Friday, October 31, 2008

Bhai Tika Day

This has been an incredibly big week. Should I talk about the insane ride up the hill with the warning: "This mountain has 15 to 50 degree inclines..." or the fact that for most of that ride our tires were spinning on the rocks because there wasn't a "road" so much as, well, rocks.

Should I tell you about the fact that the town is lit up as if it was Christmas? With children running around the streets letting off firecrackers? Occaisionally the odd firework will fly overhead as you walk down the street staring at all the decorations hanging from the shop windows that seemed to miraculousy appear overnight.

Actually I'll tell you about the cultural experience I had today. It was none to soon either. I have been wondering if I have not been fully embracing the amazing culture that surrounds me as I pass my year in this strange place. I can't explain to you what all the festivals are. I can't explain why people believe and do some of the things that they do. Today however, I had a great time at my counterpart's house.

He called me this morning, and instructed me to meet him at Koteshwor Tempo Park at 11 where he would give me a ride to his place. That was an adventure itself, and a story for another time. Turned out I was following him (me on bicycle, him on motorbike - yet another adventure) and we arrived at his house and he introduced me to his family. His sister, mother, son, daughter and brothers. I had to guess who the other people were, and I think I came to the right conclusion with wife and nephews.
Today, sisters prey for the long life of their brothers and give them a very special 'tika' (the cool little spot on the forehead that most people put on each day at temple). In return, brothers give their sister a gift. The women were inside preparing the meal while we sat outside and akwardly shot the breeze. The young boys were staring at me like a monster from the Trapdoor, not sure whether to speak or poke me and run away.

We were called inside and I was given my designated place. Arrayed in front of us on the floor were lots of colours and fruits. Mohan's sister went through Mohan and his brothers dropped some oil on our heads. Mohan's daughter (I feel horrible because I can't remember any of their names) did the same thing for her brother and cousins and then for me. They then poured flower petals over our heads and for some reason we found ourselves balancing walnuts up there as well. As the process continues the boys all became more comfortable and familiar with me, joking all the time. Mohan's daughter then gave me a little Nepali man's hat (YAY! I finally have one) and more flowers.

Then she pulled out the paints (all sorts of colours, made out of various fruits and foods) and gave us each a base layer of yellow with purple, red, pink and orange dots. Then we got a wad of sticky banana-rice redness whacked up above that. I'll put the photos up tomorrow. Afterwards she lit the wick of a candle for each of us and we threw flower petals over it. The ceremony appeared to conclude when grandma (she looks so much like a grandma - she was adorable) ran (actually ran) outside with our walnuts and started crushing them with a brick. Apparently it was very important that this occur at the same time as some other unseen (and unintroduced person) set off a firecracker in time with each one and Mohan's daughter passed us a boiled egg and a bowl of curd (yogourht) which we were apparently meant to eat. I was obviously a special guest, as I was also given a dried out fish (not part of a fish, or a fish fillet, a dried out fish, head and all). It was really special and I felt like a part of their family for the day.

We then had some food (which I thought was lunch) and then I asked the boys to teach me how to play carromboard (a fantastic game slightly similar to pool but without sticks or balls). The younger of us gave Mohan's daughter 'tika' (just the quishy sticky rice-banana redness) while the elders gave it to Mohan's sister. We followed this up with a present, I had already given them them a box of sweets so had to resort to money, which I understood was quite OK. Then an entire meal of Daal Bhat (sometimes, you really just can't eat that much rice) and I came home.

This is a very typical Newari custom (that usually occurs at night time) but we had it at lunch today as they were going to Mohan's wife's family's house for the same ceremony (kind of like at Christmas where you need to go to the party for both sides of the family).

As I rode home, many people pointed out my flower petals (still sticking to my hair) and noted my 'tika'. I felt less bideshi today.

