walk after the big snowfall day.
8.30 comes and goes- we are unscathed!!!! At 8.45 I make an urgent dash to the loo (a sit down, flush and water variety) and then 2 more times before saying goodnight at 9.30. We have to be up at 5 am- it seems that Dhana has secured first
flight tickets for the morning. Unzip the sleeping bag and lie awake for a very long time- not because of the stomach ache, but just thinking- it has been such a great trip.
Now for the Upper Mustang....
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