Everest Base Camp 11: Final days

We arrived back in Namche Bazar after 20 days on the road. It felt a little surreal to be in the midst of shops, bakeries, Internet cafes, power lines, pubs and unlimited hot water again.

Pretending to be a plane
Power lines!!!
Cake (not that flash) and coffee (very flash :))

Bob, Denise and Tom were staying at Hotel Tibet with us, and so we all headed out to Cafe Danphe Bar for a few drinks after dinner. It was a rowdy little bar (thanks to all the Aussies there!) with memorabilia of past expeditions and treks lining every available wall and ceiling space. Our Czech friends showed up too. They hadn’t been able to summit Island Peak because of the snow, but still had big smiles on their snow burnt faces.

Cafe Danphe Bar

Denise and Tom left about 945pm warning us that our curfew was nearly up. Curfew??? I’ve never had one of those in my life! And now, at age thirty-something, in the middle of Namche Bazar, I have to be home by 10? Something else new for me!

10 minutes later, Bob and I wound our way up the dark, uneven streets managing to avoid the sharp corrugated iron roof edges at neck height, negotiate the uneven stairs and avoid piles of yak dung to make it home safely. The front door was still open…although we found out the next morning that we all had been locked out. Denise and Tom had to wake up the owner to let us all in!

Our rapid descent down the mountain brought an equally rapid change in vegetation and scenery I had not really noticed on the way up. The snowy mountains gave way to tree lined cliffs. Vegetable and fruit crops took over the flat open spaces and the temperature rose considerably.

No snow in sight
Only flowing rivers
Cabbages

We also started to see new trekkers who had just arrived and were heading up. The stark contrast between us in our creased, dirty clothes with weathered faces marked with 20 days of grime, compared to their pristine clothing, shiny boots and open – almost naive – expressions on their faces was laughable. Did I really look like that 3 weeks ago? I feel so comfortable in the state I’m in! How will I return and fit back into normal society again…

Ahhh, relaxing
WOW!
I hope our packs didn’t feel that heavy!

We had seen posters in various villages advertising a Reggae Bar in Phakding. As we were staying the night in the village, we figured we should head out and see if the ‘free popcorn, free pool and fabulous music’ was as good as the signs promised.

 

 

So much stuff in here!
He was good
Concentrate!
The winners
2nd place getters…again!!!

 

Turns out, it was! We spent a fun few hours playing pool with Mingma and Geylo, partaking in a couple of beers and listening to Bob Marley, Dire Straits, ACDC and CCR blaring from the stereo.

On the streets oh Phakding
The bakery was full on NZ posters and memorabilia!
We serve you with fresh and tasty???

A quick 2 hour hike in the crisp morning sun got us back to Lukla. I felt partially relieved that we had safely reached the end of our trek (and there were no more 5 hour walking days ahead), but also very deflated that it was over.

Can’t get away from some places (no McD’s though)
Hard Rock Cafe Lukla
Pretty cool setup
The streets of Lukla
Yep, that’s the end of the runway…off the cliff
12 degree slope down

Cars, internet, phones, computers. I had used none of these in the last 23 days and hadn’t missed them at all. My latte’s had been replaced by awful instant coffee made bearable by spoonfuls of sugar. And while there were days I craved a hot shower, generally the lack of hot water or power hadn’t concerned me.

A real latte tasted a little strange

Instead, I got to know my fellow trekkers and porters, I played endless games of cards with them, read old faded copies of National Geographic magazines, wrote these posts and explored a vast, pristine corner of the world best reached on foot.

Comparing tongues

Basket for carrying babies

I will take away two main highlights from my trip.

The first is that I have been lucky enough to explore and see an incredibly beautiful and special part of the world. I did get a glimpse of Mt Everest. I stared at many other massive mountain peaks and deep valleys around me. And I am thankful I made it round safely without any major injuries or ailments.

My pass home
Above the clouds again

The second is having been lucky enough to meet and get to know so many wonderful people along the way. It really does only take a couple of seconds to start talking to someone. And often, those first few words become minutes and hours of conversation and enjoyment. It was a time for me to connect with people and I savoured the chats, jokes and laughter we shared. I have kept in touch with some people too and had the chance to grow those initial friendships.

Final morning – Mingma and Geylo gave us the scarves
Final farewells

I have continued travelling since my trek, and I have made an effort to speak with random people in shops, on trains and in planes. Every time, I have made a new friend, given or received tips on places to visit or eat or simply enjoyed the human connection that only comes by talking.

This trip really opened my eyes to how much more exciting and colourful and alive our world can be if I simply smile and say ‘Hi’ to the person sitting next to me. Try it and see what happens!

A friend always helps out
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