Extra: Forgot to mention that yesterday was Newari New Year. Like I said, it's been a busy week.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mero Charpi Explode Chha

My Nepali teacher visited on Wednesday, and, as is his custom, enquired how everything was. Lacking the liunguistic acumen to explain that I had a party the other night and invited 5 Europeans I had never met before, as many AYADs as can fit into my flat, an American and our Nepali friend Jaya, and that the first of them to use my toilet created a chaos only before seen when the aliens blew up the White House in Independence Day. I started to explain but after a few false starts, a couple of giggles and an illness fried barin I simply said "Mero charpi explode chha". Meaning "my toilet explode is".

It was bound to happen. I mean, obviously, we all knew, it was only a matter of time. I'm surprised he made it this be honest. Perhaps over the course of my three months in country I have become familiar with his habits. I know that when he is flushed he likes to have the flush handle raised back into its regular position. He doesn't like exceedingly large downward pressure applied to the tank and when there is no water in the building tank to refill him, he knows that I am more than willing to use my precious hot water (filled from a seperate tank) to flush him.

Danielle however was not aware of this. She was not aware of the history. Of the pain. Of the three weeks I spent effectively toiletless last time he exploded. She does have a good ear for humour though, as she picked the best time to hatch her dastardly plot. Most people had arrived, and we were all sitting down to a few warm glasses of beer (which the Italian girls claimed to prefer over cold [which has to be a lie, why would anyone PREFER to drink warm beer?]). Danielle sat back down from her visit to my friend the temperamental toilet and I was in the kitchen doling out the warm Everest beer packed in bottles clearly printed with the word Tuborg (a different kind of beer). There was a horrible crashing sound like a ceramic sink smashing all over a ceramic tile floor.

Immediately I had images of what had happened - knowing how much the sink also dislikes downward pressure. Before you knew it, 5 or 6 people were crammed into my bathroom to witness the scene making it impossible for me to get in to see the damage. It was not the sink, as I had feared but poor Charpi. His tank had suicided off the wall, the filling hose had torn itself right off (a brand new one too) and water was shooting out at a flesh damaging rate*. Grabbing the hose I bought for fixing him last time that turned out to be the wrong size but I kept for a moment just like this I put Danielle in charge of holding that while I grabbed Jaya and ran to find Danesh while still having my wits enough about me to grab Jaya to help translate.

Turned out that Jaya had had a little too much rum to speak him own language intelligibly, Danesh managed to work out what was going on and shut off the tank but not before we lost a good 100 litres of water mainly depositing itself on Danielle and myself.

I decided to do the fixing 100% myself this time, not wanting to "bother" Danesh with it and I am happy to say that Charpi is back to 60% functional.**.

*not quite as strong as the Stupid Pressure Hose Incident of 2005
** He's actually only ever at 60%, so I take that as a good effort on my part

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Linguistic Adventures II

I just had the most painful conversation.  This post should enlighten you some of the frustrating components of working here.


Because giving you a post full of misspelled Nepali words would not only be pointless but relatively boring, I will attempt to give you the conversation that I attempted to have in Nepali, in English.  I do hate to pick on Bhoj Raj, but as he is the self-appointed Nepali-teacher for Rob, it invariably results that he is the one involved in these kinds of conversations.


Rob: Can you give this CD Nhukesh?

Bhoj Raj:No, you mean "Pleeeese give this CD to Nhukesh"

R: S&(* I forgot the "to", Can you give this CD to Nhukesh?

B: No, you mean "Pleeeeese give this CD to Nhukesh".

R: Hang on, wait, what does "pleeeese" mean?  I've never heard that before.  For second person I should say "pleeeeese give"?

B: Yes.

R: So, first person, "I give....", Second person "pleeeese give....", third person "he give...."

B: yes

R: That doesn't make sense.  Do these all have the same meaning?  Usually second person is the same as third.  I'm asking a question, it sounds like your way is telling me to do something

b: yes.

r: yes, what?

b: yes.

r: [deep breath] is "can you give this to Nhukesh" correct?

b: n-... yes

r: so what does "pleeeese" mean then?

b: is polite.

r: OH!  you mean "PLEASE!" you just spell it and say it in a completely different way to how I was taught.  That is why I was confused.  So "Can you give this CD to Nhukesh" is correct, just not very polite?

b: yes, i mean no.

r: not correct?

b: yes.

r: rajuji?

raju: yeah?

r: Can you give this CD to Nhukesh?

raju: OK [head wobble which is the local equivalent to a nod]

r: bhojraj, raju understands what I am saying.

b: yes, you said it correctly.

r: [loud sigh] so we just had a 20 minute conversation because I forgot "to" in my first sentence? and you were teaching me to say something different to what I wanted?


