Trei posturi in unul (3 articles in 1)

DE LA ISTANBUL LA KATHMANDU (Translations at the end)

Am ajuns la primul zbor cu cealalta companie aeriana, ne-am imbarcat frumos si fara probleme si ne-am gasit locurile in randul 5 (avionul nu era plin). Primele patru randuri se pare ca sunt „de lux”, adica dupa ce ne-am imbarcat cu totii am fost anuntati de catre steward ca daca vrea cineva sa se mute in fata se poate contra-cost.

Norocul nostru a fost ca cele trei scaune de pe randul nostru erau ocupate doar de catre noi, asa ca macar unul o sa doarma mai comod… Alina s-a intins pe cele 2 locuri, iar eu doar mi-am lasat putin scaunul pe spate si mi-am sprijinit capul de spatarul unui scaun pe care statea Alina. Foarte buna pozitia asta „intermediara” :).

Am zburat fara goluri, iar cu vreo 45 min inainte de aterizare ne-am si trezit. Acum gandul ne era doar la marea schimbare de la Sharjah, dar am vazut ca domnul capitan s-a grabit putin si vom ateriza mai devreme. Cu atat mai bine pentru diferenta de 45 de minute pana la urmatoarea decolare…

Cum eram in partea din fata a avionului n-a fost greu sa coboram repede, dar jos, la scara avionului, ne astepta un autobuz, asa ca tot trebuia sa asteptam pana se umple… Asteptarea aia, chiar daca a durat 5 min, parea ca ne rapeste din sanse considerabil si pot spune ca ne mancau talpile sa alergam putin pana la cealalta poarta de imbarcare.

Pana la urma a pornit autobuzul, am ajuns la debarcare, am urcat rapid scarile si ne-am dus glont catre biroul de tranzit. De acolo imediat la control, dupa care fuga catre terminalul 20, unde ne era avionul. Inainte sa intram in sala de asteptare ne-a abordat un impegat intrebandu-ne „are you the guys from Istanbul ?”. „Yes, of course”… A zambit si ne-am spus ca e ok, dupa care am fugit la biroul de rupere a biletelor, iar apoi jos la alt autobuz care sa ne duca la avion.

A trebuit sa asteptam putin si aici, ca nu eram noi chiar ultimii, dar deja nu ne mai faceam griji ca vom rata avionul. Mai ramaneau doar foarte putine griji pentru bagajele noastre – vor prinde sau nu trenul asta ? Eh, vom vedea in Kathmandu.

Am urcat, tot pe randul 5, doar ca de data asta mai era o mama cu copilul pe randul 4, in fata noastra, dar altfel tot asa, cu locuri libere…

Am decolat, am primit micul-dejun (am comandat masa asta inca de cand am rezervat biletele), dupa care, dat fiind ca era ziua, se vedea Asia, se vedeau muntii Himalaya undeva in departare, iar soarele stralucea imbucurator. Foarte frumos pentru moral… Hai ca mai e putin si suntem in Kathmandu.

Am ajuns intr-un final si deasupra Nepalului, am mai recunoscut din muntii vazuti in primavara (cred ca am identificat corect varfurile Annapurna si Macchapucchare), dupa care am aterizat in Kathmandu. Ca de obicei, frana putin mai serioasa, apoi debarcarea, obtinerea vizei de acolo (completat 2 formulare, 2 poze tip pasaport si 40 de dolari pentru 30 de zile), dupa care la bagaje – momentul adevarului.

Am coborat treptele pana la sala cu benzi, iar acolo am asteptat. A aparut unul – al meu. Zambet mare pe fata – a functionat quick transferul la Sharjah. A sosit apoi si al Alinei, le-am identificat la iesire pentru control cu biletele – nu-ti dau voie sa pleci daca nu arati ca sunt ale tale – dupa care hai sa vedem daca gasim bilete sa zburam la Lukla. Voiam sa ma interesez ca sa compar „beneficiile”. Pe Everest Trek poti ajunge fie zburand la Lukla, unul dintre cele mai periculoase aeroporturi din lume (la 2.850 m, cu o pista foarte scurta, inclinata ca sa ajute la franare si care se termina intr-o stanca), fie mergand cu autocarul pana la Jiri, de unde ai vreo 7 zile de mers pana la Lukla.

