Connecting When You Travel – Chokos, Children and Conversations

Namaste and Jum Jum Bistari

Last year in Nepal “connecting” started with learning a few words of Nepalese at the small hotel we stayed in Kathmandu. People always respond well if you have a go at speaking their language, they love it. My choice of words might seem strange. I learnt  Continue reading

Keeping Watch in Khumjung

Stupa at Khumjung in the Khumbu region of Nepal

Eyes peeping out from the yellow fringe seem sad against the grey cloudy backdrop. Despite being badly cracked from the 2015 earthquake, the stupa still stands sentinel at the end of the main path into Khumjung and watching over the Sir Edmund Hillary School.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/eyes/

Our Porter Guide

He met us at the baggage collection at Lukla airport. After a cup of tea and sorting our packs at the Paradise Lodge we were ready. He tied our bags together with his ropes, positioned the load on his head and led us out of Lukla, stopping every now and then to check we were following.

Consulting the map

Consulting the map

At first from his lack of response to our questions and attempts at conversation I thought he had limited English. But as he tuned in to our accents and we started to get to know each other, he spoke more.

On the second day he seemed a bit more relaxed and he started to teach us some Nepalese words. Jum jum, let’s go and appropriately on the hard climb to Namche Bazaar bistari bistari, slowly slowly. Jokingly he taught us quickly quickly. When we climbed to Khumjung the thick cloud forced my focus to my feet and the spider webs covered in dewdrops, he told me the words for spider and spider webs too.

Alpine flower Solukhumbu
Dew on spider webs

Familiar with the trail, he pointed out things I would never have seen without him. He pointed out birds and bee hives hanging in the crevices of rocks on the other side of the river. Sometimes he sang his Nepali songs. We watched fascinated by his animated conversations with others along the track and picked up his sense of humour and friendly nature.

At the end of the day when I wrote in my small diary, he reminded me of the things we had seen on the trail. He spelt out the Nepalese words I had learnt during the day and I helped him with some new English words in our guide books.

In Dingboche, surrounded by magnificent mountains he taught me their names. He helped while I practiced naming them in order, like a child reciting their abc, learning the Himalayan range spread before me.

Many times we waited together for donkeys and yaks to pass. Once I was caught in a tight spot and I turned away when I shouldn’t have. Fortunately Basanta was watching. I turned around in time to see him pushing a donkey away from me. If he hadn’t of done this the donkey’s side load would have pushed me over the small wall.

He pulled me up the huge black boulders to reach the top of Kala Pattar. Took photos of us together and celebrated with us at Everest Base Camp.

At Everest Base Camp

He called me Louise, sometimes jokingly Mom and sometimes Didi – Big Sister.

Sometimes he led. Sometimes he followed. And sometimes we walked side by side.

Khumjung Village Everest Base Camp TrekSometimes he lead
Porters climbing up to the bridge to Namche Bazaarsometimes he followed
Dingboche to Dughla Everest Base Camp Trekand sometimes we walked side by side

On the last day, walking back to Lukla a woman coming the other way silently pointed at the porter right behind me as if she thought I needed to move aside and let him pass. Yes I know, I thought, he is my porter and he has been close by for sixteen days. He has carried our load making our trek to Base Camp easier. He guided, pointed things out and watched out for us. He was our companion, Nepalese friend and shared his country with us. Thank you Basanta.

 

The porter guide and me
Saying goodbye at the Paradise Lodge in Lukla

 

 

Bucket Lists and Difficult Journeys

Trekking to Everest Base Camp – Are You Ready?

You don’t need to be an athlete nor a mountain climber.

You don’t have to be seasoned hiker either. For many people who trek to Base Camp it is their first experience of anything like this. I know because I was one of these people.

With Training Everest Base Camp is achievable for the average person

Training before you go is highly recommended. Your training is part of the bigger journey. It certainly was part of mine. The Trainer kept reminding me, you know the quote, the journey is not just about the destination. Oh and the question of age. I’m in my fifties and there were plenty of people older than me on the trail.

Above the yak pastures on the trail to Dingboche.
One of favourite days walking into Dingboche past yak pastures.

If you are healthy, have trained and mentally prepared Everest Base Camp is possible. Continue reading

Travel to Nepal Now

Last year we booked our flight to Kathmandu two weeks before the first earthquake.

We changed our minds several times over the months following the quake and at the last moment thought about cancelling the trip. But not going didn’t feel right. So we left Melbourne with me being quite nervous and the Trainer being, optimistic, of course.

As soon as we left Melbourne I felt less anxious. What were we expecting? I should probably say what was I expecting because the Trainer and I rarely expect the same thing. I was expecting to see Kathmandu really devastated when flying into it. And it wasn’t.

Damaged Durbar Square

Although we didn’t visit Durbar Square until after our trek people were walking around the area but hardly any tourists. The Square was badly affected and I’m sure it will be a while before it is restored.The photos below show some of the area.

