Everest Journal (Part 3 of many)

October 9, 2007

Route: Junbesi (2700m)- Everest View Lodge (3100m)- Ringmo (2700m)- Trakshindo La (3071m)/Trakshindo (2930m)- Nuntala (2350m)- Dudh Kosi (1493m)- Jubing (1700m)

Total time: 7hrs 45min

We had an early start (645am!) on the trail despite Tim’s complaining/whining but I reassured him that the trail would be all downhill (which it wasn’t unfortunately). I anticipated a really long day to Kharikhola and wanted to get a good head start on the trail. We had a nice filling breakfast consisting of fried potatoes, dipped with Tim’s favorite condiment, KETCHUP. He likes to put ketchup on just about everything it seems!

I am really enjoying the potatoes here. I find them very flavourful, probably as flavourful as the baby potatoes you get in North America. Potatoes are virtually grown everywhere (75% of cultivated land according to Jamie McGuiness) and are a very important staple for the Nepali (the land can not support rice production). At first glance, you wouldn’t think the land could support such an input-intensive crop, but (according to Jamie McGuiness) they use crop rotation, many different varieties, organic fertilizers (manure) and are spatially scattered across the landscape to help reduce the risk of blight and disease. I am certain we’ve eaten aleast 4 different varieties of potato!

<Just had an interesting thought- even though the English pronounce “TOMATO” as “TOMAA-TOE” they don’t pronounce “POTATO” as “POTAA-TOE”- where the consistency in that???!>

So I think these past few months traveling with Tim has finally taken its toll. He let it “rip” right in front of me this morning! Tim’s started a war of attrition and he doesn’t even know it yet! LOL.

Despite what I told Tim, there was a bit of a climb to the Everest View Hotel/Cheese factory, Ringmo, as well as to Trashindo Pass. We stopped at the cheese factory and ordered some nak (female Yak) cheese for 50NRs/100gm. It tasted very similar to parmesan cheese (hard cheese) and was quite tasty; I suffered no ill effects from eating it. Interestingly, cheese processing was introduced by the Swiss as a FAO (United Nations) study (year??); methods caught on and are now adopted by some farmers in the area.

CheeseFactory

Everest View Hotel/Cheese Factory

cutebaby

Farmer’s/Lodge owner’s baby girl.

At this Everest View Lodge, as you can guess from its name, offers you your first view of Everest (especially in early morning)…but the sad thing was it was too cloudy!! We were extremely disappointed, especially Tim (see photo below). In fact it was cloudy/foggy all day. I’m sure we missed out on alot of spectacular mountain scenery today.

SadTim


We saw our archnemesis (the trekker that we met on the first day to Deurali) on the descent to Dudh Kosi (river) this afternoon. We acknowledged him and his crew with a “namaste” since we assumed they didn’t speak English…we breezed past them on the trail and it felt so goooooood! I think every one should have an archnemesis in life- it really fleshes out your character and makes life (like hiking) more interesting! Tim’s mind was preoccupied with where our nemesis stayed the previous night; and he now worries that he is thinking too much about him. LOL.

Tim’s camera broke along the trail today. It was making some aweful grinding noises before we left India and now it has met its fate. He was abit grumpy about it; guess I would be too. It’s a good thing we have my camera to share- IMAGINE hiking for many days to catch a glimpse of the highest mountain in the world and not be able to take photos of it!! That’d be the WORST luck!

We didn’t make it to Kharikhola and I’m sure our arch-nemesis will now pass us along the trail. We were too tired and hungry, and Jubing seems like a nice enough village to stop and refuel…we’ve been hiking for almost 8 hours! Plus it was starting to rain. I’m sure we will be able to catch up to Mr. Nemesis tomorrow.

Unlike all the other Sherpa villages we visited and stayed in, Jubing is a Rai village. The Rai people, considered to be the original inhabitants of Nepal (Sherpas migrated from North-Eastern Tibet), are often distinguished by their attire/accessories. The females often have nose rings and males often were a wool vest and hat(?). They are often animists as well, unlike Sherpas who are Buddhist or Hindu.

Jubing is an attractive village with an all year round growing season because of its unique microclimate. They grow rice and I’ve even seen corn/maize as well!

ubing

Flower, vegetable and herb gardens in Jubing.

Maize

Stash of maize.

