Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Nepal? Why? "Bistari Didi" wanderings - 5 weeks in Nepal & Bhutan

Nepal? Why? "Bistari Didi" wanderings - 5 weeks in Nepal & Bhutan

Old Jun 10th, 2013, 04:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
Nepal? Why? "Bistari Didi" wanderings - 5 weeks in Nepal & Bhutan

I've had so many great tips & entertaining hours reading these Forums, I thought it was about time I did my bit.

Nepal wasn’t on my “trip” list. Nothing against it, just not somewhere I’d thought of going. I’d never trekked, don’t do group travel.

“Come around on Friday night, Lyn’s bringing some pics from her last trip to Nepal ”, my friend said as I was leaving the gym one morning.

About 20 minutes in, I started to think. I needed a stretch. Mind, Body & all that. Bounce myself out of my rut. The Rhodos, the little villages, the countryside. Still, I don’t even do the weekly pole walking class, let alone trek up & down hills. I’m a flat country girl. And I don’t like being cold.

By the end of the evening, people were asking about putting a group together to do a trek – only us. Maximum 10. I just scribbled Lyn’s website down. Too easy to get caught up in the moment. So I waited until next morning, raced downstairs & sent off the application & a zillion questions. I was in.

Next ... The Rollee, Lights on the Lake and the Man in Red
Bokhara2 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2013, 04:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,500
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
More! More!
Marija is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2013, 04:54 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
Kathmandu – Pokhara- Annapurna/Poon Hill – Chitwan – Bhaktapur. It was terrific. We had a ball. I was hooked.

Most of my leisure travel, and all of the most memorable, has been on a whim, an opportunity, sparked by a chance remark or something I’ve seen or read. That was March & April, 2012. Three weeks.

I was planning my return before I went through the Departure arches at Kathmandu on the way home. Women on the right, men on the left.


“This time,” I said to Lyn over coffee at a local spot one morning, “I’d like to go on my own, just with a guide & porter. P (one of our guides from last year who’d become a good friend), if he’s available. Take a couple of weeks to wander around, staying a couple of nights here & there. See a bit of local life. Sit & do nothing in the sun.”

“We can do that” … and so this year’s trip took shape.

Lyn's a great friend, runs Taylor Adventure Travel & was going back for her 40 something trip. She'd done a superb job for us last year & I had no doubt she'd come up with the perfect trip for me this time. She did.

Here’s the quick outline:

Sydney-Singapore – Kathmandu- Pokhara, leaving 21st March.
Pokhara – 4 days
Kathmandu – Paro. Bhutan with 3 others - 6 days.
Buddhathum – Remote village west of Kathmandu – 5 days
Kathmandu 3 days
Khumbu Region – 14 days
Kathmandu, Bhaktapur – 3 days


I like afternoon flights. When you’re Australian, everywhere else is at the end of at least one long-leg flight, and an afternoon/early evening out of Sydney is perfect for me.

Check in is smooth and Singapore Airlines allowed me an extra 10kg so I could take some things up to a remote school, and with my Kris Flyer membership, I have 40kgs allowance. So a huge bag of books and another of clothes for the kids hit the conveyor belt with my cricket bag. (Fits my walking poles). 38.4kg Phew!

TIP: Many airlines will allow an extra baggage allowance if you’re taking goods for 3rd world charities, schools, hospitals, orphanages. Call their Customer Service department as early as you can and follow up with a written request, detailing what you’re taking and the recipient/s. I’ve had extra allowed by Singapore, Garuda & Virgin.

“We’ll be serving lunch shortly – please put your seat backs up”. And they enforce it. “Singapore Girl, you’re a great way to fly!”

G & T and peanuts while we peruse the menu. Appetizer of Prawns & lettuce with pasta. Mains – choice of beef, potatoes & vegetable or stir fried chicken, rice & bok choy. I take the chook. Didn’t note the dessert – don’t eat them.

A glass of red and a nice little cheese platter. From Business or First, I think. I just asked if there were any – and it materialised. On a china plate. With a linen napkin. Thank you very much!

The colours of my country unfold like an Emily Kngwarreye painting as we cross the Red Centre & head for the NT/WA coastline, sunset glinting on the myriad little islands & poking into inlets.

Earlier, we’d flown over the Blue Mountains, green paddocks, vast plains of red, green & black; pink claypans & shimmering white salt lakes; blue & brown inland lakes . Red “waves” of the deserts give way to softer country & winding green serpents of the Dreamtime mark rivers, great & small. 5 hours flying – and it’s all ours!

I’ve flown this route more times than I can count, and I never lose the “wow!”, or the little lump in my throat as we leave Australian airspace. And when I come home. I love to wander around the world, so there’s lots of “comings & goings”!
Bokhara2 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2013, 05:08 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
Here are some jottings from the latest little jaunt – a week in Bhutan & a month in Nepal in March & April, 2013.

If you're looking for a finely detailed chronicle, packed with lots of info about prices, timetables, avoiding bedbugs, where to plug in toothbrushes & warnings about scams, safety & where to find food like home - move on now. I'm not your girl and this rambling tale will drive you nuts.

Ask me anything you like though. If I can, I'll be only too pleased to help. I've put tips in here & there where I've thought of something I found useful.

Right - now it's just we 3, let's have a coffee (or a vino if the sun's over your yardarm) & a chat.

Changi is a great airport. Efficient, easy to navigate and best of all for those on the first leg of two or more long flights: The Transit Hotel.

Tip : There’s a hotel in each of the 3 Terminals, so book into the one you’ll be departing from. Book early – they’re not that big and fill up quickly.

My room was a good size, ensuite, with tea & coffee making facilities & a TV. Basic, but perfectly adequate for an overnight stay.

Tip: The water in Singapore is potable, but if you’re beginning a trip, or have a sensitive system, it might be an idea to start your “Bottled/purified water only” regime here.

If you’re in the T2 hotel, Cedele is a good coffee shop/bar/breakfast spot. Just under the escalators near the Orchid garden.

Time on your hands in an airport full of shops can be a trap for young players. Or even old dogs. I vacillated between an ipad & an ipad mini, dodging the bullet by sensibly deciding to “sleep on it”. Would like, but don’t need either. And their prices weren’t all that flash.

Still had a few SGD burning a hole in my pocket next morning. Bought an extra battery & a memory card for my camera, some chocolates, tee shirts, caps & other things for the kids & friends in Nepal.

And immediately morphed into a “Rollee”. You know, one of those people we all roll our eyes at in airports.

