A Travellerspoint blog


Acclimatisation day in Pheriche

sunny 2 °C
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Today is another rest and acclimatisation day in Paraquite so we had a nice lie in until 9am. Oscar took us for a stroll over several ridges which turned out to be exhausting (so much for a rest day huh!), but the views from the top were amazing. The inscribed rocks and colourful prayer flags add such character and colour to the landscape, and once we climbed higher above the villages we sat on a big rock to admire the serenity of the flags flapping in the wind. Barely a sound is heard on such a calm, cloudless day, just the water trickling down the valley and the breeze whistling. The surrounding backdrop of the mountains honestly looked fake and until we get up to some snow I am dubious they actually exist. Can't see a snow leopard from here either! Ohhh!

Back at camp we got to bask in the sunshine (no bikini's though, still fully clothed with puffer jacket), and after a swift defeat at chess Andy challenged Oscar to a game. Although it took a while of "umming" and "arring", and a quick pause to watch a giant, eagle-like bird soar past, Oscar wiped the floor with him, much to my delight after my failure! What a great day this is turning out to be!

As I was in such a generally warm and happy mood I decided to have my second shower of the trip - daring I know! One whiff of my socks and it was certain I needed some soap. So, once again I braved the cow-shed - tin shelter, stone-floored, trickling shower head - and tried to get the dirt out of my hair and nails. The worst part is when the warm water stops and you have to get dry, and I would kill for a fluffy white towel instead of the thin, skimpy travel one which barely dries my left arm. But once warm again it was nice to be in clean clothes and to smell sweet again.. almost!

While I was washing several other trekking joined our lodge which was a first. The only downfall of more pople is that you are all huddling for a place near the fire - which we found out when we were the last to go to dinner. There were two Canadians, who without a guide took a long detour and felt frazzelled, one inparticular had a nasty headache so spent the rest of the day covered in a blanket. There was also a strange-looking Dutch man, also guidelesss, who looked a bit wispy to me, and ate raw cabbage and carrot. We had a good chat with an Irish couple who were coming to the end of their round-the-world trip, it was good to share stories and get tips. Another French lady completed the residents and we all gathered around the yak-poo fire. The yaks seems to be very handy around here... or maybe they are just burning the poo to mask the smell of us?

It was nice to finally chat to others about their trip anyway and Bim and Oscar certainly relished having other porters and guides to play cards with. Despite the company we still all went to bed early with the prospect of a big climb tomorrow.

Posted by AndyGem 22:14 Archived in Nepal Tagged foot Comments (1)


Tengboche to Pheriche

sunny -1 °C
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Following on from my slight nauseousness last night I woke up to a strange feeling this morning. I have been feeling worse in the early hours but this felt like I have been on a fantastic bender - mixing all sorts of drinks, partying til the sun came up. No such luck, just the after effects - headaches, stomach cramps, dizziness and craving for a bacon sarnie. Andy and I seem to alternate between feeling woozy so he was happy as a spring lamb, although not so cute and woolly.

We haven't been sleeping too well lately, more of a light snooze than a deep, restful slumber. We have also been having some seriously strange dreams as well - which again makes me wonder if I have been sleep-partying? We are taking this drug called Diamox to help with the altitude so it must be the side-effects? During the day all we have to do is let our minds wander as we walk so hopefully my thoughts will be figured out.. I am also using this brain time to discover a new invention - 'The Never-Smelling Base Layer' - under-garments that you can wear for weeks in cold weather and it somehow stays fresh. It's in the early stages so no comments yet please. I have still got my cold so maybe all that blowing of my nose has emptied my brain? - again no comments on that !

As you can imagine it is getting colder as we ascend. This morning I started out with four items on my top-half, plus my big puffer-jacket, two pairs of gloves, long-johns, thin socks, thick socks, leg-warmers, trousers, boots and a wind-stopper hat! The trouble is, you start out freezing but as you walk you begin to warm, until you start climbing and then you get positively boiling. It's such a dilema knowing how many layers to take off though because you just don't know when that whippy, wind is going to bite again.

Walking always makes me feel a lot better so my stomach soon settled and we were once again meandering through a nice path with the sun blazing on our backs. We had our eyes wide open for wildlife as the guidebook said this route is great for spotting animals. Even when we showed Oscar the animal pictures last night he smiled and said it was possible to see goats, pheasants, musk deer and even red pandas! I'm still hoping for a rare sighting of a Snow Leopard, which I could hopefully tame and bring home as a play mate for Kitty! I was a bit worried that people would mistake me for a Red Panda with my red fleece, but thankfully there is Wildlife Protection in force so I wasn't shot for my fur. Phew!

