Thursday, March 31, 2011

march 16th: day 13- Namche Bazaar (3420m/11,220ft)

day 13:  Namche Bazaar (3420m/11,220ft)/Rest Day

woke up for sunrise, and after yesterday's success, felt more positive than i had in a long saudi-while.  accompanying, one of the clearest days in a bit so a day of vistas.   walked the path up and over to the top of town, down.  now the sights of namche impress, situated as it is in a bowl surrounded by impressive mountains...but as we cleared, moving into the next valley-mountain view, the giants came into view.  not quite looking gigantic, everest peaking from behind.  from this view, but a rock.

the walk was fantastically beautiful, graced with the an unseasonable crystal day.  following a meandering, body-thankful train, the vistas were amazing, standing on the lower shoulders of the range.  i walked slowly, trying to appreciate all that was the day,  and of course what it took for me to be here.  stopped at the japanese 80's era bubble hotel, the everest view, with its personal airport and amazing views cafe.  settled on a pot of masala tea, and enjoyed being the first bunch to make it there that day.  had a good 30 minutes of quiet, until the groups began to arrive.

we took the fullest of turns at what must be one of the grandest views serviced with a pot of tea, and the headed to the next destination, the khumjung monestary , home of a 'yeti' skull.  of course a yak skull, but the everest region urban legend needed to be seen, 50 rupees well spent.  then on to the legacy of altruism left behind by Hillary's climb, an area he donated to with schools and hospitals.  and a stupa in his memory.  we ended the day near sunset, with an equally view-filled walk back to namche.  definitely the best *rest day* ever.

namche bazaar from above

sunrise, as leaving namche bazaar
first day's view

considering the last couple of days

fancy $125 a night hotel w/ hot bucket showers, but what a view from the cafe

the skull of a yeti, held in trust by the monks of the Khumjung Monastery

Khumjung Monastery

the Khumjung Hillary School

just a bit happy

sunset back in namche bazaar

sunset ii

sunset iii

 out of context:

walking to the fancy hotel
the walk back

walk on the way

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

dahl bhat: the choice of hungry nepali and trekkers

the national dish.  the food that keeps nepal going, through daily blackouts in kathmandu or carrying near body weight loads up serious mountains in flip flops.  the dish that is the same, yet different every time every place you order it.  the dish that keeps giving, allowing the dinner to eat till full....and so, the trekking favorite.

similar to a south indian tali, simply translated, it is lentils-and-rice.  but actually it consists of at least four components-lentils, rice, a veg curry and a pickled veg.  also sometimes included are papadams, prawn rice crackers, meat curry/side and/or yogurt. 

as in jazz, that is the set structure, but all cooks riff off those elements with their own voice.  also seasonal/regional availability plays into the formula, so you shall never have the same dahl bhat twice. 

seriously, the best dahl baht (made by an ex-gurka), shika, anapurna circuit region

the dahl/lentils:  it can be chunky or a puree.  it can be any shade of dahl, with the accompanying cook's taste of spices.  it can be spiked with butter and be the most soul-saving-warming item of the whole dish.

the bhat/rice:  nearly as loose as uncle ben's
or sticky as japanese, the rice is also flexible in form.  i seriously had one dish of rice that tasted as close to japanese and so delicious that it made my night.  this is the carb that carries, the vehicle that softens and spreads the taste of the others.

the veg curry/tarkari:  this is where you get all those vitamins that you need.  usually some sort of green, with carrots and potatoes.  can be spicy, tasty or in the worst case, bland.  again, region shapes the possible content. 

the pickle:  a necessary for a complete dahl bhat experience, pickle is the condiment/ketchup that is adjust to an individual's taste by mixing in with the other ingredients.   can be radish (daikon), carrot, young bamboo, chili, tomato or out-of-the-jar green mango. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

march 15th: day 12

day 12:  Jorsale to Namche Bazaar (3420m/11,220ft)

perseverance, a bit of chemistry (taking altitude sickness meds) and one of the best dahl bhat that i had ever eaten...lo and behold...i made it!  really was ready to give up the day before, ready to head back to kathmandu.  but sometime during the night, i woke up and decided to give it one more try the next day.  so glad i did and the success felt like a major accomplishment, and come so close to giving up, yet not and succeeding.  this day was actually the highest point during the trek that i had to climb in my mind.



march 14th: day 11

day 11:  Phakding  to 3200m/10,948ft (200m shy of Namche Bazaar) back to Jorsale (2830m/9284ft)

this was a big mistake on my part (as well as the guide).  i was obviously suffering from ams, and should not have even attempted going up the mountain to Namche Bazaar.  luckily i left my ego in kathmandu and retreated down the mountain, finally understanding what was happening to me. 

i was actually ready, as you will see, to bag it and head back to kathmandu (although obviously bothered by that).

needless to say, i made Mohendra sit in on an altitude talk, and for his tip i paid for his entrance into guide school (although he knew his way around the mountains, definitely altitude and health were issues that he needed to understand completely)  you can't blame ghosts on altitude sickness, and it goes without saying that i was a bit out-of-it in these videos.  i am just glad that i went down and kept safe, ghost or no ghost.

march 13th: day 10

day 10:  Charikharka to Phakding (2600m/8487ft)

the reason why i decided to take the long route up was because i was being cautious of ams (altitude mountain sickness) and all its derivatives.  during the past 9 days i had climbed to altitudes of over 3500m and even slept at near 3000m.  but even still, the finicky ams struck and did a number on me.  it was one of the worst feelings that i had ever experienced.  a mix of heat exhaustion, food poisoning and the bed-spinning feeling that comes from way-over drinking.

we were on our way to Phakding when it first hit.  we made it to a lodge, and i went right to sleep, at 2pm and didn't wake until the next day.  no lunch or dinner and i barely managed to get breakfast down.  because i was in denial about ams, as i had gone the long way, stupid me decided to continue the next day.

some pictures from this day:

march 10th/11th/12th: day 7/8/9

not much to add for these days as far as video.  these three days were enjoyable, and i was feeling fitter, and thinking of the top.  funny, as the next day was when i started getting altitude sickness and thinking of heading back to kathmandu. 

day 7:  Nunthala to Khari Kola (2010m/7283ft)


day 8:  Khari Kola to Puiyan (2770m/9087ft)


day 9:  Puiyan to Charikharka (2650m/8694ft)