Leaving the group to go to Lukla

The Kiwis

I was feeling a bit of FOMO, (Fear of Missing Out) as I left the group after pur morning tea break. They were continuing on to walk the Three Passes and up to Everest Base Camp.  I had had enough  of coughing all night and just needed to get back to a lower altitude to sort it.  I wondered how many of the others could keep going given the state if health of some of them, but time will tell.

I walked straight up another Nepalese hill with Dhawa, our second guide. One of our porters was carrying my gear as well as some of young Jo’s gear that he decided he didn’t need, or want to carry.  This will be stored in Lukla until they return. 

We came across some road makers. They are real craftsmen .

It was a nice climb ending in Lukla.  This is the place Ed Hillary and Tenzing Norgate, who were the first people to summit  Mt Everest, built an airport. Ed  had decided that the walk that  I had just completed  from Jiri as it was  too far for him and his mountaineering  mates,  so he bought some land from local people and proceeded to make an airport. The story goes that he filled the locals up with alcohol and had them do stomping dances to pack it down. 

Arriving in Lukla

I had a day and a half in Lukla, spending it  people watching. In the morning, there was a constant stream of  trekkers, and their porters heading  up to Everest Base Camp or other routes,  looking all fresh and clean. In the afternoons, there was a continuous trail of  very tired, sunburned people returning.

I visited an early morning market. I didn’t buy and chickens or meat.

Porter carrying a large wheely bag

Some have trekked, but others are here to climb peaks. These usually gave a lot more equipment including ropes and tents etc. These porters usually only carry about 30-40kg but “freight porters” can carry up to 100kg. These ones carry all kinds of things needed up here, like building materials, food and beer.  Most of this stuff arrives in Lukla by plane, helicopter or donkey, but then goes up higher by porter.

Trekkers porter

I chatted with a few trekkers whose stories made me  a bit sad that I had not carried on.  I visited the hospital and started taking cough medicine, which was beginning to reduce my coughing.

Freight porter
Freight porter

Two days of Nepali Flat. 7 & 8 May Nunthala and Kari Khola

I had been awake most of the night again coughing. I tried to make a comfortable sitting position as I coughed like a dying sheep when I lay down. I am very pleased that Kathy just falls asleep and snores all night without being disturbed by me. She doesn’t even wear earplugs.

Kathy and I always get a room to share, usually with an ensuite. This sounds fancy but can be a squat toilet with a bucket or hose for washing our bums. We usually have to pay an extra 300 rupees ($3NZD) for a hot shower. Kathy and I have used the toilet hose for a very quick, cold shower. The boys usually get their own rooms with a bathroom down the hall.

Another 2 succumbing to the sickness with it effecting their chests so everyone is coughing and sniffing. We are a sorry bunch! . Jo is better after anti biotics even though he has continued to drink beer! Grant struggled daily and into the evenings , losing his appetite too.

We had two really nice, relatively easy days sidling across some good farmland.  A bit of a steep up for lunch, passing a big piece of road construction. The days were fine and perfect for walking.

We came to the end of the road construction and waited, watching the digger before being to be able to pass. There is not much health and safety going on here. Then we were onto a very busy walking track again.

The guys were very excited to see some deer
Don’t hang around Kathy
The end of the road
Donkey train

Now everything has to be transported by donkey. I had been missing the donkeys as I had fond memories of them from my last visit to Nepal. However after walking into Khari Khola I realised I had forgotten the awful smell of donkey poo. The blokes thought I was a bit soft but I didn’t feel so bad when I saw Pemba was wearing a mask and looking as disgusted as me.

3 May -A New Group and Another Damn Long Drive

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 boys applying for trekking permits

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.