The one trying to shove three bags of stuff into a tiny “carry on”. Or pulling out another bag, thereby breaking the “one + handbag” carry on rule. No, the “carry-on” won’t fit into the larger bag. Packing, re-packing … pfaffing about like a demented chook. Sometimes we’re the “Eye Roller”, having a quiet snigger. Today, I was definitely the “Rollee”!

And then I woke up to myself & went up to the service counter at our departure lounge.

“I’ve bought too much in the shops here to fit in my bag. Do you think I could possibly book this one through, please?” “Yes, of course. Just give it to the chap at the entry and collect it at the bottom of the stairs as you leave the flight.” And she thanked me for sticking to the rules! I was chuffed. No trying to slither it past everyone, juggle two bags down the aisle, haul both up into the baggage bin and repeat it all at the other end. Sweet!

More to come ..A Gurkha, Sarangkot sunrise & Pokhara
Bokhara2 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2013, 05:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
SILK AIR is Singapore Airlines’ regional carrier but doesn’t hold a candle to it in service or facilities. Not on the SIN-KTM-SIN route, anyway.

The cabin crew are charming, but things like only having ceiling mounted televisions in economy, playing some brain numbing show on a continuous loop, is not good enough by a long shot. No option to turn it off and no option to change the channel, despite numerous requests from disgruntled passengers. Mediocre food with insufficient of each option to give most people a choice.

Fortunately, it’s only a 5 hour flight and I’d had a good breakfast before our 11am departure, so the food wasn’t an issue for me.

TIP: Sit on the RHS & get a window. Great mountain views as we cross Nepal.

My travelling companion for this leg was a charming young Nepalese chap from Pokhara. He’s a Gurkha in the British Army, home on a month’s leave. They’ve been in Laverton (Qld) on a training exercise. It’s his 2nd trip time in Australia and he’s also been to Brunei, UK and twice to Afghanistan. He says the Army is a good career and he sees himself continuing in it. It’s challenging personally, as he’s married and only gets home to see his wife & family a couple of times a year.

The Nepalese have a long, rich & tremendously well respected history as Gurkhas, and only a very small percentage of the thousands of applicants are accepted. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigade_of_Gurkhas

This clip shows some Gurkhas celebrating Dashain in Afghanistan last year


It’s fascinating talking with him about his life, family and the vistas being in the Army has opened for him. He’d not been out of Pokhara, except on a couple of school excursions to Chitwan & Kathmandu, before he enlisted.

We’re both going to Pokhara & neither of us knows which flight we’re taking – we’re being met at KTM with our tickets & whisked across to the domestic terminal. Amed by his brother & me by someone from Lyn’s Nepalese tour operators.

In the arrivals hall, the queue for the “Foreigners With Visa” is shorter than the VOA queue this time. It’s no big bonus though. It’s unusual to get out in less than an hour, so it’s just a matter of whether you’re waiting for Visa or Luggage. This time it’s luggage and when mine finally appears, the striped “cheap Charlie” bag with the books for the school is shredded. Just as well I’d triple bagged!

There are plenty of trolleys – and willing porters – in this area and outside. If someone helps you, he’ll expect payment, so have a few NPR in your pocket. They would probably take other currency, but it’d be a nuisance for them to have to change it.

Despite Kathmandu’s chaos in so many ways, they have a very efficient and thorough system at their airports. Overly thorough in some areas. In the Arrivals hall, every piece of luggage has its luggage tag checked against the one on your ticket before you can leave. So make sure you have those little barcoded stickers ready.

Only passengers can enter the Terminal building, so everyone meeting passengers has to wait outside. If someone is meeting you, they’ll most likely be across the road with the Tour Operators, Taxis & others in the car park.

I spy a sign, wave & we’re off. H’s car is nearby & I’m on the 3:30 Yeti Air to Pokhara. “The cricket bag to the Yak & Yeti, I’ll take the little one & the rest goes to your office storage.” I tell him. We'll take the stuff in storage up to the village next week.

The two guys who took the trolley from me & wheeled it 20 metres to the car turn out not to be with H as I’d thought & want payment. I can’t find the NPR I’ve carefully put where I could find it in a hurry, so H tips them and gives me the NPR 200 departure tax I’ll need for the Pokhara flight.

There’s a good start – H doesn’t know me from Adam & he’s down 300NPR in 3 minutes! So much for 3rd world handouts from the 1st world (lol).
Bokhara2 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2013, 05:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
The same system applies at the domestic airport – pax only past the front door. You show your Passport & ticket to the airport official at the door to gain entry. Immediately past that, there is the usual xray conveyor belt and then through either the “Ladies” or “Gents” scanning archway & straight to a curtained booth for a pat-down. The first of many.

I’ve just retrieved my bag when along comes Amed – we’re on the same flight & have about 10 minutes to get on it. I mind our bags, he dashes off to pay our taxes.

Next thing, a lady in a green sari, with 2 gold front teeth & about the same amount of English as my Nepali, grabs our bags, ushers me to the front of the queue & goes back for Amed. She’s an “Airport Assistant” & she’s on a mission to get us on that 3:30 flight.

There’s no overhead storage on this flight, so I check my cabin bag through & just take my small daypack.

Yet another xray, security scan and patdown. Less than 20 metres from the last lot. What dangerous thing, you wonder, could you acquire in that distance in a sealed room?

We’re off! Through the “Ladies” & “Gents” exit doors & run up the steps.

The Yeti Air plane is a Jetstream 41, single seats down the RHS as you enter, doubles on the left.

TIP Left hand side for the best views.

I’m in an aisle seat, but the Nepalese chap in the window seat offers to swap with me & I gratefully accept. He says does this flight often & we chat about Australia & a trip he’s planning next year.

The hostie offers us lollies, cotton wool balls (for ear plugs) and cool drinks. Remember when they used to give out butterscotch lollies before take-off & landing on all flights? Probably not, I’m older than god & flew with the Wright brothers. Anyway, it’s a nice touch & I take a couple of lollies & pass on the cotton wool balls. Quite a few of the Nepalese people take the cotton wool.

At Pokhara airport there’s great excitement – turns out my companion is a Nepalese celebrity & I later notice his face beaming archly from advertising posters.

Amed introduces me to his family – his wife, mother, father & two sisters. “Namaste” & wish each other good travelling.

From a recommendation on TA, I booked a room at the Sacred Valley Inn and their driver collects me from the airport. Thanks Jean, it’s a gem & I’m very happy to recommend it, too.

I paid US25/ night for a good sized ensuite room with its own balconies on the middle floor. Two beds, charming colonial shutters on the windows & iron grills for security. Good sized bathroom, plenty of hot water.

Power outlets in the bathroom & bedroom for charging phones, cameras etc.

TIP: If you have more than one device to charge or run, take a power board from home. You only need one adapter for the power board & all your devices can be charged at once.

