Friday, May 13, 2005

One Last Journal

The "official" website of the team that Sean Egan and Harold were a part of. Harold semi-regularly subits diary updates to this website, and has a tribute to Sean Egan. There are also pictures, including pics of the "highest hockey game in the world"...that's right, they played hockey at base camp, only to be interrupted by a yak!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Evererst Trek - Day 5

Up at 6:15, breakfast at 6:30, and to teh airport at 7:00. I ran out of money, Lapka hit me up for more money for our stay in Namche, so I had to borrow money from Harold and Anna to pay for the rest of my meals and the departure tax at the airport. It wasn't much.

Our flight didn't leave until 9:15. It was a bouncy flight, in a Twin Otter DHC-6 propeller plane. As we were on the tarmack, waiting to board the plane, one of the locals waiting to get on the plane was laughing at my Maoist shoes, saying he would never wear shoes like that, he'd be too scared.

We got back to Kathmandu and taken back the Kathmandu Guest House. It was sunny and HOT in Kathmandu today, not a cloud in the sky.

I got an $8 room, and went for breakfast at New Orleans Cafe. They have great breakfasts. AFter brekky, I left and ran into Harold, Anna and Seamus and went for breakfast again. I was so craving bacon, so got an order of bacon with them...they had really good bacon at New Orleans's hard to get good bacon in Asian countries.

Then we headed to the tailor se Anna, Seamus and Harold could pick up the suits and clothes they got made there. They ordered them before we left on the trek, and most of their stuff wasn't ready yet. Anna's Chinese top and robe were very nice, though.

Back to the guest house and showerd, then hit the internet and and e-mail from the Times Herald. They wanted to interview me because I was trekking with Prof. Sean Egan's kids..."Moose Jaw Times Herald scoops the world...exclusive interview with Moose Javian trekking with summit hopeful's children!" Corey Atkinson had e-mailed me with a bunch of, watch for me soon in a Times Herald near you!

I called Sabine, and left a message for her to call me back at 6:00. She called at about 6:20, she just got in and called me back, I wasn't in my room, the hotel staff were running all over the hotel looking for me! It was kind of funny.

We made a date to go to an art gallery/cafe run by a British guy...he shows pirated movies on Thursday evening, so I cabbed it to her hotel, and we walked to the ARt Gallery, and he had some unique stuff on the menu, including an English-style pork sausage in a bun. Sounded good, so I got it. He told me that I'm the first customer to try one, he hadn't even tried one yet, so I was his guineau (sp?) pig. We watched "Meet The Fockers", then we went back to her hotel room, she showed me all the pictures she had taken on her laptop, then I walked home about 10:30.

Ran into Harold, Anna and Seamus...their flights are all screwed up, they had no idea when they could get home, but they want to get home right away (especially Anna and Seamus) to deal with their father and relatives and media and ceremonies and everything else. The guy from the trekking company was talking to them, and said there is a 90% chance they could leave tomorrow, but if not, they won't get out of here before the end of May. They are very hopeful they can leave tomorrow.

Anyway, that's it. I fly back tomorrow.

See you all soon!.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Everest Trek - Day 4

Up at 6:30, for 7:00 breakfast. Our Sherpa, Lapka, slept in, and we left about 9:00.

Lapka was still stick. He kept asking me for more drugs.

It was a short trek to Lukla, we got there about 10:30, and went to the Khumbu Resort for eats and found out there were no more flights to Kathmandu for today. So, we were stuck in Lukla for the day. We booked on the first Yeti Airlines flight for tomorrow morning.

We went shopping, and I got a pair of Sherpa shoes, aka Maoist shoes. Anna had bought a pair in Namche. They are simple cloth runners, in green camoflauge.

At 3:30, Anna, Harold and myself went to Porters Progress, a non-profit organization supporting porters. They were showing a BBC documentary, "Carrying the Load", I think it was called, about porters in Nepal, and their working conditions. It was filmed in 2000, and Harold remarked to the guys working there that it's not as bad now as it was in 2000. The guy agreed, and said it is much better now. I donated my New Balance running shoes (the ones I trekked in) to Porters Progress, hopefully some porter can make good use of them. Seamus didn't come because he was sulking because me, Harold and Anna used all the hot water in our showers...he had to go cold.

Back to lodge, we sat in the restaurant and played cards and listened to music. At 5:00, the army pulled barbed wire across the runway. None of the locals had seen that before, they had no idea what was going on. In the paper today, there was a story about a new European helicopter that was set to fly from Lukla today, it was going to attempt to fly between 9000 and 10000 metres, way higher than any other helicopter ever flew. The previous record for a helicopter was under 7000 metres. If it's successful, it could mean great things for getting injured climbers off of the mountains much quicker.

Anna and Seamsu kept buying fresh tomatoes on the street and eating them in the restaurant. Between the two of them, they ate two kilograms of tomatoes.

There's a curfew in Lukla, at 7:00, the army shuts it down. So, you have to stay in your lodge after 7:00.

For supper, I had yak steak. It was quite delicious, but mine was kind of fatty. I think I got a fatty piece, because Harolds was fine (he's had two yak steaks while here). Lakpa also brougt us some local smelled like rice whiskey, but he said it wasn't. I partook in a small glass, but the other three, couldn't finish theirs.

To bed about 9:00.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Everest Trek - Day 3

Up at 7:30. Partly cloudy, we could see some peaks. Harold was up at 5:30, looked outside and saw clouds, so he didn't wake us up to go to Everest View Resort.