Nu era nimic imposibil, dar am zis „hai sa vad daca pot scuti niste zile de oboseala macar la urcare”. Cum am iesit, imediat au tabarat „vulturii” cu oferte de zboruri, dar le-am spus clar ca ma duc la biroul Tara Air sau Agni Air ca sa vad care sunt preturile oficiale. Toti acesti „binevoitori” evident ca-si mai pun ceva peste, iar noi voiam pretul de lista. Am scapat usor de ei (de primii), deoarece am fost foarte clar ca nu ma intereseaza cat imi ofera ei, ci cat imi ofera compania aeriana direct. Ei imi dadeau cu 164 de dolari, iar eu nu voiam altceva decat sa verific.

Dupa ce ne-am plimbat putin, ca zborurile „domestice” nu sunt in acelasi loc, am ajuns la birouri cu ajutorul unui alt prieten binevoitor care ne-a agatat pe drum si am intrebat. Acelasi pret – 164 de dolari cu tot cu taxa de decolare inclusa. Noul nostru prieten, Ganesh (un tip pe la vreo 22 de ani) ne-a tras deoparte si ne-a spus ca ne poate obtine un pret mai mic, pentru ca lucreaza la agentie si ei ne mai pot lasa ceva, doar sa luam de la ei. Am convenit ca daca imi da cu 155 de dolari luam de la el, asa ca toata lumea era multumita. Hai in Thamel.

Am ajuns la sediul agentiei din Thamel, am vorbit si cu seful lui, am stabilit pana la urma pretul de 157 de dolari, ca oricat ar fi ei de agentie tot nu pot sa-si scoata si banii de taxe, dupa care fuga sa cautam biroul de turism din Nepal. De acolo trebuia sa ne luam permisele de intrare in rezervatie si cardul TIMS fara de care nu poti intra. Nu stiam daca le putem lua de pe traseu, dar stiu ca in Annapurna era treaba ca daca le luai de la botul calului te costau dublu. Nu prea-ti vine sa dai 40 de dolari pentru un card care costa 20 de dolari si nici 6000 de rupii pentru o taxa care e 3000.

Am iesit din agentie cu biletele printate, dupa care fuga la o banca sa schimbi monetarul. N-aveam rupii, asa ca era musai sa transformam ceva, iar la banci ai cel mai bun curs – contrar practicii de la noi. Din pacate, programul bancii era pana la 15.00, asa ca am schimbat la un exchange cu un tarif putin mai bun decat in aeroport.

Fuga apoi sa gasesti biroul de turism. Stiam ca era in Thamel, deci nu foarte departe, asa ca am intrebat pe cineva…

Rapid, un localnic a spus ca ne duce el la birou sa luam permisele. Am ajuns tot intr-o agentie de turism. Da, bun… Hai sa rezolvam aici daca putem, dar ne intereseaza preturile „de lista”, nu comisioanele extra.

Agentul ne-a explicat ca ne costa 10 dolari/pers, dar cu conditia sa luam un porter sau un ghid de la el. Asa ne poate si elibera totul, altfel trebuie sa le luam „de la stat”. Nu aveam in plan nici porter si nici ghid, pentru ca asta mai ingrosa bugetul cu vreo 15 dolari/zi, asa ca i-am explicat omului ca ne pare rau, dar chiar trebuie sa ajungem la Biroul de Turism, pentru ca se-nchide la 17 si era deja ora 16.15… Ne-a spus omul unde sa ne ducem, cam cat ar fi taxiul, asa ca am coborat rapid si ne-am aruncat cu totul in prima masina iesita in cale.

I-am zis soferului sa-i dea cox pana acolo, ca daca nu ne luam permisele degeaba ne-am mai luat biletul de avion pentru a doua zi, asa ca am facut un pic de raliu prin traficul haotic din Kathmandu.

Am ajuns la birou, fuga inauntru (sediul nou e foarte misto) si mers glont la ghiseu. Pe ghiseu era agatat mare semnul CLOSED. Hai ca poate merge totusi, ca mai erau oameni in spatele lui. Spun repede unde vrem sa mergem, de ce avem nevoie, iar ei ne raspund ca le pare rau, dar au inchis… Se inchide la 16, nu la 17 (orar de iarna sau ceva…). „Dar chiar nu se poate face nimic ?” Nu, dar nici nu era nevoie, pentru ca cica se pot lua permisele si de la intrarea in rezervatie fara niciun extracost. Sigur sigur ? Sigur… Bine. Hai sa ne intoarcem atunci in Thamel sa ne cazam… si sa mancam.