TIP: Put a bottle of water in the bathroom with a glass/mug to remind yourself not to use tap water to brush your teeth. Someone gave me a little collapsible beaker and it really earned its space in my duffle bag.

Water: The question of whether to buy bottled or boiled water, use Steripens or purifying tablets is always a topic and we will all have our personal preferences. I used a Steripen last year, it had a fault that I didn’t pick up & I paid the price. This year I used Aquatabs and occasionally bought some boiled water.

A ziggy bottle full of hot water makes a good foot or hand warmer on a cold night.

I was pleasantly surprised with the Aquatabs as they didn’t leave a taste and only took 30 minutes to purify a litre of water. 50 tablets in a packet, bought them in Australia. Light, convenient, effective & did the job.

There’s a large roof terrace with views to the Peace Pagoda & mountains, but my favourite spot is the covered balcony on the middle floor.

The Sacred Valley is an oasis just off the main street, opposite the Lake & not far to walk to the centre of town. There’s a little café attached to the hotel and it’s licensed.

A big bottle of beer is NPR 275, wine 350/glass. Quiche & chips, 310. Delicious & goes down well with a frosty Everest beer. Dinner at the end of a long day. It’s nice to be back in Pokhara!

TIP: Beer is a lot cheaper and generally better than most wines on offer in Nepal. (And Bhutan). I’m not much of a beer drinker at home, don’t care for fizzy soft drinks at all, but quite like Asian beers. My liking increases with the ambient temperature & the coldness of the beer!

My first breakfast was French toast on the balcony, with freshly ground, organic locally grown plunger coffee. Heaven! http://www.sacredvalleyinn.com/
Bokhara2 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2013, 05:25 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
Over the next few days, I visited some places I’d missed last year, re-visited others.

Walked along the Lake (Phewa Tal), took a boat trip around it. Bought some things I needed for my trip and some gifts to take home. I’d walked up to the Peace Pagoda last year and hadn’t even brought sneakers this year. This was really just a relax, shop & absorb the Nepali atmosphere preamble to Bhutan, the village & our wander around the Khumbu region. I’d have plenty of time in Kathmandu between & after those trips.

First stop: The money changer. Rates are always better in Kathmandu, but I got 88 NPR/AUD from the guys next to the hotel. No time to change any at the airports. There are ATMs near the exit at the International. As elsewhere, you’ll get a better rate from money changers on the streets than in the Airports, so if you need some fast cash at the airport, use the ATM.

Rates on the board in Pokhara on 25/3/13 were:

AUD: 87.58 USD: 84.22; EU: 107.94; GBP: 127.37; CHF:89.15. Banks open at 11 & the rates are set then.

Tip: It’s a good Application & useful for quick rough calculations & references when you’re travelling.

Just while we’re thinking about money: “Dirty Money” has real meaning in Nepal. Those paper notes can be really grotty. Use the hand wash before you pick up that spring roll or momo. I hate the stuff too, but I hate the trots more! Just a bit of risk minimisation.

It’s easy for me to mistake one note for another, too. I can be a clutz with unfamiliar currency and you can bet your bottom dollar I’m more likely to hand over 10,000 or 100,000 than 1,000 if they’re all green & I’m paying a taxi in a hurry or a restaurant in low light. So I get a set of the currencies I’ll encounter before I leave home. Yes, I played “shop” as a kid.

I have enough opportunities to look like a twit without adding “impecunious” to the description!

Did I mention a little retail therapy? Found some stunning pashminas at Zaroo’s shop. Modern designs & the finest fabric. Mine has dark green camels on a pale cream background. I slung it around my shoulders at the theatre last week and had 3 compliments from strangers. This chap is a seriously talented designer. I love the traditional designs – but this is really something special. I bought a wonderful grey, black & vivid cerise one for my cousin. Art Deco with an edge. Can’t find his card or remember the name of the shops at the moment, but there are two shops, both with modern fit out & big windows. Opposite side of the street to the Lake.

Had to have some more water bottle carriers, purses and bags from the Womens’ Skills Development shop.

http://www.handmade-link.com/?page_id=9 The smallish bags are fantastic for mobile, small camera, tissues etc., & slip over your shoulder for easy access when you’re trekking. Or just going for a walk at home. My friend used one when she had a broken foot – saved her running for the cordless phone every time it rang.

I like to support these women and it’s easy to do because they make attractive, useful products at a very good price. Some of what I buy will be sold to by two schools in Australia to raise funds for a couple of schools in a remote village in Nepal. Goes around, comes around. Paying it forward.

Bought some ear rings & pendants from a Tibetan lady by the lake. Other bits & pieces from one of the jewellers. You need to negotiate & know your values and I was happy with the result. The recipients have been very chuffed. A nice selection of things in the “Christmas” & “Birthday” repository. Some may even be given, if I don’t raid it first!
There are lots of museums & interesting places. These are two of my favourites.

Gurkha Museum . http://gurkhamuseum.org.np/

International Mountain Museum: http://www.internationalmountainmuseum.org/

The Tibetan Refugee camp was closed, so I couldn’t see carpets being made as I’d hoped. But oh, what a treat instead! There was a ceremony at the Monastery and we could go in. I was enthralled at the chanting, music and prayers of the assembled Monks. It was such a memorable thing, to sit quietly & absorb everything. I was the only non-Nepalese there. The opulent, detailed, exquisite paintings, colourful robes & rich tones. And the deepest, deep throat singing of the leading Monk. Goosebump stuff.

Little Monks giggling and a European doing prostrations to the side of the Altar. I lost count at 150 and wondered, irreverently & irrelevantly, what on earth he’d done to require such atonement.

Something strange happened and although none of the Monks missed a beat, the change of energy was palpable. A bearded man in a red “hoodie” came into the Monastery & walked very slowly between the seats and the last row of Monks. Imagine a “U” shape, with the Altar at the top, the entry door at the bottom & 3 or 4 rows of monks forming the long arms of the “U”. A metre or so behind those arms, were low “pews” & cushions for people attending the service. This man walked very, very slowly along one side, between the Monks & pews, behind the Altar & down the other side, glaring at the Monks with what could only be described as an extremely baleful countenance, and I felt quite uncomfortable.

For the 2nd time in my life, I thought I might be “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

I wasn’t , but the mood lifted the second he left the building. One of life’s mysteries, I guess. My Driver, Depak, said he’d felt it too & was tossing up whether to get us out just before the man left.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2013, 05:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
One morning Depak & I went up to Sarangkot for sunrise. His English is excellent, he’s a great guide to Pokhara, pleasant & interesting person, so any time I needed a car I called him.

