Monday, September 20, 2004

Jamie Conquers Everest (base camp)!

I am alive and well, currently at about 3500 metres in a place called Namche
which is the last real town till everest base camp.

The story so far briefly ...........The bus to the starting point Jiri was interesting, took about 10 hours cause of landslides and the tires of the bus kept busting. It was not too comfortable, just local folk on the bus except for 1 other westerner. Passed army checkpoints on the way and climbed up and up with. At jiri the tea house was nice, but no electricity so candle light all the way and it was pooring with rain by this time. Anyway slept well, got up and we were off. The first 2 days were mighty hard, just getting used to the weight of my rucksack and also the paths were very poor and very steep.

All the way it has been just Sarba and me, to Namche we didn't see any other trekkers, (9 days) jiri to Lukla is the area the Maoists are said to hang out in, but we didn't see a dicky bird of them. We stayed in VERY basic tea houses which may or may not have had electricity, most had a hole in a plank of wood in the garden for a loo – you get the guist. The hospitality has been very good though and the food excellent and lots of it. Mainly Dal Bhat which is rice with curried vegetables or just garlicy vegetables and a bowl of lentil type soup (on the side). After your plate is empty it is filled again. So I'm not wasting away. The days have been mainly hot in the mornings and then clouding over and some days heavy rain in the pm. Its BIG buddhist country and have been to 2 monastries so far, most people have prayer flags and see prayer wheels all over the place.

Not much wildlife, the interesting thing has been the landscape change with altitude and valley by valley. Bananas, rice fields, corn, maize, cucumbers, all sorts of stuff growing. I have taken about 250 photos so far, some of which I think should be really good so looking forward to showing you them and explaining whats what. Saw Everest for the first time today on the way up here. Be under no allusions it has been hard work, I have been sweating buckets every day each night my t-shirt has been soaking and my shoulders sore. But I have gotten used to it and now here I feel in good shape to do the last bit. Psychologically it is straight forward from here, there is a clear destination – everest base camp or near it, before each day was a bit of a mystery. Saraba is a nice guy, 28 years old, wife and 1 child he has lots of knowledge of the Sherpa people whose villages we have been mainly going
through and general Nepalese history.

Most people, everyone in town here that is trekking flew from Kathmandu to Lukla which is 2 days away. So none have been trekking for the week before hand. I get to be a bit smug and I am really glad because this part is touristy and not like the real Nepal that we walked through. We are staying in Namche 2 nights so tomorrow is effectively a day off to get used to the altitude, we will go to the museum and trek up to the Everest view hotel for a few shots. Yaks are very nice animals, not as big as I thought but very hairy.

So I will be back in Kathmandu a week Wednesday pm. And will not be able to be in contact again before then. Just to let you know it has been hard but really good and everest, what I saw of it today, looks very amazing!!!

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