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Sonntag, 12. Dezember 2010

HIMALAYA reloaded 2011 - 1st day of trek - TokTok


December the 13th, 2010, 8,30 a.m.
On the airport in Kathmandu (1.300 m)
waiting to fly to Lukla (2.840 m)
Last night I was so focused on trying in vain to get some internet connection and to write that letter to an old friend – which I could not send it, of course -, that I totally forgot to let my “city luggage” for being stored in the special room of the hotel. I think I’ve got two hours of sleep. At 5 a.m. I was on my feet again. Finally I gave up to take the notebook with me, although just 1,300 kg. But so far I remember, in the highlands is very cold, you have to pay for energy if you need to charge something and after a trekking day you are so tired and cold, that the last thing you want to do or you can do is to write on your laptop. A piece of paper and a pencil will be enough.
video
I have the big backpack, 19 kg, including the toys, bonbons and 2 books (Lonely Planet book, of course, and those about “Democracy and politic” – I need it for my studies, can you imagine I am carrying it with me???). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to give up more things, I only gave up the thin black flis, no big deal really. As I went down in the hotel lobby at 5,45 I saw that the cook is sleeping on a mattress there and he was awoke from the light I switched on, of course. Can you imagine such a life? Living in a capital city, working every day as cook in a budget hotel and sleeping on the floor, in the hotel lobby? I was impressed, really ….
6.05 a.m. we left the hotel, me and Rick and Marjo, the both kids from Holland I met on the airport in Istanbul, as they spoke German. Marjo is 20, Rick is 22 and both very sweet and innocent faces. Anyway, we start together and we probably split on the way, as I suppose they are much faster as me and they do not seem to know what they are into to, really (!). But for now, they need about 500 USD more and if they do not solve the financial problem in Namche Bazar at the latest, they cannot do the trek after all. (The fact is, they decided to late for the trek. I told them 2 days ago, I leave Kathmandu to Everest B.C. and they decided only yesterday, they want to come with me. They have no VISA Card, only MASTER. And this is a problem in Nepal. They found finally a bank who accepted MASTER and they could withdraw yesterday only a limited amount of money, paying for the plane tickets and trekking permits, so they need extra money, which they could withdraw only today, as the flight was already booked and if you miss the first flight in the morning from Kathmandu, the next flights could be canceled because of clouds or wind. First flight is normally sure in order to be operated. So, their only chance is to solve this problem in Lukla or Namche Bazar, the only "big cities" on the route.)
In the front of the hotel was waiting a taxi, the driver wanted 500 NRP. We said no and went some steps to the right. There, other 3 different cubs. One wanted 400, then 350, finally took us one for 300 NRP. None of the driver accepted to drive us by meters, all of them want to get black money. Our flight was scheduled for 7,30, so at 6,30 we had to make our check-in.
It is 8,30 a.m., the domestic airport is full of tourists, at least 100 persons. Due to the dense fog no plane is operating to Lukla. Some are so anxious, but I am very relaxed. I prefer to have a save flight to Lukla than to panic into the death, really! I really don’t understand these people.
 5 p.m., in Tok-Tok (2.710 m) / Solukhumbu, Amadablam Lodge, Nepal, on my trek from Lukla (2.840 m) to Namche Bazar
1stday of trekking, 3 hours walking 
The plane took off at 9 a.m. A very small plane, 18 seats only, very loud. My first flight which such a small plane, straaaaange feeling, especially having in mind the plane crushes it happen when flying to Lukla, I wonder they do not find another possibility to get the people there. You can trek, of course, but it takes 8 up to 10 days and it is a tough trek, so far I heard.
At 10 a.m. we safely landed in Lukla and getting my backpack took about 10 minutes. It was ..... let's say, an exciting flight ..... I do not wish to comment.
video

We met in the airplane a couple from U.K., Claire and Andi, a nice couple over 45, she is quite chubby, they have a sort of strange English and they did this route 7 years ago. They have the same intentions as myself, doing Base Camp and then crossing to Gokyo via Cho La Pass, if possible. We all stopped for breakfast and I had the long time expected highlands vegetable potatoes to which I dream since two years!!! Delicious re-meeting, really!

