Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29

Today was a great day. Started a little slow, but at 10am Pemba and I went shopping in Thamel, a market district of Kathmandu. Picked up some souvenirs, got a massage with Grant, took Pemba out for lunch. Great day. There's such energy and sensory overload here. sights, smells, sounds. Everything is crowded, every little piece of space is used.

Great evening. 75 F. Perfect temps, unwound, read, listened to tunes. perfect. Looking forward to flying to singapore tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 28

Somewhere between taking a photo of Grant at the end of our hike at the gate into the town of Lukla, NEPAL and arriving 10 minutes later at the hotel/teahouse, my camera and case disappeared. It must have broken and fallen to the ground without me hearing it (which seems unlikely) or was cut or yanked off without me feeling it and without damage to the strap on my pack to which it was affixed (which seems equally unlikely).

Hoping a google search on "lost camera Lukla Nepal" will bring up this blog post.



Monday, May 25, 2009

Day ?

made it back to Namache after 8 hrs of hiking today. will post more soon. cold fingers and expensive internet here...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day 9 - Namche Bazaar, May 12

Well, we've gotten to the point in the trek where internet access is going to be sparse.

Yesterday Grant and I flew into Lukla. The flight was AWESOME! - 14 seater turboprop airplane. They didn't even pressurize the cabin. We went up to 12,000 ft for 40 minutes. The landing is superb. We crested over a ridge, then the pilot brought the plane down fast! He threw on the brakes, we descended rapidly, and landed smoothly at Lukla on a runway with a 15% incline.

Our first day of trekking took us from Lukla to Phakding. We began at 2840 m and ended the day 3 hours later at 2650 m. The trail follows a river formed by the glacial runoff of the Khumbu region.

Trying to describe the trail is going to be difficult. Words can't fully grasp the views here. We are sharing the route with other trekkers, local porters, and zjofkey (cross between a yak and an ox) trains. We have a guide and a porter, who carries most of our gear. It's incredible. It must be an 80 lb duffel. The rush of the river is a steady soundtrack to our walking. The zjofkey wear bells around their necks, and the tinging herd from around a bend lets us know they are coming. Click, clock, by trekking poles like a metronome measure the steps. The trail is rocky, and it seems if we are not ascending then we are descending. Rarely have we had long flat stretches. The weather has been a bit cloudy, with some rain, but every so often we get the views up to the snowcapped parts of the mountians. I can't believe how VERTICAL everything is here. We are deep in the valley compared to the peaks soaring above us.

Now I'm at Namche. Our elevation is 3440 m (11,300 ft). We gained 600 meters in one push today up a very large hill. The elevation is starting to make itself present in a light headache. The weather has turned a bit chilly too up here, and rain has descended upon us. I'm bundled in my cold weather gear, staying warm and trying to keep hydrated as my body acclimatizes.

We are pushing to the road less traveled tomorrow, so I don't think I will have e-mail access for another 2 weeks. See you then!

Day 7 - Kathmandu, May 10

Today was a sightseeing day, and toured some historical places in the city. We started at a Bhuddist shrine. To the somewhat unknowledgable, it seems that Bhuddism and Hinduism blend a bit in Nepal. Prayer flags waved everywhere, and the shrine was magnificinetly tall, perched on a high hill overlooking the Kathmandu valley. Stray dogs and monkeys roamed freely over the statues and prayer wheels. Trash was everywhere, and was cleaned by burning it in small piles. Gift shops were everywhere, offering the same trinkets I could get in Thamel for half the price.

After the shrine, we headed to Durbar square. This used to be where an old palace was, and the city which stood here was renown for it's artist. The palace is now a museum, and the square is where monuments and temples were erected to various Hindu gods. Some of the monuments dated back to 250 BC!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Day 6 - Kathmandu, May 9th

Unfortunately, this internet cafe is unable to load my pictures, so I'll just have to be descriptive in my writing. Oh, and I'm typing on a keyboard with only half the letters actually discernible, so that's a challenge too... but oh well. I'm in Kathmandu!

Grant and I arrived around noon from Singapore. They were showing wakeboarding videos on the airplane, so that got me pumped up fpr the upcoming boating season. But that can wait.

Kathmandu is a busy, bustling place. Our driver weaved through the maze of unlined, ill kept roads on the way to the hotel. Many streets are one lane... which doesn't mean they are one way! Drivers play a high speed game of chicken with each other, somehow knowing exctly when to swerve to narrowly avoid clipping each other or the pedestrians on the side of the road. The streets are dusty and congested, filled with people, motorbikes, bicycles, cars, trucks, bicycle rickshaws and stray animals, including cattle! The city is very similar to what I experienced in India.

After getting settled into our hotel, we set out to wander the streets a bit. A 15 minute walk brought us to Thamel, the main market disctrict in Kathmandu. A twisted labyrinth of narrow alleys, shop keepers compete for the attention of passerbys with the countless dealers on the street offering to get you higher than the mountains. It seemed almost every shop was either a trekking gear store full of imitation name brand items, an adventure company promising the lowest fares and the best trips, or a trinket souvenir shop. The occasional cafe or massage parlor was thrown in the mix too. Actually, souvenir shopping here is something I am looking forward to after our trek. There seem to be plenty of cool fabrics, hand carved items, soaps, and painting to bring back.

We walked back to the hotel and freshened up before heading out to dinner with our host here. He took us to a traditional Nepalese restaurant, where we had to take off our shoes and get marked with a bindi (a red dot on the forehead) before taking our place seated on a pad on the floor at our table. Dinner included momos, vegetable dumplings served with a spicy curry sauce, and then rice with curried vegetables, chicken, wild boar, and spinach. The restaurant also had a traditional Nepalese folk band, with a flutist, a drummer, a person playing an instrument that looks like a small violin held like a cello, and a singer. Accompanying the band were 6 traditional dancers performing folk dances. While the Sherpa people of Nepal are Bhuddist, the majority of the country are Hindus, which is reflected in the dances.

We are sightseeing tomorrow and then head to Lukla to begin the trek the day after!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Day 5 - Singapore, May 8th

The morning thunderstorms washed out our hopes of getting in one final trek with poles and boots today.  Woke up early, did a little devotional, checked gear again.  By noon the clouds were gone, but Grant and I had lunch plans with a few friends of his.  Then we swung by the store to stock up on a few more items.  Some of Grant's friends have just returned from the Annapurna circuit in Nepal.  They had some issues health-wise, and said most everyone got sunburnt.  So, picked up some more SPF 50 sunblock and more hand sanitizer, along with powdered gatorade and beef jerky.  The evening here has been fantastic, and tonight we are headed out for dinner with a few more of Grant's friends.  

We leave for Kathmandu tomorrow at 7!