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Posts from the ‘Nepal’ Category

Holy Sites

It’s been a few days since I have posted.  Katherine left yesterday and I moved over to my friend Lisa’s place.  She is a good friend of mine since my freshman year at Vassar and has lived in Nepal for over 15 years.  In other words, I am in a great place!  It is so relaxing being at her house, sitting at her kitchen table now, working on her computer and listening to the birds in the garden around her house (and an occasional unknown animal sound since she lives right near the only zoo in Kathmandu).  But that is not the purpose of my post….The other day we visited Pashupatinath, which is a Hindu holy site with a temple on the Bagmati River where cremations happen (on the level of Varanasi for India).  We made an adventue out of it and took the public bus there.  We studied the map and then figured we could take one of the buses on the ring road – because worst case scenario – we would go in a BIG circle!  but people here are so nice, we knew they would help us out!

When we got there, all the non-Hindi are directed to the shores of the Bagmati – since we are not allowed in the temple.  It was quite a scene….

you cross a bridge to get to the other side, which is essentially the viewing side.  When we got there, there were several bodies burning on one side – though at that point they were in the final stages of burning – so it was mostly just wood.  But on the other side, in front of the temple, there was a large group preparing a body for cremation.  It was difficult to see what was happening exactly, but the body was being shrouded in orange coverings/scarfs, there were marigolds being placed in the water and on the body and other steps of the ritual.  Then, they carried the body to the other side (to the cremation ‘stands’ – ghats) – as only the royal family can be cremated in the front of the temple.

in front of the temple, where the body was prepared for cremation

Once the body was brought to the other side, they started to prepare it for cremation — it was set on the wood and straw was placed over the shrouded body.  The family has a specific role within this ritual and we could see different men doing different jobs.  Then, the fire is started – near the head.  Soon, the air was filled with smoke from the burning body.

you can see the raised areas, that is where the cremation happens.

It was a really interesting experience….  both because this tends to be such a private experience in the US and because of everything else that was going on!  There were people in the water looking for money/things, there were people down the way doing laundry, there were people hawking jewelery and musical instruments to the tourists, there were tourists filiming and talking pictures of the cremations (really?!), there were  sadhus wandering around.  All the while, people are going through their rituals and practices of grief and mourning and saying goodbye.  Fascinating.

From there, we walked to a holy Buddhist site – the Bodhnath – a very large stupa set in a larget courtyard with a monastery, shops, restaurants and guesthouses all around it.  This was an amazing stupa – you could walk around it spinning all the prayer wheels (I did) and you could climb the steps and walk around the first level (we did).

spinning all the prayer wheels

When we were there, we realized that they were preparing the stupa for the full moon – putting up lights and putting something on the upper part of the stupa (some sort of colored paint/dye) – and that we needed to be there when the sun set.  So – we had lunch, consulted the guide book and decided to walk to Gokarna Mahadev temple which has a wide variety of statues of Hindi deities.

Just  getting there was quite an adventure because we decided to walk there.  Following a number of directions from people, we made it there — but it involved walking on a very dusty road with taxis, motos, trucks and buses passing us and kicking up dust (I am still battling a sore throat!).  It was a long walk — and the temple was pretty small – but the statues were pretty cool.  Here are a few of them:

I wish i knew which deity this was….

After spending some time at the Hindi holy site, we decided to head back to Buddhism – so we made the long walk back to the stupa.  We got there about an hour before twilight – as people had started to walk around the stupa (as they do every evening and morning).  We found a rooftop cafe with a beautiful view and had some snakes and a beer and were rewarded with these views:

sunset on the Bodhnath

Full moon rising (very faint)


In the moonlight, we came down to a full courtyard of people walking around the stupa (always clockwise).  When we reached the monastery, there were monks chanting with drums and conch shells and horns (not sure if they are actually called horns) and there were huge piles of offerings — crackers, popcorn, bisquits, cookies that the monks were putting into plastic bags for other monks.  It was a pretty amazing scene.

Not sure where I will be headed next — some possibilities include volunteering at a farm near Pokhara, trekking in the Annapurna area again (different trek), traveling to Chitwan on my way to India, hanging here in Kathmandu and/or some combination of all of those things.  I am sure I will have it figured out soon enough.