12 o’clock we started the real trek, the real adventure. I knew it will be an easy day, because mostly descending, and not so easy in the same time, because I have no training and I am carrying a too heavy backpack. Before the Lukla*** gate for leaving the village, a crazy guy with a big camera exclaimed so surprised about me and said: “You are the most colourful trekker I ever saw, may I take a picture of you? Pleaseee.” Yes, I agreed and I noted him my e-mail address, I would like to get the picture.
After you go through the Lukla Gate, the way descends very long and you pass Chaurikharka village, a long-long village. So I cross now the new land (new for me, of course) of the Sherpa** villages. The descend continues towards to the intersection of the Jiri trail at  the Chablung. There, the trail crosses a stream, makes a detour around a large mani stone and passes a few lodges, then heads north through a brief stretch of forest. The trail descends steeply to the Tharo Kosi, crossing it on a local-style suspension bridge. The peak at the head of the valley is Kusum Kangru (6.367 m), the most difficult of the trekking peaks. Beyond the Tharo Kosi bridge, the trail climbs for a while, then contours around a ridge to Ghat (2.590 m high) and  follows the bank of the Dudh Kosi River, that turquoise water colour I dream about since two years!!
From Lukla to Phakding* (2.610 m high) was 90% descend and we reached the village where we were supposed to stay over night for acclimatisation already at 2,15 p.m. The British couple stopped here at Kala Pathar Lodge on the left side of the main road. As it was so early, we decided to go further for another one hour, to Tok Tok (2.710 m high). The kids went faster, I loose them and I took a wrong path, so that in about 20 minutes I was on a wrong way, outside the trail actually. 
It happened at the exit point of Phakding, where the way is splitting to the right and to the left, climbing up. For me was more logical to follow the path going up, so I followed it and it was a difficult, steep ascent for about 20 minutes, through the forest. As I met nobody, I started to think I am on a wrong way. It was a gravel, winding large path, climbing up and after a while I reached the Thulo Gumela village (2.734 m high). Nobody around. Strange, Too quiet. I panicked for about 10 minutes, then I saw a cow coming from down, on a narrow path. I said, where it is a cow, it must be also a person. I could hear the sound of the Dudh Koshi River (“milky river”), so the point where I lost my direction actually. I admired a panoramic view over the Phakding village and over the crazy turquoise colour of the cold mountain river and after about 40 minutes of getting lost in a nobody’s land I met again the exit point of Phakding, so this time I followed the road on the right side. After 15 minutes I was already in Tok Tok, no tourists here, hurraaa!!
Very nice family, I saw three children up to the end of the evening, they stayed with us in the dinning room, foolish around. I paid 50 rupees per night. There are no rules about accommodation prices, some owners ask for amount per person, other want amount per room, does no matter if you are single in that room, so you have to pay as double occupancy. But being off season time, accommodation prices are symbolic, the condition is to have all your meals in the same lodge, as they make a small profit from these kind of incomes, not from renting the rooms. 
On this trek only twice I asked for accommodation costs discount, as I felt being treated incorrect as I had to pay for 2 persons. Every time I got a discount of 50 rupies. The money are going anyway to the lodge. Staying there one ore three nights, you order your meals there, so the profit for the owner is guaranteed. They know this, you know this, everybody is satisfied.
*Phakding is a medium village in Khumbu, between Lukla and Monju, it is a good place for having accommodation and meal or to stop on the long way to Namche Bazar, as you have to get use to the high altitude anyway. Kumbu - also known as the Everest Region - is a sub-region in Solu Khumbu, located on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest. The Everest Region is officially called Khumbu and includes the Sagarmatha National Park (above Monju) and the Sagarmatha National Park Buffer Zone (between Lukla and Monju).
** SHERPA -
The Sherpa (Tibetan:ཤར་པ། "eastern people", from shar "east" + pa "people") are an ethnic group from the most mountainous region of Nepal, high in the Himalayas. Sherpas migrated from the Kham region in eastern Tibet to Nepal within the last 300–400 years.
The initial mountainous migration from Tibet was a search for beyul (Shangri-La). They primarily settled in the Solukhumbu district and then gradually moved further westward.
