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.
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!
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.