Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nepal Trek Day Three: Namche - Khumjung - Namche

Over the next three weeks, I'm taking a trip down memory lane with a look back at our trip to Nepal last December. For all of the entries about our trek, click here.

1. Mountains and prayer flags above Namche, 2. Me and D and the mountains, 3. Along the trail, 4. Along the trail, 5. Khumjung, 6. Closer view of Khumjung, 7. Carved stones, 8. Me and D in Khumjung, 9. Khumjung stupa, 10. Prayer wheels, 11. Khumjung Monastery, 12. Stone carvings, 13. D and stupa, 14. Heading back to Namche, 15. Airstrip above Namche, 16. D on the trail, 17. Namche from above, 18. Namche Bazaar, 19. Yak bells, 20. Apple strudel, 21. Espresso, 22. Cow-yak hybrid peeking out, 23. Mountains looking over Namche, 24. Namche lodge menu

Day Three was a fairly low-key one. We stayed in Namche two nights to acclimatize to the rising elevation. (Namche is at an elevation of 11,286 feet.) After a leisurely breakfast, we packed up our daypacks, and Bharat led us on a short journey to Khumjung, located just over the ridge from Namche. On the way there, we stopped off at the Everest View Hotel, "the highest-placed hotel in the world." There we enjoyed the views on the back terrace before heading down the hill into Khumjung. Once in Khumjung, we stopped at the home of one of Bharat's friends. Though Bharat's friend (who apparently has summited Everest four times as part of various climbing expeditions) was away guiding a trek, his friend's wife invited us into their home for a warm cup of tea.

After enjoying a small snack, we headed along through the town. We attempted to visit the village's monastery, but unfortunately no one was around as many of the monks (as well as many villagers) were in nearby Tengboche to honor a 93-year-old nun who had recently died.

After wandering through town, we made our way back up and down the ridge into Namche. Our entertainment on the way back was music played on Bharat's cell phone. (Everyone seems to carry a cell phone and cell coverage is surprisingly good throughout the region.) It was a bit surreal to listen to Akon and Justin Bieber along the trail! Lunch at our lodge was chosen by Bharat, and he ordered us both aloo roti - potato pancakes. During lunch we conversed with a couple from Seattle, who were headed back to Lukla after completing the route we planned to do ourselves. They had a lot of helpful advice and it was great hearing recent firsthand experience of the trails ahead.

Following lunch, I took advantage of the warm sunshine and paid the 300 rupees (about $4) for a hot shower. The shower facilities, which were divided into private stalls, were located outside of the first floor of lodge. Though the water was more "lukewarm" than hot, it was still quite nice to clean off the accumulated muck from the dusty trails and wash my hair. After my shower I headed back to our room for a little reading and relaxation.

Later in the afternoon, D and I ventured down into Namche to explore the shops. This is the place to pick up any forgotten gear. Plenty of fake stuff (North Face seems to be the most popular knock-off), but there are also actual dealers too, including shops for Mountain Hardwear and Sherpa Adventure Gear. I took a peek into several souvenir shops and made a note of things I might want to buy on our way back through Namche at the end of our trek.

Upon the recommendation of the Seattle couple, we stopped in the Namche Bakery for an afternoon snack of apple studel and espresso. (Oh, it was so good!) After cleaning our plates, we headed back up the many steps to our lodge for a little more relaxation before dinnertime. Following a filling dinner of cheese pizza (D opted for the more traditional dal baht), we headed to bed around 8p. One random note of the day was that we found out that the lodge owner had actually been to Casper, Wyoming before -- what a small world! 

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