I went for breakfast before everyone else (they're slow pokes), and a French couple sitting beside me told us we could see the mountains (including Everest) just a 15 or 20 minute walk past Namche Bazar. After the others showed up, we decided to go check it out after eating.

We hiked along the trail main trail and sure enough, off in the distance, Everest, among a bunch of other peaks. It was very windy on top of Everest, a huge plume of snow blowing off of it. Everest is high enough that it's peak is in the jetstream, hence the plume of snow often seen on it.

Seamus was feeling a little better, he came to the first viewpoint to see Everest, but then headed back to the lodge while he went to another view point.

It was a great treat to be able to see Mount Everest. I've now seen two of the most popular mountains on the planet, Fuji and Everest. Perhaps Kiliminjaro will be next.

Started trekking back down about 10:00 or 10:30, down, down, down from Namche. Seamus was running down, bounding and jumping off of rocks along the trail. He flew way ahead of everyone else. He must be getting better!

We stopped at Mount Kailash Lodge and Restaurant in Monzu for lunch. They had a poster there of a Sherpa who has summitted Everest 10 times. Everytime he summitted without oxygen. He doesn't Sherpa guide anymore (too old), but Lakba told us that he's famous, because he doesn't eat, he just drinks whisky all the way up to the top. He was drunk everytime he did it. Whisky was his food and oxygen.

While we waited for lunch, Lapka, Anna and Seamus fell asleep.

We continued on to Thado Kosh (?) for the night, we arrived there just as it started raining. Great timing. I think we got there about 4:30. Just after we walked inside, it started pouring, then hailing.

We sat around and played cards, and ate about 7:00. Anna and Seamus to bed before 9:00, Harold and I stayed up until 10:00 or so.

The toilet at this guest house is an outhouse about 30 metres away. A wooden building, with a wooden floor, and not one, but two holes in the floor, beside each other. You can poop with a friend!

There's lots of fir and pine trees on the Everest trek.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Everest Trek - Day 2

Up about 7:30. I didn't sleep that great, Harold snores and I could hear Seamus snoring through the paper thin walls. We packed and went downstairs for breakfast.

We started trekking about 9:00. More incredible trekking, great waaterfalls, but a very hard day today. It was mostly uphill, especially the last 2 hours to Namche Bazar. Namche Bazar is near the top of a mountain, so we had to climb out of the valley up to Namche Bazar. Harold says this section is the hardest section on the whole trail up to base camp. If you can do this, you can make it to base camp.

Seamus was really sick today. He was vomitting all over the trail, especially on the hard part up to Namche Bazar. It was hilarious, because he was sooo dramatic about it, we were all laughing, because we couldn't help it, just the way he sounded. And the two-handed poleing technique was hilarious. He was so out of it, so exhausted, so sick, all he kept saying was he couldn't do it, he couldn't go any further, but we made him, then he's start hurling all over again. I realize it seems cruel to be laughing, but if you were there, you would have been splitting your sides too.

Cloudy all day, we couldn't see any peaks at all. This trek is amazing, though, way better than the rafting trek. I must come back and do more. Who wants to do Everest Base Camp next year????

We got to Namche about 4:00. Very cool place. It's a U-shaped town, curving around the top of a valley, near the top of a mountain. The town is a major tourist destination. Lots and lots of shopping, fake-branded trekking clothing and equipment, trinkets and souvenirs, German bakeries, pizza houses, lots and lots of tea houses (lodging), expensive internet (900 rupees/hour - about $20CDN/hour). Anna was loving it.

We stayed at Camp de Base, $20/night, expensive by my standards, but I'm only paying half, as Harold and I were sharing a room. Very nice rooms. The rooms are much like a motel room (minus the TV and phone), with ensuite bath, hot water shower, etc.) Anna dropped her stuff in the room, and said, "I'm shopping!" and off she went. Seamus said "I'm sleeping" and crashed in bed, anxious to start feeling better. Harold and I dropped our stuff off, we each had a nice, hot shower, then we went about town as well. I bought a pair of fake North Face, down-filled mitts. (Did I spell down right? It looks wrong.) We ran into Anna, and the three of us went to a bar and had a beer, and chatted with the guy who ran an internet shop in the same building. He sold Harold a copy of Microsoft Office 2000 for 200 rupees ($4 CDN). He told us about some of the things we could buy here in Namche, and the one thing that's unique to Nanche, that you can't buy anywhere else are yak bells. So, we decided that we would all buy yak bells. After beers, Harold used internet, and Anna and I bought three yak bells, one for me, one for her and one for Harold, for 900 rupees for the three of them.

Santos, the guy who runs the internet says there are three things you can't trust in life: women, work and weather.

Harold heard a rumor today: All climbers off of Everest - i.e. back to base camp. (Base camp is not on can't even see Everest from base camp). Apparently it's too dangerous on the mountain.

We had supper back at the lodge.

We found out there's a bug going around. There were lots of trekkers and sherpa's and porters getting sick, Seamus happen to get it too.

I should define something here. We have a guide. A Sherpa guide, his name is Lakba (or Lakpa, not sure). Sherpa's are the original natives of the area, and are pretty much tour guides for trekkers and climbers. Lakba was the Sherpa guide for Harold and Sean Egan. Lakba, who has already summitted Everest once, was to accompany Sean Egan to the summit of Everest this year. You don't need a Sherpa guide when you trek, but one can be useful, depending on your group and experience. Tenzing Norgay was the Sherpa guide for Sir Edmund Hillary when he first summitted Everest on May 29, 1953. Being the natives of the area, they are very acclimatized to the region, and are the best climbers on the planet. Sherpa's typically deal with all the things a normal tour guide would do...getting transportation (i.e. plane tickets), taking you to the best (in your price range) accomodations, and generally dealing with the politics of the area for you.

