Nepal Trekking

This week I will be embarking upon my third major trip since I came to Japan. Indeed traveling is the major I reason I decided to live abroad. This time I will be journeying to the Kingdom of Nepal for some trekking in the Himalayas. After much debate, the travelers are down to myself and my friend Stephen Kuhlke, otherwise know as Steveo.

2007.09.06 Nepal Trekking

Steveo is a well seasoned traveler who has been to no less than 20 countries. Until recently he was an ALT (asistant language teachers) in Kumamoto-ken and can be found in my other posts (not to mention he is an Iowa State graduate). He started his journey at the beginning of September in Bangladesh, of all places. He will meet me in Nepal for our leg and then continue on in Thailand, the land of smiles. He always has something positive to say and I think will be a great travel companion.

I tend to go big or go home. August is the month when most teachers in Japan take nenkyu (paid leave) and go on vacation. Many of my friends took jaunts to places like Okinawa and Taiwan, but September/October offers a trio of three day weekends all next to each other. I saw a better opportunity, school willing, to blow a lot more vacation time. In all I will be gone 25 days. Luckily I still have 6 days left from last year so will only need to take 8 days from this year’s allowance.

So, here’s the plan. I leave Friday, September 14th from Fukuoka, Japan and fly to Bangkok, Thailand. After a one-night layover, I go to Kathmandu where Steveo will have beat me one day in advance. We will stock up on some supplies and eat yak steaks until the 17th, when we take a breathtaking flight through the mountains to Lukla. Lukla is the start of our 16-day trek to EBC (Everest Base Camp, yes, that Everest) and back. We hit a max elevation of 5545 meters. On Oct 2nd we return to Kathmandu and fly to Bangkok on the 4th. Until October 8th I will stay in Bangkok with Steve before he meanders down the road.

Nepal holds some kind of mystical draw. The tallest mountains in the world. The birth place of Buddha. There are many treks to do there, and EBC sounded perfect. Its challenging and you get a great view of Everest. EBC is basically where the serious climbers of Everest start. To go past that you have to pay about $60,000 for the privilege. For me, it will be the final destination. Including two acclimatization days, most estimates put the trek at 15 days. When booking flights I gave us an extra day of room.

Because of Altitude Sickness, you can’t go up more than about 500 meters a day. That means each day of walking is from 3 to 7 hours roughly. Every few hours small villages dot the trail, the most popular in Nepal. ‘Tea houses’ have sprung up everywhere to accommodate weary travelers with lodging and food. We will be trekking at the very start of the high season and the end of monsoon. Hopefully at our elevation there will be no rain and not many trekkers crowding the trail. The weather is looking a bit cold!

Let’s hope no Maoist insurgents ruin a good time! I don’t anticipate any plane trouble since two goats have been sacrificed to appease the Hindu sky god, Akash Bhairab. Whew!

When I get back I will back-post my journals.

For more information about the Himalayas in general, I can’t recommend Michael Palin’s Himalaya 6-part series enough. For climbing the world’s tallest mountain, Everest: Beyond the Limit is enthralling (though the ‘Everest’ sound clip they keep playing is annoying and melodramatic) and the podcast The Rest of Everest is one of the best podcasts out there, period. For an intriguing look at EBC, I highly recommend reading Outside Magazine’s High Times, a look at the world’s highest party. Besides the Lonely Planet Nepal book, LP’s Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya has provided a wealth of information. For day-by-day sample itinerary’s of popular treks, check out YetiZone’s website.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Steveo on 09.15.07 at 3:38 AM

Hello Spirits of the Earth:

If Tyler’s descriptions of our upcoming hike hasn’t blown your socks off already, then they may after you read we’ll let a small kite, that I have tucked deeply away in my rucksack, visit the heavens of our earth at 5545 meters above the seashore waves of Bora Bora’s beeaches.

The memories we’ll create should provide us with serene hours of solitude along with adventacious acts of brotherhood. As far as my lastest episode of life, my arrival at Kathmandu for this expedition was delayed 25 hours due to the overcrowdedness of flyers on sparse flights from my previous hub of Dhaka Bangladesh; it’s not a surprise that crowds are the heartpulse of this country, but having my American-based travel agent not list me on the airline’s list of passangers, was. By and large it was for the better.

I was able to weave through the city’s congested traffics of rickshaws, whose cyclists ring charming bells on their handlebars w/ rags of clothes on alongside buses, trucks, and cars, most of them manouvering around the other with voluptuous amounts of love bumbs. On this extra unexpected day (here), I participated with the locals at a mosque in Islamic prayers for the first time with the echos of Allah’s worshipers. I volunteered my efforts to this act (for I’m not of this faith) with the purpose of understanding one another as they really are as well as their wholesomeness that I know is true of these religious practitioners. By joining hundreds of Islamic men, who mimiced the full Muslim garmet I borrowed from a new friend, on a roll of carpet-supported knees and palms graciously on its fabrics, I offered my thanks to (him) for “paving me safe passages on his grounds of Bangladesh” where 88% of the people are Muslims. Two weeks touring this country let me see a glimps of its dozen wonders. The country has the longest beach – largest ship wrecking yard – largest mangrove forest – and most densly populated country in the world (154 million people) fames to claim. The People’s Republic of Bangladesh also has 162 beautiful tea plantations that hire slave-like working Hindu leaf pickers who’ve been employed by estate owners since the British first established these gardens during the years of its great East India Company Empire. There, the hills of Shylet gave me trees of happiness on this post JET excursion, gone Rucksack Revolution. This precious gem of a nation is very hospitable and yet although highly povershed, is very rich with Bangali pride after Independance was won from the Pakistanis after the terrifying Liberation War of 1971 where they fought for their own language. So when I finally arrive at Kathmandu and reunite with our Japan-stationed traveling-documentarist genius of this blog, Tyler Bell, I’ll feel I’d have narrowly conquored one of the globes last frontiers, Bangladesh. With my Buddha nature, I plan to enlighten myself further by forming a relationship with the country of Nepal like I did on the lowlands of the mouth of the Ganges River as millions of stars in the skies above the peaks of the Himalayas become more illuminecent shining brightly on our trails…

I’m destined to change our planet for the better with a simple thing we all have freely in common, a smile. I hope the reader of this message will do the same. As Confucious of China once said, “There’re a lot of opportunities out there, choose the appropriate ones. Thanks for coming.”

See you on the slopes of N-n-n-n-n-e-p-a-l.


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