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Erasure : Vince's Nepalese Diary

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Vince ClarkeVince trekked around Nepal a couple of years ago to raise money for the charity 'Scope'. He recorded his experiences for the Erasure Information Service, from which this diary is from. All copyright Vince Clarke/EIS 2004

...here are bits of my Nepalese diary [please excuse the toilet talk]
Well, here I am again... Heathrow Airport, terminal 3, swilling lager and chain smoking with 50 or so other trekkers, preparing for the 16 hour night flight to Kathmandu via Doha. We board the Qater Airline early Friday evening and squeeze into what must be the worlds' smallest passenger seats. Even 'midget size' me cannot get comfortable with my knees pressed up against my chin. The only way to eat the flight food provided is to take turns with the persons I am sitting next to and swallow sideways.
After 16 hours of [hell] flying we crawl off the plane into Kathmandu Airport where we are met by 2 'Nepalese Style' busses and are driven through the city to the Summit Hotel for our first night in Nepal. After a goods nights' sleep and a day and a night to look round Kathmandu, we re-board the busses and drive 6 hours through dusty villages, up long and winding mountain roads to begin the trek.

Day One: Pokhara-Bajung
We're off!... er... up (and up and up etc). We march through tiny villages and farms getting our first taste of the Himalayas. It's hot'n'sticky, but everyone is in a great mood. We separate into 3 distinct groups:
1. Fast n' Fit
2. Not Fast or Fit
3. Slow Motion
We arrive at the first campsite at around 5pm and I do my first mountain poo... YES!!! At around 8pm it starts raining like you wouldn't believe! The noise of the downpour makes it difficult to sleep and when I am eventually about to drift off I am overwhelmed by a desperate need to pee. This involves struggling out of a warm but slightly damp sleeping bag then boots on, waterproofs on, torch on, tripping over guide ropes, waking up the whole campsite, cursing, peeing and then back into the tent which is now slightly leaking down one end. Then just as I close my eyes...

Day Two: Bajung-Pati Bhanjang
We are woken at around 6am and after a cup of hot, sweet tea and a bowl of porridge [I think?] we are encouraged to take part in a stretch routine led by 'Neville', a fellow trekker who happens to be a personal fitness trainer. The Sherpas and porters look on with amazement as 50 westerners of every shape and size bend and stretch and generally leap about in the freezing morning air. At 7.30 am we are off on our ascent, with views of the lower reaches of the KaliGandaki Valley and line after line of foothills, fading into the haze [ I copied the last sentence from the info pack... heh! heh!]. We pass through more subsistence farming country, more up and up and finally arrive at the campsite at a pass under Poon Hill known as Pati Bhanjang. I decide to brave the shower tent this afternoon... crude, but brilliant! I am clean and socially acceptable. The Sherpas light a camp fire, and after a few beers everybody is singin'n'jokin' i.e. our singing is a joke.

Day Three: Pati Bhanjang-Ghorepani
It is freezing in the morning and even our bottled water is topped with icicles. The daily routine is generally 5 hours' walking in the morning and 3-4 hours walking in the afternoon and a lot of the route today is in knee deep snow so there's a lot of slippin'n'slidin'. The route is less ridges and more ups'n'downs than the trip I took part in a couple of years ago and by 3pm we reach the highest point of the trek... Poon Hill. Its a spectacular spot with views of Dhaulagiri Himal, Annapurna I, Annapurna South and Machapuchare [these are all 'mountain type things']. We are now at 3150 metres above sea level but us smokers are used to gasping for breath so there are no problems with the altitude. This evening we get to stay at a lodge in the village of Ghoepani... luxury or what!! There is a real bed [raised platform] and... wait for it... a light bulb! Later, me and me ol' mate Geoffrey gather round the lodge stove and share Nepalese rum and cigarettes with some of the porters. There are 85 porters and Sherpas on this trip and 5 of those are women. Their incredible strength and stamina put us 'light weight walkers to shame... perhaps it's the rum?

Day Four: Ghorepani-Hille
The route today is more down than up and although this sounds as if it might be easier... it ain't! We walk down roughly hewn stone steps for about 7 hours and it knackers your knees. At lunch time we were sitting eating our noodle soup when a couple of locals took hold of a tethered sheep and proceeded to butcher it in front of our very eyes [welcome to reality]. I had to leave the scene and needless to say its gonna be a while before I ever eat lamb again. The campsite that evening is in a beautiful terraced village called Hille, and when we arrived I was feeling all macho and took a very [very] cold shower. After dinner, me and my friends gathered in a small bar to rehearse our self-penned collection of limericks for the trek-end party on Saturday. Hanging above the table in the bar was a voice activated canary in a cage, so every time we got to the the punch line of the limerick this model bird would start tweeting and whistling. Needless to say, we all got very drunk and I was especially glad to snuggle into my sleeping bag. I invariably woke up in the middle of the night, crawled out of the tent and had the longest pee I've ever had in my entire life!

Day Five: Hille-Naya Pul
The morning's trek is is incredibly peaceful and beautiful, following the river Khola along a path overhung by trees with the sunshine glinting through the branches. And then, just as everybody is feeling really content and at ease with the world, the route takes us up a steep [nay vertical] hill. After 3 hours' of huffing and puffing we reach the campsite and it is like being on top of the world. This will be the last night under canvas in a sleeping bag so... sod the shower, I'm stinky and I don't care! The evening meal is followed by lots of 'well done' speeches from Sara and Libby, the main organisers, and then the porters and Sherpas are presented with their well-deserved bonuses. At the drop of a hat [and a drop of Nepalese rum] everyone is drinking and dancing round the campfire like loonies... a most satisfying day!

Day Six: Naya Pul-Lumle
An easy, last trek down to the awaiting busses and we are once again making our way back to Kathmandu. The bus journey is held up by a small rock slide blocking the road but after 7 hours' of hot and dusty driving, we are back in the city. In the evening there is a sorta' buffet in the hotel and then presentations for 'loudest snorer', 'heaviest smoker', 'silliest hat wearer' etc. A couple of trekkers who have children with Cerebral Palsy talk a little about their kids and focus everybody's minds on what this whole adventure has been about.
This has been a fantastic experience for me and I hope a great help to Scope.

Erasure Information Service 2004.

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