Hope everyone is well — keep commenting and sending me emails — i love hearing from you!

Take care – love – aurora

Monkey Temple

Monkey at Swayambhunath overlooking Kathmandu

Yesterday Katherine and I explored Kathmandu – Dubar Square, Thamel and Swayambhunath.  Swayambhu, or the monkey temple, was definitely the highlight of our day.

Heading to swayambhu is a great destination because from the top you can overlook the whole city.  We were amazed at how big it truly is — as our visit has been limited to so few places (Patan, two different bus station, more Patan, and Thamel (the touristy section of Kathmandu)).  Once you climb up all the stairs to the stupa, you have this amazing view of the whole city — it really is impressive.

Swayambhu is cool for a number of reasons.  One is the view, the other is the stupa and the third is the monkeys!  The stupa, in the center, is truly amazing!

What was really cool about this Buddhist holy place is that it is not just a tourist destination.   Sure, there are plenty of tourists there, but there are also lots of Nepalis who come there to either check it out or to worshop (if that is the correct terminology….)

There is also a monastery on site that you can go into.  When we viited, there were several monks meditating which involved chanting, drums and the traditional ‘horn’ (again, for lack of a better word).  There were several monklets in there (ok, apologies — they are real monks, just young).  It reminded me of the monastery that Sarah, Lindsay and I visited in Ladakh with all the young monks running around!

But, what we really loved were the monkeys!  It was hard not to take a gazillion pictures.  They made us laugh (and scared us a little when they came a little close) – though they did not seem to be bothered at all by us humans!  One of the highlights was watching the baby monkeys playing on the prayer flags that were hanging down – they would jump out, grab on, swing for a bit until another one jumped on, knocking the other one off!

Here are some of our pictures:

yoga monkey (this one is for you, smak!)

Oh monkeys…

The evening was topped off with Mexican food….  sure, in Nepal.  It  wasn’t amazing by any standards, but it was pretty good….  I’d go back.  Though the feeding frenzy can now come to a close — I feel back to normal from the trek….

Today is just a rest day — we both woke up feeling a bit lazy and no real need to go see more temples today (although there is one on the docket for tomorrow).  So – it has been a slow day – coffee, cafe, some shopping, lazy lunch with a salad and a beer….  feels like a vacation!    which is nice to do once in awhile.  The monsoon rains are over, though it is still quite warm during the day.  Today, we could see the mountains in the distance!

Hard to believe that it has been about 6 weeks already….

Ok.  peace out.  I am going to go enjoy some cafe time and look for a book to read!

love – AK

Trekking – final installment

Way back when (before we were tired and hungry for sure) we decided to fly to Lukla and then walk to Shivalaya on the way out (and then take a bus back to Kathmandu).  Most people fly both ways.  Some people choose to walk in via Shivalaya – as a good way to get in shape and acclimate themselves.  Very few people choose to walk out via Shivalaya.  In fact, we saw no one else going our way….

The trek itself doesn’t go through valleys, it goes over them. Pretty much every day, you go up and down at least once, if not twice.  There are several (4 or so) high passes — high for the middle hills – one is around 3500m.  It is not an easy trek.  It is definitely a good trek to get prepared for the Everest region.  Maybe not so good when you are finishing….

In all seriousness, it was beautiful — lush green river valleys, high passes, villages, stupas, chortens — all the ingredients of life out in that region of Nepal.  We were seeing it all.  Unlike the Everest region, people live and work and farm and scratch out their lives in this area.  (well, people work in the Everest region – but most of the guesthouses exist because of the trekkers – not because people actually live there!)

As I mentioned, this time of year is Dasain – so we passed a lot of people headed home to be with their families.  One of the important parts of Dasain is the sacrifice.  Just so happened that we were trekking on sacrifice day.  At one point, Katherine turns to me:  ‘oh, god. They are going to sacrifice something.’  we stopped some ways away from the crowd of people, but could hear the swift chop.  As we walked up, we could see them bleeding out the goat and washing off the goat head.

At another house we passed, a kid excitedly ran out to greet us with a freshly skinned goat head in hand, moving the mouth for us.

oh, sacrifice day.

