18 March 2012
What do you like to do in your down time? Well, when your SmilePlus dentist takes some time off, she likes to go trekking. Her most recent trek was something she’d been dreaming about for a long time: Kathmandu. If you’re an armchair traveler, you might be interested in her journal. . . .
Kathmandu–Lukla (2866m/9403 ft.)–Phakding (2650 m/9248 ft.)
“So, what exactly is momo?” I was asking Mindu Sherpa, our trek leader, as I perused a three-page-long menu. We were having a lunch at a teahouse, in the little village of Phakding, in the Himalayas.
The teahouse was clean and pleasant, and, after a three-and-a-half-hour trek from Lukla Airport, we were ready for a sit-down place for lunch. I was surprised to see all the choices on the menu: If I had wanted to try a different item three times a day for next eleven days, I still wouldn’t run out of options!
Mindu, with his big innocent grin, explained to me that momo was a traditional Nepalese and Tibetan dish, a kind of dumpling filled with meat, vegetables, or cheese.
”Hmmm . . . sounds interesting,” I said, and ordered a large plate of the vegetable variety.
Delle, our teammate, an emergency physician from the U.K., decided to play it safe and order daal-bhaat (curried lentils with rice). Anil, my brother, from North Carolina, ordered vegetable fried noodles, and Dharmesh, my husband, ordered daal-bhaat with tarkari (assortment of sautéed or curried vegetables)
Our very first day of trekking had been a lot of fun and surprisingly easy. From Kathmandu, we had taken a fifteen-seat plane to Lukla Airport. Lukla Airport was known as the “gateway to the Himalayas,” since all the trekkers and climbers who journeyed to the Everest region (also called Khumbu region) started at Lukla.
As we had flown in, we had spectacular views of the Himalayan range, with Mindu pointing out the different peaks whose names we had previously only read about. Mindu, our trek leader and a six-time Everest summitter, had joined us at Kathmandu.
After a forty-minute flight, we had come into Lukla, and suddenly felt a big jolt as we landed safely on one of the shortest and most dangerous runways in the world. After disembarking, we had been introduced to our porters and to Dawa, our assistant trek leader.
“No airport shuttle, huh?” I had asked Dharmesh, as we walked out of the airport terminal and realized that the first leg of our trek had already begun—to Phakding, where we were now enjoying lunch.
To help with our altitude acclimatization, Mindu suggested that we take another short trek, this time to a monastery. It was a steep, thirty-minute trail to the picturesque community. We stopped by to visit the monastery school, where children were learning English, and then walked down to the lodge. At the Dudh Koshi River, we stopped briefly, to relax by the water, and Anil and I played with our cameras, trying to get a few snaps of the beautiful river.
Next, we were shown to our accommodations—in the teahouse-lodge—complete with hot showers and cozy beds. The Everest Base Camp trek is lined by many such lodges, providing trekkers with unexpected and awesome luxury!