24
Feb

Everest Base Camp Adventures (Summary Post with Links)

By: muttler

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Namaste! Here it is, my epic adventure to Everest Base Camp. Be amazed at the beauty of the Himalayas and stories of me eating my weight in momos 🙂

Day One: The First of Many Momos (Melbourne to Kathmandu)

Day Two: Exploring Kathmandu

Day Three: It Begins! (Kathmandu to Phakding 2660m)

Day Four: How Bazaar (Phakding 2600m to Namche Bazaar 3440m)

Day Five: Hanging Out In Namche (Acclimatisation in Namche Bazaar 3440m)

Day Six: Om Mani Padme Hum (Namche Bazaar 3440m to Tengboche 3880m)

Day Seven: Above The Treeline (Tengboche 3880m to Dingboche 4350m)

Day Eight: The Air Gets Thin (Acclimatisation in Dingboche 4350m)

Day Nine: Getting Closer (Dingboche 4350m to Lobuche 4930m)

Day Ten: Base Camp! (Lobuche 4930m to Gorakshep 5180m with a trip to Everest Base Camp 5364m)

Day Eleven: Conquring Kala Patthar (Gorakshep 5180m to Pheriche 4200m with a visit to Kala Patthar 5600m)

Day Twelve: Snow Day (Pheriche 4200m to Kenjuma 3570m)

Day Thirteen: Football Training (Kenjuma 3570m to Chumoa 2750m)

Day Fourteen: Back to Lukla (Chumoa 2750m to Lukla 2830m)

Day Fifteen: Anti-Climax (Stranded in Lukla 2830m)

Day Sixteen: Random Sax (Lukla 2830m to Kathmandu)

Day Seventeen: Farewell Nepal

 

24
Feb

Random Sax

By: muttler
farewell himalayas

farewell himalayas

 

28/01/2018 – Lukla (2830m) to Kathmandu

Yes! As you have worked out there was a happy ending to the story the next day!

We got up early again, scheduled for the second flight of the day. As soon as we were up we could see from the skies it would be a different story. No breakfast, just a quick cuppa, and it was down to the airport. With only a slight delay of an hour or so, we saw the first planes coming in. Woo hoo! We would be leaving soon.

 

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And in no time we were getting on a plane. Oh the excitement! This time there was no fake-out… we were taking off from the short Lukla runway and on our way back. A nice smooth flight and in just an hour we were back in Kathmandu.

All things going to plan today would have been the day when everyone was starting to do their own thing, heading home or off on other adventures. But given we had not really had a proper farewell we did our best to try and finish off the day with some fun. We had a few different hotels amongst us, so myself and some others went to the very swanky G Adventures hotel to freshen up while some others were back at the Fuji, where it all began. But we all had hot running water and that was the main thing.

Oh, and that hot running water! On the trip I had never felt too much of an urge to *need* a hot shower, but it was quite glorious to be in one now. But it was also my last few hours in Kathmandu I could explore, so after freshening up, I decided to wander about the city, just to buy some souvenirs and soak it up one last time. Oh and to eat more chilli buff momos!

I didn’t do terribly much, picking up some small gifts for everyone back home. I also did enjoy my chilli buff momos as well as some steamed chocolate momos. They were OK, but I could see why they weren’t common on menus.

After getting back to the hotel and freshening up, we all met up again for one last dinner. Pasang and Mingma helped get us all together and what was lovely was that we had a chance to all say our farewells to them together. Pasang and Mingma were amazing and followed in what is seeming to be a long lineage of G Adventures CEO’s that are simply just pretty incredible people. These two were a massive part in making this such an incredible trip.

 

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Pasang and Mingma bid us adieu, and the whole hiking gang headed off to Fire and Ice, a local pizzaria. Yep, pizza. We had all had our fill of rice and daal bhat and momos and so some pizza was in order. And what pizza it was! Nice traditional Italian style pizza. So with lots of pizza and beers we enjoyed our last dinner together.

 

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Some of the crew had flights to get to or early mornings, so we said our goodbyes there. Some of us had lazy mornings the next day so we headed out to a local bad, Ozzie Bar (no, not an Aussie bar) for more drinks and live music. Damn, it was a strange place! Two of the guys had visited when they first arrived in Kathmandu and warned us it was a bit odd, and it was but so great. There was a local band playing cover songs, some in English, and some in Nepali which was fun. They then took a break and then things got kind of strange. A couple of locals were cuing up random Youtube videos on the screen and absolutely nuts dancing ensued! So crazy to watch them and everyone else getting right into it.

