Thursday, 15 December 2011

Namche Bazaar to Tengboche

Had a bit of a shock when we paid our bill at Moonlight Lodge, turns out there's a marked inflation in hot water prices between Phakding and Namche. Better to have learnt that lesson earlier rather than later though - from now we decided to break into our Aquatabs water purification tablets, which continued to serve us very well for the rest of the trip.

'Garlic toast'
After a hearty breakfast, including James' garlic toast (yes, it really was just a few cloves of raw garlic smeared on marginally buttered toast), we headed off to our next destination, Tengboche. The morning saw probably the only cloud we would encounter for the rest of the trek, causing us to fumble for our cameras every time a teasing view of Everest was briefly unveiled at every turn.

Ama Dablam peeking out of the morning mist
Descending toward our lunch spot was a mixed blessing, as we knew we'd have to make up for all the lost altitude (and then some) later in the day. Seeing the zig-zagging path on the other side of the valley also brought a certain level of dread, but at least it would be no worse than the climb up to Namche the day before yesterday, we thought.

Crossing more bridges
At lunch we had our first food fail, a 'macaroni with tomato sauce' served by the slowest kitchen ever. This consisted of some sad looking pasta served with an alien, pinkish sauce which bore no resemblance to real tomatoes whatsoever. Even after a liberal dose of ketchup and chilli sauce, it was still barely palatable and we left Mark to force down most of it while we stuck to the other dishes.

Waiting for lunch
At least there was some amusement in the form two cute grey kittens, one of which was particularly fond of jumping on our guide (who did not share the kitten's affections).

What a cutie!
After lunch came the dreaded climb, and while it was fairly slow going we made good pace and even managed to pass another group, reaching Tengboche in 1.5 hours - and feeling a lot better than we did when we arrived at Namche!
Our first view of Everest from Namche
We checked out the famous monastery, though unfortunately as it was heading into winter there was only one monk on duty and no chanting to watch. The richly decorated prayer room was still very worthwhile to see though.
Heading into Tengboche monastary
The richly decorated insides
As we huddled around the fire waiting for dinnertime, we finally decided to be a bit more sociable and start chatting to our fellow travellers. There was a Dutch couple who had been pretty much staying at exactly the same places as us the entire way so far, and we discovered it was actually their first trip abroad and first trekking trip, ever. Nuts! There was also a big Singaporean group doing the walk, one of whom was a piano tuner. Apparently it's a lucrative trade in the small island nation, as pianos require tuning every 6 months due to the climate (usually it's a year), plus it's not hard to imagine the multitude of little Asian kids toiling away at the keyboard for hours on end...

Seems to be a given that if you look out the window anywhere, you get an awesome view
Tomorrow, another short-ish day and then off to Dingboche!

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