Before we went to sleep we agreed to wake the other one if we thought we were dying.
We both woke through the night coughing like a couple of dying sheep. I wondered if the altitude had finally gotten to me but did not have the energy nor inclination to do much about it.
Altitude illness is divided into 3 syndromes:
- acute mountain sickness (AMS), (like having a bad hangover)
- high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) (the brain swells, so you begin to act drunk – confused, unsteady, and stupid)
- high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). (Lungs fill with fluid, and you sound like a dying 90 year old. Breathless on excersion, a cough and weakness.)
- They usually come into play a few hours after the high altitude is reached, i.e. during the night and should be treated with a quick decent.
We both made it through to the morning alive , but Kay nearly had a heart attack when she looked in the mirror.
Her face was red and swollen, her eyes could hardly open, and her lips looked like botox gone wrong. And I wasn’t much better. I looked like a Panda Bear on steroids. (Kay wouldn’t let me post her photo, understandably)
We should have used sunscreen regularly throughout the day as we saw the young ones doing. But we didn’t have the energy to do so, and now, we are paying for it. Two days later, we are still blistered, sore, and peeling.
Basu came in to take our breakfast order and took one look at us and decided we would take the bus today instead of walking to Jomson. We did not argue with him.
The main attraction in Mukintath is a Hindu Temple high on a hill at the edge of town. There were a lot of pilgrims heading towards it as we walked to get our 8am bus. Some walking, many on the back of small horses, the sick and elderly being carried on stretchers.
We walked to the bus depot with Kay hardly able to see out of her burnt eyes. I won’t be complaining about the pot holes around my home after navigating the main streets of Nepali towns.
The bus trip to Jomsom was only an hour or so of terror.
I have since read that one of the causes of excessive wear and tear on roads and bridges is the overloading of vehicles. Every bus we went on was filled to the brim with more people than seats, bags and boxes up the isles and roofs overflowing with stuff. However, I have not yet had to share a bus with a goat, pig, or cages of chickens as I did on my previous trip through Asia.
Arriving at Jomsom, we were treated to another nice room that backed onto the airport. The flights come in very quickly in the mornings while the air is clear. This is one of the shortest runways in the world, and the planes can’t fly over the mountains because of the altitude, so swoop between them. We decided it was safer to take the bus to Pokhara the next day.
We were both feeling a bit miserable, still coughing, and our faces were getting worse by the hour. We were cold and shivering, so we climbed into bed to rest under orders from Basu.
We had dinner with two trekkers who had gone over the pass the same day as us. One from Jordan and the other Canadian.