 

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The band came on and their cover of “Sex on Fire” was strangely and weirdly a bit of a highlight. Hearing it with the Nepali angle was one thing, but during the song, a random person in the crowd opened their bag, got a saxophone out, and started wandering the bar playing along. We all seemed to think he was part of the act, and while we couldn’t say he was entirely in tune with the band, we just thought it was an added layer of oddness to what was already happening. But then after a couple of other songs security went up to him, got him to put the sax away and marched him our of the bar! So strange! What a fantastical way to end my last night in Kathmandu and Nepal.

24
Feb

Exploring Kathmandu

By: muttler
cute but will steal your food in the blink of an eye

cute but will steal your food in the blink of an eye

 

14/01/2018 – Kathmandu

I was keen to explore Kathmandu a bit so booked the free day before my Base Camp trip started, along with a day at the end (although the end day was more a contingency day in case we couldn’t get out of the mountains). In Kathmandu it seems there is two main things that most folks who are on a tight schedule visit: Durbar Square and Swayambhunath (better known as the Monkey Temple). I slept really well, but was up nice and early, so by 8am I decided I was done being in the room and headed out into the streets.

 

 

It was great wandering the streets as the city woke and set itself up for the day. Quite quickly you get out of touristy Thamel and into streets where local shopkeeps are setting up and people are out getting their daily needs. I love seeing the people wandering the streets going about their business, quickly stopping by one of the many stupas (Buddhist monuments) to pay respects and keep moving. I naturally ended up down at Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the main place to visit for tourists.

 

mr ryan showing me a thing or two

mr ryan showing me a thing or two

 

From what I know “durbar” is a general word, and there are actually a number of “Durbar Squares” that exist. This one is the centrepiece in Kathmandu, home to many buildings including palaces and religious monuments. As I approached I immediately got the sense that sadly this square bore the brunt of the earthquake in 2015. While I could see many beautiful monuments, there were also many piles of bricks, and considerable scaffolding about. Like many please such as these around the world I was approached by a number of people offering to guide me about the complex. I was happy to have someone show me about, and so Mr Ryan it was. Obviously his name was not strictly “Mr Ryan” however he seemed happy that it was the easiest pronunciation of his actual name, so since I couldn’t write his name down at the time, Mr Ryan it is.

 

looking for the kumari

looking for the kumari

 

He as a delight and super knowledgable so I was happy to have acquired his services for the next hour or two. He led me all about the complex, which although it is not necessarily confusing, having a guide helped orient myself and also place everything into context. He led me first to a very special temple, one in which the Kumari was currently present and watching over the visitors. From what I can gather, the Kumari is a young girl (4 at the moment) who is a revered goddess for the Nepalese Buddhist community. She makes appearances at key times in the year and this was one. Alas we could not see her, but the signs advising against photos suggested she was certainly above us watching.

 

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Mr Ryan showed me around the complex, and sadly as mentioned, a number of things he pointed out were now just a pile of bricks, including the “Hippie Temple” where apparently the Beatles, Hendrix and others visited and played guitar. Thankfully though there was a lot of construction meaning that hopefully things will be returned to their former glories.

 

invader!

invader!

 

I bid farewell to Mr Ryan, wandered about for a little longer, and then headed off, this time toward to Swayambhunath, the monkey temple. On the way, up a random street, I was super stoked to come across an Invader! I had no idea that Space Invader had visited, and after some reading up afterward apparently there are a number around the city (although supposedly many were destroyed in the earthquake). But I was happy to see one in such good condition… plus the red dot on the forehead was a nice touch.

 

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The Monkey Temple is high on a hill overlooking Kathmandu, so for half an hour or so I weaved through the streets toward it. As you arrive you then have about 400 steps to ascend to reach the main stupa and buildings. Along with the other visitors, you are also joined on your way up by the many monkeys that hang out there. There are warnings to keep your bag closed and food away, and the monkeys playing with a Sprite bottle were evidence of that. I made my way up easy enough (I would hope so given I had several thousand meters of ascent to come!) and wandered the gorgeous, vibrant stupa at the top, all the while being eyeballed by the monkeys.

 

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There were great views looking out over Kathmandu, the haze that seems to be common here not too obstructive. From this height the city looked bigger than I first thought, sprawling all around.

 

chilli buff momos!!!

chilli buff momos!!!

