Tales of Nepal and Tibet
Kathmandu Travel Blog› entry 1 of 11 › view all entries
Tibet and Nepal March 25 to May 1 2010
We are at Chame where they have internet . yipee but it must be the slowest internet anywhere. It I is nice to be able to touch base with everyone though. We have just completed day 4 of trek and we have all said at stages "oh my god". It is tough but we are all doing ok but also have all had a bad day. First day was the worst bus ride you can imagine, but amazing all the same.
The Bus Ride
Local bus is definitely a challenge, especially when a group of 7 or 8 young guys wanted to get on and there was roof room only...alongside our packs. Our guide hopped out of the bus and onto the roof straight away. His concern for the security of our luggage made us feel secure and confident that we have the right guide. The trip was agonizingly long with a major stoppage for at least an hour for we don’t know what, an accident, a traffic jam, who knows and we never found out. The locals all seem to take it in their stride and get out the packs of cards, go for a stroll along the road .
We stopped for lunch at a very dodgy looking roadside café with an even dodgier toilet. The meal was our first taste of dahl Baht. I could cope although needed a spoon, while the locals literally shoveled the food into their mouths with their hands. I felt I had done really well nearly cleaning up my plate when the server came around and dished out another large ladle of dahl and an enormous helping of rice. I donated my meat portion (not sure what type of animal it came from) to a group of young lads who were very happy about that.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, the scenery stunning as we climbed and descended countless valleys all terraced and looking very lush with rice and other horticulture. We seemed to stop at every village where a negotiation would take place with the two young guys who hang out the doors and off the top of the bus collecting the fares. There was much tooing and frooing, some people on for one stop others for the long haul. One elderly gentleman carefully looked after 2 young girls (probably his granddaughters) and delivered them to different villages along the way.
We were pleased when the negotiation was stopped over bringing the goat on board, no matter how docile he looked tied to the tree it would not have been pleasant to smell and also not sure he would have remained docile in the confined space as we were jolted from side to side as we negotiated the ever deteriorating roads.
The young guys also played a role of ensuring there was room for the bus to pass other vehicles through what seemed impossibly small gaps as the cliff edge loomed close showing drops of 300metres or more. Bus accidents are not rare events so it was heart stopping at times. Then we transferred to the real local bus on what was called a road...”dirt track”… doesn't even go anywhere near describing it. A bone-jarring experience obviously not often experienced by westerners as we seemed to create great merriment and amusement especially for the young women. .
The guides and porters are great looking after us so well. Very patient and they say we ok to go slowly. slowly or bistaree in Nepalese.. we like that and we like donkey stops. Every time a donkey convoy goes by we have to stop and wait. It is the equivalent of the NZ one way bridge. Time to rest our bones and catch a breath.
Te Whata wasn't so well today he dizzy and disoriented. We think it might be lack of water. He thinks altitude. We will get him to drink much more tomorrow, he is ok now.
Despite how tough it is I am loving it. Beautiful countryside, so hard to describe. There are self sufficient villages about every 5 km. with lovely terraced gardens and stone houses. Much cleaner than India but there are the same issues of clean water and managing rubbish and sewerage.
The food is good. We had the best vege noodle soup ever today, no more maggi for me.
The accommodation is interesting. Last night we were in a wooden place where the gaps in the wall were taped over with duck tape and you could hear all the other guests through the walls, probably lucky that everyone was so tired from trekking all they wanted to do was sleep. A gale whistled into our room through the door which was latched rather inadequately with a bolt and catch which only overlapped the door by millimeters so would blow open whenever there was a particularly strong gust of wind, a rather chilling experience. We are warm enough during the day though, in fact it has been hot while walking. Now we are at 2700metres starting to get cold. So Judy's down jacket is great to snuggle into after the day’s walk.
Thorang La ��" The Pass
We are now in Pokhara a place for relaxation and leisure, shopping being a tourist - all those things after an arduous trek and we sure had an arduous trek. It seems ages since I last wrote from Manang where we were about three days away from doing the pass...that is the high bit 5416m and I can assure you I knew about every metre of it. Can't describe how tough it was, fortunately we were all well and as acclimatised as you can be by that stage.
We started out at 4.30am after a 3am call for breakfast. All the trekkers are clad in layers of gear as very, very cold and then all fuel up with breakfast before leaving. We eventually got going and we followed the trail of peoples headlights over the very steep track to the first tea house. The sun was just rising over the mountains and was glorious however I am not sure I could really look, as taking a breath was so, so difficult. Kishor our guide just said drink more water mama ( me and Sue are called the mamas by the guides and porters). I did as I was told made it that far and then a short break...only short otherwise you would freeze, I had visions of frostbite in my fingers and what that would do to my keyboarding skills.Probably not much worse that they are now!.
I won't bore you with the detail, it was glorious surrounded by mountains but we all agreed it was the hardest thing we have ever done...at the top you are elated you take photos and rest in the shelter (wind chill must be minus 10 and it is blowing a gale). then we head down...and that is straight down, no kidding It was this crazy shingle path with drops over the edge you wouldn't believe, and as Steve will attest I am not the surest footed person around, scary, scary. Fortunately Namgyel our guide just grabbed my hand and took off . We literally ran down the slope. my knees were about to break. On the occasions when I said Iwas ok to go on my own Namgyel rubbed his hand as though I had broken that too, I was holding on so tight.
We finally made it to the tea house at the bottom stop for lunch at about 1.30 starving by then. It was still another 1.5 hours to where we stayed at Mukinath so that was 4.30am to 3pm. A very long day. We thought we were pretty slow, until a very fit young Israeli told us it took him that long too so we weren't too bad. We all agreed afterwards we would only do it once!
The rest of the trek was very easy, only hardship was the winds, hey guys there are places here that are windier than Wellington. At one stage I thought a gust would take me over the cliff as it just about lifts you off your feet, no lamposts to hang onto either. The winds get up after 10am so have to have early start.
The town of Kagbeni was lovely though an oasis in the dust strewn area with beautiful green field, barley , rice etc. Went to a 500 year old monastery with some very dodgy stairs to climb, not sure the building code has changed in that 500 years either as even the newer tea houses have some very iffy stairs, balconies etc.
We arrived in Jonsom and were so pleased that we had stayed the extra day in Pisang for Te Whata to acclimatize. Jonsom is just one great big dust storm and the hotel room was one of the more unpleasant....the view of the carpark at the Mecure , broken pipes and dirty carpets at Quest are nothing, and that's even before I tell you what the toilets are like!
You have to fly out of Jonsom before 10am because of the winds and given that it is the deepest ravine/valley in the world (so we are told). Queenstown and Wellington flights are a doddle guys. We were in a 14 seater plane and it just goes straight out and you get the most amazing view of the mountains, loved it, one of the best scenic flights you can do.
We are about to head to one of the local restaurants by the lake to have a beer, it is so relaxing after the trek, maybe even a little boring after a few days. Oh and the temperature here is very humid 30plus talk about contrast from the mountains.
Back to Kathmandu tomorrow (tourist bus this time we have learnt our lesson) and then Tibet Friday.