Left the Sacred Valley just after 5 and were there ahead of all the tourist buses & other taxis. We walked to the highest building & were the first on its rooftop terrace.

Warmed by a hot chocolate, we had the best seats in the house as we waited. It was one of those hazy mornings that clears as the sun rises & we had magnificent views of the sun striking the faces of the Himalayan mountains. Magic!

There is nothing like that red sun of Asian sunrises & sunsets. Yes, I know it’s because of smog/smoke. I see the sun rising out of the ocean from my deck every morning – and this still takes my breath away. That’s not quite right – it drops my breathing rate in the same way that scuba diving does. Or coming home around a familiar bend … aaahhh . Everything’s perfect with the world

You don’t want to be behind all those buses and cars tracking back into town, so make sure you leave before they do.

Breakfast at the Pokhara Beach Club, right on the lake was the icing on my cake that morning. http://www.pokharabeachclub.com/

Watching the boats on the lake, and all the hang gliders & ultralites like flocks of birds swooping down from the hill just added one more element to a perfect venue. Fresh juices, fruit & coffee.

I went back there for dinner one night and that was just magic, with lantern & candles in the restaurant & fireflies lighting up the drop between the restaurant & the beach & house lights reflecting on the lake as the sun set.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2013, 06:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
Every place has interesting sights, unique features – but isn’t it often the people you meet that you remember? The chance conversations you strike up. You might never see that person again, but every now & again you’ll have a perfect picture of them, the moment & your conversation. Occasionally, that chance meeting turns into a lifelong friendship.

Two I’m thinking of just now are:

• An English woman who works in Saudi with a women’s collective. She lived in Nepal for 3 years, comes back every year, but a dicky knee put a stop to her trekking. Her tip: Wash your toothbrush in mouthwash & keep it in a Ziploc bag. Don’t eat leafy green things after monsoon, no matter how well the restaurant tells you it’s washed.

• The English couple, who came to Nepal 10 years ago, asked a friend what they could do to help. Now retired, they raise funds in the UK to replace fuel burning stoves in remote villages & spend 3-4 months a year there. Did you know indoor smoke inhalation is a major cause of death & disease in Nepal & other 3rd world countries? Or that 20 quid in the UK can morph into a new stove for a family in a remote village with UK tax refunds? I didn’t.

I was peering in the window of the Bong Shop. I'm the right age, but didn't get into any of the 60's & 70's "Agriculture", so am fascinated to see this collection. It's still illegal in Australia. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vuk_aNImJsk

"Window shopping, Didi?" An arm draped around my shoulder & I whirled around to see TB grinning at me. One of our guides from last year,he'd become a great friend, and I'd be visiting his village next week.

He'd been on a trek with one of Lyn's groups and they were in Pokhara for their last night.

It's always a party night, with a dinner, celebratory cake and the Guides & Porters are paid their tips/bonuses. Lots of laughter & reminiscances of the trek. The tips for the Guides & Porters are pooled and each person receives an envelope with his name on it. The envelopes are distributed amongst the trekkers and each person makes a little speech to the the Guide/Porter whose envelope they have. Often funny & usually moving, the connections made on the trek are evident in both parties' words & voices. The Porters often only have a few words of English and they're often very shy - but love the genuine applause & affection with which they're showered. And the NPR is soooooooo much appreciated.

Oh gee, tears rolling down my cheeks just writing this. Those Bhais (boys) are amazing. They carry our gear, always cheerfully, up hill & down dale in all weathers. Greet us with a grin & a cuppa when we struggle into a tea house. Get out their drums, pipes & sing & dance at night. Great dance moves, too!

The Guides show us things we'd never see on our own, help us when we need it and let us see so much more of their culture & wonderful country than we ever would on our own.

If you've ever trekked with a group of Porters, this will zap you straight back to Nepal, no matter when or where you hear it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupWHgg9lng

"Come tonight at 6, Didi" Lyn had left a message at my hotel, but TB found me first. It was a great night, with her group including a Swiss, an Austrian, a couple of Italians and 3 Australians.

Of course I had to buy a new duffle bag to fit all my purchases in & found one for a good price.

I’d bought 2 pairs of trekking pants, 2 shirts, waterproof & fleece pants, gloves & a microfiber beanie. All of which I could probably have bought cheaper/better in Kathmandu. But the difference in price & quality wasn’t as important to me as having a few days in Pokhara & picking them up away from the bustle of KTM.

Time to head back to Kathmandu, pack my bag for Bhutan.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2013, 06:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,051
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What an adventure!
Grassshopper is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2013, 08:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,288
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Loving your report!
Kathie is offline  
Old Dec 26th, 2013, 08:08 PM
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I know this is an old, very old post but I couldn't resist from replying to your wonderful experience in Nepal. Reading the whole story makes you wanna get the similar experience. Photos would have been nice or maybe you should put a website up and share other traveling experiences and photos.

Cheers! and Happy New Year everyone
rajven is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2014, 06:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
I'll leave our visit to a remote village and the week in Bhutan for another time. This is the "trek for non trekkers" for anyone else who thinks they'd like to wander around at a leisurely pace, just with a porter & a guide.


We're off on our next adventure! Met up with the rest of the group at the Yak & Yeti last night and this morning we're all flying into Lukla. They're heading for Gokyo Lake after Namche Bazaar and we three will head off for our 2 week wander around the Khumbu Region. My companions are my Nepalese friend P, who has come back from Japan to be my Guide & C, a charming man whose home we visited last week will be our Porter.

Bags & poles piled into the back of our van, breakfast boxes stacked in a corner, we pack in & zoom through the pre-dawn for our 6am flight.

At the airport, there's excitement in the air and a long queue outside the terminal. Trekkers & Expeditioners shuffling forward, Guides & Porters bringing up trolleys of duffle bags & equipment. Tickets checked, bags scanned, pax patted down and we hit the scales. 15kg per person, including carry-on.

I'm a bit over, but S only has 8 kg and the checking clerk averages the unders & overs for the group without penalty or fuss.

More scanning & pat downs and we're in the waiting room, hoping for an early call. Flights between Kathmandu & Lukla are often disrupted due to weather and although we're booked on the first flight out, there's no guarantee we’ll go. Lukla is 2865m (19,400ft) and often shrouded by low clouds or rain.

They call our flight & we race across the tarmac & up the stairs of the green & white Tara Air Twin Otter. Brought up with small planes, I’m sniffing the avgas in the cold morning air like a happy bloodhound.

Our luck holds & we are the first away on a rolling start for as many flights as they can get into Lukla today. TIP: Sit on the Left hand side. If you miss a window, an aisle seat on the first row or two will give you a view through the cockpit.

