Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Nepal adventure begin - 24Sep-06Oct 2008

The long waiting adventure has finally come. I am flying to Nepal for a 10d Trek at Everest Region. To conquer a peak of 5000M name Nagarzu Ri, North East about 435M below of Everest Base Camp. Is not a popular peak and you will never find in the map. But is tough enough for us a non-frequent trekker to reach.

Our trail :-


Click into the map to enlarge

Day 1 (24Sep) - KL - KLIA
I travelled to KLIA at 1230am and decided to camp (sleep) at the airport waiting for our flight with Nepal Airlines which leaves at 0700am. Crazy ya!! waiting for 7hrs. But I was not alone. In fact many Nepalese has been queuing up since 2230pm. They came to airport much earlier than me. The check in time was around 430am.

Day 2 (25Sep) - KLIA - Kathmandu Nepal

The flight was delayed for 2hr45mins. We really have to camp at KLIA airport. We slept on the floor, while some chatted with the Nepalese worker who happened to be on the same flight back home. You will be surprised they speak better Malay than us. Bcos mostly has girlfriend (Indonesian) from their workplace. Once the policewoman at the body scanning machine shouted at them for some reason, one of the Nepalese guy said to us "Dosa, bulan puasa jerit-jerit (is a sin she shouted during fasting (ramadhan)) !!! What a surprised !! Hey dear friend, you better speak fluent Malay!!

The flight took 4hrs25mins. While the stewardess trying to demonstrate the safety equipment in the aircraft, I questioned myself, is the life jacket still can be used, I hope is not expire. There is no TV and no music throughout the journey. Whether you are Business Class or Economy it makes no difference. This time, there is estimated 10% of tourist while 90% are mainly local people going back home.

The flight touched down on time and after going thru a simple yet complicated immigration process (Visa USD25-15days entry) we waited for our baggage.A small airport (similar to KK airport) took us nearly 1-2hrs to claim 14luggages. And outside the arrival hall, you see people packed receiving their long waiting relatives. And it was so crowded that I could hardly see my long friend cum agent - Mr Dhruba Lamsal (Marvel Travel).

Briefing time : Here are some important notes Mr Dhruba highlighted during trekking
RM1= Rp20 / USD1= Rp 70
1. Is hard to get shower!. Hot shower need to pay from Rp200-Rp400

2. Mineral water Rp20 in Kathmandu. Price varies on elevation, the higher we do the more expensive Rp100, Rp200....
3. Most guesthouse with Public Toilet.
4. Allocation 1 porter to 2 person. Max 20Kg. Personal porter USD96 throughout 10days trek
5. No meat diet for 10days. As mostly Yak or Buff meat that carries from outside of Lukla to highland. As Everest region mostly Tibetian Buddhist that does not allow slaughter.
6. No cold drinks for 10days. Our diet and drinks being control to prevent altitude sickness

Day 3 (26Sep) trek starts

Woke up at 530am (local time) and prepare for 0700am flight Kathmandu-Lukla. Lukla is a getway to Everest Region with the only access is by air - Twin Otter 16 seater. It takes abt 40mins.

After breakfast everyone weigh their backpack to be carried by porter. My Haversack is about 15kg (3 sleeping bags) while my daypack is about 7Kg. And we off to domestic airport.

At the domestic airport, everything seems chaos, i feel like in a fish market, everyone just so busy, running here and there. Mr Dhruba busy weighing our luggage and immediately rush us into the departure hall, bcos the flight will take off in 15mins time.

Our 1st sight on the aircraft... our mind is very disturbed. It is a very tiny little Twin Otter 18seater aircraft. But we were all so excited later snapping photo in front of the aircraft while the worker loading our haversack into the tiny compartment. Soon after seated in the aircraft, we fasten our seatbelt and ready to fly

The take off was amazing. You feel that you are flying in the air. The flight took 40mins to reach LUKLA airport. Suddenly through greenery mountain from both side, it appear a small strip in between the 2 valley you see rooftop and houses, that is LUKLA airport one of the most dangerous and craziest airport in the world, and one of the shortest airstrip/runway in the world. Located at the elevation of 2800m. It is also known as the most popular getway to Everest region.

The landing moment was dramatic, everyone sit still and watch how the aircraft landed safely and soundly on the ground. Everyone clapped our hand and congratulate the pilot for his smooth landing.

After clearing our luggages, the porters that we employed carried them to the guesthouse where our lugggage will be distributed among the 7 porters. We were first introduced to our Sherpa cum Guide - "LP" his name. A 5 feet 2inches strong chinese looked man in his late 30s. He is the chief of Porter allocation, the Guide who run in front to book our accommodation, who run to the front to choose where to have meal and order in advance for us.

The trek soon starts around 10am and our destination today is to Monjo at the height of 2850m passing Phakding. It takes about 5 hrs trek.

