donata: (Intrepid)
[personal profile] donata
Nepal travel report, part I

On the way to Kathmandu, at Heathrow Airport, trainer-wearing, mobile-phoning Buddhist monks stole our seats. This goes against everything that I or anybody else ever thought they knew about Buddhism, and only goes to show that that path to Enlightenment is longer and stonier than you'd think.

From Kathmandu, we had planned to fly in to Lukla: the starting point for everyone and their mother who sets off for the mountains (if everyone and their mother want to ramble about the Everest region, which most of them do). And so we spent five happy hours (and I'm using the word "happy" very loosely here) at the domestic airport in Kathmandu, in the company of other dismayed hopefuls and hoards of natives who, doubtlessly, were not gloating at all about the fact that they could fly to their respective destinations, whilst the tourists, with all their Western equipment and functional wear, could not.

My favourite bit about this whole experience (and I'm using the word "favourite" very loosely) was, how you stop caring after a while: There was a huge black box sitting right in front of the check-in counter, and at first, we were wary of it like you are wary of any item of luggage that doesn't seem to belong to anyone. But after a while, wariness made way to weariness, and I ended up sleeping on said box, seeing as it was the perfect height for my head to rest on, whilst the rest of my body rested on my backpack. That's how you can wage the war on terror in people's heads: make them sit around in airports till they're bored out of their skulls and willing to fraternise with potential enemy luggage, just because any possible alternatives seem even more horrid.

Seeing as we couldn't fly (the flights for that day and the following three were cancelled), we decided to walk rather than spend even more endless hours waiting at the airport. And so we hired a taxi, and it took us only nine and a half hours to drive out to Jiri - the town from which it would take us only six more days to walk to Lukla: the starting point of the actual Everest trek.

But it was totally worth it. In fact, the route Jiri-Lukla turned out to be my favourite part of the trek, what with not being bloody freezing.

Taxi

This is the taxi that took us into the mountains. We had to stop every few hours to let the car breathe (see open bonnet).

And then we walked. There were landscapes.

Landscapes like this one:

Solu03



Solu03

Solu01

Solu02

Bhandar01

Landscape with rock

Forest

Gurkha bridge

Rain forest
The grey stuff? Are clouds. It was like walking through a rain forest. I loved it.

Quoth the Raven
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore".

Touristes eunt domus
"Touristes eunt domus"

Steps & Trees
Picture shot lopsidedly from the hip, because any effort involving raising the arm seemed too much. That was one steep climb, that was.

Trees on hill
See the abyss behind the trees? That's where we climbed up from.

Ram Bahder
This lovely young man has become one of my favourite people on earth. He carried my backpack all the way up into the mountains (for hard cash, not out of the goodness of his heart).

Landscape with porter
Here's him, roaming the lands (uphill).

The guides
Our porters/guides, jogging up steep stone steps and mocking gravity.

Lamjura pass flags

Lamjura La: This pass was the highest point on our walk on the Jiri-Lukla route (3530m). Hence, everyone leaves prayer flags here, which are supposed to convey prayers to whomever it may concern by fluttering in the wind. (Pictured underneath the prayer flag tree: a huge heap of dirty old rags that litter the ground. I suppose their feeble rustling no longer counts as valid prayer, but I haven't delved sufficiently into the underlying theological concept to form a definitive opinion.)

Holy stone
A rock with (presumably) holy inscriptions. Or possibly just rude graffiti.

Bhandar monastery
The first Buddhist monastery on our route.

Stupa
Random stupa. Note the symbolism: The prayer flags (top) and rubbish bags (bottom) illustrate the close union of the spiritual and the transient matters of human existence.

Clearly, my philosophy studies have not been in vain.

That's all for now, but fear not: There are more pictures and anecdotes to come, and most of them are more interesting that the ones featured here. This is just the warm-up.

Date: 2010-10-30 08:24 pm (UTC)
midnitemarauder: (Dr Who - Eleven - bowties are cool)
From: [personal profile] midnitemarauder
Wow, D! Fantastic pics! And look at you with your own personal Sherpa! Hee! That's more like it! See? Sometimes money can buy happiness. Or at the very least, the happiness that comes with not having a sore back! :-P

I'm also appreciating your deep philosophical thoughts. And the raven pic looks very Poe/Hitchcock-esque. Also, I vote for graffiti!

Date: 2010-10-30 08:49 pm (UTC)
midnitemarauder: (KKM - Conrad-Yozak Trust)
From: [personal profile] midnitemarauder
Hmmm, well you do share a slight resemblance with young Tippi Hedren...

As for the Sherpa, I'm guessing it was your legs. Too bad you didn't pack your skirt!

(Grr... I let my paid account lapse and now I only have random inappropriate icons to choose from. Oh well!)

Date: 2010-11-01 11:10 pm (UTC)
trobadora: (Default)
From: [personal profile] trobadora
Wow, those are fantastic pics!

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