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December 2018 - Update from Nepal


I arrived in Nepal on 09 October once again to a very pleasant 30c temperature, yet again much better than I had left behind in the UK.

I had a busy two weeks or so planned before I hoped to make a visit into Khumbu and up to Tengboche Monastery. However, it didnít turn out like that. I managed only one day at the office in Thamel before the start of the main Hindu festival of Dashain, then all Kathmandu was closed down for almost two weeks and it was not possible to get anything done. It was reported in local press, and other media, that during the days leading up to the festival more than 2 million people left Kathmandu and the surrounding valley area to travel to their maternal villages to spend time with their families. All Sherpa are Buddhist and we donít celebrate this Hindu festival and it was just a total disruption for everyone. It was almost ten days before office facilities were available again and then a very busy time meeting and coming up to date with people and organisations I am involved with.

I managed to arrange my visit up to Khumbu and Tengboche with a flight date of 30 October. However, as can often be the case with flights to Lukla mine was delayed by the weather. The weather was fine and clear in Kathmandu and in Lukla but there was heavy low cloud in the flight path halfway between Kathmandu and Lukla making conditions not suitable for the small planes to fly. It did clear later in the day and my flight did go but as it was a mid afternoon arrival I had to decide to spend the night in Lukla because there would not be enough time to reach Phakding before dark.

I was alone on this occasion and with no fixed programme it did not make too much difference, only reaching Tengboche a day later than planned. However, it should be noted by others wishing to visit Khumbu region that just a few hours delay in the flight to Lukla could cause difficulties and disruption to a fixed programme and some spare days should always be built in to accommodate any such delays.

This year Mani Rimdu Festival at Tengboche was held during the full moon period of October and although I was in Kathmandu I was not able to be at Tengboche for Mani Rimdu on this occasion.

I was able to have five days at Tengboche and I spent much of this time assisting my friends of many years in the Tashi Delek Lodge, this season the Khumbu was very busy with many trekkers and all the lodges at Tengboche were full every night I was there and had been the same for almost a month previously and it even continued after I left. Although this high level of business may be good for the Khumbu it also brings with it many problems for the lodge owners. They have to endure lots of tension with all the work and little time for rest during a day, the kitchen staff are busy from early morning to late at night with all the meals to prepare and serve, when breakfasts are over and groups leave there is all the cleaning of the lodge and changing the rooms etc. then it is lunch time with another lot of groups passing through, all the cleaning and clearing up after lunch and soon the overnight groups begin arriving and it all starts all over again. It has been my experience over many years that there are some groups who do not appreciate the service they are given and pressure the lodge staff to get things done before others, even when all groups are expected to give times for meals etc.

The day after I arrived at Tengboche the Ringpoche (Reincarnate Head Lama of the Monastery) was due to leave Tengboche, by helicopter, and return to Kathmandu for the winter break. I was very fortunate to be able to meet with him in the morning before he left in the afternoon. As I have said many times previously it is always a special privilege for me to meet with the Ringpoche as it was yet again on this occasion.

During my time at Tengboche the weather was good with warm sun during the day, clear skies gave excellent views of the mountains, Amadablam, Everest, and the Lhotse/Nuptse ridge, as usual at this time of the year mid to late afternoon the cloud comes down and it is much colder. On two mornings there was a white frost on the ground and trees but no snow. I needed to wear several layers but didnít have to resort to using my thermals!!!

My return to Lukla from Tengboche was also affected by the high number of tourists trekking into the Khumbu, on the long decent from Namche Bazaar I was delayed by more than two hours, from my usual time for this decent, by the unusually high number of trekkers and pack animals coming up to Namche. I donít think I have seen so many for several years. There was a continuous line on many occasions and some of the Ďpony trainsí numbered almost fifty animals, they were carrying cooking gas bottles, kerosene, and 30kg bags of rice up to the various villages higher up in Khumbu. All of this was causing major delays on the various bridges and other sections of the trail. When I came down to the Jorsalle national park check point one of the staff who knows me said that more than seven hundred tourists plus Nepali guides had checked out through the check post that day so far, and it was only 11.00.hrs. Obviously they were surprised by the numbers also.

I usually allow two days at Lukla on the return trek and I can make a visit down to Chaurikhaka village to Yangjiís motherís house, I generally bring some food items from Yangji for mother when I arrive to Lukla and Mother usually sends some potatoes and other things back to Kathmandu. Once again the weather caused problems, on the day of my flight there was low cloud down over Lukla until mid day, the first flights from Kathmandu usually arrives in Lukla by 06.45/07.00hrs on this occasion it could not arrive until after 13.00hrs and although the second flights did come all the following ones for that day were cancelled, this included mine and I had to wait until the next day to return to Kathmandu. Yet again this emphasises the need for groups with fixed programmes to build in extra days to accommodate such delays.

Nepal Trekking in Nepal:

In Kapan on the outskirts of Kathmandu all is well with the family. We still have to endure the road works now in the fourth year and still no hard surface, only mud, continuing work at various places continue to restrict access by car etc. When it is dry rising dust adds to the air pollution and when it is wet you are walking in a sea of mud.

On a brighter note Kunga Doma gained excellent marks in her end of year 11 exam and is now in year 12 continuing her studies. Tshiring and his colleagues have now established their business making websites, apps and also inventory/stock management systems, they have completed a number of websites and they are getting a reasonable amount of work to keep them busy. They are also working on their own ordering and billing systems that they can then sell on to hotels, restaurants and others.

As always we are very grateful to everyone who gives us support for our work direct in Nepal. Support both financially and with the continued supply of clothing for children and adults in the villages and in Kathmandu. This is an ongoing project and if any donations of funding or good used clothing for children, teenagers and adults (small and medium sizes are best for adults) are available please contact Denis any time to arrange. Direct funding is always required, specifically for Education Funding which I hope you may be able to assist with a donation. Our projects are ongoing and we look forward to continued support in the months and years ahead. If you can help with any of our projects, or you require any further information, please contact Denis direct (email and phone details enclosed). You can Make a Difference.

Denis Gallagher
Nepal Trekking
December 2018