The trek is suppose to end in Shivalaya were you can catch a bus to Kathmandu — takes about 10-12 hours, sometimes more depending on the roads.  We really wanted to catch a bus there.  we were tired (did i mention that already?).  we were hungry (did i mention that either?).  wanted to stop walking.  But we kept hearing word that buses were not going to Shivalaya – instead we would have to walk another half day to Jiri to catch the bus.  Yet, every now and then, someone would raise our hopes and tell us — no, no — you can catch a bus in Shivalaya.

So – long story short – we had people making calls and connections for us every which way (the brother of our guesthouse owner in Kinja owned a guesthouse in Shivalaya and he would look into it for us – but we could have lunch at his sister’s guesthouse in Duerali – and if the bus didn’t work out – we could go to Jiri because here was another connection…..)

No buses in Shivalaya.  Not because of the road.  Nope.  The bus was there.  The driver w as there.  But it was the festival.  So – onto Jiri we went.  6 days after we left Namche we were in Jiri, done walking with a backpack – ready to eat up some miles on a bus.

Though I was ready for it to be done while I was doing it, it was pretty amazing to catch a glimpse of rural life in the Nepal countryside.  To see how people really live out there.  And the green countryside was amazing  – especially after being up in the mountains for so long.  The other really cool thing about the trek is that this is the way the first Everest (and other Himalayan explorers) expeditions went – before you could fly into Lukla – you had to walk in this way.  So, it was pretty cool to get that piece of history as well.

I will post pictures when I get them — though we did not take a whole lot on our way out…  both our batteries were dead and we were just about ready to be done.

But there you have it — there is the story of our 22 days trekking!  whew….  that took awhile!

take care — lots of other fun stories coming your way soon!

love – AK

Trekking – part deux

Ok, so to finish the trek…..

After the clouds rolled in on Kala Patar, we headed down as we knew we had another pass, Cho La, the next day to head to.  We said goodbye to Scott as he was headed back to Namche and we headed to Dzonglha, the town right before the pass which sits at the foot of Cholatse (pretty amazing views).  The whole way there it was raining and totally overcast.  In fact, a pretty miserable day to be trekking!  On our way there, we ran into Ben – as he was pretty much doing the same trek as we were doing.  He gave us some books (i kept running out of reading material!!!) and told us about the passes we were about to go over.  We would have loved to hang out and talk more — but the weather was miserable so we headed off.

We reached Dzonglha (population – two trekking houses) just as the weather cleared a bit for views of Cholatse and Ama Dablam.  But soon it clouded over again and started to snow!!!  We went to bed that night thinking it wouldn’t be a problem and we would head over the pass in the morning…..

Which was not the case.

It went on to snow for the next 14+ hours….. we spent the ENTIRE day sitting in the sunroom of the guesthouse – waiting for the snow to stop.  waiting for our next meal.  waiting for them to start the dung heater (it was damn cold up there).  We played farkle.  we read.  we  played gin rummy.  we drank milk tea.  we stared into space.  we were intrigued by the other group snowbound – 3 germans who did NOT talk to us at all (one of which spent the entire day laying down on the bench in the sunroom covered by a comforter).  We listened to avalanches coming off the mountains around us.  Needless to say, it was a LONG day!!!!

We weren’t sure what we were going to do — should we head over the next day?  At one point, there was word that someone had come over the pass in the storm – though we didn’t talk to them since they were at the other guesthouse.  But the guide came over and there was lots of talk in Nepali about what had happened and gesturing at us since we were hoping to go over the pass the next day.  We weren’t sure if they wanted us to hire the guy or what….  but we figured we could make it ourselves (not really knowing the path or or how much snow or any of those important details!).

The next morning we woke to amazingly clear skies, 8-12 (or more) inches of new snow (down low) and brilliant mountains in every direction!  It was beautiful!  So, off we went.  For a while it went well…..  we could find of see the indentation of the trail.  Until we couldn’t….  At one point, the two of us were standing in the middle of this valley – knowing we had to go up, but which way….  all of a sudden – we heard a sharp whistle from down in the valley – there was the guide who had come over the pass the previous day – he was headed home and willing to show us the way!

