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Stowing Away I stood between two facing mirrors & almost caught a glimpse of infinity, but my bloody head kept getting in the way

Mt Everest aint so big...

NEPAL | Thursday, 11 October 2001 | Views [4344] | Comments [3]

Namche Bazzar on the way to Everest

Namche Bazzar on the way to Everest

Hi Everyone,

I'm Back in Kathmandu, Nepal, after wandering up & down a few small hills to have a bit of a look at Mount Everest.

Before that I did a week long trek to the Annapurna ranges (kinda at the other end of Nepal). It started at a fairly low altitude outside of Phokara and climbed pretty steeply to a reasonable height. It was sunny & very hot so the sweat was running nearly as much as the numerous rivers & streams. Lots of rice paddies, stunning views of snow covered mountains (suprise suprise), classy toilets (sarcasm) & pretty good food & accommodation (sometimes even with hot showers of a sort). The sherpa guides take pretty good care of you & I've got used to black tea (with or without lemon cordial). Lots of donkey/mule caravans on the trail and of course lots of porters with truly amazing loads. They are a bit tougher & fitter than me... I found coming down the steep hills much harder than going up as it's harder on the knees & calves.

Then it was off to the Royal Chitwan nation park for a 3 day jungle safari.

It was incredibly humid & very hot. I thought I was sweating going uphill on the trek, but nothing like this. I thought nothing could beat the humidity of Bangkok, but again I’m proven wrong. Up to 6 showers a day and dripping with sweat again 2 minutes later. Very yuk. Did two Elephant back safari's through the jungle & grasslands - one in the afternoon and another early one morning (much cooler). We saw lots of rhino, deer & wild birds. Didn't see of hear any tigers though.

The Elephants are amazing - so large but so gentle, graceful & silent (except when tearing down trees/grasses to eat). Not the most comfortable ride in the world (still better than an ox-cart!), but you get used to it.

We got back to Kathmandu & some clean(er) clothes and were still walking around like old men from our stiff legs. The new group we met up with to do the Everest trek with looked so clean & fresh...

We flew from Kathmandu towards the Himalayas in a tiny 10 seater plane(with some tantalising glimpses of them through the clouds & mountain valleys)into Lukla airstrip (which is the shortest & steepest airfield I've ever seen - about 350 - 400 metres long with a steep hillside at one end and dropping away into a huge valley at the other) & began trekking along the main trail that winds its way to Everest base camp.

It was lines of very hairy Yaks carrying loads, rather than donkeys on this trail - the Yaks are much bigger and have very sharp horns, so it really pays to stay out of their way (usually by pressing yourself into the hillside/cliffside/stonewallside and waiting till they pass - there isn't a lot of room on these trails). They do have a nice selection of bells (like cowbells - yakbells?) around there neck, so you can hear them coming from a long way away.

Three days of up & down hills (more up than down)later, everyone except myself and one other person (who did the same trek around the Annapurnas as me) got some form of altitude sickness. Big headaches, vomiting, lack of sleep etc - nothing too serious. We stopped for an extra day to acclimatise, during which it rained heavily non-stop. (Thankfully that was the only rain we got all trek, and it was brilliantly clear for all the good bits!) While there, we found out a person in the lodge we were about to go to, had died during the night of altitude sickness during their sleep. This made a few of the group a bit paranoid & worried, and 2 people from another group even decided to not go any further. The story was clarified a day later that the girl who died was sick from day one, but refused (against all advice) to go to a lower altitude (the only cure), and therefore got worse & worse. Stupidity really.

So we continued up to Thanboche (about 14,200 ft) and spent a bitterly cold night there (sleeping bag was still very warm though!). Got up and watched the sun rise over Mt Everest & surrounding mountains, which was breathtaking - completely cloudless. Took far too many photos... Went to some monasteries & climbed past 14,500 ft - nearly twice as high as Mt Kosciusko, still not quite half as high as Mt Everest (8848m), but as high as I've skydived from out of an aeroplane.

