Saturday, December 08, 2001

Jess Henderson travels to Nepal for a glimpse of Everest and more.

Location : Lukla (2480 m)There is absolutely nothing like an hour of terror to wake you up in the morning. There is no way the hardest-hearted person would be calm to look through the cockpit of such a tiny plane and see the hillside coming towards you , INCREDIBLY FAST !.

Safely on the ground though and all limbs intact , I am a little worried I have a headache already. I didn't think altitude struck until above 2500m . Then it comes back to me - we spent the previous evening in the company of the notorious Mr. Buchanan in Sam's bar. The trusty hangover !

Location : Gokyo (4735 m - is the altitude showing ? )I am struggling up this monstrous hill wondering whereabouts the top is . 'Up' a Canadian lady tells me , helpfully. She then pauses to take a photo of me because she mistakenly believes I am sweet . I am not too impressed with this as , in true DES fashion , I have had about two hours sleep in the last few days and I haven't washed for well over a week . Eventually I arrive at the summit of Gokyo Peak , a mere 5380 m and all for a view of Everest. I must be mad. It has been cloudy for the entire way up but suddenly the clouds begin parting. The Sherpas are laughing madly at my desperate attempts to record Everest , Lhotse , Cho Oyu and the rest on film . Then, just as suddenly as they appeared , the Himalayan giants are concealed by clouds again . Never mind. I got my photos with the hammer of justice (ask Mel P) but once again I forgot the Great Western Carrier bag. Palden (Sherpa) and I begin to descend (Bridie had altitude sickness - I reckon she stayed in the lodge so she got more hot chocolate). We spot a German group from the lodge and Palden races off to put our order for lunch in - He was convinced they would eat everything otherwise. Deciding I am now in fact rather cold , I start running down the trail muttering ' I tot told hands' repeatedly.
' Excuse me ?' Then I realise this is an Englishman speaking and he is convinced I am fully mad . Eventually I get to the bottom of the hill and to my hot chocolate. An unbeatable day.
Location : Sherpa Culture Museum , Namche Bazaar (3441m )'This guy is in a lot of photos,' says Bridie , ' I think he must be somebody important .'
I crack up laughing . The craggy face that is staring from the photo is that of none other than Sir Edmund Hillary. First man to summit Mt. Everest and a national hero of Nepal. Bridie is from Chester and is very firmly in the 'townie' mould . Later the same afternoon , we spot a familiar face coming towards us. It's Ross again. This country just ain't big enough for the both of us . He is trekking of to Kala Pattar so we leave him to finalise his plans and settle down to a beer in the world's highest bar (reputedly).
Sorry to bore you . That was trekking . Here is village life –
Location : Bhimphedi , Somewhere in the middle hills ,Nepal.When we arrived in Bhimphedi , there was a rather sweet little chicken . Being vegetarian , I was impressed that the chick had it's freedom. Then one day the chickie disappeared somewhere. When I went to take a shower , I found the chicken. In fillets. On the floor.
Another one of the chickens also roamed the yard. One day I came outside to find some of my laundry had fallen off the balcony. The chicken was sporting a pair of Bridget Jones bloomers on it's head and going berserk bumping into things. I was laughing so hard it took ages to rescue it. The School cow also makes an effort to befriend us. 'If you're happy and you know it ' Class 4 are doing strains of a melody that is both strained and not too melodic. 'Miss , Miss' they start shouting. I am so determined to finish that I ignore them . A deep and distinct rumble comes from nearby and I look round to find myself face to face with the school cow who has come to check out the action. 'Very funny' I tell the class. My attempts to learn Nepali have been somewhat futile - I was feeling rather confident one day so when the local shopkeeper enquired as to my health , I thought I would be adventurous. 'Malai jardu lagyo ' I said and I was a little hurt when he burst out laughing. I told him that I felt MAGIC not COLD . I wondered why he never looked at me the same !.