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Trek Day 13 & 14
We hike up from Debuche to Tengboche and visit the Tengboche Monastery
Meera catches me chatting up with the young monks. I asked them if they knew about the monasteries in Ladakh and told them that we have some very old Buddhist monasteries in the India some dating back to the 10th century and that they would find those places very interesting. I was gesturing about the height of the ancient shrine of Manjushri at Alchi which is 13 feet tall. I also asked them if they have the same Buddhist Gods as in India namely Manjushri and Amitabha. I am no expert in the matter but was curious to know if the monasteries in Nepal were culturally alike to the monasteries in India on the other side of the Himalaya.
Tserring Lama. Yes, he was a lama in his younger days and he knows all the prayers and the rituals. Trekking with him was a great experience for us. The insights he provided us on the things we saw was invaluable. Tserring lives in Boudha outside Kathmandu and this season he has been to Everest Base Camp 6 times. Our trip was his 7th. A tireless and a wonderful gentlemen who is everything a trekking guide should be and more.
I had a chance to meet numerous guides on this trip as they came with other trekkers and clearly many of them were all show and no go. They just like to dress up well and don't want to get their hands dirty. I met just two other guides who really had the maturity, knowledge and seriousness about what they were doing. One of them, at Namche Bazaar on the way up told us about alternate routes and what would be best for us and some ideas about the best time to do Kala Patthar as I was contemplating doing it for sunset when everybody was doing it for sunrise. He too was of the feeling that Kala Patthar was a sunset destination than for sunsrise. We had a long chat after dinner pouring over a large route map just discussing plans for the days ahead. He was not even our guide.
The second guide I noticed at Thukla came with a single trekker and he was more like an army commander than guide, super fit and extremely mature. He made sure his client got what he needed very promptly, always hung around nearby keeping a watchful eye and made sure he kept good pace. Such people are most dependable in times of trouble.
Meera and I still recollect the million little things Tserring did to make sure we did great on the trek. Fellow trekkers at Dingboche lodge where we stayed thought Tserring owned the place as he was helping everyone, that too after a long day of trekking.
I just wish I could fly to the other hill. We have to get down to the river and climb up and cross several hills until we go directly in front of the large snow peaked mountain and that is where Namche Bazaar is.
Okay ........ we came from the other hill top. In the morning I felt I could fly to this hill top and we still have a long way to go to Namche Bazaar.
After several hours of walking and few photographs we are nearing Namche Bazaar and what the heck. Clouds. All over the place. We heard of flight cancellations at Lukla in the morning. If there are so many clouds here it would be really bad at Lukla. I found out later that there was a bit of a snow storm up in Gorakshep. But its Dec 31st and we are looking forward to celebrate New Years Eve at the Namche Bakery.
The Himalayan Pheasant. A very colorful bird.
New Year's Eve celebration at Namche Bakery over coffee and cake. We were elated as if we were at a super fancy restaurant. Namche Bakery is no less super fancy though. I love the place.
A pic with the friendly hotel guy at Namche Bakery. This is one world class cafe deep in the Himalaya. They have a fancy coffee machine too which obviously would have been carried here like everything else that you see. Yes, those chairs, cutlery and the refrigerator. All carried by people on their backs for two days from Lukla and I dont think that refrigerator came to Lukla by plane, so it must have made its journey from Jiri and somebody carried it all the way up here.
The service in this cafe is just as good as the best cafe anywhere in the world. I am referring to the sophistication, the way they receive you, show you your menu, take your order and present your food. All in a tiny remote place called Namche Bazaar up in the Himalaya.
January 1 2011
It has snowed in Namche Bazaar the first time this winter
A porter makes his way up Namche Bazaar this beautiful morning
It had only snowed in the upper slopes and we quickly descend down to the river
Little Himalayan Puppy, would you like to come to Bangalore ?
These flowers were growing in someones yard between the stone tiles
This horse likes football
We reach Lukla and check into the Himalayan Lodge where we celebrate the completion of the trek. Tomorrow we say Goodbye to Tserring junior. Chicken and Steak sizzlers for the Tserrings and one plate of fried rice for us as we are not very hungry
We give our heartfelt thanks to both our guides.