We encouraged him to go at his own pace (mine was way slower!) and we would just follow in his tracks – but he stayed with us (or rather, waited for us) all day.  And it was a long day…. we were postholing.  Sometimes sinking into drifts of snow that was mid-thigh depth.  The sun was so damn bright and hot (after complaining all those days that we had no sun….).  There were avalanches all around us (or at least on the mountains around us).  We were the first people going over the pass — and though neither Katherine or I was breaking trail, it was still incredibly hard work.

The pass itself was beautiful – we reached it once we crossed a small glacier (at which point we were really glad we were following the guide – and by guide, I mean he was a dude who worked at a guesthouse that was on the otherside of the pass!).  We could see mountains all around us, though it did start to cloud up in the distance (so no everest!).  Then we started down — which we thought – oh, good, going down can’t be as hard…. wrong again.

Plunge stepping into what is technically a scree field and postholing, slipping and sliding is not actually fun, in case you were wondering!  It was brutal.  Then we had to go back up a hill that had not just one false summit, but 3!  oh, it was rough.  and long.  and I got slower and slower (buddy asked if I wanted him to take my pack – I must have looked that drained….  )  Finally, 8+ hours later – we made it to Tagnag (the collection of guesthouses just over the pass).  We had intended to go further to Gokyo (another 2+ hours) but we opted for food, milk tea and sleep instead!

The next day we were back on track and headed to Gokyo – crossing the Ngozumpa Glacier – which extends down from Cho Oyu.  It was a huge glacier crossing with some sketch moments of rockfall – since it was yet another beautiful day.  But, within two hours we were in the beautiful village of Gokyo – which is set on one of the sacred lakes and surrounded by mountains.  Absolutely stunning.  Since we got there early in the day, we picked a guesthouse down by the lake and we were able to do laundry and dry ourselves and our clothes out in the sun.  But Renjo La, our third pass awaited us.

We thought we would head out the next day – but no one had been over yet.  And following our experience on Cho La, we were not looking forward to being the first over.   Plus, we woke up the next morning to clouds over the pass – so we figured we wait out another day to make our decision.  At this point, we were tired, hungry (it was hard to eat enough to not feel hungry all the time!), and Katherine had come down with a cold.  A rest day would not do us harm.  But, we were still undecided about what to do.

Finally, 3 people came over the pass, dropping into Gokyo.  They reported a story similar to ours – postholing, slipping, tough navigating.  At that – we made up our minds.  Head down the Gokyo valley to Namche.  There are plenty of times when we have to go a certain way to get out of the woods (or have to follow kids for 8 hours in the rain through the notch).  But here, we didn’t have to do anything — we could just head down the valley and head out.  So we did.  Peace out Renjo La.

The next day we hightailed it to Namche.  We were pretty excited to get there — veggie burgers, coffee, apple turnovers, chocolate cake, apple strudel, cheese.  We were hungry and we spent about 12 hours there eating (did I mention that it was hard to get enough calories and to feel full while we were trekking?  by that point in the trekking, i felt like i could eat every two hours and then, maybe, feel full).

But, unfortunately, we still weren’t done.  We still had 4 or 5 more days to go…..

To be continued…..

3 Passes — wait, make that 2

Ok — our trek.

