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Published: April 27th 2009
Namaste! Thats "greetings" in Nepalese. After a long flight i finally arrived in Kathmandu which is a wild, wild city. So busy and it was just like a really large Khayalitsha. I didn't dare look up during our (thankfully) short car trip to the hotel. We pulled up outside a red brick wall with an armed guard who opened the door into an oasis which is the Dwarika Hotel. Hard to believe its in the middle of Kathmandu - every brick is handmade, all the windows intricate wooden carvings and each room unique and the size of a small house. I was thrilled to be there and took a shower, had our trek briefing and waited for Trev. He arrived and after a lovely dinner it was off to bed as we had an early start the next morning.
Sat 25 Apr KTM - Lukla - Monjo (2800M)
Up very early for a 6am flight to Lukla - the domestic airport is mayhem and you queue outside the doors waiting for it to open then rush in to get your boarding pass. Having a ticket is no guarantee of a seat😊 We however acquired a ticket and went into the lounge to wait. We were then bussed to a tiny plane and my heart nearly stopped beating when i realised that this was to get us to Lukla! The seats were deck chairs if that gives you any idea.... However i bravely boarded the plane, closed my eyes and we were off. The air hostess handed out a mint and a ball of cotton wool for your ears then settled down in the back for a snooze! A 30 min flight brought us to Lukla - the shortest, most dangerous runway in the world - at 250m long between 2 mountains and wait for it... uphill😊 The landing was however uneventful and before we knew it we were sipping on some hot tea, amazed at how cold it was and how we could notice the thin air) before the start of our trek.
The first thing we learnt upon setting off is what goes down must go up... and up..... and up! Nepalese "flat" is no change in altitude, it is certainly not indicative of the gradient you may expect for the day! We went down down down to Phakding where we arrived at 11am and stopped for lunch. After that we set off for Monjo which was a slog and we were absolutely shattered when we arrived. In fact i seriously questioned what it was that we were doing here - who would actually pay money to walk for 14 days, with very little oxygen, limited ablutions (more about that later) and basic accommodation. My feet were killing me, i was stiff and exhausted however a hot shower, an excellent dinner, an early night and the next morning we were fit to go.
Sun 26 Apr Monjo - Namche (3600m)
This was the day that i was dreading. The notorious "Namche Hill" needed to be conquered. After an early breakfast we set off and after about 15mins entered the National Park. The trail wound down to Jorsale then it was a lovely walk up the river where we had to cross a very high suspension bridge before beginning the big climb. We gained almost a kilometre in altitude in a climb that took us around 2 hours. The pace set by our guides was awesome, so on with the i-pods and we just put one foot in front of the other until we finally arrived at Namche Bazar. It was on this path that we gained our first glimpse of Everest and the reality of why we were doing this set in. Namche is an amazing village perched on the side of a mountain and our lodge (of course) was at the very top of the village - it took us another 20 mins to get there which was worse than the hill climb! After a hot shower, some lunch and a rest we set off into the village to explore.
It is hard to describe the absloute awesomeness of Nepal, the people, the mountains, the scenery... we are blown away. The mountains are so much grander than i had imagined - everywhere you look you are surrounded by snow capped peaks and even in the foothills the mountains are larger and more spectacular than i have ever seen before. The villages are very poor and the culture shock for me on the first day was huge. The rely completely on tourism and the are a very humble, kind and hospitable nation of people. The food, although primarily vegetarian has been excellent and we have really enjoyed it. On the altitude front. we are now well above 3000m and neither of us has had any ill effects. The air is thin and we huff and puff even when climbing a flight of stairs. Sleep is hard to come by as you keep waking up with your heart pounding and it takes a while to settle again. It is very cold and showering needs to be done early afternoon at the latest otherwise its too cold. We only have a couple of days more of showering then its a no-go as your body struggles to regain its normal temperature. The worst, the very worst, thing for me has been the toilets. They are either holes in the ground or in the bush on the side of the path. Unfortunately to aid in acclimatisation you need to drink plenty of water plus, high altitude has a diuretic effect - combine the 2 and you are constantly needing the toilet. Not a good thing and i believe it gets worse as you get higher. Oh dear.
Mon 27 Apr Namache Acclimatisation day
I thought today would be a day of rest but it wasn't to be. We set off on a trip to some nearby villages where we had some lemon tea (the staple) and then headed back to Namche. Round trip took about 3.5 hours but it was good to losen the muscles and exert ourselves a bit at this altitude. What has really struck me is that the privilege of seeing these mountains so closely and in all this splendour has to be earned, all the money in the world couldn't fly you here, you have to walk and for that effort you are unbelievably rewarded. After the shock of the first day you get into a routine and i no longer think about how far i have to go but what i am going to see when i get there. There are no gaurantees that we will make it to base camp but at the moment are are having an awesome time and look forward to continuing our journey. Must close now as we are going to the museum in Namche which is .... you guessed it ... at the top of the mountain!
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