This is the day that marks the beginning of the long walk Socs and I are going to undertake for the next 2 weeks or so. We’ll try and post more pictures this time. But before that, the night before the big day things didn’t seem to be in the right. As we were sorting our bags out, I started playing around with our duffel bag and trying to power clean it, and I jumped on the hip belt buckle of my backpack. This snapped of a piece of it, which meant I won’t be able to control the weight distribution of the bag from the shoulders to the hips. And with days of walking ahead, this was bad news.
With this in mind, and perhaps the anticipation of the next few days I was not able to get the best night’s sleep as we had to wake up a bit early in the morning for the 7:30am flight to Lukla. Henry has mad skills and great connections in this business as he was able to get us into the earlier flight (we were initially scheduled for the 9:30am flight) and get into the departures area with an official ID. However all this was in vain as we sat waiting until 9:20am before we finally got on the plane for the 30 minute flight.
The flight was pretty cool as it was a really small and old plane. It felt like a small car rather than a plane, and the flight attendant started handing out cotton balls and candy. These proved useful for the vibration and noise from the engine. I ate the candy even before we started moving to the runway (which I assume is for preventing airsickness), because my EQ is low.
From where we were sitting wee can see all the dials and knobs on the cockpit. I also able to see all the stuff the pilot was doing and the views from the cockpit window. This was the first time we could see the Himalayas and it was an awesome sight. I could understand why people would go to Nepal and simply go on a mountain flight for the view (it was weird seeing MOUNTAIN as a destination on the flight boards in the airport).
We landed in Lukla, 2852 masl according to my Tissot T-Touch Expert and we quickly made our way to a lodge to have a quick cup of tea and sort our gear out. Here we met our porter Dill aka the Herbmeister and set off on our trek.
As we walked through Lukla, I could not believe we are actually walking the Everest Base Camp route which I have been dreaming of for quite a while. We saw the famous “Starbucks” cafe and passed through the archway signalling the beginning of the route at the edge of Lukla. All these I’ve only read about and seen in pictures, now I am actually seeing and having the experience personally. It was a great day to trek too as the sun was out and the weather clear. We passed our first set of mani stones and mani wheel (aka prayer wheel). Apparently when walking past stones with the Om mani padme hum markings, you walk around it on the left side and with the prayer wheel, spin it round 3 times. We even came across our first of the infamous steel bridges of the trek. This was quite an experience, not just because of the sheer height of it (our first one wasn’t too high though) but because these things oscillate with every step you take. We also had a first view of the Dudh Koshi or the Milk River which would be our companion for most of the trek.
After maybe 2 hours of walking, we had our first lunch on the trek. I believe we ordered fried rice and noodles, while our guide ate the local dhal bhat or lentils, curry and rice. It looked good so we made it a point to order that for dinner. I highly recommend ordering this, as like the Philippine adobo, each lodge has its own take of this meal so it doesn’t get boring. Plus you get free refills which is definitely a bonus. I tried out their green chili sauce which comes in a ketchup bottle and is can be looked at as green ketchup. It was actually pretty good but I was careful not to get carried away with it as I am not sure how my stomach would deal with too much spiciness. We also had the our customary cup of tea. At this point I started liking the Nepalese tea even though Socs and I are normally coffee people.
We arrived at 3:40pm in the outskirts of Phakding, 2655masl. We lost 200m of elevation but this was done for acclimatization purposes and reduce the impact of the sudden elevation gain the flight to Lukla took on our bodies. The area we stayed in was a bit cold as it was close to the river and beneath a valley. I had a bit of a headache at this point, but I believe this was more due to having cold like symptoms (I usually get this after a long flight) and was not too worried about AMS (acute mountain sickness). We slept early as there wasn’t much to do out there and it was just too cold to hang out other than inside our down sleeping bags plus thick blankets.