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Walking through the Magic Gate: A Month in the Nepali Himalaya – Part 2

March 10, 2009

| Image by photos by Uli Loskot

Phakding, with an altitude of 2600 meters (200 meters below Lukla) is a perfect place to acclimatize oneself to the altitude. From here it’s a one day hike up to the village of Namche Bazaar at 3420 meters.

I slept really well and feel refreshed. I make sure I let the herds of trekking groups get up and busy first and feel no hurry to get going.

This morning the sky is overcast and it’s drizzling. It feels like a cold and grey rainy summer’s day in Austria. The paths are wet and muddy and the early barley fields seem even juicier and greener. A lot of the locals carry umbrellas instead of rain coats, which makes for an urban flair in the middle of the mountain. In Kathmandu I have already obtained a Trekker´s Registration Card, which categorizes me in the green group as a Free Individual Trekker (FIT). If you want to trek in the Everest Region though you won´t get around paying an entrance fee of 1000 Nepali Rupee (about 12 US Dollars) in order to be able to enter the Sagarmatha National Park, which lays in this region. The park entrance can’t be missed. It’s a big official looking building that contains a somewhat worn relief of the Region and a desk to pay. It started raining heavier, which is a great opportunity to hang out and play a board game with the guys working here. Once the rain decreases I feel ready to enter through the big colorful gate with Tibetan Buddhist paintings and prayer wheels. It is like entering a fairy tale realm or a secret, hidden land. The view from here down into the valley and up into the snow covered peaks is truly magical. The rest of my day turns out to be less enchanting. Most of the path to Namche Bazaar is a steep uphill section. My bag feels heavy, but in spite of what everybody else besides me is carrying up here I have nothing on my back.

I meet Andi, Tina and Andreas only once today, but they tell me to check into the Thamserku Lodge in Namche. Good to know, because by the time I finally reach Namche I am taken aback by how big it is and how this place in the middle of the mountains far away from any transportation infrastructure exists. The narrow streets of this amphitheater shaped village are lined with various shops, jewelers, bakeries, restaurants and mountain outfitters. Everything human made I can see and feel here has been carried up here. Amazing!

The Thamserku Lodge proofs to be a very cozy and rustic place with a strong, friendly and fierce lady of the house. I get my own all wooden room, unheated, but with lots of blankets and go down to the warm living room to have dinner with the Austrians.

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