Well — as you know, we finally made it to Lukla.  Once there, Katherine, Ben and I (we somehow lost Scott in the shuffle) started making our way to Namche.  Everyone pretty much has to go through Namche, no matter what trek they are doing.  Even though you technically start in Lukla (or in Shivalaya if you are trekking in instead of flying in — but more on that later), it really seems that the trek starts in Namche.  Lukla is quite a scene – porters and guides asking you once you arrive if you need them, gear shops galore and lots of ‘products’ everywhere.  There is a ‘starbucks’ there as well — not a real starbucks, but it looks very similar (inside and out) though the logo has mountain instead of whatever the real logo is. And the coffee wasn’t half bad!  It took us a day and a half to get to Namche — we got there on the second morning.  Imagine, hiking up in the hills when all of a sudden you come around a corner and there is a small village!  It was kind of a surprise — tons of guesthouses, internet cafes, bakeries, bars, gear shops and a market on saturdays!  I could see how people could get stuck there for awhile (plus the apple turnover and coffee we had there was awesome!).  It is also kind of a fun scene because there are people there from all over the world — well, ok, mostly French, German, some Israelis, Canadians, Australians and a few Americans.
We were in Namche for the earthquake — which was fairly exciting since we did not really know what was going on.  It was kind of scary since our guesthouse was kind of on stilts (Namche is set into the side of a very steep river valley — meaning that it is nestled into the hillside facing a huge valley that has cliffs and mountains far on the other side – pretty beautiful).  At first we weren’t sure if it was wind or mud or…. an earthquake!  But we all ran outside and then it was calm….  it was strange being some place where you don’t speak the language and something like that happens — you realize that life could change pretty drastically in a matter of seconds…..  Funny enough, we had found Scott earlier that day and Ben, Scott, Katherine and I were all hanging out talking when the earthquake happened!  A plane adventure, now an earthquake adventure….   seemed like it was time to hit the trail!
The next day — we all did just that and went our separate ways.  Katherine and I were headed to Chhukung where we would prepare to go over our first pass, Kongma La. It took us a few days to get there — which were spent traveling through landscape that could have been in Lord of the Rings (only made more so by the rain and clouds).  It is tough there because you can only trek so much in one day – you don’t want to go too high and risk altitude sickness.  So, that meant for some long days in the tea houses for us.  The tea houses mostly had sunrooms which were pleasant enough to sit in, though the rooms tended to be drab, damp, cold places.  We spent a lot of time drinking milk tea waiting for our next meal in the sun rooms.  At least in Chhukung there were some good day hikes – Island Peak base camp and Chhukung Ri (which was actually our highest point at 5546m)– a mountain that should have had amazing views — that is if it was sunny out!!!!  which it was not….  though we did get some views….  Did I mention that Chhukung is at the base of Ama Dablam?

it finally started getting pretty clear in the mornings!

Island Peak Base Camp with a huge amazing glacial pool (that is growing due to global climate change)

Ama Dablam

 Finally, it was time for us to go over our first pass – Kongma La which was at 5535 meters.  It was a beautiful morning, though unfortunately it did not stay that way all day…  that is also the day my camera battery died….

on top of Chhukung Ri – our high point of the trip

Early morning on the way up

beautiful morning

on top of the pass

So – we make it over Kongma La — it was clear on the way up, but clouded over by the time we reached the pass — you can see in the picture above that there was this awesome lake up there — but no real summits in view.

Coming over the pass, we dropped down to the Khombu side — meaning we had to cross over the Khombu glacier into Lobuche – which is where we met up with the Everest Base Camp trek folks.  We were so use to quiet – most people do not go over Kongma La — so the wave of people going to EBC was kind of crazy (and it wasn’t even busy season yet!).  Crossing the glacier was kind of cool — it was just so huge – and the moraines on either side were huge rock piles we had to cross.  It wasn’t dangerous where we were – but it was cool to hear the rockfall into the glacial pools that were forming where the ice was melting.

Once we dropped into Lobuche we could go to the actual base camp and Kala Pattar – which is a summit that people climb in order to see Everest.  We did go to both places.  Actual base camp isn’t all that exciting — though it is cool to see a place I have read so much about.  There were two parties there preparing to climb — though it is a heavy snow year (we ran into another group that had tried to go up Lobuche Peak and were stymied from all the snow).  It was pretty cool to see the Khombu Icefall – which I have also read so much about.  But you cannot see the summit of Everest from base camp – so it is just a mass of tents, really.

Kala Pattar was beautiful on the way up.  We started up at 4:30 in the morning – hoping for clear skies.  It was clear on the way up — but just about the time we reached the summit – it clouded over….  of course.  I did get a glimpse of Everest and there will be pictures coming.  We ran into Scott up there and he had some good pictures and Katherine has some as well.

I can’t say we were sad to leave that scene — it was definitely kind of crazy — everyone trying to get to base camp — which is strange because there are just so many amazing other places to go up there.

Ok — i will continue the rest of the trek story later.  Enough for now!  I will leave you in suspense on the rest of the story!