The term Sherpa is also used to refer to local people, typically men, who are employed as guides for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas, particularly Mt. Everest. They are highly regarded as elite mountaineers and experts in their local terrain. Most Sherpas live in the west regions; however, some live farther west in the Rolwaling valley and in the Helambu region north of Kathmandu. Pangboche is the Sherpas' oldest village in Nepal. The Sherpa language is a dialect of Central Tibetan and is mutually intelligible for speakers familiar with modern Lhasa vernacular. The Jirels, native people of Jiri, are ethnically related to the Sherpas. In India, Sherpas also inhabit the towns of Darjeeling and Kalimpong and the Indian state of Sikkim. The number of Sherpas immigrating to the West has also significantly increased in recent years, especially to the United States. With a population of about 5000 Sherpas, New York City is the largest Nepali Community in the U.S.A. The 2001 Nepal Census recorded 154,622 Sherpas in that country, of which 92.83% were Buddhists, 6.26% were Hindus, 0.63% were Christians and 0.20% were Bön.
Sherpas were immeasurably valuable to early explorers of the Himalayan region, serving as guides and porters at the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region. Today, the term is used casually to refer to almost any guide or porter hired for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas. In Nepal, however, Sherpas insist on making the distinction between themselves and general porters, because Sherpas often serve in a more guide-like role and command higher pay and respect from the community.
Sherpas are renowned in the international climbing and mountaineering community for their hardiness, expertise, and experience at high altitudes. It has been speculated that a portion of the Sherpas' climbing ability is the result of a genetic adaptation to living in high altitudes. Some of these adaptations include unique hemoglobin-binding enzymes, doubled nitric oxide production, hearts that can utilize glucose, and lungs with an increased sensitivity to low oxygen.
Sherpas are short in stature to accelerate the speed of circulation around the body and also breathe more quickly than the average person to extract more oxygen from the thin air.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherpa
   In a very honest way, Sherpas became known in the entire world after Tenzing Norgay, accompanying Edmund Hillary, stepped onto the summit of Mount Everest. The story of the ascent, written by Sir Hillary himself, is quite interesting to be read and I recommend his book "View from the summit".
***LUKLA - I have to admit that I did not pay much attention to the settlement of Lukla, as it was only a start point for the actual trekking, so I did not intend to spend time here. But it is in a way impressive to see the airstrip Sir Edmund Hillary built here in 1964. Hillary is a living legend in this part of Nepal and it is amazing to observe that if this man wouldn't got involved in the lives of locals, they would probably never had had all these kinds of facilities (power, bridges, airstrips, schools, hospitals, lodges) and the tourists today would never flight to Lukla, they would still follow the tough trek from Kathmandu by foot, for eight or ten days. You find in Lukla many lodges and "restaurants", offices of the air companies (Yeti Airlines has an office downtown, this is true, but it is open only 2 to 4 p.m., so you have to go directly to the airport, if you need a booking or a change of your booking. And the office they have in Namche Bazar doesn't make any kind of bookings, they just sale tickets. I have no idea how these things are working or why are working in this manner.)

COSTS OF THE DAY: 1.260 NRP (18 USD / 14 EUR)
  Taxi hotel – airport:  100 NRP (because we were 3 pax)
Airport taxes:     170 NRP
Lunch in Lukla:  290 NRP (10 extra) – incl. 1 l hot water (100)
Dinner in TokTok:    500 NRP
Fluids:                     150 NRP  (1 liter hot lemon)
1 night accommodation: 50 NRP         
             read about the next day
Here the movie of the day 
My advice for such of trekking trips in Himalaya: 
Buy the services of a local travel agency. 
If your backpack is over 12 kg, hire a porter. 
Think about hiring a local guide.  
N.B.
Prima mea poveste himalayană se regăsește redată pe blog, pe episoade, la nivelul anului 2009, martie.

1 Kommentar:

  1. the Himalayas, home of the snow, is the most impressive system of mountains on the earth, and for centuries the setting for epic feats of exploration and

    mountain climbing / treks, are a world into themselves. Ascending the heights and being a part of the Himalayan landscape is an experience beyond comparison.

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