Tim and I are staying at the Green Bamboo Lodge, which is probably the cheapest place I ever stayed in throughout my travels- 20NRs per person! That’s equivalent to…ohhhh, 33cents CAD!!! It’s not a fancy place, it’s very basic with an outdoor composting toilet and no running water (there’s a tap outside).

20NRs Room

Our 20NRs basic room.

The menu prices are cheap as well, about 20% cheaper than the lodges we’ve been staying at thus far. But unfortunately there is a CATCH- the proportions aren’t substantial enough to appease our hunger. At dinner we had to order tibetan bread after our meal because we were still hungry and for breakfast tomorrow we have ordered another “extra” dish, just in case. I’m sure Tim will sneak in a few handfuls of museli tonight- LOL.

Another observation to make about Nepal is that it takes a ridiculously long time to cook a meal, well if it isn’t potatoes or dal bhaat because it’s always on demand. We’ve even experienced long waits in Kathmandu as well, out of the tourist district of Thamel. The primary reason being is that they cook on a wood fire stove AND often with only ONE burner. This gives a wait time of about 45min!!! For breakfast or dinner, lodge managers would often ask you to order your food ahead of time so they can prepare and give it to you within a reasonable or requested timeframe. But for lunch stops along the trail, allocate about 1.5hours…and have a journal or some reading material accessible in your pack because it’s quite a wait!

GreenBamboo

The Green Bamboo Lodge is family run; unfortunately they have a baby that’s extremely attached to its mother and cries constantly when she’s busy cooking or away. Their son’s pretty adorable though and looks after his little baby sister fairly well.

October 10, 2007

Jubing (1700m)- Kharikhola (2050m)- Bupsa (2350m)- Khari La (2850m)- Puiyan (2780m)- Surke (2300m)

Total time:

Last night we heard porters outside our window- they were stopping for the night and looking for a place to eat and rest. After realising how long and hard they work it made me feel abit embarrassed that we finished our day’s hike at 3pm! The porters were even gone before sunrise. Amazing. If I ever need motivation to get myself up to Everest base camp, all I have to do is think about the life of a porter.

Tim had a sad breakfast today. All he got was a small bowl of museli- just museli. No milk. Or yogurt. It was a good thing we ordered a second breakfast meal of chapati and omelette!

The morning was rainy/drizzly and foggy all day. I’m sure the views were supposed to be amazing. We started to get bored of the same same. The decent after Khari La (pass) was a killer on my knees too- I will have to start wearing my knee brace tomorrow.

Lack of scenery

At Khari La/pass (2850m) we bumped into our arch nemesis AGAIN! This time I hung around to figure out what language they were speaking. French! I started to converse with the guy in French…told him that I was Canadian; and Tim, English. He then immediately started talking to us in English! So they DO know English! Bastards!

DOnkeys

Donkeys on our decent from Khari La (pass).

We’re now in Surke, staying at Namaste Lodge and Restaurant…it’s a porter’s lodge and so the lodging is really cheap (50NRs- less than 1CAD for a double room). The place is pretty decent except there’s no tap- indoors or out! And the outhouse for some reason or other has a window that looks into the kitchen and a curtain that separates a “storage” area; and of course the door doesn’t properly shut either! Nevertheless, it suits our needs fine- the food’s tasty and plentiful, and the sleeping area is comfortable.

I actually prefer these kinds of lodges (small, less commercial) to the newly built big and fancy ones. For one thing, you get alot of “package” tourists and they can be quite loud and obnoxious; and they don’t tend to socialize with anyone other than from their own group. Furthermore, these small family run lodges are being outcompeted by the lodges that have things like oooooh, an indoor toilet and HOT shower. But I’m used to backcountry hiking so it doesn’t bother me all that much (it might bother Tim however!).

Funniest thing happened at our lunch break today! Tim found a leech on his shorts and he used the GAYEST finger flick to flick it off!! In defense, he said he used this technique because he didn’t want it to cling onto his finger.

We aim to go to Lukla tomorrow and inquire about flights back to Kathmandu. We are starting to rethink our plan on hiking back to Jiri; it would be just too torturous! Plus, we’d be able to shave off 3 days from hiking and use those days to tour Kathmandu and India.

Can’t wait to reach Namche Bazaar tomorrow and have a rest (acclimatization) day! Woohoo! I can finally wash this greasy hair of mine- I think I am starting to grow dreadlocks! Plus I can’t wait to start feeling feminine again- lol.