As we passed the highest year-round settlement of Pangboche (my version: Pain in the Back) the route enters alpine meadows above the tree line. All along the route we have seen these piles of stones covered in strange inscriptions. Sometimes it is just one huge rock with massive writing on it. At first I thought some flaming mongrel had gone around graffittying the landscape but on closer inspection I realised it was a religious marking. The stones are in fact covered with the Tibetan Buddhist inscription: 'om mani padme hurm', which I think means: 'How many bloody stones do we have to write on!'

The wind soon picked up as we approched the flat plains towards Pheriche (my version: Paraquite) so luckily just as we crossed the river our fifth lodge came into sight. We had a nice relaxing evening being entertained by 'Bing Bing' - the daughter of the lodge owner who was goregous if a little bit grubby. Again it is noticeably colder so now I am sleeping in my fleece and my balaklava.

Posted by AndyGem 22:13 Archived in Nepal Tagged foot Comments (0)


Namche to Tengboche

sunny 7 °C
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Today was our first day with our porter called Bim, his normal profession is as an assistant cook but shortages meant he was drafted in. Having Bim meant Gem only had a small bag and mine was much lighter.

The track started off as a gentle down hill on which we encountered many soldiers who had been searching for a British trekker now missing for over 2 months, so unless he is Bear Grylls I think he is a goner.
We got stuck behind a yak train as we approached the bottom of the valley which signaled the beginning of our 400m ascent on the otherside. It worked out fine being behind the yaks as they too were slow, stopped a lot and smelled just as bad as us!

The ascent was a real battle to keep plodding away turn after turn, we passed several smug trekkers going down, can;t wait to be in their position, provided we make it! We finally reached the top at 12:30 and the views made it worthwhile as for the first time we could see Everest. We had lunch in a tea house with a lone Irish man after which he continued walking and we continued our tradition of an afternoon sleep!

Bleary eyed at 4pm we visited a near by monastory which was an amazing place, though sadly too cold for the monks so we couldn't witness their prayer sessions.

Posted by AndyGem 22:12 Archived in Nepal Tagged foot Comments (0)


Acclimatisation in Namche

sunny 4 °C
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Once again we were the only guests in our lodge so although it felt exclusive we have not had a chance to talk to any other tourists about their experiences. Nacho is a big place and in the peak season apparently every guest house, lodge and hotel is jam-packed. It lies at 3420m above sea level and is the administrative centre for the Khumbu region with it's numerous shops to stock up or buy souvenirs. This is our first acclimatisation day which is very important before proceeding too much higher. In the morning we spent a few hours hiking up to a nearby village of Khumjung, (my version: Kungfu), which although was a steep enough to get us gasping it felt a lot lighter without our heavy backpacks. KungFu is the largest village in this area and is home to the original Hillary school which was set up by Sir Edmund Hillary - who was the first to climb Everest in 1953 - I'm sure you all knew that!?

Oscar took us to the KungFu gompa (monastery) which is a beautiful colourful building decorated in patterns, statues, candles and little holes containing ancient books. Normally the monks would have ceremonies and prayers every day, but they have retreated south due to the cold weather. Good idea monks!.. think I may follow!

The gompa possesses what is said to be a skull of a yeti (big foot) and for a small donation we got to see it. The guide book describes a yeti as a large, human-like mammal, taller than a human and walks with a lumbering gait. It's body is covered with thick black/brown fur and it feet are big. It is very elusive and lives in caves and forests near the snow line in Nepal and Tibet. It has a high, piercing yell and it's body gives off a garlic-like smell. No yeti has been photographed at close range, but it had been seen by several people. Now, I know you are expecting me to make a joke about the yeti and it's likeness to Andrew, but of course I wouldn't do that! [I definitely thought I saw one in my bedroom last night though, think I will keep my camera and binoculars close just in case].

It was nice to go downhill for once back to Nacho were we had a leisurely walk around then ate lunch. Luckily, one shop gave us an advance on our credit card so now we don't have to worry about scrimping on Andy's much-needed food. He said it was the best Valentines present he had ever had - which doesn't say much for my choice of gifts over the years eh! We celebrated by going to the bakery and devouring cinnamon buns and chocolate pastries... Maybe I should have called this the Great Food Adventure after all?