We have a great flight, past the majestic Himalayan ranges on a clear, sunny morning.

As we approach Lukla, there's a blanket of pink dotted with white on some of the hills & valleys.

It's a tricky approach to the short, narrow runway on the top of a cliff. A mountain is the full stop at the end. No margin for error as you line up along the narrow slit between mountains & drop down on the runway. I'm told it's 460m long x 20m wide (1510 ft x 66ft). I'll get up close & personal with it later, but for now I'm peering out like a little kid, just about bouncing with excitement.

It takes a special aircraft to land & take off in such short distances. Known, logically, as "short take-off & landing" or STOL planes, the Twin Otters & Dorniers flown by Yeti, Tara & Sita Air take trekkers, climbers, guides & porters and their gear in & out on their way to & from the adventures of the Everest region.

That white line in the cockpit windscreen is the runway. We bank to the right & line it up; people stirring & some tightening their belts as we descent. I'm in hog heaven & thinking about some of the great flights & tight landings we did in Pilatus Porters in floods in the '70's. These Twin Otters are a bit big for a Beta Landing! The pink blur we've seen on the hillsides clarifies into a carpet of red, pink & white rhododendrons as we dip.

Then in a blink the Otter's wheels meet the ground. Smooth as - no captain kangaroo here. The engine roars as the prop reverses. We glance out the window to see a blur of motion. The brakes bite and we lurch forward a little as we come to a rolling halt. Sharp right into the turning circle, stop & the door opens. Quick, grab our backpacks & hit the steps.

Don't mess about getting out - there's another plane lining up to land.

These YouTubes thanks to others: This one a landing, shot from the cockpit.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xDbyxf7CB4 - This one shows landings & take-offs from the airstrip. At 4.07 there’s a full-strip length landing, so you see the drop-off at the beginning. 5.55mins shows a take- off & again, the short tarmac & drop-off.

Across the road to the Coffee Shop. C is here. He & T have walked 3 days to get here to meet us as we couldn't get them on a flight. They say it was a nice walk. I met him in the village and had lunch at his home a week ago. He'll be our Porter on our little jaunt. I'll tell you about the week three of us spent in Buddadhum another time.

For now, we're tucking into the Yak & Yeti breakfast boxes with gusto. Pastries, hard boiled & eggs and fruit, yoghurt & juice. Eggs & fruit go into packs & pockets for later.


It's cool when we arrive, but we're soon stripping off layers as we pass through Lukla's cobbled main street, lined with stalls selling all the paraphernalia trekkers might have forgotten.

Mani Stones & Prayer Wheels painted with the "om mani padme hum" mantra and a Stupa greet us as we follow the path out of town. Always go CLOCKWISE around Stupas, Chortens, Mani stones & walls. Prayer flags fluttering and the style of some of the houses are reminiscent of some in Bhutan.

Dzopke, donkeys & porters pass us, laden with goods & produce for the weekend markets in Namche Bazar & beyond. Or with empty baskets, going back down to Lukla for more supplies. Dzopke are yaks crossed with cattle and can operate below 3,000m, which is too low & hot for yaks.

Some of the porters appear so overladen, I'm furious & emotional. I know undercutting on rate & breaking of agreements on maximum loads is rife. Unscrupulous operators and porters, desperate for (more) work & funds, make it hard for real improvements in conditions for all. And of course, I'm looking with western eyes & sensibilities, so likely to misjudge the strength & capability of at least a good proportion of the porters.

The others have ordered lunch by the time we three wander into Phakding around 12:30. The Sunrise Lodge & Restaurant is big, and my room (B5) is an ensuite with views of the valley & mountains from my windows. Plenty of bedclothes and a comfortable bed.

Some of the others walk up the hill a little to the Monastery, but I pay homage to the gods of sloth & comfort - sort out my bed & pack for tomorrow; read a few chapters of "Mustang". I'm feeling a little under the weather, despite the 1/2 Diamox, & trade dinner for a warm bed. "Room Service" was offered by a couple of my lovely travelling companions, but I pass. My right foot doesn't like going downhill and will need some good wrapping in the morning. Can't believe I'm hoping for an uphill climb tomorrow. Sleep like a log.

TIP: Make up your bed & sort next day's gear when you arrive in the Lodge. Power sheddings are frequent& you don't want to be sorting out this stuff by the light of a torch.

Next - Monjo, Jorsale, Namche Bazar. Riverfront rooms, and a chance meeting changes my Itinerary.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2014, 06:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,288
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for continuing your report!
Kathie is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2014, 07:32 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks from me too. Fascinating stuff, very entertaining, please continue.....
sartoric is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2014, 08:12 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
Thanks Kathie & Sartoric,
I wasn't really being coy or attention seeking - just didn't want to bore everyone to sobs.

It's just over a year ago now and it is good fun to remember & re-live what really was a super time.

Here we go - off to Jorsale

Glorious sunny morning, cool enough for “Purple”, the Uniqlo puff jacket my friend sent me from NYC. Like Paddington Bear and various travelling gnomes, it likes to send postcards from its travels, Ethernet rather than snail mail – Purple is a very modern Puff jacket.

The lodge buzzes with chatter from 20 or so other trekkers, some going up, a few on their way back to Lukla. TB has a table for us between the pot belly stove/heater and the picture window from which we watch trekkers making their way up to the little Monastery. They look like colourful ants.

Breakfast – Porridge with fresh apple, black coffee and delicious Tibetan bread with honey. This is a flatbread rather like naan. It might be plain, or have onions and/or other spices “Masala” in it. Other options include omelettes, fruits, toasts & more.

“Masala” means “Spice” in Nepal, so don’t be alarmed thinking we (or you, on your trek) will be drinking onion tea when offered “Masala Tea”. That’s a popular drink, rather like Chai & varies from place to place

We three take a late start, farewelling the others on their way to Namche Bazar, as we settle in for another coffee outside in the early morning sun until about 9. Without the Prayer Wheel, the Sunrise Lodge could almost be in Europe!

It’s lovely walking & we’re soon rolling up sleeves & stuffing coats in our packs. P, C and I settle into a comfortable & amiable pace that will mark the pattern of our walk. This is a popular route and “Namastes” exchanged with trekkers resting on the side of the path or passing us on the way back to Lukla give clues to countries of origin, fitness, temperament and more.

TIP: Start walking with fewer clothes, you’ll soon warm up. Stripping off top layers is easy; removing leggings calls for a degree of patience, agility & creativity – especially if you’re doing it in a squat toilet. Or behind a bush. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do either this time as the tea house owner kindly allowed me to use their bedroom.

