As insurance holy men bless the busses with colorful powder and drivers decorate every inch with depictions of their chosen gods. This is then taken as an excuse to drive as fast and recklessly as possible with out worry. “Shiva is watching nothing can happen” a depth of faith that alludes us secular westerners.
Started as any responsible trekkers would hope… We were supposed to wake up at 5 AM to meet our Sherpa Guide Phu Nuru at the front desk of our Hotel in Kathmandu. Well… 5AM passed and we snored away until there was a banging on our door. Off to a great start!
Barely making our bus (seen here with matresses on the roof), we set off on a nerve-racking drive to Jiri. None of us are likely to forget the ride. Our driver was no older than 16 chain-smoking and listening to blaring Indian pop, which sounds like wining cats to tiered western ears. The bus traveled at breakneck speeds around hairpin turns on the side of thousand foot cliffs. Two days before a bus had careened off one of these clifs killing 20 people, so needless to say our nerves were on edge.
An hour befor our destination, we hit a problem. A truck on the road ahead had gotten stuck in the mud. An ill planned attempt at towing it broke its axle creating a very effective road block. No cars could get through. We were left with the option of sleep on the side of the road or walk the 7 miles to our destination.
So our treck started early. We hiked through the firefly filled forest to our first village, Shivalaya.
We woke up in Shivalaya and started hiking. Once we were five minutes out of the village, we began our ascent…one of the most physically challenging things any of us had done. We were hot, the sweat steaming up our sunglasses, big black flies buzzing our heads. Eventually making it to the main trail, we made our way to a village perched atop the hill for lunch led by Kelsey who had found her stride.
A few cups of Veg Ra Ra (homemade Nepalese Top Ramen) and an hours rest, and we were summoned to descend into the next valley, losing pretty much all of the elevation we had just so painstakingly gained. This would become business as usual for the next six days.. Up a giant hill* (*hill is Nepalese for pile of land 5X the size of Mt. Tam).. and down into the next valley…. This first valley was the mystical Bhandar. We stayed at the Buddah Lodge, a pile of just-painted, sticky plywood set fifty yards behind a beautiful Monastery guarded by dueling giant Buddah-eyed stupas. That evening Alex’s Ra Ra was awesome and set the benchmark for Ramen. This is saying something as Ra Ra would make up one to two of our meals a day for the next month.(click below to enlarge)
All parts of Buddhist temple have significance and meaning. The black represents primordial darkness and white represents learning and knowledge shining through.
Stupas with watchful Buddha eyes.
Prayer flags carry the prayers to the gods.
In Shivalaya we met a group of 10 German woman (they were really Austrian but who can tell the difference) who we spent the next 5 nights with (more stories to come). We also met Laura, a great, spirited young Canadian whom we kept in contact with through to Kathmandu. ( Miss ya Laura hope your flight home was easy.) – AlexWhile we started off with ambitions of carrying our packs the whole way, after the first days vertical climb up for 4 hours, (imagine the Dipsea steps up Mount Tam X 5), we decided we would be much happier with a porter. Unfortunately, we seemed to have had bad porter karma, or our bags were too heavy, because 3 different porters quit on us!
Buddha eyes ring all four sides of the stupa representing the omniscience of a buddha.