People make that mistake in English all the time, “You give Nhukesh” – you just shrug and go and give the stupid thing to Nhukesh don’t you?  Katherine suggested that Nepalis get “in-country immunity” (which itself is a rather amusing concept) from these kind of mistakes, but the rule is all foreigners must be corrected.


The worst part of all of this is that the CD is still on my desk.



Aside: looking back on that - it lost something in translation*, and I sound like an annoying little poo head. 


*the irony is not lost on me

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Characters > Gunga the Tea Man

For those of you that intend to grace me with your presence in this wonderous country there is one place that is sure to be the first of our stops on your own personal guided tour. That stop will be at Gunga's tea shop.

Gunga is quite possibly the happiest man you will ever meet. He has an endearing round face which I have only once seen crossed with a frown. His shop is across the road from the main department store in Lazimpat and is adourned with a clean looking green shopfront with the words "Sagamartha Tea House" printed in grand white letters, "please step in for all kind of Nepali tea, coffee and spices". "Sagamartha" is the Nepali word for Mt . Everest.

On a pinboard out the front are articles regarding tea production in Nepal and a sign quite adamently declaring that "sugar destroys the taste of the tea!" Gunga is a bit of a purist! He can tell you where all of his teas come from, how they are grown, and what ailments they will help you with. He would make a great winemaker, as he even has it down to the art of telling you where in your mouth and how quickly you will feel the flavour of the tea.

As I pass on my bike I always look in to give him a wave and often see him looking through the window out onto the street waiting for someone to visit. I say someone to visit rather than "his next customer" because I don't really think Gunga has customers. In fact, I'm not entirely sure how the man eats, not only because he is always in the slightly claustrophobic shop, but because only rarely do I see the man exchange tea for money. He's usually giving the stuff away (in actual fact I think he is a rather shrewd businessman.

"Please Robji, sit down, have some tea, we will have some tea, what do you like today?"

He encourages all people to come in and will have the kettle boiling before you have even introduced yourself. "If you want to buy, you buy, if you don't, is ok, just come back for a nice cup of tea!" He loves talking to people and has enlightened me quite a bit on the very confusing process that is Nepali politics. His business partner Navin has a similar shop (although a little more cramped) down by New Road but is just as regularly in Gunga's shop helping out, and he educates me on Nepali religion, custom and in particular Newari culture (the Newari's are one of the predominant Kathmandu Valley castes).

Gunga breaks down religion like this, "You be the best person you can be, isn't it? You have good in your heart and you give goodness to others, isn't it?. All religions say this, isn't it? Christian, Hindu, Musleman, Budd-His, isn't it? So I accept you, and I accept you, and in this way the world can have peace and understanding, isn't it?"

"And tea Gunga?" says I.

"Oh yeeess, Peace, Understanding and a cup of tea!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Want...

I'm so not in the mood today. I want to go home.

I want to see my family, and the beach and Lauren.

I want to wake up and have that feeling that I want to get out and go at the world.

I want my favourite TV programs.

I want to kick a footy and to go to a cricket match.

I want to play video games with my friends.

I want to have a conversation and be confident at the end that I understood it all.

I want to walk into the Turret and have Rhi pass over my chai latte.

I want to be back where car horns are used only in the case of dire emergency, even death.

I want to be able to buy milk and drink it without boiling it (oh yeah, I only just found out that I should have been doing that all this time).

"Wahhh!" I hear you say, well yes "waaah". Please no emails of "are you OK? is there anything I can do?", this is a temporary moment and it shall pass.