The Discovery Channel did a special on Everest a while back (not sure when), and Lakpa was one of the Sherpa guides for them, and carried one of their camera's up the mountain.

We were told before we left on the trek that there is a tea house near Namche Bazar, called the Everest View Lodge, where you can see Everest. We thought it was a short walk to the tea house from Namche, but found out once we got there that the tea house is actually a 1-2 hour trek away. We decided that we would get up 5:30 tomorrow morning, and if the weather was nice (no clouds), we would trek to the tea house to see Everest.

After supper, Anna and Seamus to bed (Seamus had no appetite, he hasn't been eating hardly anything), Harold and I stayed up a bit longer, then to bed.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Everest Trek - Day 1

Up at 6:30, showered and met the others downstairs at 7:00 and we drove to the airport. The first flight to Lukla went out this morning, the skies are clear over Lukla. We got on a flight shortly after 8:00, except Harold, who got put on a different flight, because ours was full. We took off about 9:00. Plane was a Dornier 228, a 19 seat prop. plane. It's the same plane we sat on yesterday.

The flight was amazing! Lots of puffy clouds, and the plane jerked around a lot during the flight. Then we broke through the clouds, and WOW! Clear blue skies, and incredible mountain vista's, including Everest and other 8000+ metre peaks. The clouds looked like huge cotton balls in the sky. You'd think you could just jump out and bounce around on them. Unfortunately, I was sitting on the wrong side of the plane to really see the good views. Of course, everybody was snapping pictures through the windows.

After about 30 minutes, we started descending through the scattered, puffy clouds, and I looked out my window, and gasped. Far below, I saw a teeny, tiny airstrip on the side of a mountain, with a small town surrounding it. I remember thinking, "We're going to land THERE???" It's apparently one of the highest airstrips in the world. One end of the runway points into the valley, the other end abutts into the side of the mountain. The pilot made a huge circle in the valley, losing altitude, then lined up with the runway. I watched through the cockpit window, as best as I could from my position. The runway was SHORT! I thought there was no way in hell this huge piece of metal would every stop before the runway ended. The plane landed hard, and the plane bounced, as the end of the runway (and the mountain!) raced towards us. I honestly thought we were going to run into the rock face at the end of the runway, then just as we were about to hit it, the plane lurched and turned into the "parking lot", a small tarmack for the planes to load and unload. The tarmack is small, only able to handle four small planes at a time. There was already one plane there. As the pilot found a parking spot for his plane, everyone on the plane clapped and cheered for the pilots, at the excellent job they did. I must say, that was one of the most spectacular plane rides I've ever experienced. Words can't really describe it, it's quite an experience to land at Lukla airstrip.

Within 20 minutes of our landing, the one plane that was there took off, and three more planes and two helicopters landed. This was the first day in three days that any flights were able to get to Lukla.

We stopped at the Khumbu Resort for lunch and waited for Harold. The lodge is very nice, newly renovated, and the restaurant area anyway, looks like a lodge you'd find in He arrived about 20 minutes later, and after eating, we walked through Lukla and started up the trail. Lukla was a total tourist trekking town, tons of nice lodges (tea houses), billiard halls, shops, etc. Very interesting and nice.

The trek was amazing, but mostly cloudy, but the mountain valleys were spectacular. This was way better than the rafting trek. We stopped a lot for pictures and for milk tea at one restaurant.

There's no shortages of tea houses, you can't walk more than 20 minutes without finding lodging and food. Lots of new lodges being built all over.

We got to Phakding (town) about 4:00 and stayed at the Phakding Star Lodge. Howard and I in one room, Anna and Seamus in another. The lodge is very nice.

Seamus wasn't feeling well. He has "tap ass"...diahhrea, so I gave himm one of my Immodium knockoffs.

We sat around the restaurant of the lodge, ordered supper and played cards for a bit. Then Anna and Seamus went to bed about 7:30 or 8:00, they were totally wiped. Harold and I stayed up until after 10:30, staying warm by the wood burning stove.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Off to Lukla!!!

Up at 5:45, showered and was downstairs about 6:15. Lamka, our Sherpa guide, was already waiting for us.

We headed to the airport, got there about 7:00, and found out all flights to Lukla were delayed because of bad weather in Lukla. So we waited. And we waited. Our guide came and told us that he was connections, he was trying to arrange for alternate transportation to Lukla, by helicopter, as well. Helicopters can sometimes get to Lukla when planes are unable to. About 9:30, we headed to the airport restaurant for some breakfast.

About 11:00, we were informed that all flights (by plane) to Lukla were cancelled for the day. There were lots of trekkers waiting to get on those planes, so the airport cleared out pretty quick.

About noon, had lunch at the restaurant, and as we were eating, they came up and told us that we were leaving by helicopter, right now, we had to go. I finished my sandwich, Harold still hadn't got his fried rice, so we paid, they put Harolds rice in a plastic bag for him, and we headed downstairs, and then had to wait 20 minutes to get our boarding passes. They didn't have any plastic cutlery, so Harold had to eat his rice like a dog, sticking his face into the bag. I dunno why he didn't eat with his hands, like the Nepali do.

