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Shangrila in Laddakh
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Did I go to Morocco with Karl Pilkington
1. Trek in Nepal To Lukla
2. Trek in Nepal Lukla to Phadking
3. Trek in Nepal Phadking to Monjo
4. Trek in Nepal Monjo to Namche
5. Trek in Nepal Namche Bazaar
6. Trek in Nepal Namche to Mahang
7. Trek in Nepal - Mahang to Dole
8. Trek in Nepal - Dole to Macchermo
9. Trek in Nepal - Machhermo to Gokyo
10. Trek in Nepal - Up Gokyo Peak
Stay at Home Children
Stay At Home Children
Nanna's Love
Extended Family
Grandmothers
Volunteering Children
Gift of Life
Seniors Club

            
            

Nepal Chapter 1

Chapter 1  

To Lukla 

 

Here I am whirring with euphoria, jubilation, rapture, and ecstasy. 

 

I am standing on top of Gokyo Peak at 5,320 metres, with a 360 degree view of the tallest mountains in the world with Mt Everest so close I feel I could reach out and touch it.

 

 

 

Gigi and Mr G with Everest behind us
We have made it......


Even though I am totally exhausted and frozen to death, I am shrouded in bliss.  Not only am I seeing perfection but I have discovered something about myself.
 

 

 

This proves I can do anything.

 

So while I stand here, looking out across these pure snowed capped peaks, I know all the preparation, perseverance and belief in myself has paid off. 

 

I have succeeded doing something beyond my wildest dreams.

 

But how did I get here?  What did I have to do to make it to the top? 

Oh, so much, let me tell you! 

 

 

This trek is one taken by those intent on adventure, with the huge reward of viewing Mt Everest, Ngozumpa the longest glacier in Nepal, and a series of brilliant blue lakes. 

When you read or hear stories about people ‘taking a trek in Nepal’, it all sounds so romantic, exciting and like a walk in the park that almost ‘anybody’ could do!!!!
 

 

 

But could you!!!!!  Is it that easy? 

 

Well, firstly, let me say, it is no way romantic.!  Mr G was given strict instructions that all romance was out of the question until after the trek!!!  And a ‘walk in the park’ it was not, except when you walk through the gates of Sagarmatha National Park.

 

But exciting, oh yes, it is one of the most exciting adventures you could ever do.

 

And yes, almost anyone can do it.  But know that you need to be fit to enjoy the experience fully and you will need to pull on bucket loads of grit and determination. 

Firstly you have to select the group you wish to travel with, or you can organise a solo trip if you prefer.  We have often selected Peregrine.  They are always mindful of having a local guide and their number one priority is hygiene.  And I appreciate having a small group of like minded people spurring me on.  There is nothing quite like a bit of friendly competition that you get within a small group!!!!   

We leave Australia on Christmas Eve 1999.   I am 46 years old, not quite 50 at this point but a woman named Noela who is sharing this trek is definitely a wise woman.  There were also three men well in their 50's. 

Could I do it now at age 54?  Absolutely, but I would need to ramp up my fitness level quite a bit just because I know it matters.

 

 

 

So for our preparation before the trek, we trained hard.  I mean, we really trained hard.  We walked and scaled every mountain in the Blue Mountains.  For months and months on end, we were walking up hill and down dale with loaded back packs on board.  We attended gym at least three times a week. 

 

I was in no doubt about my fitness.  I am telling you this because I believe fitness is the answer to comfortably reaching your destination.  It may not be entirely necessary 'to make it' but trust me, you want to be in the best position to enjoy it!

 

But be warned, even though being in prime condition will help your endurance, you will still feel exhausted at times because altitude will take its toll.

 

We meet our group at the Hotel Shanker.  They seem a great crowd but it always takes a little while to feel great buddies with everyone.  The camaraderie grows as the trek goes along.  You may never see them after the trek, but for now they will definitely become your best friends and allies.

 

We arrive at Kathmandu airport.  The usual heavy morning mist guarantees our flight leaves late. 

The plane has me slightly on edge.
  It is small, perhaps 15 people crammed in, and it doesn’t look beautifully maintained visually.   This, I must say, is an understatement. I can only hope their mechanical engineers are meticulous!!!  

 

 

Two very young pilots board the plane.  They are dressed in what seems like figure hugging black leather suits with hair slicked back and sporting black sunglasses.  I remark that they look like a couple of racing car drivers and I know it is this image that has me worried! 

They look sure and cocky and they rev up the rattly old plane before they speed it down the runway.  I am nervous. 