 

It was time to wander back to the hotel for my first meetup with the rest of my hiking group. But on the way back I had to stop for food sine I had been all go since early in the morning. What to have? MOMOs! I wheeled in to Yangling Restaurant on my way back and had what was undoubtedly my favourite dish of the trip… Chilli Buffalo Momos. Damn. They were SO good. Steamed first then lightly fried I think, they were coated in a delicious, slightly sticky chilli sauce. The buffalo was great but the whole dish was just amazing. I would undoubtedly having more of these bad boys on my return to Kathmandu 🙂

I got back to the hotel and had a little time to chill before meeting my G Adventures group. Our CEO was Pasang Sherpa, and he was joined by Mingma who I had met at the airport. There were 8 of us hiking… 3 Aussies, 3 Brits and 2 Irish lads. If first impressions are typically right, then I had a very good feeling about the trip as everyone seemed cool and up for it. Pasang ran us through everything… not much to know really but making sure we had all the gear we needed. At this point I knew I had done well with tour leader as Pasang had the BEST laugh. This was going to be 2 weeks of good times I could tell.

A short wander in Thamel to get last money and then dinner, and it was off to bed for our early morning trip to the airport and official start to the journey.

 

24
Feb

The First of Many Momos

By: muttler
welcome to kathmandu

welcome to kathmandu

 

13/01/2018 – Melbourne to Kathmandu

My trip to Everest Base Camp begins!

Yep, after having conquered Kilimanjaro a couple of years ago, it was now time to cross that other epic journey off my list. But that makes it sound like it was just a box checking exercise. Nothing could be further from the truth. My bud (and Kili climbing partner) CC had waxed lyrical about the trip to Base Camp, and like many before me, just uttering the word “Himalayas” was enough to trigger goose bumps. So this was a trip I was excited and nervous (every emotion really) for. So on the plane I jumped, with just my hiking gear accompanying me, and headed on my merry way to Nepal.

The flight was with Thai, via Bangkok. This seemed to be the most direct route and was reasonably priced so worked for me. The airline itself seems to be looking a bit tired these days (especially when you have been travelling places via the Middle East in the past years), but an uneventful flight is a good one, and with 6 hours sleep under my belt I arrived in Kathmandu.

As soon as I arrived I knew I was in a new and unique place. While I have travelled to a lot of places now, not too many have been what I think too rugged or overwhelming. Tanzania to a degree, and parts of Central America I guess, but even the more random parts of Europe (or say Japan) tend to have familiar elements to them. Kathmandu was the same, although the air of difference and chaos does hit you as soon as you are in the airport. As I awaited my bag, very strange animal noises emanated from a large crate. I *think* it was a dog of some kind? But boy were they strange. I then fought my way through the crowds and past the huge number of folks trying to get me into their taxi. I had a transfer waiting, but even one guy was cheeky enough to approach me and let me know he was my transfer (even though he wasn’t) and try to get my bag and an accompanying tip for his trouble. But Mingma from G Adventures (my EBC tour company) was waiting and we headed the centre of town.

The roads were what I expected would be the case… dusty roads where there is no such thing as an indicator, rather a beep of the horn always sufficed when moving left or right. So love being in a new environment where all this craziness is happening around you. In no time Mingma (who I should say was one of our main tour leaders) had me at the Fuji Hotel, our starting point in the tourist area of Thamel, safe and sound and let me know the deal for meeting the group tomorrow. I now had a few hours of afternoon and the whole day tomorrow to get acquainted with Kathmandu.

 

and this is not even as chaotic as most

 

Even though I got some sleep, I was keen to take it easy for the afternoon and do my main sightseeing tomorrow. I marvelled at the incredible wiring on display above my head everywhere I looked. Local NBN? After wandering hectic Thamel for a bit (deflecting the many shopkeeps, randoms on the street, and many offers of drugs), I settled in for the first of many meals of Momos. Momos are basically dumplings, but Nepal’s version. Not much different really… steamed or fried… but with a focus on local fillings. So I was keen to strap on some Buffalo and also Potato and Cheese momos.

 

tucked away

 

mmmmomo!

 

While you can’t walk 10 meters without having the option of momos, I did a quick search for “Best Kathmandu Momo” and was greeted with Newa Momo, so why not? Tucked down a small alley and hard to find, I wandered into the family run restaurant. Buff momos and also Potato Cheese momos please! 20 momos was a lot, but you know… travel makes you hungry hey? Mmmm… delicious. I could see many momos in my future.

The sun was down and I was sleepy, so I decided to settle in for the night and get some sleep before the real adventure started.

 

12
Feb

Everest Base Camp is Coming!

By: muttler
these posts are taking me longer to write than it did to walk there

these posts are taking me longer to write than it did to walk there

 

“Hey Matt!”, I hear you ask. “Where are your posts about your trip to Nepal and Everest Base Camp?!”. OK, so maybe you’re not asking. But just in case you are one of those two people who are thinking that you wouldn’t mind seeing some pics and reading about it, just to let you know that I am busy typing away my adventures! It is probably still a couple of weeks off, but I am working on it when I find time. Rather than post as I finish, I will likely post them all in one hit, Netflix style. No one likes anything drip fed these days do they?

So stay tuned!