Day 4 (27Sep) Monjo 2850m - Namche Bazaar 3440m
After breakfast, we started our early journey at 730am ascending. We entered into the Sagarmatha National Park just abt 30mins walk to register ourselves and then continue our extreme journeyat the early trek. We have to trek down, and down and down to the river valler and then crossing the river on suspension hanging bridge more than 4 times. With strong rapid below flows from the mountainous area. It is extremely cold I think. We walk along the river bank on the rocky surface for about 2hrs until we reached the final stage to stop for rest and photo. Until now, our group has been seperated very big gap. There were 4 members far in front of us.

The challenge starts after crossing the last bridge and all the way 45degree slope to the top of the mountain ridge. Along the way, we met with many Yak serve as a transportation company transporting goods to the village for sale. The higher we go, the higher the price. A bottle of mineral water sold in town for Rp20 (RM 1) can be RM100 (RM5) per bottle. Yak is an animal with long fury hair look mixture of Buffalo+goat. Beside Yak, there are also human transportation, where the local will carry the load using their forehead. Some can carry up to 50kg exactly the weigh of a person. This is how they earn their living and survive. There is no road to transport goods to the mountain, so the only way is to carry on Yak or human. How tough life is in this mountainous region. Some porter is still in the growing age, where this is the time their body structure start to grow and change, but due to heavy load, it has indirectly prevent them from growing taller, instead their body growth stop and muscle grow on their leg, neck and shoulder.

Soon we were walking on the edge of the mountain terrain, the trek is busy full of trekkers going up and down. We happened to met up with trekkers who completed their Everest Base camp trek, Gokyo Trek, Kala Pattar trek all more than 5400m. This trek is so popular among foreigner and Sep-Oct is the peak season for trekkers around the world. Alot of world-class trekkers with their attempt to conquer certain mountains. All Everester will have to trek the same to base camp. There is no other means than walking-acclimatisation eventhough there are helicopter or flight to basecamp. Estimated around 10,000 trekkers on the mountain during the 12days trip.

After a tiring 5hrs trek on the steep slope, we finally reach a rather flat terrain and as we step ahead, we saw rooftop and houses on the other side of the mountain, we asked the passerby how long for us to reach Namche.. some told us 5 mins, some 20mins, some 1 hr. We were fully confused. Joyce, Tiong and myself were smiling to each other, perhaps we should not ask them, as they dont have watch. We dragged our body to move faster at the height of 3400m but i started panting and experience thin air.

As we enter into the village, the sound of OM MA ME PAY ME HOM the Tibetian chanting song heard everywhere. There were shops both side of the trek, Guesthouse all over, internet cafe, bars... you cant imagine this is Namche Bazaar the highest sherpa village in the world - 3440m. Is totally a town in the middle of nowhere. Mostly Sherpas-Man of Himalayan has been inhabitat in this town since 100 years ago, where the salt trading bring them from one place to another. They were probably the descendant from Tibetian and they adopt the same tradition, culture, religion but they speak Nepalese rather than Tibetian.

I was the 2nd last to arrive at 4.30pm at Moonlight Guesthouse located at the edge of the trail. The 1st questioned I asked my Sherpa, why he chosed the furthest, the highest guesthouse of all as it took me ages to arrive eventhough I am inside Namche village, The tiredness has kept telling me somehow I will arrive, I will arrive.

The guesthouse is run by a sherpa family with about 20 rooms. Toilet and bathroom are public. I did not shower for 2 days, today I tell myself must shower but the temperature is below 10C. So finally I decided not to shower for another night. For friends who cannot resist from shower, they have to pay Rp200 (USD2.50/RM10) for hot shower. This region is too popular therefore everything is too commercialize. Everything is $$$$$. Charging your battery - camera, handphone cost Rp80 per hour. mineral water cost Rp100 instead of Rp 20 at Kathmandu. I just hope that one day they don't start charge you for every "business" you do in the toilet or every breath you breathe in Namche.

Day 5 (28 Sep) Namche 3440m - Tengboche 3990m

We have to make decision for Ai Lin, one of our teammate whether she can continue with us. She was rather breathless and complaining of sleepy throughout the journey from day 1. She cannt move at normal pace, but move at a very slow pace (10steps stop once). It would be difficult for her to move to a higher elevation with thin air. Finally much persuade and advise from Trek Leader - Mr Dhruba, we have no choice but to leave her at Namche for 3-4days alone. Is a risk if anything happen to her after this town, where there is no proper facilities later (clinic etc).