Maybe it's because I was up in the peaceful mountains for 12 days and I have gone into a state of return from holiday shock. To come back to the pollution and poverty is a bit of a kick in the gut. Speaking of guts, mine is acting up. There's something totally unnatural to me about co-habiting with monkeys, mal-nutritioned cows and stray dogs that lead me to believe that sometimes that the people here just don't care.

OK, I'm going to go and have a nice warm cup of cheer up buttercup.

Oh yeah. Today is 3 months. Maybe it's that.

Monday, October 13, 2008

From ABC - The Other Nut

From ABC - The Other Nut
In addition to the post of the other day, I left out these important facts:
Day 2 - Jhinu to Dovan
  • Attack of the Zombie Children, "Give me SWEEEEEEETS, HOOOONNNNEEEEY, CHOCOLATE, SCHOOLPEN".  Bryan forced to stop and check they had not taken anything from his bag and treat scratches obtained from children hanging onto his legs.  I had to pause momentarily and feel bad about almost chucking one in the creek in order to get past. It started innocently enough, with them singing us a song, but then the wind must have changed or something and they became zombies!
Day 4 - Hiking - Dovan to MBC
  • Emergence of neck beard.  Things have gone from charmingly uncouth to a little bit feral.
Day 5 - Hiking - MBC to ABC and actually Bamboo
  • Parted ways with Cloe, the insane mountain climbing Belgian.
  • After climbing down, as I said, to the disgust of my knee, it was apparent Bryan wasn't yet.  He hung around above ABC for another hour or so as I got plodded back to MBC.
  • Together we sped from there to Bamboo, knee in so much pain I found it difficult to continue standing.  This will be a recurring theme.
Day 6 - Hiking - Bamboo to Gharjong
  • Became intimately reacquainted with the Chomrong stairs, knee apparently enjoyed the upstairs action.
  • Developed fixation on trail mix aka mixed nuts that is more just raisins and coconut than anything else.
  • Received donation of codeine pills from friendly yet ever still so obnoxious Australians.
  • Determined NOT to go to Ghurjun, took the road there by accident, got lost, and were found by a funny bald man in gum boots.
  • Very entertaining conversation with gum booted bald man revolving around 2 syllable English questions and 2 syllable Nepali answers as we quickly realised this little village did not often see trekkers. 
  • Gummy old bald man took us on a shortcut through his farm and sent us packing back up the hill.
  • My foul mood started getting both of us down, elected to stop at first bed identified, eat food and sleep.
  • Met Cheech in Gharjong (yes I understand just how similar this name is to Ghurjun), a lovely thin guy about our age just married and managing the family lodge and farm.  He put us up for the night and shared some lovely (read disturbing) Maoist stories from the insurgency.
  • Funny little man playing with a marijuana tree, we thought at first to be simple through his hand gestures describing getting high, eating, being happy and praising the gods. 
  • Turned out he was deaf and he was actually signing to us. 
  • Immediately chastised self for being such an idiot.
Day 7 - Hiking - Gharjong to Tadepani
  • Mood improved with food and food and the chancce to wash clothes.
  • Eventually gave up on clothes drying and hung underwear, socks and t-shirts of the back of our packs.
  • Stopped for the beautiful view at Chuile and were joined by a running Frenchman named Eric.
  • Learned of Eric's year long plan to travel to 21 countries and learn how each language says cock-a-doodle-doo.  Thought it was impossible to be lighter packed or less prepared for the elements than we already were, Eric did not have a backpack but a shoulder bag with a solitary water bottle, a spare pair of pants, a jumper and his camera. 
  • Climbed epic hill number 647 to be rained in at Tadepani (a mere 3 hours from our starting point).
  • Rejoined by Eric and whiled away the afternoon rain by chatting with the incoming wet people, writing, reading and learning how to say cock-a-doodle-doo in Mandarin, Chilean Spanish, French, Irish (same as English, who knew?) and Nepali.
  • Elected to wait out the rain as  certain travelling buddy flirted shamelessly with Anita, the waitress (whose sister married a Norwegian trekker) and may or may not have some similar aspirations.
Day 8 - Hiking - Tadepani to Ghorepani
  • Set off with Bryan and new recruit Eric, still with wet washing for Ghorepani. 
  • Bryan - who had been hiking in sneakers and/or flip slops, much to passing trekkers astonishment, managed for the first time to step directly in a creek with his shoes.  He promptly converted to flip flops.
  • What should have been a very simple 4 hour meander turned interesting when the rain clouds rolled back in, but gave us a nice Man From Snowy River motif as we wandered through the jungles along the top of the ridge.
  • It was all very scenic in a "I can't really see the mountains I know are a stone's throw away" kind-of-way but that all headed south when said rainclouds opened up.