Rhododendrons & flowering trees everywhere – “Little Switzerland” with snowy mountains above; little farms & chalets below. P says lots of Europeans remark on the similarity.

A farm on the other side of the river looks idyllic and we muse how good it would be to have a place like that – but perhaps a bit closer to town!

C is happy. He hasn’t been to this area before & says he’s on paid holiday! I wish my Nepali were good enough to chat with him more, but a smile speaks all languages. And C has the world’s best smile & laugh.

We chat with an American family from Hawaii, in Nepal for 3 months. The teenage boy has been teaching English in a school in Pokhara. A tour leader from Manchester is trotting from Namche Bazar to Lukla to meet some clients coming in tomorrow. We ask if he’s in training for the Everest Marathon & he laughingly says he might give it a go. http://everestmarathon.com/intro

A donkey train carrying gas cylinders and blue plastic barrel like containers is heralded by the tinkle of bells and we flatten ourselves against the mountain side of the track to let them pass. They walk nonchalantly across a suspension bridge, railings decorated with prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. Faded with age & tattered by the wind, they speak of many journeys & wishes for safe passage.

Last year I’d have been quaking in my boots as I crossed, but now I stop in the middle of the gently swaying bridge to take photos up & down stream and of the milky celadon water tumbling over the rocky riverbed below. I’ve learned so much in this beautiful country. Much of it about myself.

Guy wires hold the bridge and stop all but the gentlest sway & bounce. They’re very substantial, steel & mesh constructions, erected in many case by the Ghurkhas.

The paths here are good, dirt with some stones and none of the giant stone steps of last year’s Ghorepani trek.

An “Elevenses” stop for tea & a snack is a good opportunity to relax in the sun and take in the view. We usually walk for a couple of hours & have a break at the nearest teahouse.

Across the clearing, there’s a little wooden shingled shack, with pine trees above cerise rhododendrons to the left, a pile of rocks and a generous & meticulously stacked woodpile on the right. Through the deep valley between the hills, misty mountains remind me of the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney.

I usually have black “Masala Tea”. “Masala” here means spice, so it’s more or less what I’d call chai at home. None of the formulaic powdered stuff, uniform supermarket or high priced boutique chais here – although there’s certainly a variance from teahouse to teahouse. Traditionally, as with Chai, it’s made with milk, but I prefer mine black.

You’d think that would be easy enough – but much consternation, curiosity & occasionally hilarity resulted from my departure from the norm. From super strong to “Pity to separate the poor weak thing from its mother” – but generally better than the instant coffee. Just occasionally, I’d have one that was sublime.

Actually, the coffee isn’t that bad after a while – just get used to it being served with condensed milk. Or have it black.

A good supply of snacks contributed to the weight in my rucksack. I’m not a snacker at home, but it’s a treat for the Bhais ( loosely “younger brother” ) and I tell myself I need the extra energy. Ha!

Laugh at your peril, but the “Cappuccino” sachets were pretty good for a change every now & again. I tied a ribbon to the “snack” end of my rucksack that C carried, and we’d have a rummage every morning to decide the snacks for the day. They’d go into my day pack, along with sunscreen, scarf & Uniqlo puff jacket, Aquatabs. And the omnipresent Hand Wash/Sanitizer..

Popular were Anzac & gingernut biscuits, cheesy crackers, biltong (not with C, who doesn’t eat beef), peanuts, cashews, sour snakes, “trail mix” and dried fruits. We also had fresh fruit – mandarins, bananas & apples.

TIP: I found chewing gum or a throat lozenge helped with my breathing and stopped throat dryness in the thinner atmosphere. I still had my “huff & puff” stops, but they were a great discovery last year and I’d make sure I had some anytime I go walking in the future.

A young man with 4 Dzopke carrying 3 big trekkers’ duffles each passes us – he’s going to Namche Bazar and then on to Everest Base Camp. That’s the thing with going slowly & with locals … you get to find out who’s going where, why and with what.

As we approach Monjo, C goes ahead to find a place for lunch and has a table overlooking the valley at Mountain Kailash Lodge & Restaurant when P & I arrive. Get used to places having different spellings – the map says Monjo, the Lodge hoarding, Monzu.

We’re on an outside terrace, beside the street going through the village. Probably a dozen tables & chairs. Across the street to the left, a pair of attractive large houses, one white stuccoed with blue window frames has two storeys and an attic room below the gable roof. The other a 3 storey stone house, its blocks slightly larger than bricks, with white window & door frames with the “colonial” squared timber treatments and a flat roof. Prayer flags cross above & flutter in front, their bright colours contrasting with the palest pink of the flowering tree, perhaps an apple, and the fir uphill.

Snow snakes down the far hill in spots and higher up dot crevices like cotton wool. Monjo is at 2835 metres, just a few metres higher than Lukla & 200 above last night’s stop at Phakding, so we have just had a gentle climb today.

An interesting & charming couple from the English Midlands arrive shortly after us and we join up for lunch. They’ve lived just out of Dubai for 30 something years; their now adult children were born & educated there, going back to the UK for University & careers. One by one, they’re returning to the home of their childhood & heart in the Middle East.

Chance conversations – what’s the one that springs to your mind as being significant?

Our companions had trekked to Tengboche, took a chopper trip around Mt Everest and back to Monjo. Originally, the plan was just to do the loop back to Tengboche & trek back to Namche Bazar but ….. “I wasn’t going to walk back down that steep hill”.

And neither was I. So I changed tack & track, dropping Tengboche in favour of an easterly fork to Thame, after a chat with P and our tour leader in Namche Bazar. That’s the beauty of travelling alone with just your Guide & Porter. Your own path, at your own pace.

The Menu is typical of lodges & restaurants catering to tourists. I’ll post one later. I had very good vegetarian momos with a spicy dipping sauce (I like a bit of chilli) (400 NPR) and a mint tea (60 NPR). Americans will be amused to see there’s macaroni & cheese on the menu – either with vegetables or tomato sauce (450 NPR). I have no idea what it’s like.

The English couple were staying the night and we wish each other good travelling about 2 O’clock.

Originally, we were going to stay at Monjo, but decide to press on to Jorsale as it’s early, the afternoon weather is clear & fine and it will be 30 minutes less for tomorrow’s walk to Namche Bazar. A boy carrying a huge bundle of leaves for animal fodder and an older lady with a barrel of water pass as P has our TIMS cards checked at the checkpoint/information centre, just north of Monjo.

The Sagaramantha National Park officially begins at the Jorsale Gate, the first of many arched entrances to towns we’ll pass through. They’re quite lovely, with icons & other religious paintings on the ceilings and colourful prayer wheels along either side.