Tserring junior is Tserring Seniors nephew. He is a very strong guy with a lot of common sense. He did most of the heavy lifting on this trek where he carried my big german army duffel which had most of our gear in it. Even with that heavy load, Tserring many a time lent us a supporting hand to pull us up a rocky slope or over a slippery frozen stream.
I cant forget one instance when we were trekking to Phortse over a really high narrow path. A high path is a vertigo inducing path really high up a mountain. Most paths are a just a little high over the river. It suddenly got so windy that we had trouble standing. It was unusually windy that day as a result of the weather which caused flight cancellations at Lukla and storm up in Gorakshep. After walking a certain distance, Tserring quickly pointed out that further up along the trail there was a section that is really narrow for some distance and if we had wind while on that section we could have trouble find something to hold on to. He also said the winds were picking up and we could face difficulties along the way. We immediately tracked back and got down a gentle hill face to reach the trek path to Debuche.
End of EBC trek. Tommorrow, we just have to get ourselves to Kathmandu on the Lukla-Kathmandu flight. Hopefully they are flying tomorrow. We meet a lot of stressed out folks at the hotel who have been stuck there for two days, we have just joined the party. Tserring tells me that our tickets are confirmed and we should be on the first flight out of Lukla.
I spent the night looking out of the window and there were stars in the sky, meaning clear weather, meaning the planes are coming, meaning we are going home
Here is what we saw at Lukla. The whole town shows up at the airport at 7 am in the morning bags in hand. Nobody knows if they are flying yet because the planes need to do a trial flight to check if the weather is actually good. People have their boarding passes in hand which indicate what flight they are on. The flights don't have timings on them. They dont fly according to time. You just know that you are on the first or second or third flight from your respective flight operator. If someone is on a second flight from an airline, they have to wait for the flight to come to Lukla from Kathmandu, fly back to Kathmandu and return to Lukla and only then they get to fly to Kathmandu.
We were on Agni Air and that day the planes from Tara Air came first and made two trips. Then Sita Air came and no sign of Agni Air. Tserring called the airline office in Kathmandu and found out that the Agni air that had taken off returned back to Kathmandu with some engine problems. woah. Then it took off again after a while. Finally the plane arrived and we all got on and hoped for the best.
Safe landing at Kathmandu and we immediately check into a fancy hotel in Thamel,Kathmandu and I have the first taste of real indian food. Well not really real indian but I can appreciate that the nepalis have done their best.
We check out the Pilgrim Book House, one of our favorite places to visit in Thamel, Kathmandu. It is a really wonderful store with an amazing ambiance. I cant think of Kathmandu without thinking about Pilgrim Book House. Thamel is the area where the tourists hang out in Kathmandu.
Masala Dosa at the Bakery Cafe on Tridevi Marg, Thamel. We loved this restaurant when we visited it first in 2005. Most waiters here are hearing impaired so you just show them what you want in the menu and they bring it for you. Amazing ambiance, great food.
Checking out some antiques. There are many art stores in Thamel. You can get some crazy stuff there for very low prices.
The shop keeper made all those masks and was making one while we were there. I asked him if he could make a mask of my face, he joked it was impossible.
Buddha at a restaurant
Wall decorations at a shopping complex
We bump into Bill from Shanghai,China in Thamel. We were at the same hotel at Dingboche, then at Lobuche and Gorakshep. I decided to stay an extra day at Gorakshep and Bill came down or we would have been in the same hotel at every place all the way down. By the time I reached Lukla, I imagined Bill would be enjoying in Kathmandu but he got stuck in Lukla for 2 days and I met him again at the Lukla airport. Here we are meeting eachother at Thamel once again.
Bill is a very nice guy, travels a lot and shoots very nice pictures of people and culture. He also dozes off suddenly while we are all talking excitedly around the heater in the dining room.
There are so many great restaurants in Thamel, you can try a new restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner for as many days as you stay in Thamel. This is the KC's restaurant and no, its not mine
We had a great time doing the Everest Base Camp Trek, it was on our minds for several years and we are glad we could do it. If you think there is any additional information we could provide in the travelogue, please write to us on the email address in the footer, We'll update the site as soon as we can.
Thanks for viewing our pictures.
We would love to recommend the services of our guides. Here are their numbers:
Tserring Lama (the older guide)
00977 9841 834598
Tserring Sherpa (the younger guide)
00977 9842 931539
If you are unable to reach them, they may be out on a trek. Just call back later.
-Kiran and Meera