  • Donning ponchos and walking in an "I'm about to go arse over tit" kind-of-way and there are two guys that are going to laugh themselves silly when i do, Bryan continued in flip flops mainly for pride as we were actually soaked through anyway. 
  • Coming into Ghorepani, I picked the lodge based on the presence of a "German Bakery" downstairs.  Unfortauntely the place was made of balsa wood and the owner refused to light up the wood heater to keep us warm.
  • Made friends with 4 Israelis who continued to serve me their own coffee brew, which I continued to drink in spite of the fact I knew I was to wake at 4 in the morning for the view at Poon Hill. 
  • Played card games and talked European politics as Bryan slept and Eric wasted away in his room with a queesy stomach (the lesson friends? don't eat tuna in the mountains of a land-locked country - obvious? you say....well...yes). 
  • Drank more coffee.
Day 9 - Hiking - Ghorepani to Poon Hill and Birethanthi
  • Terrible sleep with weird dreams on account of coffee and fear of missing the sunrise.
  • Actually "awoken" by the Israelis as they came to knock on my door, but not after the balsa wood house being shaken down by one of them with footsteps resembling those of the BFG, Frankenstein or some other equivalently loud stomping pachyderm.
  • Climbed to Poon Hill alone as the Israeli guys still weren't ready at 4.30.
  • Inwardly cursed each big group I passed as they shouted at the top of their lung's at each other during the beautiful starry morning.
    Made it to the top first and had about 10 minutes before any groups showed upand had the pleasure of seeing the nearby mountains lit up by the moon and stars.
    Clouds rolled in to destroy any hope of seeing Himalayas or the sun rising, determined to depart before the crowds started heading back down.
  • Ghorepani appears to be the trek done by families and older people not confident enough to get to the top (not actually complaining about that, but it explains the huge about of people present at Poon Hill).  From here I think I considered the peaceful and serene mountain trekking to be over.
  • Some more codeine popping and we left Ghorepani for the most epic, downhilled, shop filled, tourist ridden stair case yet.  It must have been as difficult as the pyramids to assemble.
  • Encountered an Indian and English family with 5 small children - they asked if they were halfway yet - didn't have the hert to say they had 7/8ths of the way to go.  I hope they're alive.
  • Stopped for beer in Birethanthi with the plan to continue to Lumle.  That plan nosedived after the first sip.
  • Were passed by the Israelis as we ate dinner - very close to dark and they still had an hour to reach Naya Pul.
Day 10 - Birethanthi to Pokhara
  • Beard has now gone curly, could not recognise self in mirror.  Transformation to wandering smelly man effectively complete.
  • Plan to leave "early" pathetically destroyed by breakfast and slow moving body parts.
  • "Should be virtually flat today but we have a lot of ground to cover"
  • Left at 8 and it took 2 hours to climb the 3 or 4 HUNDRED metre "virtually flat" ridge before reaching Lumle.  Praised decision to stop for beer at Birethanthi.
  • Another attack of zombie children - elected to try intimidation approach - made one child run away - apparently effective.
  • Found ourselves back on a road for the first time in 10 days.  Touched it like a duck with water.
    Immediately surrounded by car exhausts, trucks and a bus that had evidently taken a suicide dive into a rice paddy.  Steel cables had been spread taught across a blind corner in an attempt to pull the bus out.
  • The zombie children appear to be multiplying - intimidation technique no longer working - technique to in turn demand sweeties and chocolates from children met with confusion and anger - resolved to ignore them and smile.  Problem resolved, almost to my satisfaction (except that they will ask the next person).
  • Split up from boys to find my way to friend's wife's house to re-aquire bicycle.
  • Arrived at designated meeting place mere seconds before someone upended a lake in the sky and Pokhara was lost under rain.
  • Had bizarre experience of Gemma (fellow AYAD) appearing in front of me, closely followed by another encounter with a Scottish fellow Hasher stepping out from a bar in our path.
Day 11 - Return - Pokhara to Kathmandu
  • No bus ticket, no problem.
  • Show up ask for seat, "you have to sit in aisle", no other bus "OK". 
  • Chuck bike on roof, mildly wondering if it will still be there upon arrival in KTM.
  • Sat on a little stool right up the front, if there wass an accident I was going straight through that window.
  • Discussed to my horror the fact that the Oz dollar is now worth less than 50 rupees (WHAT IN THE HELL HAPPENED WHILE I WAS AWAY?) with an American sitting near me.
  • Made it home - discovered house ransacked - panicked only for a moment as I realised that was just a result of me trying to pack my bag frantically the night before departure.
  • Slept.