We spent 4 or 5 days coming back down and flew back to Kathmandu yesterday. My legs survived this trek better than the Annapurna trek - partly as the Annapurna trek starts much lower and climbs steeper more quickly up a greater vertical distance (we also did it at about 3 times the pace of the Everest trek). The Everest one starts at a much higher altitude & therefore you have to travel much more slowly to acclimatise properly.

Early on my last morning in Nepal I went Hot air ballooning over Kathmandu. It was very interesting with kids coming from everywhere to watch this alien balloon take off and land in their rice paddies. The view itself wasn't that spectacular as there was a thick haze over Kathmandu and only got some misty views of the Himalayas in the distance, even though we went up over 7000ft. We floated right next to and above the airport for quite a while, and thought some plane must soon come in to land and crash into us, but the wind slowly changed and we drifted away again. A nice soft landing and another 50 million kids crowding around asking what my name was and if I was a film star. Didn't they instantly recognise me as Arnold Swartzenegger???

So now it’s off to London via Bangkok (one week only - I'm off to France on the 19th), so I’ll catch up with some of you Londonites then.
From there it’s overland to the middle East, via France, Italy, Greece & Turkey.
The route & countries then on may be re-arranged depending on the current political situation, but we shall see!

That's all for now,
Take care all,

Ian

Tags: annapurna, ballooning, chitwan, himalayas, kathmandu, mountains, mt everest, nepal, thanboche, trekking

 

Comments

1

Hello there,

Sounds like u r having the time of your life Me E!

I must say I'm not looking forward 2 the aclimatisation bit when I go to Sth America.

Things have been frantic here with moving. I don't want to go back to Sydney on Mon. to work. I think I'm going to be very happy here in Nelson. Life is at so much of a slower pace.

Have so much to do must fly. Hope the rest of your trip brings you happiness and rewarding challenges.

Will be in touch when I have more time.

Love,
Melanie. xo

  Mel Oct 13, 2001 9:42 PM

2

Namastes from back in boring ol' Melbournia and (terrorism) paranoia here all too quickly.

I spent far too many tedious days in Bangkok in the end that I shouldn't have - the travel agent implied I might be able to get an earlier flight back to Aus, so I hung about (heel of the hand to
the forehead at this point - although I did get taken out to dinner, but that's another story ... ) - now with the wonders of hindsight I realise she was just being polite and cursing that I didn't
skedaddle quick smart over to Siem Reap - but ahs well thems the breaks, start plotting the next trip seems to be the only thing to do.

Most interested to hear how the rest of the trekking in the Himalayas went for you, had been wondering how it all went/was going. So did the second trekking group prove as entertaining a time - or was everyone too worried about the high drama of altitude sickness?
After the true inside story here. Sounds like you were being far to diplomatic in your update.

Not to speak disrespectfully, oh okay so I will, but seems kind of hard to fathom the girl who would not go back, especially under that sort of situation that had obviously been ongoing! Was she part of a Peregrine trek or was it some other lot? Sounds like it would have been pretty distressing to have been a part of the group she was travelling with.

I must say, I do like the suggestion that the Annapurna trek was harder going the Everest one! Every time someone asks me: "But was it difficult?" and I start some marvellous bluster, I feel like one
of you guys is about to appear and bust my story wide open ....

Working on getting the receptionist at work to scan my photos (dodge, don't hold your breath) into a computer so I can email them on to you and Graham et al.

What did Caroline decide to do? Has she gone off to India or is she returning to the London rat race?

Hope the middle east trip pans out for you - be sure to send a P/C from Petra if nothing else. Hope the culture shock of the Brits is not too savage after the joys of the land of the gods.

Cheers
Tyrell

  Tyrell Oct 14, 2001 4:03 PM

3

Great 2 hear from u again mate...sounds like you're having a wonderful time over there. Wish i could have me some great adventures like that!!! The sunrise over Mt. Everest would have been amazing. I can't wait 2 see your photos!

Our Brissie plans are looking more and more concrete - about this time next year we hope to be up there or almost up there! Yaaaaaay...

Anyway dude, great 2 hear from u and i hope you have some amazing moments on the rest of your holiday. Take care of yourself mate and have a super time!

Love Shazz xxoo :)

  Sharon Oct 19, 2001 4:39 PM

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