Looking at the difference of the height is only 550m, it seems to be very near and is not that difficult. Somehow we are wrong. We saw the trail and our final destination at the far end on the other mountain. Our heart beat faster. We first have to walk on the neck of the mountain expose to direct sunlight but temperature between 18-22C. And the sunlight is bright enough to burn your skin. From this mountain we have to descend down right to the river bank again for almost 600m and then ascend to another 400-500m again to finally reach Tengboche for a night. In fact this is the toughest trail among all.

As we ascend from the river to Tengboche, it is a zig-zag trail, whereby you can see you friend walking right on top of you. This is enough to use up whatever energy you have. The narrow trail is also a challenge, as we often have to lean against the wall to allow the mountain yak to pass and this Mr Yak will leave his "gold" along the trail for us who sometimes accidently step on it. !! The more I tried to avoid, the more I unintentionally, accidently step on it.. Yikes..!!

Again I was the last 3 person who arrived at Tengboche after a great struggle. Around 4.00pm almost 1hr away from the 1st person. Tengboche Monastery one of the highest Monastery in Himalayan, is a famous place of worship for many Tibetian Buddhist believer. There is a monatery with young monks around. and 2-3 guesthouse, not very good one. Some european team were adventure enough to camp along the way. The porters and sherpas will pitch tent for their client to sleep and a shelter tent for cooking. Our Sherpa LP managed to get us some rooms but we have to share 3 person in a room. Our room located outside of the dinning/common hall as well as toilet. And temperature is getting lower at this height. At night is goes down to less than 10C.

I visited the monatery a while with my tiring body and returned to the room felling somehow sleepy at this stage and feel like sleeping all the way and do not want to continue anymore. This is perhaps the initial sympthon of altitude sickness. This sickness is harmful if it is not treated correctly. The cause of altitude sickness is that our blood become thick when we are at a certain elevation. It can flow smoothly thru our blood vessel, but the blood vessel that transmit blood to our brain is thin, therefore if the blood flow is not smooth and fail to transfer blood to our brain, there the sign of nausea, sleepy, headache start to attack us.

Another teammate - Tiong who used to be cheerful though quite start to re-act differently. He sit silently without any expression at the common hall next to me. In fact both of us has the same experession. We both feel uneasy, he felt vomitting, while i felt headache. Then suddenly he went back to his room and holding a plastic bag to vomit. He did not have dinner just only some steam vege and went to bed at 7pm. While I can still stand the uncomfortable and without much appetite I took some scope of Garlic soup and spagetti. Our Trek leader Mr Dhruba took out his firsta aid kit and asked if anyone has altitude sickness. In fact all this while he has been controlling our diet and provide "raw garlic" on each of our meal. They believe this is the cheapest, most traditional, effective way to cure altitude sickness. Each of our meal, we were asked to chew raw garlic like eating peanuts or chocolate. Have you try chewing raw garlic before? If not, try it you will know and experience what I try to describe. Is no fun, is hotter than chilly.

Mr Dhruba asked me if I am alright. I told him i have headache and would like to take medicine as the garlic does not cure. He then gave me half pill of "DIAMOX". After taking diamox, i have to drink alot of water, otherwise it wont be effective. Throughout the night I was busy waking up to run out for toilet - every 2 hours. Mr Dhruba and LP has no room to stay tonite, they have to sleep at the common room saw me running to toilet every 2hrs.

Day 6 (29Sep) Tengboche 3900m - Dingboche 4410m
Today attempt is to reach Dingboche village, ascending 600m in a day. Two of our teammate - Tiong and Nora decided to turn back and not proceeding higher. Tiong was alright, but perhaps he does not want to take risk, as we have 3more days to descend to Lukla, while Nora was over exhauted leaving his hubby - Johnny with us.

They both descend to Namche with a personal porter - Kami and another elderly porter.

The vegetation at this elevation are very much highland. Ferns, bonzai. We are walking on the ridge of the mountain surrounded by beautiful 6000m snow mountain. But weather does not looks good, the heavy fog has covered most of the high peaks. In highland, weather change is unpredictable, You can see clear sky now, but it turned dark within second. In fact, weather is the biggest challenge mountaineer. In many incident, the success of summiting Everest is depend on good weather. Human can control our body, by taking supplement, energy food, train up stamina to prepare, but if weather not permitted, everything will be in vain.

The sign of thin air, each step seems walking for hours. Temperature less than 10C, we start to cover ourselves with our winter jacket, gloves, balaclava. Around 2.30pm, drizzling rain fall were felt, everybody has to put up our Poncho. No joke, walking in the rain at this height. Body heat can be easily fade away. It is important to keep our body heat intact.

At this height, is truly amazed, you are surrounded by high mountains, a place with no boundry, no limit and no end. Beneath us is the strong rapid river flow from Himalaya. It makes me feel so freedom. How I wish life is so peaceful and how I wish that this mother nature will never change. The global warming has change the weather and climate, soon all this beautiful mountain will loose its beauty, one day maybe there will be less snow. But for now, I have to thank God for his creation and thank Nepal government for maintaining this trek that we still can enjoy and appreciate in this region.

