Day 1 Part 2 … Lukla to Phakding, no… Monjo!
Continuing from …. Day 1 of EBC Trek
The trail from Lukla to Phakding was just amazing. We passed by a few hamlets and my porter was a bit surprised when I wanted to know the names of each of the villages. Of course to humour me, he kept reeling off names, all of which sounded quite similar. At one point I thought he was just making up the names. It was his way of shutting me up!
There were many Buddhist prayer wheels, chortens (stupa) and also prayer stones called Mani stones, along the way. On each of these stones, the Buddhist prayer “Om mani padme hum” is engraved many times over, in Tibetan script. The trail was presently along the famous Doodh Koshi River. From that height the water looked like frothing milk (Doodh) with a blue tinge.
After a few minutes on the trail I saw the first Yak Train. My first live view of a yak! A long line of yaks carrying sacks of food stuffs. The guide said that I was wrong. It was not a yak but a zopkyo. It won’t be out of place to tell here that one won’t meet anyone else except people, sometime dogs and zopkyos on these trails. A zopkyo is a cross between a cow and yak or a bull and a nak. A nak is the female yak. Please remember, if you want to buy yak cheese ask for nak cheese. A yak cheese does not exist.
Yaks are normally found about 3500 metres.
Ok, after this short biology lesson let us move on. You don’t want to be caught in their midst. While you are careful not to touch them even, they normally don’t even see you and they will keep pushing you and rubbing their coarse hair all over you. Best is to go to the hillside of the trail and take a higher ground than the trail. If you take valley side…well they don’t really care what happens to you. 😀 They are most important to the local folks as anything from food stuffs, to clothes, gas cylinders, to all needs of villagers above are ferried by these animals or human porters.
Destination too soon
We crossed the first of the famous hanging bridges (Cable Stayed Bridges) of Nepal. It looked quite solid but once I started walking, it moved up and down and the side by side. It was as if it had a life of its own and its only objective was to throw me over board. Ha, I was up to its machinations. I just synchronized my movements to its and then all was well. After less than 3 hours of nonstop hike we reached Phakding, our destination. It was mostly downhill with a short uphill just before reaching Phakding.
We had our lunch at the tea-house where we were to stay. It was normal to eat at the same tea-house where you stay. The hotel room / bed charges are very low and the major earning is by the restaurant business. I have to mention, even though it is normal to call these tea-houses, I think over the period of time they have all grown to become lodges, inns or hotels.
So the first day trek was over already? It was not even eleven! Just then I had an idea. The next day was going to be quite tough, uphill climb to Namche Bazaar that I had heard about. So I asked Sonam, if we could continue to Monjo today itself after lunch and that would save a lot of time the next day. He made some calls and said it was ok. It would take three hours more and I had all the time in the day!
The going was not so easy, especially after a lunch of Dal Bhath and vegetables and washing it down with a cup of hot lemon tea (my favourite). After a lot of ups and downs and huffing and puffing and crossing some more hanging bridges, I somehow reached Monjo. Just before Monjo I got my trekking permit. This is the last place to get your entrance permit and trekkers ID Card, if you have not already got them at Kathmandu. For Indians / SAARC citizens total costs is just around USD 23.
It began to rain as we entered our lodge and it started becoming very cold. The time was just about 2:30PM! There had been a light drizzle once in a while but now there was steady downpour. We were quite lucky to have reached the inn, which was in the final stages of renovation but the heater was not functioning yet. Apparently, I was the first one to stay after the renovation.
However the warmth of the reception by the kind inn keeper ensured I would be alright! Soon I was joined by an American couple, who were also bloggers, whom I would meet every day from then on. With a hot cup of lemon tea (did I say it was my favourite?) and a hot mixed vegetable soup inside me, I was almost my former self. I would have loved to explore Monjo but incessant rains put paid to any such thoughts. After an early dinner and some rounds of tea I went off to sleep. It was just 8:00PM!
The room was very basic but spacious and furnished with a bed and quilt. I was happy about one more thing. There was a power outlet! I could charge my cell phone and camera batteries.
A Sherpani (a woman Sherpa) owned this lodge and managed it while her husband was working in the city. Their children were studying abroad! In almost all the places I stayed, this was an oft repeated story. EBC tourism is a boon to these lodge owners that most of them can afford to send their children abroad for higher studies. The children almost always never return. This lady was worried about the future of the lodge, once she grew old!
My plan for the next day was to have an early breakfast and start so that we could cover all the distance to Namche at reasonable time.
Lukla Altitude 2828M
Phakding – 2600M
Monjo – 2769M
Lowest – 2464M
Highest – 2828M
Lukla to Phakding 2hrs 42 mins
Phakding to Monjo 2hrs 36 mins
Lukla to Phakding 10.5 KM
Phakding to Monjo 5.9 KM
TIMS Individual Trekkers Card SAARC NPR 600 (~6 USD)
TIMS Individual Trekkers Card OTHERS NPR 1000 (~10 USD)
Group Trekkers Card NPR 2000 (~20 USD)
Sagarmatha National Park Entrance Permit SAARC NPR 1695 (~17 USD)
Sagarmatha National Park Entrance Permit OTHERS NPR 3390 (~34 USD)
*All the above costs are including 13%VAT
*TIMS- Trekker Information Management System
*SAARC – South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, (SAARC) if you are from SAARC country, i.e. India, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
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