October 11, 2007

Route: Surke (2300m)- Chourikharka (2760m)- Phakding (2640m)- Monjo (2815m)- Namche (3450m)

Time: 6.5hours

We finally made it to Namche! The last 2 hour push to Namche was tiring (all uphill) but the dal bhaat kept me going. It’s great trekking fuel except for the flatulence factor. Tim and I had Dal Bhaat butt all the way to Namche.

Arriving into Namche was quite exciting. It’s a larger village situated in a cwm (bowl/amphitheatre like), and is a major stop over point for many trekkers. It’s also a post for Sherpas and Tibetans to trade supplies; unfortunately trading occurs on Saturdays and we’ll be missing it. It’s abit cold here too; Tim and I are both wearing our down jackets!

Namche

Namche.

Again, the hiking experience wasn’t all too exciting today; it was cloudy/misty again and so we didn’t get any views. I really started to notice the vegetation however and I have to admit, it’s pretty cool hiking in a rhododendron forest. It’s like seeing all my tropical house plants in tree size! I’d love to hike this trail again during the flowering season. There are also pine trees (my favorite type of tree) and lots of juniper that the Sherpas like to burn as incense (it really reeks in my opinion).

We also missed our turn to Lukla after Surke but we’re going to inquire about flights to Kathmandu here in Namche. We learned today that ALL flights into Lukla have been cancelled because of the weather since yesterday. I was expecting to see alot of trekkers on the trail after Lukla and in Namche, but it has been fairly quiet!

Our lunch stop at Bembar was very exceptionally long- a 1.5hour wait for our dal bhaat! What are they doing in the kitchen?? Growing lentils?? But it was worth the wait as we got seconds and high grade veggies (potatoes and cauliflower). And the dal was delicious! We promised the guy that we’d come again on our way back down to Lukla.

Before

Dal bhaat before…

After

Dal bhaat after.

The trail between Lukla and the park gate (Sagarmatha National Park) wasn’t very attractive; it reminded me alot like Banff National Park (Alberta, Canada)- very commercial. The number of resort hotels, lodges, restaurants and ads for businesses were astounding!

The ascent to Namche really starts at the high bridge after the National Park gate. I’m guessing a 500m climb? We met a porter on this ascent and he was extremely well spoken in English. He was showing us the Nepali way of hiking, i.e. bypassing the switchback trail and just going straight up. He said he had come from Jiri…2 DAYS AGO!!! Is that humanly possible??!

We are staying at the Sun Site Hotel…there aren’t any taps accessible for guests so I’ve been sneaking into the kitchen to refill our water bottles. Such a simple installment can make such a huge difference to your stay.

After pursuing through the streets and shops of Namche we soon discovered that purchasing flights out of Lukla to Kathmandu ($102USD) is in fact possible- hurray! They even take Mastercard believe it or not. Our trail guide was published/printed in 2002 and so some of the information was a bit outdated…

streets of namche

Streets of Namche.

Another interesting event we came across was the new installment of the FIRST ATM machine in Namche! After some inquiry we learned that it was flown in as cargo to Lukla, helicoptered to the army barracks (1 km? from Namche) and THEN carried from the army barracks into town. It took 20 army personnel to carry it! All the businesses are very excited about it.

October 12, 2007

Rest/acclimatization day

Okay, yeah I slept in! Well deserved I think. I did have to wake up in the middle of the night to go for a pee. I had to walk down stairs, pry the door open and find the outhouse. Remind me never to have an outhouse when I have my own home. It’s such a bother.

Washed my hair and small clothing items (i.e. underwear and socks) at a nearby spring. I gave my major clothing items to my guesthouse to wash for 100NRs per item. Not too bad of a deal.

Tim and I shopped at the Tibetan market this afternoon as I was looking for a warm bottom layer; where as Tim was in need of a warm top layer. I ended up bargaining with a Tibetan (they are soooo cool looking btw with their long hair and bone accessories in their hair and ears!) for some bright fushia leggings. They are so very ugly but it’ll work; the fashion police (aka Tim) doesn’t think it looks flattering on me though! LOL.

Tibetan leggings

Just another excuse to show off my HOT leggings and camel toe.


Tim bought a “Pantagonia” fleece pullover for 400NRs. He was going to buy chocolate but I convinced him NOT to. He didn’t quite understand why until I gave him 2 big YORKIES* that I carried all the way from Jiri as a gift for 1. Making it all the way from Jiri to Namche with me; and 2. Celebrating our 6 month anniversary (from the time we met at a bus stop in Malaysia). He bought me a handcrafted Tibetan card and Cadbury milk chocolate in exchange- I lllllllllove chocolate! It didn’t last in its packaging for very long!