Friday, October 10, 2008

To ABC - in a Nutshell

It's rather difficult to wrap up an amazing 14 day trip in a single post, but I'm going to do my best.

Day 1 - Riding - Kathmandu to Mugling
  • Plan: Get up super early (ie 5 o'clock), beat the traffic get in as much as possible while it is still cool in the morning.
  • Actual course of events: at midnight, am still up frantically trying to work out how to make all the stuff fit into my bag. Question whether 7 pairs of underwear is too many, decide to toss the Rubik's cube and second book. Actually depart at 6.30 after a sleep in, a breakfast disaster and managed to lose a waterbottle before making it to Patan (2 km).
  • Traffic bustling, took a wrong turn in a part of Kathmandu I have never seen, almost die from pollution and contemplate the weight of my pack and the potential that I might have bitten off quite a bit more than I could chew.
  • By 8 am, made some distance but weather sweltering. Smile, wave and laugh at buses passing me by with boys sitting on the roof and waving.
  • Make friends with guys on a passing motorbike, only to catch them just after lunch and go for a swim together in the Trishuli River. Start to freak out as they point out they don't actually know how to swim. Realise this is the kind of thing you can only do when travelling alone, as if I were in a group not only would I have not met the boys, but probably not have jumped into a river.
  • Swearing at the heat and my bum - which was screaming in agony at this point - roll into Mugling, a truck stop town, with nothing but dust, yelling children and a broken fan in my room.
Day 2 - Riding - Mugling to Pokhara.
  • Down some panadol to quell the aching pain in the muscles and bones that I didn't even know existed in my nether regions.
  • Swear at why I thought this might have been a good idea.
  • Come around the side of a mountain, look up to curse Life, The Universe and Everything, to be smacked in the face by the most amazing view of the mountains watching over me as I ride. Remembered again THAT is exactly why I was riding and why I wanted to do it alone.
  • Wonder why I haven't seen a single bus, taxi or truck all day.
  • Reached Pokhara University with a sigh of relief only to discover it is another 10 km to go.
  • Discover it another 10 km to get to my colleague's wife's house to deposit bicycle. Get there to also discover the magical Nepali equation that cultural differences multiplied by married woman, white man and adding sweaty, sunburnt and dirty condition meant it too much to expect a nice cup of tea.
  • Found out there was a nationwide strike meaning no buses etc, and that I would have to walk the 15 km to my hotel.
  • Hitched 2 seperate rides with motorbikes, the latter taking me to his home for a cup of tea where I found myself trying to convince him that I would rather stay in a hotel overnight although his hospitality was very much appreciated.
Day 1 - Hiking - Pokhara to Phedi and Pothana
  • Rain, bueaucratic nonsense, bad directions and a ride on the roof of a bus found me leaving Phedi at about noon.
  • Met Bruce - insane hippie man from NZ, "locked up by Sir Joh under the Vagrant's Act". Using a golf club as a walking stick. Up what I thought to be one of the most collossal staircases ever created I found myself refilling with water in the tiny one shop town of Damphus.
  • There a towering American from Delaware called Bryan appeared in front of me and enquired if I was going to ABC (Annapurna Base Camp). After replying in the affirmative we became travelling buddies.
