Kathmandu is a city that never changes. When we arrived in Nepal from Southeast Asia, it felt like we had traveled back in time. Our battered taxi from the airport bumped along rundown streets past tiny temples, women in red shawls, and the occasional cow. Hindu and Buddhist shrines peeped out between ramshackle shops and houses. It was dirty, chaotic, and colorful: in other words, just the way we remembered it from our long visit in 2007. We almost decided not to come to Nepal because of the earthquake and fuel crisis. But once we arrived in Kathmandu, we were absolutely thrilled to be back in our favorite city.
Sadly, the price of Nepal’s cultural integrity is poverty and political upheaval. In the last twenty years, Nepal has lurched from one political crisis to the next, interrupted by the occasional natural disaster. These problems keep Nepal high on the list of Asia’s poorest countries and make it feel like the 21st century hasn’t arrived yet.
We spent three days in Kathmandu before our Everest trek, and another six days afterwards. Before the trek, we stayed in Thamel, the backpackers’ hub in the city center, at the fine Pilgrim’s Guesthouse. After … Read more
Day Ten: Gorak Shep (Elevation 5665m at Kala Pattar, sleeping altitude 5164m at Gorak Shep) Walking time: two hours)
It was another bitterly cold night in Lobuche and Laura was less than impressed that the posh expensive lodge did not stoke a fine fire in the morning. It is a short walk through meandering moraine to Gorak Shep, at 5164m the highest place we slept on the trek. This was the first day that the trail felt crowded. At times there was a conga line of yaks, guides, porters, and trekkers. It was difficult to get into a good walking groove. We were glad that we were here on a low traffic year since we heard that this type of traffic jam was typical for the Everest trek. We stayed at the Himalaya Lodge, which was a hive of activity with lots of hustle and bustle, doors slamming, and trekkers bumping into each other. More annoyingly, you had to go outside for a pee since they only opened the internal toilets at night. You pee a lot at altitude so … Read more
Day Six: Tengboche to Dingboche (Walking Time- 4.5 hours. Elevation-Dingboche 4360m)
We got a nice early start on a bright, sunny, and clear day. We swiftly headed down the hill to Deboche and at the foot of the hill we stopped to take off our outer layers. It was here that we first met Kate and Cameron, two Brits who kept us company on many subsequent legs of the hike along with Kate’s trainee guide Chum. Kate was a forthright Child Protection worker on the NHS payroll who was taking a well-deserved year long sabbatical. Cameron was a former Forestry Manager who was taking a five month break before embarking on a change of career to yacht skippering. Kate was keen for us to join her crossing a few of the high passes that link the valleys in Khumbu but we were happy with the easier trails and lack of stress!
At Milinggo, a rickety bridge brings you over the Imja Khola River and leads you on to a fairly steep and precipitous trail up to a … Read more
After much deliberation, we finally took the plunge and booked our flights to Nepal. Hiking in Nepal has always been a highlight of previous long trips to Asia and we were really looking forward to going back. Nepal always seemed to be bedeviled by strife and this year seemed no different. The devastating earthquake has been well documented at home but the recent fuel crisis (or blockade by India) has garnered considerably fewer headlines. It seemed that Nepal would be a no-go this year.
But something kept nagging us to go. Media images of post-earthquake Nepal seemed to suggest a country in total ruin. The current fuel crisis suggested a country on the verge of running out of vital commodities. As ever, Nepal always seems to cope with whatever shit is thrown at it. For sure, we saw plenty of collapsed buildings and the lack of gas pushed up transport and food prices but, on the whole, life went on as usual. Sadly, when Nepal is really in need of a ‘business as usual’ attitude from foreigners, … Read more