Earthquake damage Kathmandu

Nearby not actually the Square

Durbar Square Kathmandu and old buildings being propped up after the eartquake

Historic buildings in Durbar Square being propped up by timber

Durbar Square Kathmandu damage after the 2015 earthquake

Starting the Everest Base Camp Trek

We flew into Lukla and after leaving the small airport building,  I stood looking down at the short runway and looking around me and cried. I got teary seeing the owner of the Paradise Lodge again. She gave me hug.

After a cup of tea and a short break for our porter to sort the packs we started out down the main street of Lukla, the Porter, the Trainer and me. I felt we had made the right decision.

Tourists are starting to return to Nepal but it is still very quiet. If you are thinking of going to any part of Nepal to trek, go and go this year. Get ready for the the October to December season. If you want to have a life changing adventure that you will never forget. Go trekking in Nepal or simply visit Nepal – Kathmandu, Pokhara or the jungle of Chitwan. Your tourist dollar is what is desperately needed to help get Nepal back on its feet.

Stupa at Khumjung in the Khumbu region of Nepal

Sadly earthquake damaged stupa at Khumjung

 

If you need some more encouragement read

25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp.

Who wrote this post and why I blog 

Worth a read if you are still worried about Earthquake damage.

Day 3 Monjo to Namche Bazaar

Day 3 The Big Day

In a nutshell – one very high bridge and one big mountain.

Most treks do Phakding to Namche Bazaar on day two. Before we left Australia, the Trainer  decided to add a day to our itinerary and walk to Namche Bazaar on Day 3 instead.We had time and it would be easier on our legs and lungs. I was happy for him to do all the research and planning and trusted his judgement. From my minimal research and a friend’s first hand experience I knew the infamous climb to Namche Bazaar was a hard one. The friend had trekked with  group and had been one of the earliest to arrive. He sat in a cafe and watched others from his group walk into the town. One very tough character from their group finally arrived, absolutely exhausted. He came up to my friend with tears in his eyes, hugged him and said that it had been the hardest day of his life. So when we set out from the tea house in Monjo I was mentally prepared and planned to take it slowly.

Just outside of Monjo is the entrance to the Sagarmantha National Park the checkpoint where Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card details are recorded.

The Sagarmantha National Park entrance outside Monjo

The Sagarmantha National Park entrance outside Monjo

I realised I wasn’t quite up to the local speed when a woman who looked 80 passed me with a load of 40 kilos of cabbages on her back.

The bridge to Jorsale festooned with prayer flags. on the way to Namche Bazaar.

The bridge to Jorsale festooned with prayer flags

In front two bridges over the Dudh Kosi gorge

A rest before the climb to the higher bridge at the Dudh Kosi Gorge and famous bridge.

Made It off the highest scary bridge

Almost off the high bridge across the Dudh Kosi Gorge

Fruit sellers on the Everest Base Camp trail on the climb to Namche Bazaar.

Fruit sellers at the resting place on the climb to Namche Bazaar. there are toilets here and ….

One of the rewards of a strenous day's climb.

your first view of Everest – one of rewards for the strenuous day’s climb

Yes that is the trail around the mountain.

The trail around the mountain

Everest Base Camp Trek

The infamous climb to Namche Bazaar almost finished

Day 2 Phakding to Monjo

Phakding to Monjo Day Two Treks to Everest Base Camp

Follow the Pumpkin Coloured Backpack

This day was a short walk. For many trekking tours Day 2 is Phakding to Namche Bazaar. The climb to Namche Bazaar is a big day so the Trainer added a day to our itinerary so we didn’t need to rush and allow time to acclimatise to the altitude. Groups were leaving our lodge for Namche a good hour before us. Setting out we looked forward to a leisurely day taking our time and taking in the views around us.

Phakding EBC Trek

Before leaving Melbourne our plans to trek the Everest Base Camp by ourselves and without a guide or porter had a few people concerned. Me as well. The Trainer explained to my mother before we left that trekking the trail is not like trekking a in remote location, well in the lower part of the trail anyway. He explained the trail is through villages with small tea houses dotted all the way, with lots of people trekking, porters and Nepalis going about their daily business including school kids walking to school. We did in fact see many children walking to school along the trail. Small children in small groups without adults running to school had my herd mother radar working on overdrive at times.

Everest Base Camp

Kids walking to school

 
Phakding to Monjo

Vegetable gardens and stone walls line the trail through many villages. Note the Donkey train coming up the path.

Phakding to Monjo

Different types of prayer wheels are all along the trail. The important thing to remember is to turn them clockwise.

Bridge across Dudh Kosi

Cable  hanging bridge across the Dudh Kosi river after Benkar. I got off the bridges as quickly as possible.

 

Crossing the river Phakding to Monjo

Donkey trains on trek were a fascination for me. Doing a bit of traffic duty and keeping the slow ones moving while waiting on the sidelines.

Doing a bit of traffic duty and keeping the slow donkeys moving from the safety of the sidelines. Chuk Chuk!