Everest Base Camp Diary is the first of its kind and an experimental project in my blog. I found it to be extremely rewarding reading through my emotions during this two week trek. I wanted to publish it so I could share all the pain and the joy in its rawest form. I hope you appreciate me opening up a little bit in the coming weeks and enjoy this with a cuppa.
“Who said it’s cheap in Nepal was a big fat liar. We spent $170 USD x 2 on our flights to Lukla and $10 AUD every time we wanted to withdraw money from the ATMs. By the way, these don’t dispense more than 35,000 NPR ($430 AUD) at any time. We booked a taxi to pick us up from our accommodation in Kathmandu’s Alobar1000 hostel at 6:30. Early enough to be ready to board a small plane to the infamous Lukla airport. Horror stories about overbooked and delayed flights in our minds, we arrived before 7 am to board our flight at 8:20 am.
Sita Air was one of the many companies servicing the mountain area, taking up hordes of tourists every day. Upon approaching the desk we were promptly sent to wait for the next flight. I thought our nightmare had become true and after the big storm we had the previous night in Kathmandu, I assumed the worst. Another hopeful hiker was denied his seat on the flight an hour before us and so we were ready to spend the day in the airport. Only 15 minutes later we were invited to the counter and allowed to check in. I am unsure if we took the last spots on an earlier flight that had been delayed, or were just given priority over others, but we proceeded with Simrik Air ad not Sita Air. I credit that to the fact we bought our tickets through a travel agent and not online. Thats just how things work in Nepal.
I read many articles claiming the best views through a scratched airplane window of the snowy peaks are from the left side. I believe I got the best seat in the house, on the left of course, with a clear view of the cockpit as well. Michael, who is normally terrified of flying enjoyed it almost as much as a kid in a candy store, looking out of the window and smiling uncontrollably. Talking about smiling, I couldn’t stop that ever since we got to the airport in Kathmandu. I had set a goal and I was on the verge of achieving it.
I got instant chills all over my body when we landed in Tenzing Norgay Airport in Lukla and had my first glimpse of the towering mountains surrounding us. As we were too tired to pack our bags the previous night, we resorted to packing 45 precious minutes before having to leave to go to the airport. This was a big mistake. Do not attempt at home! We stopped in a teahouse in Lukla to repack after landing. A rather important task of notifying our parents we are alive after the flight in was checked off the list as well.
When in Lukla, we realised that being in a hurry when packing, we had forgotten to bring our two packs of water purification tablets equal to making 200 litres of clean water. We had to buy more along with some hygienic pads (yes I am talking about periods on my blog) as I completely forgot to bring these and didn’t want to count on having any for sale up in the mountains. I always wonder how do women climb big-ass mountains during their periods? Before heading off, we had to pass through a tourist police check point with our trekking permits to get “signed in”. They also asked if and what kind of valuables we have with us. Because of the New Year’s public holiday in Nepal during our trekking permit application, the appropriate office for our National Park permit was closed, were advised to get one from Lukla. From Lukla, we were told to just hit the trail and buy the permit when entering the Sagamartha National Park just before Namche Bazaar.
And off we were! The scenery was breathtaking and most of the way to our first stop in Phakding was down the hill. That said, the route wasn’t easy due to the many large rocks on the trail. A few times I thought I sprained my ankles with my clumsy hiking boots. By the end of the day my fears were confirmed. The hike was significantly easier with our hiking sticks we bought from Kathmandu for 1000 NPR ($12 AUD). On the third hour, I realised how not fit I am and wondered what Michael must be going through. Believe it or not, he was always walking in front of me. Apart from his ripped bag he managed to tore open when all of his belongings didn’t fit in it during our morning rush, I hardly heard him complaining. What a champ!
When we got to Phakding, which we both thought was never coming, we were so tired that we crashed in the first tea house below the main street. Sherpa Guide Lodge gave us a simple twin room with mountain views for 300 NRP for the both of us. We were starving by the time we got to the tea house as we skipped breakfast (no wonder it was a tough three hours on the trail) so we went for lunch downstairs. When checking into a tea house in Nepal during your trek, you get a subsidised rate on your room (usually around 300-500 NRP with no ensuite) if you eat downstairs as most of the money is made off food.
Suddenly I went from hiking in only in my t-shirt to freezing cold in a matter of minutes. Being cold wearing all my clothes and our supposedly -20C sleeping bags did not do much to warm me up. And we were only at an altitude 2610 metres above sea level! Apart from the cold, I felt a little headache and drowsy at times. I remember making the decision to go on preventative altitude sickness tablets from the next day. I was also trying to drink lots of water. My goal was set to 3 litres a day not counting in the big thermoses of mint tea.
Getting sick of sitting around and day dreaming in our room, Michael dragged my ass out to go explore around Phakding. It was the best thing we could have done! We found a pub with pool tables(!), hikers playing soccer with local kids with stunning mountain backdrops and enjoyed a little stroll to a nearby suspension bridge. We also made a new friend (one of many we met on the trail) and named her Lassie. The dog kept following us along for a good part of our walk before running off to do its dog business. I think most of the photos I took on our first day were of different animals: donkeys, yaks and dogs. Oops!
Check out the photos and leave me a comment if you enjoyed this. Actually leave me a comment regardless.
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