October 7, 2006:
Phakding (2,640 m) to Namche Bazaar (3,450 m)
Slept well until 1 am when my jetlag kicked in. I tossed around a lot during the night, but woke up
pretty refreshed. Got up around 6:45 am. Had breakfast. Toast and omelet. Packed up and started
the long walk to Namche Bazaar around 8:30 am. Crossed the bridge over the Dudh Kosi at the
northern end of Phakding and sure enough, there were the Maoists again. A huge crowd had
gathered there. We had to wait quite a while until it was my turn to make my "donation". Typical
communist bullshit!! At least I got a receipt which says: "Thank you for your donation". Lots of
trekkers were quite pissed at the delay this caused. I actually enjoyed most of it, especially an
Italian guy who was the leader of a trekking group which I saw already on the plane from Bangkok.
He argued in his colorful Italian accent with the Maoists who barely understood English. He told
them that the receipts look like lottery tickets from a tombola. As I said, I enjoyed this "Maoist
encounter" immensely. Later a little more on this Italian tour leader.
After about 2 hours of leisurely walk we
reached Monjo and soon thereafter, we were
at the entrance to the Sagarmatha National
Park. Bharat was quite surprised as
apparantly the National Park building is
brand new. He paid our National Park Fees
and we descended to the bridge over the
Dudh Kosi passing lots of Mani stones and
inscripts. Shortly thereafter we arrived in
Jorsale. It was our last stop before the climb
up to Namche Bazaar and we had lunch.
Fried noodles with veggies and garlic soup.
Delicious. Also, the group with the
charismatic Italian leader arrived soon
thereafter and sat on the table next to us. I
gathered from talking to this group which
comprised of Italians and Germans that
their guide apparantly is a famous
mountaineer who had attempted K2 and
other 8,000 meter peaks. I did not catch his
name at the time. The group was very nice
and we ran into them several times over the
course of the next few days, including back
in Thamel after our trip was over. (A few
weeks later back at home, I read a
mountaineering book by Hans
Kammerlander, another famous climber
and mountaineer. While reading the book, I
came upon a picture of this Italian guide.
His name is Angelo Giovanetti. Small
world).
After lunch, we began our hike up to Namche. First we crossed the Dudh Kosi a few more times and
then it was up, up, up. The worst part were the last 500 meters or so, after you could see Namche in
front of you, but still ways away. It took us about 3 hours from Jorsale to Namche. Namche Bazaar
is quite big, with lots of lodges and shops. We stayed at the Ama Dablam Lodge. I got a single
room, a little smaller than the room I had the night before, and a shared bathroom with a western
style toilet. Spend the rest of the afternoon/evening in the dining room, except for a few minutes
when I went to an internet cafe to check e-mails. A large group of Brazilians was in the lodge (about
10-12). They were very nice and I ran into them several times in the days ahead. Dinner was chicken
soup and then a yak steak with potatoes and, of course, applie pie for desert. And the last beer for a
while!! Went to bed shortly after 8 pm, listened to my ipod for a while and fell asleep. Woke up
again around 2 am. This waking up in the middle of the night sure gets old!