We finally got our boarding passes, and were rushed through security and we all hopped into the back of a pickup truck and taken to the chopper. The chopper sat 9 people, plus the pilot. Me, Harold, Seamus and Anna, plus four other trekkers and their Sherpa guide. The other four trekkers, this was their 2nd day trying to get to Lukla. They couldn't get up there yesterday either. Our Sherpa guide (Lamka) wasn't able to come, because there wasn't enough room in the helicopter. He said he would catch the first flight up tomorrow morning and meet us there. Harold had already been up the trail, so knew the path anyway, so if perchance Lamka didn't get up there early, Harold could take us.

We all piled in to the back of the helicopter, like sardines, Anna, being the only one with breasts, got to sit up front with the pilot. We appeared all ready to go, the pilot was on the verge of starting the motors, then he took off his headset and got out of the helicopter. We were all wondering what was happening. AFter a few minutes, he was still standing outside with some other people, so everyone else piled out of the helicopter. We found out that there was fog on the runway in Lukla...we couldn't go. By the way, a plane to Lukla is only about 35 would be slightly longer by helicopter.

So, we sat on the tarmack, watching army personnel roam around, watching other helicopters take off and land and watching other planes take off and land. Not much security here. We could have wondered off somewhere, and no one would have blinked an eye. They finally called the chopper off at 3:00pm.

We all thought that was it, we were heading back to the guest house to try again tomorrow, but the Sherpa guide for the other group said no, we are going by plane now, the runway in Lukla was clearing. All the baggage was taken out of the helicopter and put in a pickup, and taken to a nearby propeller plane. And there it waited. We watched, and a bus pulled up with other locals, including our Sherpa guide. He waited at the airport all day, and now that we were going by plane, there was room enough for him. We all wandered over to the plane, and everyone was standing around, talking. None of the baggage was being loaded up. Jeeze, people sure like to take their time in Nepal.

AFter a while, one of the guys in a tie started telling everyone to get on the plane, get the baggage loaded, we were going. We loaded on the plane (19 seater), the flight attendant greeted us, and everyone sat down and the baggage was loaded up. It started to rain a bit, and everyone else (other pilots and airport people) were standing under the wing of our plane, out of the rain. It passed in a few minutes, and still everyone was just standing around the plane, not much happening. Then the pilot took off his headset, undid his seatbelt and opened his door. He started talking Nepali to one of the guys in a tie. The flight attendant, sitting near the back of the small plane, started laughing to herself, over the conversation between the pilot and the tie guy. We asked our Sherpa guide what they were talking about. He said the pilot told the tie guy that he wanted to go home, but the tie guy told him he couldn't. Everyone got a chuckle. So, we waited some more. The co-pilot was still all suited up, he was sitting up there, playing with the flaps on the plane. Sometime after 4:00, the co-pilot announced that there was bad weather in Lukla, the flight was cancelled.

We were loaded up into a bus, taken back to the terminal, and got back to the Kathmandu Guest House about 5:00. They had an $8 room for me.

Anyway, that's were we stand. We're going to try again tomorrow. If we get up, there probably won't be any updates for a number of days. I'm meeting Harold and Seamus and Anna and Lamka at the Rum Doodle at 8:00 for supper. If perchance, we can't fly tomorrow either, I'm going to have to cancel this little trek trip. I'll then probably head up to The Last Resort for a few days intead, but who knows what'll happen. Today was an interesting experience at the Kathmandu airport. They sure tried to get a plane up to Lukla. It's been at least two days now that no flights (plane or helicopter) has been able to get to Lukla. And there are injured climbers up at base camp, but they can't get anything up there to get them out.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Towards Everest!

Up about 8:00, shwoered, headed over to The Last Resort to see about cancelling and getting a refund. The manager, and guy who booked my trip, wasn't in yet, he works at 11:00 today, he told me to come back then. Went back to the hotel, headed to the internet, Seamus and Anna were there, and then Harold showed up. I told Harold I had to go back at 11:00 to see about cancelling my other trip.

About 10:50, headed back to The Last Resort office, the guy wasn't in yet, and the girl working couldn't do it for me, but she told me that she didn't think it would be a problem, that I'd get refunded everything. So I just waited. She offered me a cup of tea while I waited. About 11:05, he stil wasn't there, so popped back to the hotel to see if Harold was there, he was, I told him I would like to go with them. He was meeting the people in a little bit, so he would get them to setup another plane ticket for me. Harold is a talker, and he started telling me more about Sean and the kids. Sean was to be cremated here in Kathmandu later today, and they were all going. He told me more about Everest this year, it's really bad, there have been no summits so far, and the weather is crazy, snowing lots (when it usually doesn't), and he thinks this will be a no-summit year (the last no-summit year was 1996). They have until the end of May to summit, then it's cutoff, because it's too dangerous to try after the end of May. Another man has died on Everest this year too (an American, if I recall), and an avalanche covered one of the upper camps today or yesterday. While no one was killed, there are injured, and as I write this (Saturday evening), they have not been able to get any choppers up to get the injured off the mountain. This is a bad year. For those worrying about me, fear not, we're not going anywhere near the base camps, we'll be well below any avalanche risks and the like.

I headed back to The Last Resort office, the guy was there, he dug up my trip application and credit card slip. He cancelled my trip, then got on the phone to, presumably a bank or the credit card company, and when he was done, he told me that he would rip up the credit card slip, and told me in one month, my credit card would be creditted the amount that was charged. They hadn't sent in their copy of the credit card slip (it was old-style, carbon copy, machine they used), so, presumably after 30 days, if the credit card company has not received the credit card slip, the purchase will be voided.

Went to a bakery across the street and had the best apple streudal ever, packed full of apples, 1.5" thick!