The rest of the afternoon Andy slept (which must be nearly 12hours he's been snoozing overall) while I read and wrote. After a two-course dinner (yup, we're splashing out now!) Andy gave my aching shoulders a nice massage with some Tiger Balm - actually, I tell a lie, it was the English equivalent called 'Badger Rub', but that doesn't sound half as romantic.

Big day tomorrow so we were tucked up like caterpillars by 9pm. The sleeping bags are turning out to be very snugly and you can really get right in so there is just enough air to breathe. I am hoping this cocoon-like state with state the reversal-aging process.. I will let you know if it works.

Posted by AndyGem 22:11 Archived in Nepal Tagged foot Comments (1)


From Phakding to Namche

sunny 4 °C
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On our second day we woke to glorious blue skies and breakfasted on apple porridge for fuel - but I was still feeling inwardly cold and thus gave Andy the silent treatment for the first few hours of the day. The warm sunshine soon melted my frostiness though and when Monty came bounding along to join our daily stroll I was positively joyful. It is a pleasant route alongside the river, villages are interspersed with magnificient forests of rhododendrons, magnolia and giant firs. The massive suspension bridges we have been crossing are pretty impressive, not to mention rather wobbly and a bit holey - Andy decided not to look down for obvious reasons, so when I got to the centre I jumped up and down like Tigger to get him excited! Cheap thrills.

As we entered the small village of Monjo (my version: 'Mojo') we were given the dilema of eating lunch early (11am) or trekking another 2 hours to get to our next stopover, Namche (my version: 'Nacho'). There are no lodges on the way from Mojo to Nacho so it was easy to opt for a break of Veg Noodle Soup and to soak up the sun while Monty slept in the shade.

Beyond Mojo the trek enters the Sagarmatha National Park, and we continued our trail following the river until we came to a rather steep incline. The scramble/struggle up to Nacho seemed increasingly long and arduous, and with every step our backpacks felt a stone heavier and the gradient seemed several degrees skyward. All I could think about was meeting the porter at Nacho to lighten the load. It didn't help that Monty would trot up a pile of steps like a gazelle, then look back down with his tongue out as if to say "Come on slow coaches!".

It can be very dangerous to race up the hills though, so we took it nice and slow, one pigeon step after another. At the sound of the yak bells we got a welcome rest to let the cargo pass, gulp some water and then plod on again. It is so hard to belive that the sherpa's do this type of journey every day, often carrying huge, heavy loads supported by a band across their heads. I'm sure there are a few back problems occuring on these hills, but Oscar told us that the sherpa's and porters don't get tips if they show pain. Ouch! More often than not the loads they are carrying are goods for the tourists... beer, meat and that all important ketchup. We saw one boy, who looked about 14/15, carrying a 40kg basket - maybe my backpack wasn't so bad after all.

As we came to a clearing for a breather we got our first glimpse of Everest, covered in cloud like she was having a fag. I purchased a tangerine from a withered woman and we sat, gazing at the view, getting a whiff of the dry-cured meat in the sherpa's baskets. That must have been the most juiciest tangerines we have ever tasted!

It felt like we would never get there, but as an old, wrinkly, lady carrying cabbages sped passed us I saw the sign to Nacho, finally we'd made it! I was so elated to arrive that I didn't notice Monty was no longer trailing, maybe he had met some mates and gone for a game of snooker? Anyway, when we got to the Buddha Lodge in central Nacho I asked for a hot shower - which means having to wait until they heat a bucket of water before they pour into the shower tank. I have read that in some parts of Nepal when a woman is having her monthly troubles they send her to the cowshed for four days. Well, when one of the boys from our lodge showed me to the washing facility I thought he was banishing me to that same shed... an oustide, dirty, hovel, not fit for a cleaning cubicle. The things I have to put up with eh! Despite to surroundings it was nice to feel clean again and I was looking forward to a well-deserved dinner. Andy was pretty crestfallen when I ate every last morsel of my tuna lasagne, when normally he would get my leftovers. Due to the lack of ATMs our budget does not stretch to pudding.

The higher we go the colder it gets so I was glad for the extra blanket on our bed that evening. We had a nice rest day ahead so we slept like logs.

Posted by AndyGem 22:08 Archived in Nepal Tagged foot Comments (0)

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