Trek from Phakding to Lukla, Nepal
Tuesday 10th January 2006.
Trek Day 8: Phakding to Lukla
Some of the trekking group stayed up until 10pm last night singing and dancing in the small dining room. At 8pm I was so tired I just had to head off to bed early. I fell asleep almost immediately and was only vaguely aware of Rose coming to bed later. I slept soundly all night only waking a few times to roll over and in so doing resting the bruised spot on each hip. The almost non-existent mattresses are real hip bruisers. I was pleased to get some good sleep because it was extremely cold. I usually do not like using the hood of a sleeping bag, but over the last three nights I have had to use it.
Before dinner last night I played pool in the pool room of the lodge. They have a regular sized pool table as well as a large size snooker table. They werenâ€™t carried up to the lodge in one piece but were rather taken up in pieces and assembled inside the pool room.
This morning we were able to sleep in until woken at 8am with the usual cup of tea delivered to our room. This is very nice and I am getting used to the room service. We had breakfast at 9 oâ€™clock and were on our way again by 9:30am.
The track back to Lukla is fairly level for much of the way until the last climb up to Lukla which is about 200 metres and takes about an hour. Nothing here is measured in distance. It is always in hours or days for the longer trips. We arrived at about midday after two and a half hours walking. We all had a drink before lunch. I am really getting used to the hot lemon drink they serve as a beverage.
The town of Lukla is quite prosperous looking, probably as a result of the trekkers. There are many lodges and hotels here too. I guess many tourists fly in here for a few days without going on an extended trek. It is quite a good destination to just get a taste of the mountains and their amazing grandeur. The track to our lodge goes down the main street. There is a wide range of things available for sale, but prices tend to be cheaper in Kathmandu. I noticed quite a few places offered STD and ISD connections as well as internet availability.
Lukla Numbur Hotel
Our lodge is the Peregrine preferred one called the Lukla Numbur Hotel. Compared to those on the trek it is very nice. The bed mattresses are four inch foam and have quilt with beautiful designs on them. (They were so lovely I took a photo). The rooms are more spacious and have an en suite! After lunch many of us enjoyed a long shower. Some in the group did not get any hot water. They are solar heated so I guess too much demand was placed on the water supply.
Farewell to our Porters
Our room here has a westerly aspect so it is lovely and warm right now at 4:20pm. We were outside at 3pm for the presentations to the porters and the sherpas and the air was quite chilly, especially in the shade. On the last day we are expected to give a tip to the sherpas and porters. This includes a monetary tip plus a gift of any excess clothing, water bottles and so on. I gave a total of about $30 Australian which is about $10 more than what is expected. I did this for two reasons. Firstly, they really looked after me when I struggled. Secondly, I had no other items to donate. The clothing I bought in Australia was so expensive I was very reluctant to part with it.
Security at Lukla
As we entered Lukla we were very aware of the police numbers (blue uniforms) and strong army presence (green uniforms). There were also quite a few police last night at Phakding. The airport here at Lukla is particularly well garrisoned. Several bunkers overlook our hotel which is right next to the airport. Before lunch I took a few photos of the surrounding mountains but I was careful not to aim my camera at the soldiers. There is no sense in tempting trouble.
A poignant reminder
While we were waiting for lunch Ananta and James started playing cricket in the hotel garden. The ball went over the fence and was rescued by a young boy who would have loved to have joined in the game, Iâ€™m sure. He watched them through the razor wire surrounding our hotel. I carefully took a photo of him. It will be a poignant reminder of the current political unrest in this country. I was careful not to include the bunker only a few feet above his head. Zoom lenses are great in situations like that.
My appetite returns
Lunch today was great. Iâ€™m getting my appetite back again. My nose is also improving. Blowing blood clots is quite normal when trekking. Fortunately there was not as much dust today. My major concern is my feet. They are bruised, sore and blistered. The blister on my left heel burst today and has been left raw and very sore over an area about the size of a ten cent coin. I asked Ananta to bandage it. Kath also gave me some extra bandaging for it. I will try to get some extra things in Kathmandu for it. My toe nails are also very battered and bruised.