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Hans thinks it should be Namche "Bizar"

NEPAL | Friday, 23 September 2011 | Views [507]

Well, after a decent tramp from Jiri, number 2 (aka Hans) has also reached Namche, to be amazed by the “resort’-type feeling it has (until you explore the side streets. The unofficial name is Namche Bazar, but Bizar would be more appropriate. As an example laundry services are available using real washing machines, considering these have been carried up the hill to 3500m.  Forget our earlier notes that moving house was hard work, that was only one washing machine and some boxes, but here virtually everything is walked in.  As most goods are portered in from Jiri, you can read my trip notes below which cover the same route. According to my guide book I’ve now got more than 9000m of climbing in my legs in those 7 days, so will skip Mt Everest (not enough tea-houses up there!).


To get to Jiri from KTM a day-long busride is required, but having booked the trip a day in advance I got a good seat alloing my backpack to be in, not on top of the bus. There are some warnings about theft, as indeed Westerners are incredibly rich compare to some people here. Won’t say that life or happiness should be counted in dollars, but it helps if you got a few! After the first quick six hours the express bus became a local runabout, with more and more people joining. One skinny lady poked her bum under my armpit, so she could sit on the armrest. Relax and accept. A toddler that got nearly crushed in the crowd could sit on my backpack, but found it a bit scary near the big fella with the blue eyes. The busride ended before the muscle cramps got too severe, and the rest of the day was spent reorganising the backpack. With camping gear, cold weather clothes, some emergency food and a bulky medical kit (thanks Mika!) I could just squeeze it into the 80litre pack. Guess it was in total some 20kg.


As expected day 1 and 2 urged the body to adapt to this load, to the climate (still foggy and a drizzle every now and then) ad off course some hills. It seems like every third house is open for visitors to sell tea, and every fifth is a little shop selling basically the same stuff. Occasionally the tea and shop functions coincide, and often tea shops offer some food. As sore throats (and probably TB) are quite common here, you often hear raw throat-clearing sounds, and then somebody pops out of a door and launches a little liquid bomb on the ground. These same people work in the tiny kitchens (usually an open woodfire, with smoke escaping through the bamboo roof) so no wonder I got a good throat infection. At least an excuse why the legs felt a bit tired. 


With the “final” destination Macchermo at 4400m, it made sense to sleep rather high and get used to the altitude. The trail went over a 3500m pas and another 3200m pass, so I got reasonably used to the altitude by sleeping somewhere around 2500 – 2900m (you just need  to breathe 30% deeper). It happened a few times at night that the auto-pilot forgot the inhale deep enough, forcing me to wake up and re-start breathing. Strange feeling, but fortunately got better during the week. The higher altitude also resulted in cooler nights, so I could finally get my own sleeping bag out. Still too hot, but better too warm than too cold.


On various moments in KTM nd on the track the hymn “Oh Mani Padme Hum” could be heard, form souvenir shops, from hostels, or just houses along the way. Very monotonous and slow, but when you struggle up a hill with no spare capacity, it is actually the right rhythm. Still not sure if I’ll buy the CD..! Accommodation was always easy to find, sometimes very basic but reasonably clean. Food could be either the traditional dal bhaat (rice, lentil soup and some cooked veggies), momos (kind of dim sum, eithrsteamed or fried), fried rice or chow mein, and also ‘western’ stuff as macaroni, pizza etc. Haven’t tried that because it won’t taste as expected, and the local stuff is indeed quite nice!


With regards to wildlife:  the butterflies are amazing, some colourful birds spotted, one snake, a few funny frogs, but all others on four legs where domesticated animals. Various types of cows, buffalos and cross-breds (even with yaks), a few sheep, many goats, chicken everywhere. For transport I’ve come across some mule-caravans, and closer to Namche also yak-like cows (impressive horns, although the real yaks live still higher in the cold).  The least attractive however where the leeches: during 6 days I had only one sucking my valuable blood from an ankle, but one section of 30 minutes (according to the guidebook a scenic alternative to the main track) resulted in about 20 leeches on my boots, legs and backpack. Got most off without harm, but still found two intensely satisfied leeches in my socks at the next stop. Bugger! The good thing is that they don’t itch nor infect.


Today being a lazy day in and around Namche, the plan is to have a look at the Saturday morning market and then leave for a 4-5 hour walk into the Gokyo valley. Altitude dictates it will then be another two walking  days to arrive in Macchermo, although it is only half a day’s walk in horizontal distance. Will be interesting to see how Mika, Sean, Anna, Helen and the Nepali crew (Chhewang and his assistant) are settled in – hopefully no earthquake damage to the medical post.


Oops – by the way: there was a significant rattle caused by a quake in NE-India, but it didn’t cause any immediate damage where Mika and I were at that  moment.  I did however note some fresh landslips just below Namche, with one bridge damaged by a slide. It involved a bit of a detour, but at some point in time the mind gets immune for more climbing!


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