  • Asserting to share a room to lower costs, the young boy (about 9) at the second lodge we came to in Pothana dropped the price from 200R to 50R before we even started bargaining. Boy ran around for us all night, more than excited to do anything imaginable for us. I have a strong feeling he would have hiked up the mountain and taken the photos for me had I asked him to.
  • Continually smacked in the gob by images of Machupucharre (Fishtail mountain)
Day 2 - Hiking - Pothana to Jhinu
  • It's all uphill baby.
  • Survived leech attack.
  • Bathed in the hot springs while creepy old man watched on and smiled contentedly. He hand signalled that I should wring out my underwear to dry off "no ladies, no problem". Elected to wear wet undies back to lodge.
  • So close to mountains that we can't see them. Literally "can't see the mountains for the trees".
  • Not a fan of squat toilets - particularly when cold and legs tired from exercise..
Day 3 - Hiking - Jhinu to Dovan
  • As we passed Chomrong (where my theory on the stairs of Phedi where laid to waste [in a rather uncomfortable sticky and smelly way]) the road from Ghorepani joine dus and became that much more busy.
  • A couple of Dutchmen walked past us in the other direction - no bags - assumed they had a porter (sad looking Nepali that carries immense weights up the hill). 10 minutes - no porter - tried to communicate to Bryan - "I wonder where the dutchmen's porter is" - misinterpretation due to waterfall.- thought I asked "have you heard of Dutchmen's Porter?" - acknowledged that that was a pretty cool name for a band - and thus the travelling "Dutchmen's Porter" was born.
  • From that moment onwards whenever we crested a massive hill you could hear the cry "Dutchmen's Porter" with much posing like rock stars and we would pound fists as the Americans are so fond of doing.
  • Stairs up and down from Chomrong started playing agony on my knee.
Day 4 - Doban to Machupucharre Base Camp (spelling alters based on altitude sickness, age of map, amount of beer consumed and which sign you are looking at)
  • Starting to feel the cold.
  • Made it by 1pm, at lunch and qould have contemplated the beauty of the mountains, if we could have seen more than 10m through the fog.
  • Billions of sheep that sound like humans imitating sheep.
  • Now at an altitude of more than 3800m, but have hiked higher tdue to up and downness of the road on the way (at times fearing we might end up back in the ocean).
  • Met Cloe, the insane Belgian who had made it from Chomrong to MBC in a day.
Day 5 - MBC to ABC
  • 4am wake up
  • Bryan without enough clothes - wore everything he owned and two blankets, almost died from cold*
  • Climb to ABC for sunrise and breakfast.
  • Many photos with loud obnoxious Australians, Cloe, Bryan and passing Norwegian group who seemed to have no idea they continued to walk in on everyone's photos.
  • Enjoyed fantastic breakfast with beer and a rising sun.
  • Moment ruined by being asked to move to make way for Norwegian group (that apparently all need to sit at the same table regardless of the fact that with a group of 20 people, you can't talk to them all anyway)
  • Resolved to be dark at confrontational to all future group travellers.
  • Determined to touch some snow - climbed up a major rock fall - much to the digust of aforementioned knee. Almost made it (about 200-300m above ABC)- decided I liked life too much. Got some beautiful fresh and freezing water. Climbed back down - also to disgust of knee.
*Not really

The return trip has many lovely anecdotes, including a deaf man with a marijuana tree, a bald man with gum boots, some codeine pill popping, a running Frenchman, some Israelis (one of whom walked a little like Frankenstein or the BFG), mountains peeling like bananas and the second most beautiful view of the whole trek covered by inpenetrable clouds. But I believe that's enough for now.