You will never believe in such a height, there are still people living. 4410M Dingboche village, walking from the mountain top towards this village was tiring yet amazing. This village is surrounded by all the mountains. I asked myself what will happen during winter, when temperature can go below zero and the whole are covered with snow? How will these people survive ? For almost 3 months. Nothing can be planted, they are practically disconnected from the outside world. My sherpa told me that during the summer and autumn, they will busy planting vegetable (cabbage, raddish, potatoes and will make it into pickles (sweet & sour like Acar). Then they will store it for food. They also planted wheat to make "Tsampa" a kind of flour from wheat make it into a dough and eat it with some sauce. Some will move down to a lower land during winter together with their livestock-Yak, goat. This is how the highland people survive every season.

From the entrance of the village to our guesthouse is again torturing. I just wonder why Sherpa LP always look for an accommodation located at the end of the village. He always makes us walk to the edge of every village with our heart kept on eagerly wondering when are we going to stop for a night. The countdown moment was always a frustration. We walk almost an hour to finally reach our guesthouse. As I entered into the dining hall, I throwed myself on the bench lifeless and motionless.. What a tired walk for a day. At this height, our body, mind function slower than normal lowland. A few of my teammate who arrived much earlier had taken their highest and most expensive shower (Rp400/RM20) and another is enjoying his reading with a cup of hot tea.

I managed to send a few mails and chatted with a friend of mine in Malaysia here. Send some photo back to update my story. Internet access here cost me Rp50 per min (RM2.50 p/min)!!! Well. this is the "HIGHEST" mail I ever sent !!

Day 7 (30Sep)
Today is the summit day. Everyone suppose to wake up at 5.30am to summit Nagarzu Ri. The weather does not look good earlier. As Mr Dhruba advised that if heavy and thick cloud, we will not be going and stay at our guesthouse. Everyone seems excited and prepared ourselves around 630am. It consider quite late as the sun has rised. I actually planned to stayback not proceeding. Somehow looking at the determination of others, I changed my mind. Pushing my tired, over exhauted body to walk every step up.

2 of our teammate (Sou Cheng & Chong) was experiencing nausea and headache in the morning. They decided to stayback and seeing us going to the summit. Temperature has gone down to perhaps 5C, everyone put on our thick winter jacket and gloves and walk barehand to the summit.
As we walk further up, we can feel the snowmountain is nearer and nearer to us. We can see mountain peaks clearly now. How great God creation. Amazing view !! As I moved up to 4500m my unconcious mind kept telling me to turn back, then I push myself another 10m further. Finally at around 8am.. everyone decided to stop at the level around 4600m, as sun has rise up high and getting hot now. We still need to descend to today.

Enough is enough. I cannt go further. Bcos my head start spinning. I think is the altitude. But I am totally satisfied with my achievement. Step by Step we trekked more than 2000km we finally reach a height of 4600m. In front of us, we know there is another 2 more days to reach Everest Base Camp (5400m) and beautiful Kala Pattar base (the most strategic spot to view Everest. We were unable to go further due to our time. Perhaps next time... by Helicopter haha

So we descended back to our guesthouse and packed our luggages after a simple breakfast and off we go saying goodbye to Dingboche. On the way down we were surrounded by beautiful peaks, very clear sky and of course hot. Our destination today is Pangboche ( one stop furtherdown to Tengboche). Sometimes we just could not remember which "Che" we suppose to stop - Tengboche, Pangboche, Dingboche, Namche...

One of our teammate name "Tan" who is a joker among us came up suddenly to the sherpa and pointed one of the peak and asked. "What is the name of this peak? The Sherpa said there is no name it is not popular. The Tan said why not called it "TAI-KA-CHE" (In Chinese means BIG SISTER) and the other one is "TAIPOCHE" (BIG BREAST SISTER). In Chinese language "Che" means sister. Everyone was laughing !!! hahaha....... perhaps the altitude effect that has suddenly stir his mind of creating names for different peaks.

After 6hrs walked we reached Pangboche around 3pm, very nice green guesthouse, beside the stream, next to a nice green pastures. This is where we did our laundry on the stream and dry all our innerwears haha... and enjoy our evening at the bench outside the guesthouse.

Everyone felt so relax, fully satisfied and was enjoying view and trekkers who are moving up. We met alot of international friends from all sort of countries. On of our teammate name Mr Tan Chong Yew who is one of the joker among the grp, was making a jokes with our sherpa... he tol

1 comment:

stargal said...

wow, helen, really salute and envy you lar. but i bet it was a great experience not to be forgotten, right?

and now u must be dem fit for mount kinabalu! hehe... i just pray i come back in one piece! :P