Thursday, August 16, 2007

Trekking to Everest

One of my goals on this trip was to go to Nepal. I had hoped that while we were in India we could add it to the itenerary and fortunately things worked out. We flew from Delhi to Kathmandu, and altogether spent about 3 weeks total in Nepal (most of that time spent in the Himalayas trekking to Everest Base Camp). This will definitely go down as one of the highlights, if not the highlight, of the trip.

We hired a guide (Kamel) and trekked for 13 days. (16 if you count weather delays) We stayed in Sherpa tea houses along the way. July is low season, coincidentally it's also monsoon season. This meant rain. (luckily we were rarely caught in any rain) Visibility wasn't ideal, but it wasn't bad. The benefit of going in low season was that we practically had the mountains to ourselves. We only saw a few people along the way. The few we did see, quickly became friends because they were most likely going our way and were probably staying at our same tea house that night. We ended up walking with two other trekkers, Lauren (from Florida) and Kelsie (fellow North Carolinian).

The day we climbed to Kala Pattar (where the best views of Everest are) we were very fortunate to have clear weather. We were 5,549 meters above sea level (or almost 3X the height of Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina) and we had perfect 360 degree views of the Himalayas and could see several 8,000+ meter peaks. On the way back we walked over 40 miles in one day. (exhausting to say the least) We were also stranded in the town of Lukla for 4 days because of weather. (believe it or not this isn't that uncommon) Just flying into and out of Lukla was exhilerating. The runway (pictured) is the length of a football field and has a brick wall at one end and a mountain at the other. (needless to say not much room for pilot error) All in all a great experience. Enjoy the pics...

The nerve-racking runway

Dave's pack (left), my pack (right). Not sure what he has in there.

Took this picture of Nuptse early one morning from just outside Tengboche (not sure why but I love this pic)

From left to right - Dave, Kelsie, Lauren, and Mark

From left to right - yak1 and yak2.

Dave and Lauren checking out the himalayas

Trekking is exhausting work...

Typical afternoon at the teahouse, drinking coffee and reading a book

Resting on a boulder and catching our breath

We're at Everest base camp near the Khumbu icefall. There's only half the normal amount of oxygen in the air at this altitude. (only way I can explain this pic)

Another thin air moment

Dave reaching Kala Patar

Kamel, Dave, and I were so excited to reach the top that we did the Toyota jump

It was cold up there

From left to right Lhotse (27,940ft), Everest (29,035ft), and Nuptse (25,726ft)

Dave posing

Thursday, August 09, 2007

India: just like home

From Thailand, Mike, Mark, and I headed over to tackle the chaos of India. Trains running hours late, taxis who try to raise the agreed price after you're already en route, and waiting in line behind the cows are just part of the norm here.

In between the rains during monsoon season we went to the Ghandi house in Bombay. From there we went to Arangabad and explored the ancient Hindu, Buddist, and Jain cave temples of Ellora and Ajanta. Finally, we went to the Taj Mahal the day after it was announced as one of the new 7 wonders of the world. The detail in the Taj Mahal is amazing.

And on a sad note we had to say farewell to Mike after 3 months of travel through SE Asia as he heads to China and then back home. His ready for anything attitude will be missed.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

You Be the Judge

Well, for some time now, I've been told I look like an English football (soccer) player named Michael Owen. I thought it'd be interesting to do a blog entry and see what our heaps of readers think. It started in the U.S where I've been told a couple times, then once in Australia, twice in Indonesia (as I left a convenience store, an Indonesian man held the door and said to me "Right this way, Mr. Owen"), and many times since then. So to test this out a little more (and because he's my favorite English player), I bought his jersey. The first time I wore it, I felt like a celebrity as I couldn't make it down the street without being called out. My next idea is to work on my English accent and get Dave to act as a bodyguard and see just how far I can take this thing.


Doing what I do best.

Look at that other guy's face.

Off the field.