I met up with “The Kiwis” at the Hotel Shanker. This hotel was about $50 a night and is one of the top hotels in Kathmandu. Originally a palace it was very flash, even had a swimming pool. There were 2 weddings there over the 2 days and a couple of engagement parties. It’s definitely the place to be seen.
But these kind of things don’t impress me too much. The room I shared with Kathy cost me about $50, compared to the Flying Yak for $15 a night. There was very little difference.
We had a couple of days together, getting to know each other. The Kiwis had some shopping to do as all gear was very cheap. There was a stock of toilet paper and hand sanitiser to buy as these things get much more expensive the further up we go. We also needed to get trekking permits so that was another beep, beep taxi ride.
The five men are all good kiwi blokes: hunters, tampers and generally good kiwi blokes. Brendon is also a doctor, but the others have all worked in the farming sector or outdoor work. Kathy, a retired nurse, was originally for England but traveled her way to NZ in the 1970- 1980s when visited Nepal in the hippy days. Grant, Brendon, and Roger are in their 60’s and have all been to Nepal previously. Roy was at high school with me and this is his first visit to Nepal. The baby of the group is Joe (35ish) aka “The Ruahine Hunter” https://youtu.be/O0qxOBSYe-Q
Joe was very excited to be here and reminded me of how I was when I first arrived 17 years ago. Joe was off out to find the night life on his first two nights here while the others were all heading to bed trying to get over the 24 hours of flying. I remembered my first night here last time. I was sharing a room with Evy, a young Israeli guy. We had gone to bed but couldn’t sleep because of the music coming from the bar next door, so we got up and joined the crowd for a few Everest Beers and toddled back to our room later in the night. Now I am one of those going to bed early and falling asleep with my book.
Pemba is to be our Guide. Grant has used him on a couple of previous trips and he comes from the region we will visit. We will also have along Dawa as assistant guide as seven is quite a group to look after. Having two experienced guides means there will be someone to take out anyone who needs to leave the main trek at any time. Dawa has been part of some Everest Summit teams. We will also have 3 porters to carry the gear for 6 of us. Strong, young hunter, Joe, plans to carry all his own gear. I don’t think he understands the effects of altitude as cannot be explained and must be experienced. We will see how he goes.
Drive Kathmandu to Jiri
On the 3rd of May we piled into a mini van for the drive to Jiri. It is 184 km but took about 8 hours. This was 5 star luxury compared to the ride from Jomsom to Pokhara. I am glad that I went on one of the worst bus trips in the world early in this trip so from then on all trips will be much better. Always best to compare with the worst case scenario rather than the best. We had nice seats, no flat tyres, air conditioning , the power to pass other vehicles reasonably safely and only one person was vomiting throughout the journey. (The doctor: poor man!)
The pee stops on the side of the road were much better than at the squat toilets at the roadside cafes, despite the rubbish.
We unpacked and had a wander around the town before meeting for dinner. Our three young porters had just arrived from Lukla after finishing their previous job. They took 3 days to walk here and it will take 7 days to do the same journey with us. They will carry 15kg gear each for two of us, and their own gear. A total of up to 40 kgs and they are only little guys. Amazing strength and for only $15 a day each. I must admit that I have brought along more stuff than I would normally if I had to carry it, but still, my bag is the lightest by far.