Saturday, January 19, 2013

Namche Bazaar, a bazaar below Mt. Everest

Kathmandu to Jiri is 12 hours by bus.
Namche Bazaar is 7 days walk from Jiri.
Or you can cheat the mountains and catch the scariest flight on this earth and arrive in Lukla in just 35 minutes.
However you may have almost mortal breathing problems, arriving by aircraft and same thing happened with me.
Namche Bazaar

Only mistake that we made was not to climb down from Lukla to assimilate instead we proceeded further towards Namche Bazaar.
One of the most famous stops on the way to Everest is a village called Namche Bazaar at 11,286 feet (3440 meters).
After watching airplanes landing at Lukla finally, we started walking to Phakding.
Yak on Dudh Kosi River bridge
It took us 4 hours to get to Phakding, including a tea stop. It was a pleasing, green and beautiful hike, mostly slightly downhill, but as it followed the Dudh Kosi River for the most part, there were also some short, steep climbs.
Dudh Kosi river drains the Mount Everest massif, the highest peak in the world.
Sagarmatha (Everest) national park gate
It begins just east of Gokyo Lakes and flows south to Namche Bazaar. Continuing south, the Dudh Kosi exits Sagarmatha National Park and passes to the west of Lukla. Then it joins the Sun Kosi from Tibet.
A porter caring enormous weight
When it comes out of mountains, it makes the border between India and Nepal and then it becomes mighty Kosi River.
We eat lunch in Phakding and take the room in the Khumbu Lodge. We go to a nearby monastery, the Pema Choling Monastery.
Porters bringing furniture from Jiri, 6 days walk
The way to the Monastery is quite steep.
24 Buddhist Monks live there full time. One monk opened the inner sanctuary.
In there is a statue of the Guru Rinpoche and 3 smaller statues (one of Buddha). During their big festival in July, about 2000 monks, pilgrims and visitors attend their big celebrations in this monastery. Upon our return back down to Phakding and had a good Everest
Beer. Although this area is 7 days walk from the nearest road but still all the amenities and comfort of life are available here. If no electricity then generators run for some hours at night or there are solar systems installed in the hotels.
Mani prayers hanging on the bridge
After about 2 hours of leisurely walk we reach Monjo and soon thereafter, we are
at the entrance to the Sagarmatha National Park. After we descend to the bridge over the Dudh Kosi, we pass lots of Mani stones and in-scripts. Shortly thereafter we arrive in Jorsale. We had three cups of chang fermented rice wine.
It is the last stop before the brutal climb up to Namche Bazaar. In a restaurant hanging over the river we have lunch. Fried noodles with veggies and garlic soup.
As we were having food some very charismatic American leader arrive there with many of his pupils. He has climbed Mt. Everest, K-2, Mt. Denali and all other highest peaks in all continents.  Many trackers sitting in the restaurant recogniz him and rush to him for his autographs and to have their pictures taken with that Mr. Great Man. 
Namche Bazaar
Like most trekkers, we reach Namche on our second day of hiking, but to get there one must first conquer a very long, and challenging mountain in the thin air that is a test of endurance for just about anyone.
Namche Bazaar
In fact, the day on the trail from Phakding to Namche Bazaar is one of the most challenging of the entire trek because we gain more than 2600 feet (800 meters) in altitude.
Whoever makes this trek ends up spending at least an extra day in Namche, giving them a chance to rest and acclimatize. I was in very bad shape when I arrived here, I was having serious breathing problems.
Namche Bazaar
At night I simple wanted to die and wanted the suffering to come to an end. I was extremely tired of breathing and several times I tried to stop myself to breath but my body didn’t cooperate me and I was unable to kill myself by stopping my own breathing. Next day we walked back to Phakding and stayed there for another night and then made this torturous climb back to Nanche again.
Namche Bazaar
Nested along the semi-circular shaped slopes of the Khumbu Valley, Namche Bazaar is both fascinating and wearing all at the same time. The constricted streets are lined with mountain gear shops and teahouses. Unfortunately you will climb more steps than you’d care to count just to visit any of them in such thin air.
Mani prayers stones
Luckily, Namche has some of the most comfortable and inviting teahouses in the entire region. You can even get a warm shower (for an extra charge!) and a TV in the common room. Things are very expensive here and be prepared to pay in dollars.
View of Mount Everest and Namche Bazaar below
Everything comes here on mules and it takes more than a week for mules to arrive here from the nearest road-head of Jiri.
Namche Bazaar
Namche has population of roughly 1500 people and it is the largest town in the Khumbu Valley, and as such, has a number of facilities that you won’t find as you go higher. For instance, there is an actual bank in Namche, a police checkpoint, and a Karaoke bar. Internet cafes are common as well, although speed is very slow.
That population in Namche swells to several times during the spring and fall trekking seasons of course, with backpackers and climbers crowd this area.
Often you will hear a dozen languages being spoken at just any teahouse. You will see people from many countries. I found several people form New Jersey where I live. Only Indians I found was a Bengali trekking party of 6 young men.
Namche Bazaar
You may not find all the trakking gear in Denver (USA) but here in Namche you will find just each and everything whether it’s boots, sleeping bags, oxygen bottles or warmer clothes, you’ll find everything you could possibly need, often at great bargaining prices. It was too tempting to buy a butterfly camping stove that I’ve postponing to buy it for years due to its price, I didn’t buy it because I had to carry it all the way to India. Moreover one can carry just 15 kg weight on the flight from Lukla to Kathmandu.
The reason these things are available as well cheap here because when people return from their missions they discard all the excess weight here and catch a flight back to Kathmandu.
All the excess weight either goes by mules to Jiri or by air from Lukla and it is not worth it so people just sell off their beloved gears here and return home empty.
Stupa on the trail
Some of the gear is authentic, some are cheap imitation, but at Namche Bazar every outdoor gear lover’s dream comes true, and while it is possible to purchase some items later on the trek till Everest base camp, every thing gets more expensive the higher you go.
Rising numbers of climbers have been attempting the Mount Everest, and more of them have been making it. And these aren’t just experienced mountaineers — with the help of more advanced equipment and dedicated sherpas, amateurs are also attempting the climb and making it an the top of the world.
Traffic Jams on the Mount Everest. Picture courtesy: National Geographic Magazine
But all of those climbers have caused bottlenecks along the climbing routes; some of these even caused waits of 2.5 hours at certain points. Some days as many as fifty people climb Mt. Everest.
After the climb they feel the triumph and discard their all gear at Namche Bazar so it has become a Mandi for mountaineering gear that includes food cans also.

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