Then went to the travel desk at the guest house and booked my return flight from Kathmandu to Delhi for 4:00pm, May 13. My flight back to Canada is at 11:30pm on May 13, so I can hang at the Delhi airport for the time. There are two catches. That I can get back from Lukla (after the trek) without problems (I have three days to play with), and that the Kathmandu to Delhi flight is not delayed a significantly long time.

Went out and bought a rain poncho for the trek (it'll probably rain!) and a good, aluminum water bottle and then hit the internet again, got an e-mail from Sabine to call her, she wants to meet up tonight.

Back to the hotel and called Sabine and left a message at her hotel to call me at 6:00 this evening.

Went out to the courtyard, met Harold, Seamus and Anna in the hallway, just getting back from their father's cremation ceremony. Harold said the flight shouldn't be a problem. Went to the courtyard and wrote in journal and read.

Sabine called at 6:00 and we made arrangements to meet up at 8:00 at my guest house.

I'd had a bit of travellers diahrea the last couple of days (urgency, bloated feeling, runny poops), so went to the chemist (pharmacy for Canadians) and I told them what was wrong with me, and they gave me some Immodium (well, an Immodium knockoff) to help make things "gel" inside of me better (so I don't have to go as often), an anti-bacterial to kill the baddies in me, and some rehydration salts (mix with water). Drugs are so freakin cheap here (and Asia in general). 5 days of each drug (take two of each a day) and 8 packets of rehydration salts cost me less than $7CDN.

As I was waiting for Sabine and Mike at 8:00, Harold and the "kids" (not kids, 19 and 20 years old) showed up, and I was told we were to meet downstairs at 6:20 tomorrow morning, and that I needed a sleeping bag. At the same time, Sabine and Mike showed up, so when I was done with Harold, me, Sabine and Mike headed to a trekking store and I rented a sleeping bag, then we went to the Roadhouse Cafe for supper (Mike wanted pizza), then we went to the Buddha Bar. It's a comfy bar, they had a live band, you sit on the floor with cushions, and there's marijuana being smoked, people are high, it was quite funny. There was an old lady there (perhaps 50-60), she was all hammered up (or stoned up pretty good), and when the band was on their break, a young local (20-30) started hitting on her hard, and she was getting all into was hilarious to watch.

Got to bed about 10:45.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

It's Such a Small, Small World

For the last few days here at the Kathmandu Guest House, there's been this guy around. He looked so familiar to me, and his voice resonated familiarity. I couldn't place him, though, and I just kept coming back to the conclusion that he seemed familiar because I'd seen him around the guest house in previous visits here. I saw him again in the courtyard today, he was out there drying tents or something, talking to another guy, and he was sooooo familiar to me...but who was he? I had supper at the guest house, and he was sitting at the other end of the restaurant with a few other people, I kept glancing at him, and every once in a while, his voice carried over (he has that type of voice), and was wretching my head, trying to figure out who he was...I knew it was more than someone who I'd seen around the guest house in previous visits, he was too familiar, then it hit me...I figured why I knew him....

Woke up about 9:00, showered, and went for breakfast. The longer I'm here, the less I feel like eating, my stomach often turns at the thought of eating again, even though there's lots of western food available, it's not the same. But I eat anyway.

Then I headed to The Last Resort office in Kathmandu to inquire about going up to the Last Resort for a few days, for bungy jumping and whatever else (canyoning, kayaking, trekking, etc.) I booked for two nights at the Last Resort, I leave on Saturday. The Last Resort is only 13km from the Tibet border. They are giving me a Deluxe tent for $25/night (it's regular $40/night), inclusive of all meals. If I stay longer than two nights, I get can get extra nights at $20/night. I didn't book any activities yet, as I can do that when I get up there.

I didn't do too much for the rest of day. I sat in the courtyard for quite a while and read. This guy, who seemed to familiar to me, was out there appearing to dry out tents and tarps, talking to another guy.

I headed to the internet for a while in the afternoon.

I finished the book I was reading, so went to the book store and bought the second book in that series.

About 6:30, I went for supper at the restaurant at the guest house...once again, my stomach not feeling like I really want to eat, but I knew I had to. I ordered a chicken burger. As I was waiting for it, the guy who seemed so familiar to me walked in and sat down at a table with three other people on the other side of the restaurant. I kept glancing at him, and every once in a while his voice carried over...soooo familiar...who was he???!??!??!??!? I sat there, trying to figure it out, then it hit me.

I worked with him at the Eco-Challenge Canadian Championships in Golden, BC. a few years ago. He was my volunteer boss! After I finished eating, I went over and approached their table. I said excuse me to them, then his eyes lit up, and a big smile appeard on his face, and he said, "I know this guy!". He remembered my name, where I live, what I do, where we met. I couldn't remember his name, I asked him, it was Harold. Yes, Harold! He's from Toronto. What are the chances of meeting someone you know in Nepal like that. They must be astronomical, but the world is a very, very small world.

They invited me to sit with them, then they invited me join them for supper somewhere. We went to the Northfield Cafe, they had a live band, and the place was packed with foreigners.

