Getting to the base camp of Mt. Everest involved some very long travel days, some incredibly bumpy roads and some of the best mountain views imaginable. We stayed in incredibly basic accommodation. We spent the night at the world’s highest monastery at over 5000 meters. No running water and multi-share rooms. The toilet was simply a raised outdoor hut split for men and women each with two side-by-side holes in the floor for multiple no-privacy use. The women’s side had no door so it could be seen from the outside and I was told the floor felt like it could give way into the massive pile of excrement that had built up over the years. Not Leanne’s favourite accommodation. The views of Everest helped make up for it. The weather couldn’t have been better and we had picture-perfect views of the world’s tallest mountain. From where we stayed we could get to tent city in 3km and from there to Base Camp One in another 4km. Visiting Base Camp required a permit, which we had, but it only offered a closer view as there were no climbers there preparing for an ascent to the top. They are expected to arrive in early November.
From Everest we made a long journey to a lousy little town called Nyalam. It is a tiny place and the locals were generally unfriendly. One little kid was trying to run cattle down the street into us. We had shared squatters to use a distance from the room and I had to go across the street and pay to use the public showers to wash up after our Everest visit. In the evening a few of us went to a pub on the top floor of a neighbouring building. The girls who worked there were really funny and wanted to learn a bit of English. They also tried to get Leanne to dance with them, but had little success. We were the only ones there in the main area, but there was a private room that had some others in it. It turned out to be a good night. The following morning we didn’t hear my alarm. This is the first time ever on our trip. It was on my wrist buried under five layers of blankets as there was no heat in the room. We awoke to someone banging on our door. It was 6:10 AM and we needed to be packed and leaving at 6:15. The urgency to go was to make it through a road pass that had a lot of washouts on it before construction resumed at 8AM and would keep it closed for 12 hours. The road seemed treacherous but it was too dark to see any of the scenery. We arrived eventually in the border town of Zhangmu where we left our bus behind and carried our bags a kilometre or two past all the trucks waiting to clear customs. Leaving China from this border is a royal pain. They pick through everything in your bag and flip through all the pages in your books and magazines looking for anything supporting the independence of Tibet from China. Leanne and I were lucky that the person who searched us was taking a break from being thorough after the people ahead of us. Everyone eventually made it through and we crossed into Nepal.
Photos can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=130514&id=673382190&l=f71900c82b or on our web at http://mcwilliams.ca/photos/China