Archive for September, 2006

Travels in Nepal # 29 Some Facilities are very Basic

Some facilities are very basic in Nepal

Some facilities are very basic in Nepal

Living in Australia one becomes accustomed to certain levels of comfort. Most public facilities are clean, well maintained, airy, roomy and hygienic. We become spoiled by our standard of living.

Visiting a third world country can be a bit of a culture shock. Actually – it can be a big culture shock. It can be rather confronting, in your face and challenging.

At times though it can be somewhat amusing.

“HOT SHOWAR” screamed the sign roughly painted on the door – see the photo above.

I had a sneak look inside. How one was supposed to carry out one’s ablutions in that tiny shed is a mystery. It was so small you’d have to step outside to change your mind! Notice the little drum on the roof with a rustic ladder leading to it.

This is the system: you order and pay for your shower. After about an hour’s wait – for the water to be heated up in the kitchen – the hot water is poured into the drum. You then enter the shower enclosure and bathe – as quickly as possible. If you finish before the water runs out you’ve obviously missed washing some very basic parts of your body. (What is THAT smell???).

And when you finish you run run the risk of freezing to death unless you can dry yourself and dress in thirty seconds flat.

Actually, the shower we used in Namche Bazar was simply palatial compared to the one shown in the photo above. Oh – and it was sooooo good to have a hot shower.

Travels in Nepal # 28 Namche Bazar to Tengboche

Near Namche Bazar, Nepal

Near Namche Bazar, Nepal

Our guide warned us that the next day’s trek to Tengboche would be quite hard. It started off with yet another hard slog up the path to the ridge overlooking Namche Bazar. This was the fourth time we did this little stretch in a little over 24 hours. It certainly warmed us up early in the day and it wasn’t long before various items of clothing found their way into our day packs.

After the sharp climb up out of Namche Bazar the track towards Tengboche levels out for about two hours of relatively easy walking. None of the rises in this part of the trek is very steep, though that is a relative term. What we would call a steep climb back home is a gentle rise in Nepal. This part of the track follows the contour of the mountains. The views along this part of the journey are amazing. But then – the views everywhere in this part of Nepal are amazing. One runs out of superlatives.
After about two hours walking the path drops rapidly down to a village in the valley. It is a 400 metre drop down to the river. I found going down was often as demanding on the body as going up. There were so many opportunities to trip, twist an ankle, fall or do oneself an injury every step of the way. By now my toe nails were becoming bruised from the impact of my feet on the front of my shoes.

We stopped for lunch in a tiny lodge before crossing the river and attempting the steep climb to Tengboche.

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Travels in Nepal #27: Trekking Lodges

Inside our lodge in Namche Bazar

Inside our lodge in Namche Bazar

We stayed in a number of different lodges on our trek towards Mt Everest. Every little village has at least one lodge. Many have several. I am not sure of the overall standard of accomodation in this area but those we stayed in were quite adequate.

The dining room, like the one shown in the photo above, is the social gathering point at each lodge. The trekkers gather here to eat, read, talk, relax and sing; each lodge seems to have at least one guitar. We also used the dining room to keep warm. As soon as the sun disappears behind a mountain the temperature drops many degrees in a matter of minutes. The fireplace in each lodge then becomes a popular meeting place.

The food was adequate without being glamorous. At the higher altitudes one just doesn’t feel like eating so having a fixed menu like we did, while seemingly unattractive, was sensible. I was acutely aware, despite my lack of appetite, of the need to keep eating to maintain energy levels. This was but one of the many challenges of trekking.

Maintaining adequate liquid intake was also important. This I generally had no trouble with, although I probably could have drunk more water during each day’s walk. At the end of each section of the trek a hot lemon drink was very refreshing.

The sleeping quarters were sparse and barely adequate. The walls were thin so I was aware of movement and talking in the rooms on either side. Evidently my snoring also penetrated the thin walls very well. The beds have mattresses but they were so thin as to be almost useless. Bruised hips are all the go as a result. I was pleased to have a very good sleeping bag. This is one area you cannot compromise on for without it sleep would be very difficult.

Travels in Nepal #26: A View Over Namche Bazar

Namche Bazar, Nepal

Namche Bazar, Nepal

There are many ways of viewing the village of Namche Bazar in the Everest region of Nepal. From the tracks meandering around the ridges over looking the town one could take many different photos of this intriguing place.

The above photo was taken on the return walk during our acclimatisation day. We walked for several hours along a track leading to Tibet, returning via the same route. This was largely flat going with only a few gentle climbs along the way.

Our lodge is shown in the middle of the photo. It has a red roof with yellow walls. From the dining room we had excellent views of both the surrounding mountains and the village below. If you look carefully you can see the track leading from the back of our lodge up the slope (to the top left of the photo). This slope looks tame from this angle high above the town. We walked up that incline four times in a twenty hour period. It was a killer and we all got to hate it despite the magnificent view from the top.

But we survived.

Travels in Nepal #25: High Mountains – Deep Valleys

Near Namche Bazar, Nepal

Near Namche Bazar, Nepal

When trekking in the Himalayas I was constantly aware of the steepness of the mountains and the depth of the valleys. As you walk along the tracks through the mountains you only have to look up to see the steepness of the surrounding peaks. Looking down at the valleys below is not for the faint hearted. They can be incredibly daunting in their depth.

One’s imagination tries not to linger on the “what ifs.” What if I tripped and fell? What if someone pushed me? What if I was nudged by a yak? I found it a terrifying prospect and tried to put it out of my mind. I am not exactly terrified of heights, just very cautious and respectful of potential dangers.
Instead, I tried to drink in deeply from the amazing scenery, taking in the magnitude and grandeur in every direction. The above photo shows one such valley near Namche Bazar and the surrounding peaks. Usually a photo does not do justice to a scene but in this case it does give some perspective to this part of the mountains.

By clicking on the photo above you will get a larger view.