Harold is here trekking Everest, part of a Canadian group trying to summit. One of the men he was trekking with, a Canadian man, died on the mountain recently. I hadn't heard anything about it, but apparently it was all the news in Canada recently. I'm just searching for this story as I type this....looks like the man's name is Sean Egan. His two children, Anna and Seamus, are here to do some trekking on part of the trail up to Everest Base Camp. To "walk in the footsteps" of their father, so to speak. Harold is taking them up. The fourth guy sitting with them at the restaurant was Lakma (sp?), a Sherpa guide, from Lukla. He'll be the guide for their trek. They are leaving on Saturday at 7:00am to fly to Lukla, then they will trek to Namche Bazaar, then back down to Lukla and fly back to Kathmandu. They'll be gone for four days, coming back on Wednesday. They invited me to join them. I'm seriously considering going with them, except I've already booked (and paid for) two nighs at the Last Resort. Tomorrow I'm going to go to the Last Resort office and see if I can cancel my trip there and get a refund.

Wow, what a strange turn of events, eh?

Anyway, we stayed at the Northfield Cafe until about 10:30, then headed back to the guest house and to bed.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Up about 9:00, showered, went out for breakfast, then read in the courtyard for a couple of hours.

About 1:00, headed out in search of a barber. Wayne had told me I had to get a shave in Nepal, it was quite an experience. For all the barber shops in Pokhara all trying to get you to come in for a shave and haircut, you'd think there would be hundreds in Thamel. There isn't. I expanded my search outside of Thamel, and finally found a spot. I asked for the price of a shave and a haircut, he said 150 rupees (less than $3 CDN). So off he started with the haircut first, which was pretty normal, except they use a razor to trim the hair on the electric shavers here for trimming.

The shave was an experience. He sprayed water all over my face, then a moisturizing cream, then he rubbed it in to face (quite hard), then a powder (talcum or baby or something), then rubbed that it in. Then he put a dab of shaving cream on my face and grabbed a brush and lathered the cream all over my face, just like in those Western cowboy movies. He would stop every once in a while and wipe away the lather on my lips. After I was all lathered up, he gave me the closest shave I'd ever had. Once he was finished, he grabbed the brush again, lathered me up all over again and shaved me again. Once that was done, he sprayed more water on my face, then rubbed some sort of stone all over my face, which caused it to burn and sting. Then more water, then he rubbed an aftershave all over, causing it to burn and sting even more.

But wait, there's more!

Then he trimmed my nose hairs with his scissors, then he gave me a full head and upper body massage. It wasn't very pleasant, lots of pinching, punching, slapping and cracking of joints. The massage took quite a while. Still not done, he trimmed the rest of my face (eyebrows, forehead and under the eyes) using a piece of thread, the same way those ladies on the beach in Vietnam did. I don't know how, but it grabs and pulls even the tiniest of hairs out.

The whole charade lasted an hour or more.

When he was finally done, I gave him 150 rupees, but he said 500 rupees (he eyed the 500 rupee bill that came out of my pocket with the smaller bills). I told him no. He pleaded, saying the massage and the eyebrows was extra, and I told him I would give him 200 rupees, because I didn't ask for all the extra stuff, he just did it. He went down to 300 rupees, begging, I said no, and chided him for taking advantage of me, he kept at 300. I put 250 rupees in his hand, thanked him and left. The massage is supposed to be part of the shaving package (it was for Wayne). Even then, it was quite an experience. The kicker was, the guy who did my shave and haircut, he wasn't even old enough to shave himself! Just a kid. He did a good job, though.

After that, went to the internet, while I was using it, it started raining. At a slight break in the rain, headed back to my room and wrote in journal.

It continued to rain most of the afternoon and into the evening, a light rain.

Just as I wsa getting ready to go out and find some grub, my phone rang. It was Sabine. Her and Mike were going to the casino at the Hyatt Regency ( meeting up with a couple of Indian friends of hers (that she works with). She told me we get free drinks and food there, so I joined them. They picked me up in a taxi about 8:30, and it was a 30 minute ride to the casino/hotel. The hotel entrance had a security checkpost, where guards will check the vehicles, shining flashlights inside. Then it was perhaps another half a kilometre along a tree-lined driveway to the hotel lobby and casino (Casino Tara).

Very cool casino, not that big, but nice. The gaming hall was perhaps a little smaller than Casino Moose Jaw's gaming hall, in the middle were all the regular casino tables (Blackjack, Roulette, etc.), and along one wall were 20 or 30 slots.

There was a bar on the other side of the room, and a bunch of tables and chairs, like a cafeteria, beside and behind the bar. At the far end of the gaming hall, a small set of stairs led down to the buffet, dining room and entertainment stage.

There are a handful of casino's in Kathmandu, at least five, but it is illegal for Nepalese to gamble, so I'm told. The casino's are aimed at Indian tourists, as there are no casino's in India at all. You play with Indian rupees (or American dollars), so when you cash in Nepalese rupees, you get Indian rupee chips to play with.

I traded in 1000 Nepalese rupees (abot $20 CDN) and got 600 Indian rupees in chips. Mike did 2000.

We headed to a blackjack table, and Mike and I started playing.

While gambling, everything is free. Free alcohol (and other drinks), free snacks. At 9:15, the buffet opened up, all you can eat Indian food, free, and ta 9:30, the entertainment started. And, you get a free ride back your hotel after you're done losing all your money. :-)

Only women work the tables here, no men. And there's no shortage of women pushing around alcohol carts and snack carts, offering drinks and snacks to the patrons. And children are allowed in the casino. A number of families were milling about.

I was doing well on blackjack, got up to 1000 or 1100 Indian rupees, then the deck was reshuffled and a new dealer came in, and things went downhill. I went back down to 600 rupees, and stopped. I headed to the slots and ended up losing 500 rupees to the darn things. One armed bandits.

Just as I finished losing my money, Sabine came along and we headed down to the dining hall and filled our faces with excellent (but spicy!) Indian food, then the entertainment started.