Take care – love – AK


I promise to blog about the trek soon but first I wanted to let everyone know about where we are staying in Kathmandu.  For those who don’t know, I have a good friend from college who has been living in Nepal for the past 15 years.  She lives in Patan, which is technically just outside of Kathmandu to the south.  It use to be it’s own kingdom, but now it is inside of Ring Road, which circles the outside of Kathmandu.  We are staying close to her – which has been awesome and convenient.  Great to be able to see her (for instance, we ran into her last night on our way to pizza) and she has stored our extra stuff when we are out trekking.

Today was our first day of really getting a chance to explore the city.  We have been wanting to go to Dubar Square (Dubar is the name of where the king lived – so there are Dubar Squares in Patan and Kathmandu and probably elsewhere!) for awhile, but each time we were here we were too busy getting ready for trekking.  So today was the day!  After an amazing breakfast of coffee, fresh fruit, pancakes with cream and syrup (eventually our metabolisms will slow down and that will not be a wise idea….), we found Dubar square.

It took us some time to figure it all out – but since right now is festival time (Dasain – which is Nepal’s biggest festival – meaning that most people are out visiting family and many shops are closed, restaurants that are open (which aren’t many) have limited menus, and life is pretty quiet here in the city) it was much more mellow trying to get around by foot.  Normally, it is slightly scary — bikes, motos, buses, taxis and pedestrians are all headed towards us and there is honking constantly.  Not that it was silent today, but not quite as overwhelming!!!

As with all older cities (meaning older than what we have in the US) – I am amazed with the history that you find around any given corner.  Today was no different.  Yes, we were walking in the historical part of town, but the shrines – both Buddhist and Hindu – were beautiful.

But it is pretty interesting about how Buddhism and Hinduism in this area have some shared beliefs and shared icons.

Then, we found Dubar Square and wandered around there with all the other tourists for awhile.  I checked out the museum, which had some great displays explaining the differences between the Buddhist and Hindu gods and goddesses.

Following that adventure, we headed back to our guesthouse — well after a visit to the grocery store for some peanut butter, chocolate and cookies!  As I mentioned, our metabolism is still quite high….  it is good to feed just about every two hours!  But, it won’t be long before that changes…..  though with restaurants closed it is tough to be eating out all the time.

Katherine leaves on the 13th so we are planning to head out and sight see as much as possible the next few days.  As for me…. on the 14th….. who knows….

I promise to get trekking pictures up soon — it just takes forever to load the pictures but I promise that will be next!

take care –keep the comments coming!

love – AK

Just getting there….

It was quite an adventure just getting to Lukla to start our trek….

As you know, our first attempt did not work out well for us….  we were at the airport for about 8 hours before we were sent home to try again the next day.  So, the next day, we showed up – ready for a long wait.  But no sooner had we sat down and prepared ourselves to buy an overly sugared shot of coffee that you can buy at the airport (which is not quite coffee but more colored water that is WAY sweet) – than the ticket guy came by and waved us on for the plane!  Yes — we are going to Lukla!

Aboard we got on the twin otter (sits maybe 20?) and away we go.  It is a beautiful flight – over wooded valleys towards the mountains.  We can just barely make out the mountains although it was pretty clouded over.  About 15 minutes in, we notice that the plane is taking a nose dive into the mountains (on purpose) and  we seem to be headed right for the ground!  Since Katherine and I are seated right up front, we can see the mountains and then all of a sudden a short grassy runway – and bam, we are on the ground.  The 6 of us or so on the flight who are not nepali are slightly confused – is this Lukla?  When all of a sudden, the pilot turns to us all and says – this is not Lukla.  The Lukla aiport has closed.  We are in Phalpu.

Of course, that means nothing to any of us – other than we are not in Lukla.  We all sort of look at each other and then people make a move to get off the plane.  There is a lot of confusion outside of the plane and a lot of standing around.  Lots of rumors are going around (stemming mostly from the fact that we do not speak nepali and even the nepali seem confused!).  We are not sure if we are getting to Lukla that day or….

so — there we stood for awhile (like 4 hours) just waiting for word.  at first it sounded like we would be going later that day.  then it sounded like we would have a choice to whether we wanted to go back to Kathmandu or stay the night in Phalpu.  One german woman decides to leave with her guide.  They are going to walk to Lukla – we hear it is a 3 day trek (later confirmed by Katherine and I when we do it – but that is getting ahead of the story….)

ben, scott, katherine and I playing farkle to pass the time

At this point, we have made friends with the two other trekkers – Ben from Australia and Scott from the states.  We tell stories, drink tea that some one has brought down (he brought down a cup of milk tea for all of us waiting there) and play farkle.