Dry stone walls line the path above terraced gardens, some sown with cauliflowers, cabbage, onions, potatoes & a green silverbeet like spinach. It always seems curious & enchanting to see such familiar vegetables in exotic locations doesn’t it?

We’ve passed lush barley crops – and a field of coriander (cilantro for the Americans). I can’t get a pot of the rotten stuff to grow and here there’s a whole little field of it!

A wooden seat is built into a fence, the fence railings forming the back. Porters would use this as a resting place for their baskets. Some also carry a stick, somewhat like a shooting stick, with a small platform at the top.

You wonder why the Nepalis & especially the Porters, don’t have thick necks like front row forwards, with the loads they carry supported by a strap around their foreheads. They don’t though – they’re an elegant, slim people, the men usually around 5’8” or less.

I’ve been thinking about my comments on the Porters’ loads & whilst some certainly are carrying more than they should have to, my emotional reaction is surpassed only by my limited Westerner’s perspective & profound ignorance of anything much beyond a visitor’s shallow impressions. Fortunately, apart from private conversations with P, I remember that we have two ears and one mouth for a good reason.

Over there, two ladies are hoeing a field as a little girl jumps between the terraces, picking up twigs for her tiny basket. They’ll be kindling for the fire.

A couple of grey ponies graze on the short green pick (grass) that’s sprung up from the rain showers they’ve had during the night in the last week.

Blue plastic covers a roof under repair. You’ll see a lot of blue –painted roofs and plastic sheeting, window trims & doors. And in the patches of tiny wild iris along the path, so neat you’ll be sure someone planted them.

A small Chorten in the middle of the path. Pass on the left, leaving the Chorten, Stupa, Mani wall or stones on your right to prevent malcontent spirits being released.

TB calls & tells us they’re making good time but will be another 2 hours into Namche. No roads or telephone lines in this region, but great mobile & internet reception!

We’re 15 minutes away from our stop at The Jorsalle Guest House. It’s an unprepossessing little lodge, with a small general store at the front and 5 or 6 rooms.

Nothing at all to rave about … until I open my door and find the narrow passage opens to a verandah overlooking the river. It’s completely charming. The view upstream to the bridge is picturesque, with flowering fruit (pear?) trees & pink & white rhododendrons dotting the sides of the valley, soft in the afternoon sunlight.

The loo isn’t – but it’s clean and far from the worst I’ve seen. Do your Hindi squats at the gym, girls & boys. You’ll thank those muscles – and they’ll thank you! REMINDER: Take your own roll/s of toilet paper. Use the bucket provided. TMI? Move on – those trekking for the first time need to know this – and the old hands will just nod in wry agreement.

Use that wretched Hand Sanitizer. Make sure you always have a little bottle of it in your pocket. It’ll dry your hands, girls – but your system will be a happy trekker and you’ll have uninterrupted sleep.

Dinner? Dal Bhat! My Bhais are having it and we share a serving of delicious Spring Rolls as an entrée. These aren’t the skinny, overcooked things of your local shopping mall – but big, generous rolls of vegetables wrapped in a thin wrapper, quickly deep fried & crisp. Luscious if they’re done right – and these were.

When there are a lot of guests (trekkers), it’s usual for the guides & porters to eat separately. There is usually an area for them to eat, relax (and get away from us foreigners, I’d imagine. It must be a strain to speak English (or whatever Trekker language) all day – and this gives them a chance to relax & socialize).

As it’s just us 3, we eat together. Occasionally, we get to eat with the owners in their kitchen – that’s really something very special for me!

It’s been a lovely start to the “Bistari Didi” trek. An easy walk, we’ve met some interesting people, lots of other Aussies – a father & son from Melbourne celebrating Dad’s 40th & son’s 18th birthdays.

Curled up in my bed, with a hot chocolate and another few chapters of Michael Peissel’s wonderful book, “Mustang, a lost Tibetan Kingdom” – I’m a happy little trekker!


TIPS: 1. Sort out your bed & tomorrow’s clothes when you get to your room. You don’t want to be doing this in the dark if there’s a power outage.

2. Put batteries into a sock & toss in the bed with you. Keeps them warm. Cold batteries go flat quicker. And you’ve got warm sox in the morning.

3. If you have a metal ziggy (water) bottle, get it filled with boiling water & use it as a hot water bottle.

4. Make sure you have a head torch & take it with you when you leave the room. Saves fumbling for keys one handed – or with a torch clamped between your teeth like giant cigar.

5. If you want a shower, get in early. Hot water can & does run out. Be quick – there’s not a lot of water and you’ll not win any friends by hogging it all. Take a “dry sack” – bathroom floors are often wet and there may not be anywhere other than the window sill.

Bokhara2 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2014, 08:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
This is a better link for Lukla aircraft landings & take offs. Courtesy of ArtelChill who has labelled all the planes & included some good chopper footage as well.

Have a look at the Pilatus Porter - 2nd one to take off ( about 3 1/2 minutes in) & see how much less runway it takes than the others. That's my baby

Bokhara2 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2014, 02:36 AM
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 2,003
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Love it! If the runway at Lukla was a bit wider then they could have simultaneous take-off and landings. That'd get the adrenalin flowing!
LancasterLad is offline  
Old May 4th, 2014, 04:30 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,993
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post

I’m snug in my little room at the Jorsale Guest House at first light, around 5:30 when I hear the first trekkers leaving for Lukla or Namche, & snuggle back under the blankets for a chapter or two of “Mustang”, .

My room is basic, very basic; yet it has everything I need and its ply lined walls make it feel like a little cabin. There are two “twin” beds – a little wider than a single and narrower than a double – with a table between them, a bedside lamp. There’s a power point & I plug in the mobile (cell) phone. I’m taking more photos with it than with my camera. I’m very happy with the ease & quality of the photos, but it chews battery.

The window to the concreted area in front of the Guesthouse is curtained in a floral cotton that reminds me of old Mrs W., a neighbour when I was a child. Not in the first of youth and I suspect the curtains may follow Mrs W “to another place” next time they’re washed.

Washed. I should hop up & have a shower as the boys said the water was cold last night. A quick foray to the bathroom* outside convinces me I’m not as dirty as I thought & that I can wait until we’re in Namche tonight. Trekkers, bushwalkers & campers around the world will make this decision occasionally and this was not a 6 week odyssey in high summer, so I figure both I and my travelling companions, who have very likely made the same decision, will survive if I just do “face, teeth & hair” as our Mothers taught us!

* Bathrooms are rooms in which to bathe. Lavatories, toilets, ‘loos, w/cs and dunnies are where you take care of other business. That room here, is at the other end of the veranda with the views of the stream.