 

 

After a while I notice I can lean into the aisle and look through the pilot’s window to see what is coming up in front.  Unfortunately I notice we are heading straight for a mountain.   I scan anxiously around to see if anyone else is showing signs of fear.  Frozen expressions are exchanged. Before we know it, mountain peaks whip by both sides of the plane as we squeeze through a narrow pass.  The pilots are grinning and chatting.   I am sure they are trying to petrify us to death.

 

Before long, there in front of us looms another huge mountain and we are aimed right at the middle of it.  Lukla airport is unique and as I feel the plane screaming through the air directly towards a tiny white patch about a third of the way down the moutain side, my stomach lurches. 

 

 

Usually, when the plane lands you are not hurtling towards the centre of a mountain and I think that this is the bother.  Edmund Hillary is responsible for this perilous but important airport that has a mountain wall at one end and a long drop to the valley below at the other.  The runway is so short that it is angled upwards to slow the plane.

 

 

 

The most fascinating airport in the world - facing towards the drop!

With  eyes like saucers, we fly closer and closer toward the patch until we can see the buildings that surround it. 

 

 

 

The pilots turn and give us the thumbs up.  They have done this before and we should relax!  It is not possible.  I grip onto Mr G and the seat in front of me ready for impact. 

The plane is almost at the airport now  and I pray that the standard of the Nepalese pilot’s qualifications is world class.
  One slight error here and it will be all over.  

 

 

Bang!  We touchdown safely at the edge of the slope on the rocky scree tarmac.  So far so good! Thankfully the plane slows down considerably before we arrive at the top of the runway where the pilot expertly slews it to the right to stop. 

Palpitating hearts turn calm.  We clap.


Safe and sound and on the ground

We climb out of the plane door into the rarefied air.  We are not too high at this point but it still feels hard to breathe for some reason. This may well have something to do with the extraordinary landing we have just endured, but now we are also gasping at the scenery.  It is spectacular.  Towering snow capped mountains fill in the gaps between closer mountain slopes and sky. 

 

 

I notice the little village of Lukla lies to the left of the airport and I can just make the bustling activity happening on the fringes.  We will all walk through the township later in the day.

 

Trekkers who have already completed their walk are waiting for their return flight back to Kathmandu.  They look weary and dirty, but they are wearing smiles too big to bottle. 

Eventually our bags are removed from the cylinder of terror and we walk up the righthand side of the runway and around to the teahouse Peregrine has secured for our arrival. 


Sandwiches and tea are provided.  Because it is winter we will be staying in teahouses along the way. We are keen to take a look around this one. 

It looks very basic and we worryingly observe the toilet upstairs is clogged and the one downstairs has no light.  Toilets and toilet habits will become the topic of conversation on the trek. 

 

 

 

 


Neema rallies together the porters - Wisewoman Noela in mauve jacket

We meet our porters and our guide Neema distributes walking shoes and other weather support clothing to them.  Many put these items straight in their bags never to be seen again.  Maybe they prefer to sell their new goods afterwards which might be more important than having warm feet or hands!!!

 

 

 
Our porters - Mr G and I score the guy on the right

Mr G and I score the oldest porter.  My pack looks huge, puffed up like a monster, but it is surprisingly light.  This is because my sleeping bag cover has broken and so I stuffed it willy nilly into my duffle bag.  I know he is getting off lightly but his load looks impressive.  Mind you, there would be no way in the world could I carry that and Mr G’s, strapped to my back ever, let alone in altitude!!!! These porters are beyond amazing.

 

It is late, maybe about 3.30 pm in the afternoon.  The sun is just starting to drop down behind the mountains and we have to make a start. 

 

I drag on my daypack and throw an awkward look at my porter.  My bag by comparison to his load is tiny, but I can hardly lift if off the ground!!!  We are ready and set to go. 

 

At this point I am feeling excited and nervous as this is the start of a unknown adventure.   Will I successfully complete the trek? 

Mr G and I have discussed the options if one of us gets sick and needs to return to lower altitude.  We have decided the other one will continue on come what may. 

 

 

We begin the trek now because we need to make it to Phadking tonight.  We walk out of the teahouse and across the back of the airport towards the little township of Lukla. 

What will the little village on a mountain side in the middle of this incredible mountain range be like? 

 

 

You’ll have to wait and see.  Next time, we will walk through Lukla and see how the trek begins to unfold as we make for Phadking and beyond.

 

Come with me and find out what it is really like to walk along the mountain tracks that are stretched out across the Himalayas.

 

Click here for Day 2