When it is decided that we are staying in Phalpu for the night, the pilot and crew head back to Kathmandu – katherine has the pilot promise to come back and get us in the morning.  We all (meaning everyone who was on the plane) head up and find a guest house — who were not prepared for 20 guests!  Ben, Scott, Katherine and I go find food and go for a walk – as we are all stuck in this tiny town for the night.

The next morning as we were getting ready to order breakfast we got word that the plane was going to be arriving so we skipped breakfast and hurried down to the airfield.  We excitedly watched a plane fly in, circle over a few times and then….. fly way….  There was all sorts of conversations, Nepalis are talking to each other, we of course have no idea what is going on…..

Then word comes to us that there was no one in the tower.  The guy is late for work.  So, people go off searching for him while the rest of us just sit there… hungry, wondering when we will get to lukla….

Finally, they find him.  He took a different path to work and got lost.  you know….  as it happens sometimes.

anyway— a few hours later, another plane arrived, picked us up and 15 minutes later we were in Lukla having breakfast and drinking coffee (at starbucks!).  No problem.

There is of course lots and lots more to tell….  i will be getting to it over the next few days.  Kat and I are going to go explore the city (and drink coffee and eat donuts and walk as little as possible!).  Good to be back and good to be in touch!  much love!

all is well

this is a quick post.

we are still trekking – we have done 2 of the 3 passes — just one more to do.  we were going to go this morning but the cold, wind, snow and possible earth quake damage kept us in our bags (since it was 34 degrees in our room).  but our location in gokyo could not be more beautiful.

we have survived a surprise landing in phalpu (b/c the lukla airport closed on our way there), survived the earthquake, survived a 14 hour snowstorm, made it up two 5400 + meter passes (first people up one after the snowstorm — which kicked our asses), and now just one more pass before we start the trek to jiri to catch a bus to kathmandu.

we are both tired –‘ ready to be done trekking and ready to eat something else other than dal bhat and chapatis.

ok.  talk to you later.  miss and love you all.

Two sights from yesterday

1. On the way to dinner we passed a meat stand. Just a booth with chunks of meat sitting out for you to purchase. It usually includes all the parts – even the heads. But whatever, that was not the part that struck us. It was the four goats – live goats – that were tied up out front. We weren’t sure if they were next for the butchering block or for people to buy and butcher in their own. There is a big festival coming up that involves sacrifices.

2. While waiting at the airport yesterday, there was a monk also waiting. He made us laugh when we noticed he has his iPad out and was on facebook. Awesome.

Ok… Off to the airport for attempt #2! Send good thoughts!

A full day’s work

we just got back from 7.5 hours at the airport waiting for our flight to Lukla. They kept delaying the flight since the airport in Lukla was closed due to bad weather. You could definitely tell the Trekkers in the room – lots if gortex, quick dry, and backpacks (versus saris and salwar kameez).

The airport at Lukla is notorious for delays and cancelations…. Though we hear it is up in the mountains with one of those, you know, short run ways(I.e. Jones- you would not like this flight).

Our flight is refinements for tomorrow and we really hope we can make it out but we have definitely already heard horror stories of people taking 6 tries to get out of town…. That is a lot of taxi fare and sitting around!

It is interesting – the crowd (at the airport at least) seems to be different than the Annapurna crowd. Not sure what but definitely a bit more amped up. Everyone talks about heading to EBC ( everest base camp). Which we will be doing as part of our trek but it is not the central part if ours. I guess there is not even a view from EBC …. Not that I am knocking the trek – we will go over our highest pass on the way (over 5500 m!). Now we just need to get there!

Ok- we are off to get food. We ate all our provisions this morning (our left over pizza and chips) too early thinking we would not have to wait that long! Now we’re hungry!