The first performance was traditional Nepalese dance, after that, the performance turned racy, by Nepalese/Indian standards anyway, I suppose. Women dancers, in very short skirts, and small, tight tops, showing plenty of skin, lip-synching and dancing to various Indian movie songs.

It was all very good, actually.

We left about 11:00, and got our free ride back to our hotels, courtesy of the casino.

Got to bed about 11:30.

BTW, I mentioned the State of Emergency being lifted. You can tell it's been lifted, as locals are crawling over the streets late at night now (mostly teenagers), and cell phone service has been restored. I had wondered why I never saw any cell phones in Nepal, but I'm seeing them now.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Security Tightens in Nepal

Up at 6:45, finished packing the rest of my stuff, then the hotel dude fetched me a taxi to take me to the bus parking lot. Found my bus, bought a chocolate baked good and waited for the bus to leave. Bus left at 7:22.

We were stopped at an army checkpoint on the highway, and were told everyone had to get off and their stuffed checked. I was the only tourist on the bus, everybody, including me, started piling off with their bags. When I neared the front of the bus, the bus driver motioned to me to go back to my seat and sit I did. A handful of other locals didn't get off the bus as well, two young women, a "princess"-type, a couple of women with children, two older men, and some guy sulking in the back seat with sunglasses on. After everybody else emptied off, an army dude, smile (or grin, couldn't tell which) came on. He immediately laid eyes on the two young women, and started talking to them. It quickly became apparent he was telling them to get off and get their stuff checked, like everybody else. He was very pleasant about it, they argued with him, finally, in a huff, they got off the bus. He then turned his attention to the "princess"...a very attractive girl, all done up, make-up and clothes, with seemingly an arrogant, "better-than-thou" attitude to match. He started talking to her, smile/grin on his face, and he was obviously telling her to get off the bus as well, but she steadfastly refused. They argued, but she wasn't going to budge. Finally, the army dude gave in, and searched her bags on the bus (she had a big bag...looked like a shopping bag). After that, the army dude walked to the back of the bus, glancing around, then back to the front, and off. He didn't even give me a second look. I guess I just don't look like a Maoist. He didn't give the women with children, the two old men, or sunglasses dude a second look either. He got off the bus, and told the bus driver to go ahead. We moved ahead to the other side of the checkpoint, where everybody was waiting for us, they all piled on and we were on our way.

The same thing happened just outside of Kathmandu, at an army checkpoint, an serious, no nonsense looking army dude got on the bus and told everybody to get off for the checkpoint. The same ritual as last time, everybody got their things and piled off, even the two young women and the princess got off this time. I just sat on the bus, along with the two women with children, the two old men and the sunglasses guy. The serious looking army dude started checking all the bags that were left on the bus in the baggage rack above the seats (mine was up there, and he did give it a once-over). He didn't give any of us sitting on the bus a second look, just like last time.

We got back to Kathmandu about 2:00, I got a taxi to the Kathmandu Guest House, then didn't have any $8 or less rooms available, so he offered me a $17 room at $12. I took it. It's a very nice room, en-suite bath, queen-sized bed and a real mattress.

I showered, then had a sandwich, then used internet, then back to the guest house and wrote in journal. I grabbed a newspaper as I was at the restaurant eating the sandwich and perhaps found out why security has seemingly tightened. The State of Emergency the king imposed on Feb. 1 was lifted on Friday night. The army is probably being mroe cautious now, with more freedoms being re-instituted for the general public.

I didn't do much the rest of the evening, walked around Thamel, read, listened to music, etc. I was quite tired, after being up early for the past two days, and went to bed about 9:30.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Third Time's A Charm!

Up at 5:00, knocked on Wayne's door to wake him up. Lyla's light was on, so she was up.

Cabbie was waiting for us, we left for Sarangkot at 5:15, and got to the viewpoint at 5:45. Tons of tourists, mostly Korean and/or Japanese and Indian and/or Nepalese, brought up on busses. All the Indian/Nepalese tourists wanted to take pictures with the other foreign tourists. There were a few clouds around the peaks when we got there, and we watched as the sun slowly lit up the peaks. When the sun finally broke the horizon, all the Japanese/Korean and Indian/Nepalese cheered loudly. Oh brother! As the sun rose, the clouds around the peaks burned off, and we got some good views of the peaks. Third time's a charm!

Lyla stayed up there, and Wayne and I took the taxi back down about 7:00. Wayne had a bus to catch, and I climbed back into bed.

Got up about 10:00 and showered, kinda, the water was barely warm. They use solar panels to provide electricity for much of the lodge (saves money), and the water is pretty cool until the sun starts shining good during the day. Then headed for breakfast.

After breakfast, I stopped at Sunrise Paragliding and everything was a go for the flight today. Third time's a charm again! Went back to the hotel and booked a bus back to Kathmandu for tomorrow morning at 7:30.

Headed to Sunrise at 12:45, Lyla came with me, she was going to video tape me.

We drove up Sarangkot to the take off point, and my tandem guide strapped me into my harness, then give me some instructions on what's going to be happening and what I should be doing, during take-off, while in flight, and during landing. He told me once we're airborne, I'd have a seat to sit on, he said I'll be very comfortable, it's like sitting in an armchair. Then he strapped himself to me, and before I knew it, we had a good wind, and we were flying!!! It was a bizarre experience to just get lifted off the ground like we did. I pushed down on my harness, which flipped my seat under my bum, and was just like an armchair. I couldn't have been more comfortable. It was nice. I thought I'd have the harness squeezing my crotch the whole time, but it wasn't like that at all.

