Welshman Walking Blog: Returns Part 4
Welshman Walking Blog : Returns
My Own Bucket List
When Bucket List was in its infancy, Co Founder Andy, created a blog called Welshman Walking. This was about his first journey to Nepal where he was heading to Mt Everest for the first time. The writing took him from the busy Airport at London Heathrow, all the way to the foot of the tallest mountain on earth, Mt Everest, and back to Kathmandu.
As with any journey his was so much more than just reaching the destination. The realisation of a lifetime ambition, the friends he made on the trails, the hospitality he enjoyed from the Nepalese people and the life experiences he went through all added to the story. I hope you enjoy reading about this journey as much as Andy enjoyed living it. We will be posting each blog throughout the next few weeks, in the build up to some of our planned expeditions in spring & Autumn 2017! Keep a sharp eye on the horizon for more news.
Kathmandu. A sprawling city of trekking shops, crazy drivers and also surprisingly some of the best food iv’e ever tasted. Before i get onto that, to start where i left off last time.
I was reunited with my trusty backpack and headed for the exit of the airport. Kathmandu Airport reminded me of the airport in Bangkok albeit a little smaller but with the same amount of people trying to get your attention for a taxi ride among other things. However a relatively tall bloke for Nepalese standards was hoisting a name i was a little familiar with high above his head, ‘Mr Andrew Moore’, and i made my way over.
He introduced himself as Shishir and he was to be my guide for the trek to Everest Base Camp. He is a local of Nepal and it turned out that he is also a Gurkha or Gorkha as the correct spelling goes where the Nepalese Gurkha’s originate from.
It was great to meet the bloke who would be doing his best to get me to Everest Base Camp and he explained the finer details about logistics and places to see in Kathmandu and Nepal. We also discussed a few customs of Nepal and he mentioned one which was about shaking a Nepalese persons right hand. Why Not the left? Well all Nepalese eat with their right hand and the other…well you can guess what they use that one for. I liked his humor straight away and he is going to be good company over the next few weeks for sure on our way to Everest.
We made our way to my hotel and i was shown to my room where i dumped my things and headed out into the garden to meet the owner of the trekking company who had helped arrange and organise the trek, Tika. He also is a great guy who put me at ease straight away and he could see from my eyes that i was absolutely shattered.
I took a few sips from the coffee he gave and it gave me an immediate lift. The day had got away from me with the delay at the airport and the baggage delays and made a decision to have another day in Kathmandu then start the trek the day after. I couldn’t wait to get started but realised i had barely had more than 6 hours sleep over the last few days and i needed to regain my energy to start the trek.
After finishing that delicious coffee i went for a walk around the vibrant trekkers hub of Thamel in Kathmandu for a bit of explore time. It was a trekking heaven indeed with so many outdoor equipment stores and plenty of places for a coffee. Some outdoor stores were definitely official stores with legitimate items and others were somewhat copied versions and you could most certainly tell by the huge gulf in price for what looked like similar items.
The streets were a little nuts, again similar to Bangkok in that there were no road rules with cars coming from everywhere except that there is alot of beeping, you keep to the left and somehow it works.
After an hour of checking out the place i needed some chill time and headed back before i would head out with my guide Shishir for a few beers and get to know my guide a little more.
We hit the town, or should i say hit the road, as he gave me a ride on his motorbike and we rushed through the streets of Kathmandu, almost taking out a few people on the way, to one of his local haunts with some live local music and some grub.
The local beer they serve is called Gorkha beer ironically and we toasted to his Gorkha people and to a safe trek whilst also puffing on a Hookah pipe.
After a few of these wonderful and tasty beers it was time to hit the hay and my guide gave me a lift back to my hotel where it didn’t take me long to get to sleep. I must have slept about 10 hours before i woke fresh as a daisy.
After some tasty breakfast in my hotel it was time to head out into Kathmandu and see the sights and sounds of this huge city. I had another guide for the day to show me around the city who was a lovely lady. We went to a few temples, the first being the Monkey temple which overlooks the city of Kathmandu but where the earthquake did some significant damage. The temple has Hindu and Buddhist sections to it where the 2 religions seem to co-exist with each other but it was the Hindu Temple that took the full brunt of the quake.
The view from this temple showed that the city was still massively recovering and that it would take some time to get the place back to what it once was.
We visited the center of Kathmandu where the old Monarchy used to live. I say old Monarchy as there reign ended in 2008. There was a crazy massacre in 2001 committed by the crown prince of Nepal in which he slaughtered 10 people of his own family. I know families sometimes
drive you crazy but whoa this was something else. Apparently he was not happy with one person and he went on a rampage.
Anyways i went around the damaged palace and the temples in that vicinity and felt quite touched by the Nepalese people who were just getting on with things without a hint of complaining after the events of the last year or so.
Towards the end of the day we made out way to a sacred temple next to the city’s main river which is a tributary of the Ganges river, sacred in the Hindu religion. As me and my guide went in there were 5 bodies laying waiting to be cremated. My guide explained that as the river was sacred, as soon as a Hindu dies they get brought to this place and dipped into the river then cremated in full view of the public with the ashes then pushed into the river.
It was a little surreal seeing 5 dead people in plain sight but after thinking about it, it was also a privilege to see these people in the last moments of their existence and although strange from a western perspective to see a funeral done this way, i just watched and took it all in.
When the ceremony was over my guide asked what i thought about that experience. I explained the way funerals were done back home in terms of burials and cremations albeit done differently and she thought our customs were strange, all a matter of perspective i suppose.
We made our way back to the hotel and after an hour of sorting out my gear for the trek we went out for some more food and drinks with my trekking guide, no motorbike this time. It was time to try a new beer called ‘Everest’ funny enough and we again toasted to a successful trek whilst watching some traditional Nepalese dancing where even my guide jumped in and got involved.
It’s definitely not line dancing that’s for sure but it was awesome. I headed back for an early night to finish packing and to focus ahead.
The morning would be the start of my journey to Everest base camp after a short flight to the base of the mountains with a nice early 6am flight. Lets make sure we make this flight ehh…