Everest behind clouds in the morning
I slept pretty well considering the interruption last night. We were told the 11:30pm bust-in was by a security or local police. They regularly conduct these checks at night to ensure there were no more than the allowed number of guests in every tent. But tonight, the sisters got a chain and padlock and actually locked the door so we did not have a repeat performance. The police still came after dinner, and even apologized for the interruption.
We did not have a very clear sunrise today, so we were glad we had a great one yesterday. After breakfast, the group embarked on a hike toward the base camp, about 4km away. I opted to take a pony cart instead. The hikers left pretty early before 10am, and I left a little later. The pony cart ride took only about 30 minutes, and the driver would wait 20 minutes for you at the base camp.
Cooking water in the tent
The ride (50RMB) was not as bumpy as I expected, although I had a fast pony which passed all the other ones in a hurry. There were a section where the pony cart went "off-road" and took a short cut. I caught up to the hikers in this area, said hi, and kept going. There was not much as the base camp, a marker saying where it was and altitude of 5200m. A hill full of prayer flags, which was the boundry of where we could go. Beyong that was the area for real climbers, and they would charge $200 to go there. There was a building with toilets, and another building for some kind of administration. Someone from there came out when our group showed up and wanted to see our permit, which our guide had. It was very windy, and sand was blowing hard. Just a minute or 2 on the prayer flags hill rendered a mouthful of sand! We had no clear view of Mt Everest from here today!
In the afternoon, it was mostly relax time.
Me sitting on the pony cart going to the base
The wind picked up even more. When the group went for a short hike to the East Rongbuk Monastery, I did not go. It would be walking into the wind. Kevin told me later that there was one very lonely monk there, who did not even charge for photos because he had almost no visitors. The climbers were supposed to stop here to get blessing from him. There was a hole on the ground in the monastery, they climbed down to visit the location where an important monk meditated for 5 months.
This would be a good time to talk about the toilet facility at the tent village. There was one tent set away from the 2 rows of hotel tents to be the toilet. It was divided into 2 sides, one for women and one for men. The women's side was on the right. There was a big hole dug in the ground and some wood planks placed on top with 5 openings.
On the pony cart toward the cloud which covered Everest
It was really kind of messy and unpleasant. It didn't smell too bad because of the wind and cold. However, the women's side was almost being blown open by the 2nd day we were there. So it was quite an experience to go there. One had to bring their own toilet papers and wet wipes were really handy to clean your hands with, since there was no way to wash your hands either. Privacy was not very big here, but sometimes people would wait outside and guard the entry so only one person was inside. Other times, more than one person would be in there. It was kind of funny that this one woman even started to chat with me while we were in there, but I was not in a chatty mood. Kristin mentioned that the port-a-potty at the top of the Khampa La overlooking Yamdrok Lake was really nice and deluxe and we wondered if there was a business opportunity here at base camp to provide a better facility and people would pay a few RMB to use it.
East Rongbuk Monastery
By the evening, Mt Everest still had hardly showed her peak today. But we did get a slight glimpse of it with a lenticular cloud on top.
No shower, but we had plenty of bottled water, and I had my electric toothbrush so at least my teeth were getting a normal treatment. I always thought it rather ironic when I stood outside the tent, electric toothbrush in hand, brushing my teeth while looking at Mt Everest.