And up we went! After a few minutes, I looked over to where we took off from, we were already higher than our take-off point. We continued doing big circles in our thermal we had, and we continued to rise and rise and rise. Before long, we were higher than the highest point of Sarangkot, about 1500 metres. And up we went, more and more and more. The clouds got closer and closer, and the people on the ground got smaller and smaller, like ants, the buildings diminished in size as we ascended. What an absolutely beautiful feeling it was, to be flying like a bird. It was the most amazing experience I've ever had. Then I started feeling queazy, I tried to ignore it, but it got worse as we rose higher and higher, towards the clouds. I turned to Raj (my tandem pilot) to ask him what one would do if they were going to be sick, and just as I started to talk, I vomitted. I turned my head to the left and down, realizing that if I didn't do that, it would just come right back into mine (and Raj's) face. And I vomitted, and I vomitted some more, all my breakfast raining down back towards earth. I think I vomitted 4 or 5 times. I vomitted all over my left arm of my new jacket. But, I did manage to miss Raj, which he was quite happy about. But, then I felt fine. I joked that I hoped that it wouldn't land on some poor Nepali farmer working in his rice fields or tending to his water buffaloes. Raj laughed. And still we climbed higher, we were getting close to the clouds now!!!!!

Raj didn't wear a jacket (just in his t-shirt), and he was COLD, shivering by this time, but up we went, into the clouds! WOW!! He had an altimeter on him, we had reached an altitude of about 3500 metres. Once into the clouds, we started gliding, ever so slowly back down, to warmer air for Raj. We glided down and down and down and down. The ants became people again. We drifted down further and further, back into the valley's of the Sarangkot hill.

There was another person doing a solo paragliding flight also, and he had already landed near the lake, and as we were getting close, he pointed out the other guys parasail, and said we would be landing there, so we drifted down to earth, and we landed ever so smoothly in an empty rice paddy beside the lake. Unfortunately, the truck thought we were going to be landing at a different location, so Lyla didn't get our landing. The other guy paragliding was just a beginner, only doing it for 4 or 5 months so far, so he didn't go up too high...and he's scared of the clouds at this point too.

I asked Raj if he ever got himself into a thundercloud, and he said yes, once, in India, and it was the most terrifying experience he'd ever had. He climbed into the storm cloud, and there was lighting and thunder all around him and he couldn't get out. He was shitting himself, he said, he thought for sure he was going to die. I think he said he spent 1.5 hours trying to get out of the storm cloud, but he finally did. That happened when he was just a beginner, his teacher told him not to go there, but he thought he knew better. He learned his lesson.

We were up in the air for about an hour. It was a stupendous experience...if you've ever wanted to fly like an eagle...this is it!

We headed back to the town, and I went back to my room and laid rest my sicky stomach. Then headed out to the courtyard, and watched part of the video Lyla made...she did an excellent job. After a while, Lyla joined me, and we headed to a restaurant for dessert, I had a chocolate brownie with ice cream, she had a apple crumble with ice cream, and we played Scrabble.

We went back to the hotel for a bit, I hit the internet and packed my stuff, then Lyla and me met up again, and went back to the restaurant for a couple of drinks and played some more Scrabble. Ya, I know, we're both nerds, playing Scrabble in Nepal.

We headed back to the hotel about 10:30, and went to bed.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

In and Around Pokhara

Got up about 7:00, blue skies outside, went up to the rooftop of the lodge and the mountains were clear. Woohoo! I knocked on Wayne's door to get him up.

Tried to have a shower, only cold water, so didn't. Wayne went off to get a motorcycle. As I was waiting, another girl, Lyla, from San Fransisco, was inquiring from the hotel dude about getting a taxi up to Sarangkot, so I invited her to come up with us, and ride on the back of either my scooter or Wayne's motorcycle.

We left about 8:00. She had to ride with Wayne, as my scooter wasn't powerful enough for the two of us.

As we rode up, we could see clouds building around the Annapurna range. By the time we got up there, most of the range was in clouds. Foiled again! If we had been there at sunrise, a couple of hours earlier, we would have seen them all, no clouds.

We left at 9:45, and drove further along the highway to a Buddhist Monastic School, then to a Tibetan refugee village with a beautiful monastery. Of course, all the Tibetan refugees were there trying to sell us their jewellry, fabrics, and trinkets. The Tibetan people are so friendly, and so polite, and if you say no, they don't bother you any more.

Got back to town about 11:30, I dropped off my bike and we went for breakfast.

Back to the hotel, I showered and wrote in journal in the garden. Remember the crow in the tree with a bone of some sort, he was picking meat off of it, and another crow kept trying to get it from him, but the first crow wouldn't let him near it. Another girl was sitting under the tree, where the crows were, and the crow dropped the bone, almost hitting her, but definately startling her...she jumped and let out a little scream, then moved to another spot. Quite funny. Also, remember the bat that started flying around the garden, and a crow took chase. It was the spectacle.

I sat in the garden and read all afternoon and hit the internet.

About 6:45, Wayne and I went to scope out restaurants, and decided on the Busy Bee Cafe. I went back to the hotel to leave a note for Lyla telling her where we were, but she was back from doing what she was doing, so I grabbed her and we went all had supper.

Once again, a beautiful evening, mountains in clear view in the setting sun hours, so we decided that we would take a taxi up to Sarangkot very early tomorrow morning, if the skies were clear when we got up. We got back to the hotel about 9:30, and had the hotel dude arrange a taxi for us, for 5:15 pickup from the hotel.

To bed about 9:45.