*English chocolate bar from Nestle that is “NOT for girls” apparently. This chocolate bar created quite a controversy from this sexist ad. I’d probably have to say it’s quite accurate because the quality of chocolate in this confectionary is absolutely RUBBISH! I don’t think it even HAS cocoa in it!!!

I also bought Edmund Hillary’s memoir “View from the Summit”…thought it would provide good motivation for our hike up to Kala Pattar/Everest Base Camp versus Tim’s Programming in C++ book *yawn*. I really do hope we acclimatise well.

I’ve only been hiking for less than a week and I’m already sick of the food- it’s the same menu every where you go (well we are on a limited budget so the selection is abit limited)! Dal Bhaat and potatoes please!! I feel like I’m complaining but I don’t want to choose Western food items because 1. it makes me feel like a tourist who can’t adapt to the Nepali culture; and 2. it’s expensive. One thing that impresses the Nepali is the amount of hot chili I consume. The Nepali chili is deliciously HOT!

Tim’s not too happy with our stay mostly because it’s really cold in the lodge (dining area). For some reason or other, they are not firing up the cast iron stove. We have to eat our meals with our down jackets on; which isn’t so terrible but it’s nice to have a warm place to lounge in! The grandma sleeps in this common/dining area too- I felt bad waking her up this morning (it was already 9am though!).

You could tell we’ve now hit the “tourist” part of the trek as the menu and lodging prices are higher and there is a list of rules like ”if you eat anywhere else you will be charged additional costs towards your stay”. To warm up after our dinner, Tim and I enjoyed a hot chocolate and some German bakery at a cafe. I’m glad we splurged a little today because tomorrow we’re back on the trail again!!

For future trekkers making it solo/guideless/porterless to Everest Base Camp and/or on a really tight budget like Tim and I, we came up with a few recommendations on what to pack:

-biscuits (lots of them); but then again you can buy these coconut biscuits (“Coconut Crunch!”) at tea houses, lodges or shops for 20NRs and they are very filling too!

-peanut butter (for the biscuits), a very good energy source.

-museli, even though Tim’s been eating it all. It’s light to carry.

-Thermos (hot water is half the price of tea or coffee) and it’s great to have a hot drink on an as needed basis.

-tea bags or coffee; hot chocolate! or even better, hot chocolate with protein whey powder!

-powered milk; for some reason they charge you almost double for having milk in your tea or coffee

-purification drops or water filter

-definitely a bivy if you want to go scrambling and sleep up on mountain peaks (which is what I hope to do next time!)

5 thoughts on “Everest Journal (Part 3 of many)

  1. I was excited to read about your stay in Jubing. So few trekkers ever write about this charming village. I used to lead treks to the Everest Base Camp and worked with a group of Sherpas to create the first lodge system in Nepal in 1990–the Sherpa Guide lodges. my head guide was a Rai from Jubing. I gave him enough money to build the first lodge in Jubing. His name is D.B. I will send pictures of him, his family, and the lodge if you give me an email address.
    I’ve written a novel (Beyond the Summit) about the Sherpas and the Everest region. It describes many of the things you have mentioned.
    I also had the privilege of meeting Sir Edmund Hillary twice, once in Colorado and once in Namche in the Everest region where I used to lead treks to the base camp. He dedicated his life to helping the Sherpas who were such a critical part of his first ascent. Beyond the Summit is the first work to dramatize their lives in fiction. Hillary’s work in the area is mentioned frequently as well as his climbing partner, Tenzing Norgay.

  2. With regard to the small portions at the Green Bamboo Lodge, I seem to remember saying something to the effect of “What kind of person thinks that half a cup of dry museli is an appropriate breakfast for trekking up to Everest?”.

    That ‘gay finger flick’ is absolutely standard leech removal practice in England. It is considered quite normal and occassionally, manly.

    Can’t believe you published those dal bhaat before and after photos!

    You really feel strongly aboot me eating all the museli don’t you!! How many mentions??? I’ll buy you a HUGE bag of museli when I get to Canada and you can eat it for every meal, every day until you stop going on about it!

  3. Yeah, that small bowl of dry museli was UNACCEPTABLE!! Tee hee hee. Although it makes up for the fact that you’ve been hoarding the museli all for yourself and not sharing! 😉

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