Thursday, January 11, 2007
Nepal Research Project - Back To Kathmandu
FYI - You can find photos from Nepal at: http://flickr.com/photos/alew
11 January 2007
We, my porter and I, left Jorsalle at 7:30am and have been walking pretty much non-stop until now. We stopped for some tea at Tarakoshi (sp?), on a bluff high above the river. I think we dip down and then start uphill toward Lukla.
We passed Dawa and a group of 11 Khumbu Climbing School instructors. I met Peter and Eric, two big names in the climbing world that Kevin often mentions. We should be running into Chongba dai sometime before we get to Lukla, depending on his flight arrival. (I need to remember to email Dawa about Skype.)
There is not much to do when you are just hanging around the wood heater. Most people read books, but I like doing things on my PDA. That is why I have been writing these relatively long blogs. The following are some random notes that I typed up last night.
So Dhal Bat is a kind of lentil soup that is, preferably, poured over rice. I preferred eating as a soup.
'Hot Lemon' (it is also available cold) is sort of like lemonade. In Katmandu it comes plain with some lemon pulp and optional sugar or honey. Here in the rural hills it is made from a powder mix and is usually sweetened slightly, though more sugar is available. I have been having hot lemon drinks ever since I first came down with a cold about a week ago. I have had three since I arrived in Jorsalle this evening (at 30 rupee, 45 cents US each).
I have not had a shower since I left Kathmandu. Although we are staying in guest houses / lodges, it feels moor like camping out with no heat or electricity. Shower facilities, where they exist, are often outside. This might not be the case for the new upscale lodges (some say 5 star) in Namche Bazaar.
My wife bought a small case of heat packets that are designed to be put in gloves to keep your hands warm. After opening each packet, you shake them for a couple of minutes in open air until they start to heat up. I have been putting them in my boots, under the lower laces, since our second day here and I think they have done a lot to keep my feet warm. I have been doing this in the morning and they still giving off heat at the end of the day.
The owner of the Everest Guest House told me that Jorsalle started receiving electricity from a small-scale hydro project about a year ago. However, that source is not very strong and the lights go out in the kitchen area every now and then for a few seconds. The one solar light in the dining/wood heater room is always on. There is no light at all in the guest rooms upstairs.
12 January 2007
I woke up back at the Hotel Tibet in Katmandu this morning. We had gotten the Sherpa Hotel and Coffee Shop at about 12:30 yesterday and I was almost immediately told that I would be on the next flight out back to Kathmandu. I barely had time to drink my Hot Lemon, and pay my airport tax to Tashi, the owner of the Coffee Shop.
Chongba Sherpa was there, as his group of nine more people for the climbing school had just departed a couple of minutes before I arrived. I did see some American-looking people scattered along the path around the airport, which turned out to be those with Chongba. He was behind trying to find a backpack that did not make it off their flight, which the airline did eventually track down. My own bag was taken by my porter to be checked in. They told me that I should leave it unlocked as I would need to open it for security.
I rushed to the airport with my new boarding pass and was asked for my passport number. But I could not find the photocopy of my passport (which I left in a safe at the Hotel Tibet). The security guy let me go anyway. As I waited with four other people in the lounge I should have been looking for my duffle bag outside the window. They let us out of the lounge and onto the small tarmac and my duffle was nowhere to be seen.
They were unloading a lot of stuff from the plane – more like a cargo plane than a passenger plane – and then loaded these large white bags that appeared to be full of crushed soda cans. Then they started loading some people’s bags, but still I did not see mine anywhere. I asked Tashi, who was keeping track of the loading and unloading a couple of times where my bag was. Finally, just before we boarded he asked someone and pointed toward the front of the plane and said it was already on.
The four passengers and one stewardess all sat in the back of the plane. In front of us all the seats were down and the area was filled with the large white bags. There was also a dog in a box who was not happy about this experience. I did not see my bag, and was hoping that it was put in the nose of the plane, though I was not sure that was possible. At least I had plenty of time at the Kathmandu airport to sort out my bag if it did not make the flight.
The flight was a bit bumpy in parts, but otherwise not too bad. I had a right side window seat and got some good photos of the Himalayas and below.
When we landed, we got off the plane and were loaded on to a shuttle bus. While sitting there I saw them open the nose of the plane and, finally, take my duffle bag out! Whew, that was a relief.
The prepaid taxi ride from the airport to the hotel costs 300 rupee. The car was not a formal taxi, and the driver said it was 40 years old! It stalled once trying to go up a hill. I had forgotten how congested and polluted the streets and sidewalks of Kathmandu were. After being in the mountains it was quite a culture shock to be back in the city! Fortunately, I have a day or so to settle in and regroup and organize my thoughts, as well as our research data, before spending a day taking in the major city sites before I leave. If I can, I hope to record a podcast today in which I review some of the things that I have covered in more detail in these blogs. I have over 970 photos that I have kept (after deleting the rejects) so far, but probably wont be adding photos to these blogs until I get a unlimited email access. Here at the Hotel Tibet I am paying 400 rupee for 30 minutes (about US$5 - ouch!).