Ne-am intors in Thamel, dar din pacate n-am mai prins loc la Silver in dormitor, unde trag de obicei, pentru ca era plin. Nu ne pasiona o camera dubla care costa 1.400 Rs. cu mic dejun inclus, asa ca am mers langa, la Discovery – un hotel mai slabut ca sa nu zic mai bomba.

Am luat aceeasi camera cu vedere spre interiorul cladirii pe care am ocupat-o si in primavara pentru o noapte (600 rupii), dupa care am iesit la restaurant. Foamea mare, ca dupa multa vreme de rabdat. Am mers la Yak, unde stiam ca e mai aproape si mai bun, iar acolo am bagat prima portie de Mo-mo de sezonul acesta. Delicios :D… Niste supa de pui cu ciuperci, un ceai Masala…

Ne-am mai plimbat putin apoi pe strazi, ne-am luat o harta cu zona in care aveam sa mergem, dupa care am mai ars timpul pe stradute pana la happy-hour-ul de la patiseria situata in intersectie. Dupa 21.30 toate exponatele sunt la jumatate de pret, iar aspectul lor e foarte atragator, asa ca merita sa-ti aduci aminte de casa ;). Am stat la coada cand a venit timpul, ne-am infruptat cu produsele, dupa care ne-am indreptat catre hotel sa-ncercam sa urcam filmuletul cu Istanbul pe youtube.

Din pacate conexiunea e atat de slaba incat n-am reusit sa incarcam mai mult de 17%… Nu stiu cand o sa ajung „la zi” cu ele, dar cel mai probabil dupa 20 decembrie o sa mai dau de un internet ca lumea. Pana atunci doar pe blog ce mai prind… Aia e.

Ne-am bagat la culcare intr-un final (dupa ce mi-am luat si eu pastilele de malarie) si am incercat sa adorm. Greu, ca sa nu zic imposibil. Pur si simplu nu iesea faza. Ori pastilele, ori nerabdarea nu ma lasau sa dorm. Cred ca am dormit maxim 30 min. M-am trezit cu capul greu, dar cu gandul la zborul care ne asteapta.

Am facut rapid bagajul, am lasat ce nu voiam sa luam pe munte in camera de bagaje, dupa care am iesit in strada la un taxi. Tipul cu care am discutat ieri n-a venit sa ne mai ia, asa ca am schimbat omul. Tot in banii aia – 400 Rs., ca era dimineata si aveau alt tarif (fata de 300 in timpul zilei), asa ca nu ne-a deranjat cu nimic.

Hai ca m-am intins cam mult cu postul, asa ca ce se-ntampla mai departe veti citi in episodul urmator.

DE LA 2.800 LA 2.800 (Translations at the end)

Am ajuns la check-in in aeroport unde aveam de trecut testul greutatii bagajelor. De persoana aveam 10 kg la cala – cam putin data fiiind toata mancarea pe care am luat-o cu noi (batoane, cascaval, slanina, ciocolata si turta dulce facuta de mama), dar in acelasi timp ma bucur ca ne-a mai obligat sa mai scapam de surplus. Aveam de urcat mult, asa ca nu era in interesul nostru sa ne rupem spatele de devreme.

Prea grea intrarea in categorie, pentru ca numai aparatura foto cantarea vreo 2 kg, sacul de dormit vreun kg si ceva, hainele, pantofii de trekking samd. Am impartit „frateste” cat s-a putut cu Alina, care avea mai putine „materiale auxiliare”, dar tot a fost nevoie sa-mi burdusesc buzunarele gecii cu obiectivele foto si cu alte lucruri care puteau fi luate ca „bagaj de mana”. Asta pe langa notebook, care avea geanta lui, si aparatul dslr, si el cu gentuta lui. Bagajul de cala avea 10 kg, dar cu tot ce aveam pe mine ajungeam la vreo 15 lejer…

Am trecut, am ajuns in sala de asteptare, unde mi-am dat seama ca un acumulator de la aparatul „de altitudine” era pe terminate.

Cauta priza, ca nu stiam daca pe sus mai gasesc sau sa coste prea mult incarcatul.

Am gasit ceva in sala de asteptare, langa chiuveta, asa ca am reusit in timpul de pana la urcatul in autocar sa-mi incarc acumulatorul. Eram deja putin mai linistit… Hai cu avionul acum !

Am mers cu trocariciul pana la avion, unde am vazut bimotorul. Miiiiic de ziceai ca-i de jucarie. Bine, eram vreo 10 oameni care mergeam cu el, asa ca nu ma mir…

Avea o scara micuta legata cu sfori de avion formata din 3 trepte. La intrare ne astepta stewardesa care era cu ochii in patru dupa capetele noastre – sa nu care cumva sa indoim avionul la urcare, ca nu se mai inchidea etans usa… Am patruns in avionas, care avea cate un scaun pe fiecare parte, asa ca n-aveai cum sa nu apuci un loc la geam. Bataia mare era pe partea stanga, cea cu expunere la lantul himalayan. Bine, nu era mare distanta si te puteai holba pe la vecini daca voiai sa zaresti mai rapid Everestul.

Dupa ce ne-am asezat, am primit vata si o bombonica. Bombonica era relativ optionala, dar vata chiar avea un rol important in protectia urechilor. Cand au pornit motoarele trebuia sa urlii ca sa te intelegi cu persoana de langa tine.

Eram noi doi, 2 canadieni, 2 francezi (cred) si vreo 4 serpasi/ghizi care se-ntorceau acasa. Pilotii aveau trese pe umerii hainelor de piele si aveau o mima foarte oficiala, asa ca lucrurile erau clare – armata e cu noi. Am zburat vreo 30 min maxim, dupa care am aterizat mai usor decat emotiile la care ma asteptam (o sa vedeti in filmulet) si am pornit traseu. Ne doream sa ajungem cat mai sus ca sa putem incepe aclimatizarea. Am zis hai sa vedem daca ne tine pana la Namche Bazar (3.440 m), dar aveam ca varianta auxiliara Manjo (2.840 m), de unde trebuia sa ne luam si permisele de rezervatie.

Deja la munte e altfel, mult peste ce ofera orasul, si ma simt mai in elementul meu. Aerul curat, peisajele, raurile de munte – toate fac un tablou mult mai familiar decat incarcarea capitalei. Am mers si am tot mers (urcand si coborand intre vai), ne-am intalnit cu destul de multi turisti, cu grupuri de iaci, asini si porteri care erau cu treaba pe acolo, dupa care am ajuns, intr-un final, la Manjo, de unde ne-am luat TIMS-ul. Am decis ca e destul de tarziu si suntem obositi dupa aproximativ 7.30 h de mers, asa ca ne-am oprit acolo.

Camera hostelului pe care l-am ales era cam saracacioasa, dar aveam 2 paturi relativ confortabile si plapumi destul de groase. La cat eram de obositi (veneam si dupa oboseala dintre avioane) ne-am intins pe la 17.00 si ne-am trezit pe la 22.00. Foarte bun somnul, dar mai era loc, asa ca am mai bagat o repriza pana la 10.00 de dimineata… de „cel mai vis” am putea spune.

Ne-am facut toaleta de dimineata, ne-am rearanjat bagajele, dupa care am stabilit sa pornim la drum si ne-om opri la un moment dat sa manacam pe traseu. Zis si facut, am platit camera si am luat-o usor spre iesirea din sat.

Gata, urmeaza urcarea catre Namche.

HAI CU ALTITUDINEA ! (Translations at the end)

La iesirea din Manjo se gaseste si poarta de intrare in Rezervatia Nationala Sagarmatha cu biroul unde poti plati taxa de 3.000 de rupii. Am zabovit si acolo cateva minute, iar in timpul cat rangerul ne-a scris chitantele am observat pe peretele din spate evidenta turistilor care au intrat in Parcul National din 1998 incoace (asta in afara expeditiilor care au avut ca scop atingerea varfului). Daca in ianuarie ’98 erau 553 de persoane, in octombrie 2011 (recordul din cate am vazut) numarul lor urca pana la 10.392. Asta da crestere in flux, dar si in ceea ce priveste incasarile.

Registrul "comertului" cu munte

Am coborat din nou, ca doar nu era s-o luam direct in sus, am mai trecut de un check-post al armatei de unde ne-am si aprovizionat cu apa, dupa care am reinceput urcarea… Trebuia, de pe la 2.700 m sa urcam pana la 3.440, la Namche. Hai sus, hai sus, hai sus. „Pauzele lungi si dese – cheia marilor insuccese” spunea profu’ meu de Bazele Termodinamicii din facultate, domnul Chisacov, dar aici, pe munte, realitatea contrazicea spusele dumnealui. Cu cat urci mai lent, cu atat diferenta de altitudine se face mai greu simtita si aclimatizarea e mai usoara.

Ne-am oprit la un moment dat pe poteca sa mancam, am scos cascavalul, batoanele, fructele de goji uscate si turtele, completand totul cu apa proaspat purificata cu pastilele cumparate din Pokhara in primavara. Cat am stat noi sa mancam, a mai venit un localnic mai tinerel (Gorka Sherpa daca tin bine minte), i-am oferit si lui 2 turte micute, ne-a mai povestit si el cate ceva, dupa care am pornit la drum impreuna. A rezistat vreo 30 min cu noi, dupa care a luat-o usor in sus – mergeam mult prea lent pentru el.

Pe poteca am dat de cel mai inalt pod suspendat de pana acum, dupa care pamantul producea atat de mult praf incat daca te-ntalneai cu vreo turma de iaci sau de magari trebui sa te opresti si sa-ti pui ceva la gura ca sa nu te ineci. Am ajuns si la un punct de belvedere din care se putea observa foarte usor Everestul, acolo fiiind si un fel de mini-piata cu localnice care-ti ofereau spre vanzare mandarine si mere. Exista si o cismea + o toaleta (inchisa cu lacat) si o casuta de colectare a deseurilor (nu-i pot spune cos, pentru ca avea o forma mai draguta).

Si am mers si am tot urcat, tot incet la deal, pana cand am ajuns la un alt post de politie, cel de la intrarea in Namche. Din nou s-au verificat actele de intrare, s-a notat faptul ca am cu mine o camera foto si marca ei, un laptop si marca lui, dupa care am intrat la propriu in satuc.

Namche Police post

Prima impresie cand il vezi desfasurat e ca e foarte mare… Cum au ajuns oamenii sa faca o asezare atat de vasta la altitudinea asta ? Probabil ea s-a dezvoltat pe fondul cresterii afluxului de turisti care aveau nevoie sa se aclimatizeze aici. Sunt foarte multe hoteluri de toate tipurile, magazine peste magazine, restaurante, internet cafeuri si toate cele, doar ca preturile sunt prohibitive in comparatie cu orasul. Aici aceeasi supa ca-n oras costa de 5 ori mai mult, apa e 100 Rs. (de la 15 Rs.) acolo samd. Ce sa-i faci ? Totul e carat cu carca sau cu iacii, nu exista alte mijloace. Le-as sugera eu sa monteze niste tiroliene pentru coborare rapida macar, ca locuri sunt cu duiumul, dar cred ca asta ar afecta prea tare bugetul local.

Ne-am plimbat putin pe stradute cautand un local mai atragator si am zarit la un moment dat Yak Hotel… „Hai sa stam cu iacii !” Mers, intrat, intrebat cat costa – 300 – si negociat in ideea ca e prea mult (la 200), dupa care ne-am instalat in camera. Mult peste nivelul precedentei, cu asternuturi albe (relativ), priza in camera, usa care se inchide din ambele parti. Boierie, ce sa mai… Regulile casei putin mai stricte – fara mancare din afara, fara spalat la chiuveta nimic, fara nimic din ceea ce ei nu si-ar putea retine comisioane.

Am bagat o supa cu usturoi pentru aclimatizare (cu 1 euro mai scumpa decat precedenta de la 2.700 m), dupa care am suplimentat in camera cu ce mai aveam la noi – batoane, turte si migdale cu stafide. Daca vrei sa nu te coste o avere urcarea, trebuie sa-ti iei si chestii la tine pe care sa le cari. Daca ai destui bani, poti merge cu rucsacul foarte lejer si iti iei din loc in loc de mancare. Fiecare cu aclimatizarea lui.

In camera geamurile se inchid cat de cat ermetic – nu mai bate vantul pe langa ele ca in Manjo – iar cuverturile, desi mai subtiri, izoleaza mai bine dpdv termic.

Destul pentru ziua de azi, acum intram in acclimatizing mode. O sa stam o zi in plus pe aici si ne vom plimba pana pe la 3.780 m ca sa vedem cum ne simtim, dupa care abia maine (n.b.: am scris asta in prima dimineata la Namche) o sa urcam spre Tengboche (3.820 m).

Dupa acest post nu cred ca voi mai urca ceva pana peste vreo saptamana. Nu stiu daca o sa gasesc vreun internet mai sus, nu stiu daca voi avea destula baterie la laptop si tot asa. Teoretic, peste o saptamana ar trebui sa trecem din nou prin Namche (daca toate calculele cu aclimatizarile si cu coborarea sunt asa cum le-am gandit). Daca e timp si suntem in grafic, opresc si dau un check-in. Daca nu, nu – proverb mongolez. 🙂

from our Namche window

Tineti-ne pumnii sa ne iasa cum speram !

TRANSLATION

FROM ISTANBUL TO KATHMANDU

We got the first flight with the other airline, embarked nice and smooth and we found places on th 5th row (the plane was not full). The first four rows seem to be „luxury” and after we boarded we were all told by the steward that if someone wants to move in front can do that paying extra.

Our luck was that the three seats on our row were occupied only by us, so at least one of us could get a so-called comfortable sleep… Alina got the two places and I let my seat back a little and supported my head on the back of the chair on which Alina stood. Very good position this ” intermediate” 🙂 .

We flew smooth and we woke up with about 45 minutes before landing. Now we had the big change from Sharjah, but I saw that the captain rushed a bit and we landed early. That was better for the 45 minutes until the next takeoff …

We were in the front of the plane and it wasn’t hard to get off quickly, but downstairs a bus was waiting for us so we had to wait until it filled… That wait, even if it took 5 minutes, seemed like the chances were considerably lowering and we felt like running to the other gate.

Eventually the bus left, we reached the unloading point, I quickly climbed the stairs and we went straight to the office of transit . From there to the control and immediately to the 20th T erminal where our plane was. Before entering the waiting room an employee approached us asking „are you the guys from Istanbul? ” . „Yes , of course ” … He smiled and said it was ok , then I ran to the ticket office and then down to another bus to take us to the plane.

We had to wait a bit, but we were already checked, so no worries that we will miss the plane. That leaves just a very little to worry about our luggage – will they catch this train or not ? Eh , we’ll see in Kathmandu .

We had the 5th row again, only this time there was a mother with child on line 4 in front of us , but otherwise it was the same…

We took off , got breakfast ( I ordered this table since I booked the tickets ), then, as it was day , saw Asia, the Himalayas were visible in the distance , and the sun shone bright. Very good for the moral… Still just a small bit and we’re in Kathmandu .

We arrived finally above Nepal, I recognized the mountains seen in the spring ( I think I have correctly identified the peaks of Annapurna and Macchapucchare ) and after that we landed in Kathmandu . As usual, the brakes were a little more serious, then landing visa from there (filled in two forms, two passport photos and $ 40 for 30 days ), and after that to the luggage – the moment of truth .

I descended the stairs to the luggage room and waited . First appeared mine. Big smile on my face – the quick transfer worked  at Sharjah . Then came Alina’s, we identified them at the control output and  then let’s see if we can find tickets to fly to Lukla. I wanted to inquire to compare the „benefits „. On the Everest Trek you can get either flying to Lukla, one of the most dangerous airports in the world (at 2,850 m, with a very short runway aand the braking inclined so that you don’t end up in a cliff ) or going by bus to Jiri, from where you have a 7 day walk to Lukla .

There was nothing impossible, but I said ” let’s see if I can relieve some days of fatigue from the climb.” As we got out, we were immediately surrounded by „jackals” with offers of flights, but I told them that I go to the Tara Air and Agni Air offices to see what are the official prices.We wanted the price list with nothing extra. I got rid of them easily ( the first ) – I was very clear that I don’t care how much they offer me. They told me 164 dollars, but I wanted to check.

After we walked a little, the „domestic” flights are not in the same place, we arrived at the offices with another friend who kindly hooked us on the road. Same price – 164 dollars with all fees included . Our new friend Ganesh (a guy at about 22 years) pulled us aside and told us that we can get a lower price because he works at an travel agency and they can leave us something. We agreed for 155 bucks to get it, so everyone was happy . Let’s go to Thamel.

We arrived at the agency in Thamel, I talked to his boss, we set up for 157 dollars, then run at Nepal ‘s Tourism Office. From there we had to take the reservation entry permits and TIMS card without which you can’t enter. I did not know if we can get’em from there, but I know that at Annapurna it would have costed you double as in the city. I didn’t wanted to pay 40 dollars for a card that costs 20 and 6000 rupees instead of 3000 .

We left the agency with the printed tickets, then run to the bank to exchange currency. The banks have the best rate – contrary to the practice in Romania. Unfortunately, the program was till 15.00h at the bank, so I exchanged at an exchange-counter with a slightly better rate than in the airport.

Then run to find the Tourist Office . I knew it was in Thamel, so I asked someone …

Rapid , a local said his office will get us the permits. Yeah, well … Let’s fix this if we can , but we are interested in list prices with no extra charges .

The agent explained that it costs $ 10 / person , but we had to take a porter or guide from him. I had no plan of gettin’ a porter-guide to drain the budget with $ 15 / day, so I explained to the man that we’re sorry , but we really have to get to the Tourism Bureau, because it closes 17.00h and it was already 16.15 … The man told us where to go , how much would a taxi will charge, so we threw quickly everything in the first car we saw.

I told the driver to give it some gas till there because if we do not get the permits the plane tickets would be worthless, so we did a little rally through the chaotic traffic of Kathmandu .

I arrived at the office, ran inside (the new premise is very cool ) and went straight to the counter. On the counter was a big CLOSED sign . There were people behind him. We said quickly where we wanted to go, what we need and their respond to us was that they are sorry, but it’s closed … It closes at 16.00h, not at 17.00h ( winter time or something…). ” But we really can’t do anything ? ” No, but there was no problem, because they said we can get the permits at the entrance to the reservation at no extra cost . Sure ? Sure … All right. Let’s go back to Thamel and accommodate… and eat .

We’re back in Thamel , but unfortunately there was no room at the Silver in the dormitory where I usually stayed. We are not keen on a double room costing Rs 1,400 with breakfast, so we went near to Discovery – a little worst hotel to not say an „explosion”.

I got the same room we occupied in the spring for a night (600 rupees ), then we went to the restaurant. We went to the Yak, which is closer and I knew better, and there I put the first portion of Mo-mo of this season . Delicious : D. .. Chicken soup with mushrooms, masala tea …

We’ve walked the streets a little and then we got a map of the area where we had to go, then the happy-hour at the bakery located in the big intersection .  After 21.30h all items are at half price and their appearance is very attractive so it’s worth 😉 . I stood in line when the time came , we feasted on the products , then we headed to the hotel to try and upload the Istanbul movie on youtube.

Unfortunately the connection is so poor that I couldn’t upload more than 17 %…

We went to bed finally ( after I took my malaria pills ) and tried to sleep. Difficult, not to say impossible… Either pills, either the impatience wouldn’t let me sleep. I don’t think I slept more than 30 minutes. I woke up with a small headache, but with my thoughts at the flight that awaits us.

I packed quickly, I left what I didn’t need on the mountain in the luggage room at thehotel and after we took to the streets for a taxi. The guy with whom we talked yesterday did not come, so we took another taxi. The money was the same – 400 Rs. It was morning and they have another price (compared to 300 during the day ), but that didn’t bother us at all.

I stretched too much with this post, so we’ll continue everything in the next episode .

FROM 2800 TO 2800

We arrived at the check-in at the airport where I passed the scale. We had 10 kg/pers in the luggage cabin – little if we think about all the food we took with us (bars, swiss-cheese, bacon , chocolate and gingerbread made ​​by my mother) , but at the same time I’m glad they made us to get rid of the surplus. We had to climb a lot , so it was in our interest not to break our backs early.

Hard to make the scale, because only the photo equipment weighed about 2 kg , sleeping bag some pounds and the clothes, the trekking shoes and so on. We divided everything between us, but still I took in my jacket pockets the camera lenses and other things that could be taken as ” hand luggage ” . Extra there were the notebook that had its bag and the dslr camera. Checked baggage was 10 kg , but with was on me there were 15 at least …

We passed, got to the waiting room and there I realized that the first camera battery was almost exhausted.

I found a socket in the waiting room next to the sink , so I managed to charge the battery till the shuttle. I was already a little more relieved… Let’s fly now!

We went to the plane, where we saw the two-rotor. Small like a toy. Well, we were about 10 people, so I’m not surprised …

It had a little ladder tied to the plane with three steps. At the entrance we were expected by the stewardess who was on the lookout for our heads… I entered the small aircraft with one seat on each side, so I was bound to grab a window seat . The „fight” was for the left side seats, the ones from where you see better the Himalayan chain . Well , it was not far away and you could stare at  it from your neighbors’ window if you wanted to see a little bit quickly Mount Everest.

After we sat down we got cotton balls and candy. The candy was relatively optional, but the cotton had an important role in protecting the ears. When they started the engines you had to yell to talk with the person next to you.

We were two, two Canadians, two French (I think) and about 4 Sherpas / guides who were going back home. The pilot and copilot had stripes on their shoulders and had a very official mimic, so things were clear – the Army is with us. We flew for about 30 minutes, then landed with less emotions than expected (you’ll see in the movie) and started the trek. We wanted to get as high as we can to begin the acclimatization . I said let’s see if we can go to Namche Bazaar ( 3,440 m), but Manjo was also an option ( 2,840 m). There we must take the permits for the Reservation.

Already in the mountains is different , much more than what the city offers, and I feel more in my element . Clean air , landscapes , mountain rivers – all is more familiar than the bustling Capital. We went on and we walked ( up and down between the valleys ) , we met many tourists, groups of yaks , donkeys and porters who were to work. After that we arrived, finally, at Manjo, where we took the TIMS . I decided it was pretty late and we are tired after about 7.30 hours, so we stopped there.

The hostel room that I chose was a little shabby , but it had two relatively comfortable beds and duvets. I was tired ( coming after the fatigue from the flight ) so we got to bed at 17.00h and got up at 22.00h. Very good sleep, but we could do better, so we did it till 10.00 in the morning…

We freshened up in the morning, we rearranged the luggage , then we decided to hit the road and stop at some point to eat on the trail. Said and done, I paid for the room and went on to the exit of the village.

Okay, we’ll climb to Namche .

LET ‘S GO UP !

On leaving Manjo we found the gateway to Sagarmatha National Reserve and the office where you can pay the fee of 3,000 rupees. I lingered there for a few minutes and as long as the ranger wrote us a receipt I noticed on the back wall the number of tourists who entered the National Park since 1998 ( this except the expeditions that took aim at reaching the peak ) . If in January ’98 there were 553 people in October 2011 (the record of what I saw ) their number went up to 10,392 . This gives you a sense about the rising numbers, but also in terms of revenues .

PICTURE WITH THE BOARD

We went down again as it was not straight up, we passed a military check post where we stocked on water, and after we resumed climbing… We had to go from 2,700 to 3,440 m to Namche . Long and frequent breaks – the key to great failures ” said my College teacher at the Fundamentals of Thermodynamics course, Mr. Chisacov , but here on the mountain the reality contradicted the gentleman’s words. Climbing slow the altitude difference is felt harder and the acclimatization is easier.

We stopped at one point on the trail to eat the cheese, bars , dried goji berries and cakes , added some fresh ultrapure water  and as we sat to eat a young man came ( Gorka Sherpa if I remember correctly the name). I offered him two tiny cakes, we talked a bit and then we hit the road together . He stayed for about 30 minutes with us and then went up – we were going too slow for him.

On the trail we found the highest suspension bridge so far, after which the land produced so much dust that if you met a herd of yaks or donkeys you had to stop and put something over your mouth so that you don’t choke. We arrived at a lookout point from which you could easily see Everest. There was also a kind of mini – market where the local women have for sale oranges and apples. There is a fountain + toilet ( closed padlock ) and a box for garbage collection.

We continued and climbed all the hills slowly until we reached another police station at the entrance of Namche . Again we were checked for documents, declared that I have a camera, a laptop and after that we arrived at the village.

PICTURE WITH THE POLICE STATION

The first impression when you see the place is that it is very big … How did people make a place so vast at this altitude ? Perhaps it grew amid the increasing influx of tourists who needed to acclimate here. There are many hotels of all types, stores, shops, restaurants , internet cafés and all, but the prices are prohibitive compared to the city . The same soup as in the city costs here five times more, the water is 100 Rs. (15 Rs. in the city) and so on. What to do? Everything is carried by sherpas or yaks, there are no other means. I would suggest to them to install some zipplines for rapid descent, but I think it would affect the local budget too.

We walked the streets looking for a place a little more attractive and we saw at one time Yak Hotel … „Let’s stay with the yaks !”

We entered, asked how much is the room – 300 Rs. – and negotiated in the idea that it is too much ( we settled at 200 ), after which we went to the room . Much more than the previous , with white sheets ( relatively ) , plug in the camera, a door that closes from both sides.

The house rules were strict – no outside food, no washing in the sink anything,  nothing that they could not take a commission from.

We got some garlic soup for acclimatization ( 1 euro more expensive than at the previous lodge at 2,700 m), after which we supplemented with what I had in the room – bars, cakes, raisins and almonds . If you don’t want to cost a fortune, you have to take stuff with you. If you have enough money , you can pack very light and you take the food from place to place.

The room windows are closed tightly – no wind blows past them like in Manjo – and the blankets, although thinner, are better from the thermal point of view.

Enough for today , now get in acclimatizing mode. We’ll stay an extra day here and we’ll walk until about 3.780 m to see how we feel after that.

Keep your fingers crossed for us !

PICTURE FROM OUR HOTEL WINDOW

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  1. Pingback: "Cum ajung la Everest Base Camp?" | Elena Cîrîc Blog·

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