Prelude to happening from Naya Pul
Trip Start Sep 30, 2006
149Trip End Dec 24, 2008
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I picked an 11 day hike in the Everest region, we walk later this month.
THE JOMSOM TREK
Naya Pul (1000m) to Tikhedhunga (1525m)
We have to wait on the steps of the ticket office and watch the action milling around us. Bored kids, listless adults, tired dogs and skinny cows sitting in the road. Surrounding this is a multitude of dirty shacks, rubble, piles of mud, weeds, smelly ditches, bad smells, colourful plastic wrappers and animal shit.
The bus pulls up and everyone scrums on. We're still too English and spotting a queue we naturally stand at the back. The bus is now full and we are still standing outside. A lad spots us clutching a ticket and jumps on to the bus and appears to shout at random people to give up their seats for us.
I take this moment in time to circle the bus, checking its up to the Nepalese standard. 4 worn bald tyre's, yup. Spiderweb cracks in windscreen, check. Plenty of healthy rust and dents over bodywork, ok. Black smoke pouring from rear. A bus driver who looks either drunk/stoned/exhausted, check. Back bumper nicely painted with mysterious slogan, yes. This one had a mysterious personal favourite: 'All the best'. Everything looked in place for a ride, better than Alton Towers could muster. Kat gets a seat inside and I clamber up onto the roof to guard our bags.
The roof top ride turns out to be a social and comfortable way to travel. The only smell up here is the forest, pines and....urmm thats my tree knowledge exhausted. You can stretch your legs out or lie down on your bag. Everyone sits in circle, so we chat to the five local lads and an old Tibetan man whilst eating monkey nuts and getting shaken around by the potholes in the road. The South Korean guy and me tease the Nepalese boys about how many girlfriends they go on to boast about having.
After two hours of winding around hair-pin bends, we pull up and shout's of Naya Pul ring out. We climb down having safely arrived and clip together the backpack's we will be carrying for the next nine days. Naya Pul, five tiny corrugated iron shacks on the side of the road, all selling identical items, water, chocolate, bananas and samosas. Time to wave goodbye to the tarmac and find the path.
With fresh legs we start walking slowly and soon meet a skinny, sweaty American guy just about to finish the 25 day, Annapurna circuit trek. He looks tired but has a huge smile when we ask him how it was. This is a good sign so we decide to take a break, check the guide book and eat some chocolate.
The path we follow is very worn, and made up of a mixture of mud and rocks. From now if we want to travel anywhere, we have to walk or hire a donkey. The air smells clean and it feels great to be out of the city. Its spring in Nepal so everything is green and in flower. After half an hour we get stopped and detained by the Police. Its a check point where you show them your pass and TIMS trekking permit and collect a stamp. TIMS can be obtained for free from the Tourist Information Centre in Kathmandu, don't let a trekking agency charge you for one!
This region is a National park now and our permit fee's go towards conservation and protection of the local flora and fauna. We started walking at 11 and after the check point, applying sunscreen, mosquito repellent and eating more chocolate, its midday when we finally get properly started. Its a four hour walk to our final destination and the afternoon monsoon rain is expected by 3, we walk faster.
We walk pass other trekking group's, couple's and solo walkers. The majority of them walk with a guide and a porter. We can't afford to pay for a guide and anyway I think you get more satisfaction and achievement from being independent and navigating your own way through the Himalaya's. No-one walking is really in a hurry, the common phrase I heard from guides is: take it slowly, slowly. We often stop to chat to people and they sometimes ask where is our guide and porter? I tell them my guide is the best, and point at Kat who is charge of reading the map. They always laugh and nod at me carrying the large backpack, so you are the porter!
I have the easy role, my backpack is not very heavy, probably about 12kg. Working in an outdoor shop in NZ for four months was very handy. We carry some of the best in trekking equipment. Lightweight down sleeping bags, pac-lite gore-tex jackets, polypro tops and Icebreaker merino wool socks and hats all help to keep us warm and dry. Clothing has all changed since the famous1924 expedition. I was reading about a team of British climbers attempting to summit Everest who left the UK wearing their tweed jackets! Tally Ho!
We push on walking up the valley, crossing the river, sometimes hopping over rocks or using the wobbly steel rope bridges. Distant thunder rumbled down around the valley, the high mountains reverberate the sound which carries on echoing for easily a further ten seconds. The sun disappears behind a thick, Grey colour sky. The clouds start to spit at us, we pause and just before we can grab out our waterproofs, it pours with heavy rain and later hailstones that come in sideways on the wind. We run up the path, trying not to slip, looking for shelter and run straight into our hostel for the evening.
We sit down to relax, drink some black tea and get changed. We chat to a friendly Aussie couple on their R-T-W trip. They tell us many horror stories about their recent experience in North India. They laugh about being scammed on prices, ripped off with false tours, sometimes touched up, occasionally verbally abused and were generally glad to be in Nepal where the Nepalese are honest, relaxed and friendly.
Tomorrow we decide we need an early start to avoid any afternoon wetness. It's a day of steep step climbing. The first part of the walk tomorrow is a stone stair case with over 4000 steps. The average English 2-up 2-down semi has 13 steps in its staircase, why not join us the experience and walk up your staircase 308 times before breakfast?
Love Dan & Kat