June 3, 2003 Kathmandu Dispatch
Our walk back out of the Khumbu region was an easy one. We left Namche on Saturday morning after stopping briefly at the famous Namche weekly market, a bustling and crowded scene where vegetables and meat are sold to the Sherpas people by porters who have carried the goods into Namche for this Saturday event.
The goods are laid out on tarps and mats on the ground. This may be the only place on our entire trip where things were for sale, yet Lloyd and Peter found nothing to buy. For even the truest lover of Nepal, a visit to the weekly market can make one long for the clean supermarkets of home or even of Kathmandu.
We trekked down to Phakding, which you will remember is at 8,800 feet along the Dudh Kosi River, a notably low elevation for us after having been all the way to Kala Patar and Everest Base Camp.
At Phakding, we ran into an old Sherpa friend of mine, Pasang from Thame. Pasang lost all his fingers to frostbite years ago on an expedition. Now he is one of the best artists in the Khumbu who is painting traditional Tibetan Thanka paintings. Both Peter and Lloyd purchased original pieces by Pasang. These depicted the villages and monasteries of the Everest Region that we had just visited.
The following morning before we left for Lukla, Pasang met us again and gave us a good luck Khata blessings for our travels.
I should mention that Lloyd and Peter had begun to think of one final challenge at the end of their trek. With the right luck, and the connections of people like Ang Temba and Peak Promotions, it is possible to go from Lukla to Bangkok in a day. Which is to say it is possible to travel across a few centuries and leave the peace and tradition of the Sherpa’s homeland for modern, urban Asia in the span of a few hours.
This is not recommended for the casual traveler and it is a distinctly unappealing thing for most people who have been immersed in three weeks of trekking life. But it was becoming apparent that this was what Peter and Lloyd were hoping to try for on April 2nd.
But first we had a tradition to participate in at Lukla. This was the final trekking meal prepared by our Sherpa staff, the presenting of tips to these wonderful fellows, and the party that always follows. Of the entire staff of 15 people who had accompanied us, only Min and Ang Temba were returning to Kathmandu. The rest of the crew would trek back to their village and their families after we flew away from Lukla.
After an excellent meal of roasted fresh chicken, steamed vegetables and potatoes, we enjoyed a cake. The entire staff was gathering around as we finished the meals and drinks were shared by all. Then we had a real treat....
Lloyd stood up and told an animated, engaging “Yeti” tale that had the Sherpas and myself spellbound and eventually roaring with laughter. These photos and the smiles on the faces will show some of the spirit of the evening.
The following morning we awoke to clouds, not an unusual situation in early June with the impending monsoon approaching Nepal. But as Peter and Lloyd’s luck would have it, we heard a Yeti Airlines Twin Otter approaching the Lukla airstrip before 7:00 am. I am writing this final dispatch for our trip from the Yak and Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu, and I am happy to report that Lloyd and Peter did make their Bangkok - in a day!
From Nepal, I wish them the best in their continued travels. I suspect that they will soon be missing the smiles, colors, sights and sounds of Nepal, it’s peace, it’s surprises, and the simple and rigorous routines of trekking life.
We already miss them.
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