P & C are at breakfast when I arrive & I’m lured by the delicious aroma of a masala omelette. Onions, ginger, coriander, parsley & chilli – finely cut & mixed with the egg before cooking. Heaven!

The Jorsale Guesthouse’s Masala omelette becomes the standard by which others will be measured.

8:30 & we’re off. It’s another sparkling day and we only have 3 or 4 hours to Namche. Faster (normal) trekkers would probably do it in 2, but we’re sauntering tourists out for a nice walk.

We crunch along the white gravelled banks of the Dudh Khola (Milk River) . The river is low now, but still quite wide in parts, others like a little brook babbling over its stones. It takes its name from its milky celadon colour and P says it’s even milkier after the monsoon.

A little pile of stones & a white prayer scarf intercedes & gives thanks for good trips, remembers friends & family. I’m not sure what they’re called, as they’re not carved or painted with the Mani mantra, nor as formally constructed as a Chorten. We add our 3 stones & move on in contemplative, companionable silence.

It’s utterly gorgeous, each scene more picturesque than the last -more rhododendrons of different types, flowering fruit trees everywhere. I waited beside a huge cerise rhododendron tree at least 20’ tall at the end of a bridge while a team of 6 donkeys carrying gas cylinders & the ubiquitous blue goods containers went past ahead of their keeper, a young chap with a jaunty French style cap, traditional woven vest & a very modern backpack.

For the most part, we followed the river, crossing it on suspension bridges here & there and after the last one at Larja Dobhan (2830 m) there's a series of switchbacks to take us to Namche Bazaar at 3440m. Up's easier than down and this was a pretty easy "up" - none of the big stone steps of Annapurna for the little short legs! You learn Nepali “flat walking” isn’t the flat country of the open plains or beaches of my country – but it might be, like a good bit of this walk, skirting around a hill & gently rising & falling. These dirt tracks are much easier on the feet than stone & definitely preferable to the treacherous scree (small stones) elsewhere. Of course, they’d also be slippery in rain or snow.

Behind & to our right (west, I think), the Himalayas make their presence felt as we catch glimpses of glistening silver & white snow, caught by the sun, above thick green forests.

Lots of little rest & water stops, chats to other Trekkers and the Bhais (" little/ younger brother") carrying stuff. And of course, Photo stops! Every now & again, we come across a one or more porters having a rest on their distinctive & ingenious poles. A bit like a “racing stick”, they use the stick to rest their load on and lean into it, resting. Sometimes Porters’ rest seats will be dug into retaining rock walls & it’s a joy to hear the snatches of a song or laughter before you see them.

The things they carry in their baskets, or strapped to their backs on support platforms, vary from pallets of beer, soft drink, to bags of grain or flour to packet stuff we’d find in supermarkets. Soup mixes & so on. Everything for the Friday & Saturday market at Namche Bazar and all the supplies for the vast array of lodges, restaurants, shops etc., has to be carried up on someone’s or some beast’s back. Two fellows carried a length of piping that must have been about 4m long. Further up in the Khumbu region we saw window glass mounted on wooden frames being carried by porters. Think of anything. If it’s here, it’s come up on 2 or 4 feet. Only emergency supplies are ferried into Namche Bazar by helicopter.

In one fellow’s basket were legs of what could have been goat or sheep, and a pair of rubber thongs. Flip flops or jandals for the non-Aussies. A good reason to be careful about where you eat meat in these regions – or to go vegetarian. Mind you, it wasn’t that hot and there were no flies, so once you cut off the first layer, it would probably be perfectly ok, provided it was well cooked. It must have been – I had meat curries later on & I’m still here to tell the tale.

These guys make church mice look like Croesus’ rich relatives & although some of the younger ones are plugged into ipods & transistors, things like fresh fruit are a luxury that they wouldn’t have often at all. So, when we rounded a corner to find a mandarin seller doing no business at all, just a few metres from 5 or 6 Porters, it was easy to make us all happy.

It was just one of those magic moments. I can smell the mandarins & hear the laughter & chatter as we all squatted in the sunshine & looked through the trees to the first glimpses of snow capped mountains. A world away on a chilly Autumn day in Sydney, the memories are as strong as if it were yesterday. You pile the peels up on the porters’ ledges for mules & dzopkes to nibble as they go past.

On the elbow of one of the switchbacks, a large man sat on a log, swigging at his water bottle & puffing loudly. Very, very large man, doing it very tough. I was ready for a “huff & puff” too, so plopped down beside him with the usual trekker’s “Namaste” & exchage of where you’re from etc.

“Oh, you’re Australian! Bloody marvellous country – I was out there in January!” Turns out he’s a SriLankan businessman & cricket tragic. His family, who had long gone ahead to Namche, had cajoled him into this trip for his birthday and until now he’d been having a ball. Roaring with rueful laughter, he said he was too old, too fat & far too unfit for this – and if there was a mule that could carry him, he’d be on it in a flash. Cartoons of flattened mules careered through my mind as I struggled to keep a straight face. Me, who’d ridden a mountain pony up Ghorepani steps last year – the hide of me! I’d been on a mission to find a trekker, porter, teahouse owner – anyone- older than me & thought this fellow might be, with his moans of being too old. “So, how old are you?” “59!” “Good grief man, you’re a baby!” More hoots of laughter & our trio ambled off, wondering what time he’d get into Namche.

Not far past our cricket loving friend, an orange circle of the Everest Marathon route grins mockingly from a black rock. http://www.everestmarathon.com/ Later on, we’ll meet someone who ran it at 14, untrained, on a whim, & placed 3rd.

Namche Bazar is located within the Sagarmatha National Park & we show our permits at the checkpoint about 15 mins from the town. The town is in a natural amphitheatre, layers of hostels, hotels, shops & residences, primarily catering to the trekking industry climb up the horseshoe shaped sides.

We enter through the traditional arch, twirling the prayer wheels in thanks as we go through.


As usual, Lyn has chosen a good hotel with great views for the group. And as usual, it’s at the far end of town on the top of any hill. Today we’ve only walked 4 hours & the cobbled lanes are no effort, as we walk into the Hotel Namche just in time for lunch with our group.

My room’s an ensuite, with a balcony & views across the valley. More importantly, it’s only footsteps to the famous German Bakery, Herman Helman’s. Espresso, cappucinno, latte, hot chocolate, and pastries of every description. Yep! Authentic Nepalese cuisine!

This link (thanks to Dan Thompson who posted the video) gives some idea of our walk from Lukla. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32MQKAZNCQQ

Bokhara2 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2014, 06:06 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh Bokhara, flattened mules, that is just too funny.

Thank you !
sartoric is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -