Arrived home from the trip today. It was great fun down to the last minute. I was looking forward to coming home to Japan, but Nepal was not boring by any standards (okay, the food was a little monotonous). I wish I had had more time to trek around in the Himalayas.
But we only had fifteen days in Nepal, so we tried not to waste any time. It took us a few days to get everything arranged for our trek. I had to buy some new clothes to replace what was stolen. Luckily there are tons of cheap imitation North Face and Patagonia fleece jackets and shells. We rented a sleeping bag for ten days for only US$4. We had to get a trekking permit and make a reservation for our plane flight out of the mountains. After three days in Kathmandu, we were ready to go.
We didn't really have enough time to fully enjoy any of the trekking routes, but being typical tourists, we decided to go the Everest route. This involved taking a very slow bus about ten hours east to a village called Jiri (1800m). We spent the night there and started our hike in the morning.
We soon realized that this trekking stuff was harder than we thought. Considering the fact that Brica has run three or four marathons and I've made it through a couple half marathons, we thought we were pretty fit people. Plus, if you add in the fact that we were only carrying a bag and a half (Brica's bookbag in place of my stolen backpack) between us, we should have had an easy go at it. Not true. We found ourselves moving along at a crawling pace up some of the steepest trails I have ever seen. We walked an average of seven hours a day, plus lots of breaks here and there. Stayed in teahouses, which are small bed and breakfasts that line all of the well-traveled trails in Nepal. Beds were US$0.18 each and food was quite good. We met lots of Australians and learned a little Nepali as we went. It was a great time.
After a week we made it to Namche Bazaar (3450m). We spent two days there watching it snow and reading books. We listened to the stories of the yuppie expedition guys who were all headed to climb Everest. We met Guy Cotter, the new leader of Adventure Consultants, the group whose old leader, Rob Hall, died last season when he got stuck in a snow storm on Everest. When the clouds finally lifted, we got a chance to see Everest ourselves, even though we were still quite a ways from the famous mount. Honestly, in terms of beauty, Ama Dablam, which is a little shorter and further east, is a better mountain. Anyway, we took our share of pictures before heading back down to Lukla (2800m).
We took the craziest, scariest, funnest (okay, most fun) plane out of Lukla on April 6th. It took only thirty minutes to get back to Kathmandu after we had walked over a week to get up. We did a little more shopping and playing in the city until I had to say goodbye to Brica on the 7th. I flew to Bangkok for an evening of sipping banana shakes and dreaming about my next adventure. On the 8th, I finally made it back to Tokyo after nearly six weeks away. Whether or not I can still speak Japanese remains to be seen. I am sure that I will have some problems, but the trip was definitely worth it.