Before we start the day lets talk about tea houses, our accommodation of choice on our trek.
There may be a more upmarket choice of digs up until Namche, but aside from the odd hotel all offerings are tea houses, or lodges.
Most, if not all, are family run and comprise dining room with separate sleeping quarters.
Sometime in the past a very persuasive salesman must have traveled these parts selling particle board by the ton, as it is the prevailing building material in all lodges.
The sleeping quarters are a 3×3 particle box with single beds on each side and maybe a small table between then. The thin mattresses sit, surprisingly, on a particle board slab, with doonas on top with very strange covers made mainly of velour, which play havoc with thermals.
Every time I’d turn over I’d have the doona cling to me like an over possessive girlfriend, prompting much wrangling to extricate myself from this unhealthy relationship.
We are provided sleeping bags with inner liners, but up until now the temperature hasn’t required their use, but one more velour induced tug of war, and out it comes!
The dining rooms are the hub of the lodge, providing meals, hot drinks, conversation, and warmth from the central potbellied stoves.
The days have been mild up till now, but the nights become cold, and the warmth from the stove is much welcomed by all, except maybe Liz, who has a tendency to combust pretty quickly!
These stoves are heated by wood up until about 4000mt, but from there is above the tree line, so the heating is provided by kerosene and Yak dung.
‘Heated by shit’ was the charming terminology used by our friend Rod, and both apt and correct it proves.
Dung is collected, molded into patties about plate sizes and slapped onto pretty much any surface to dry. Once dry it is stored to be used as required, providing effective, and surprisingly stink free heating fuel.
So, we are warm and stink free in the dining room filled with trekkers from all parts of the world. Our meals are ordered in advance, and normally come out about an hour later, served by our guides, who then proceed to hover over us like boarding house masters as we eat, checking our appetite is good, as a lack of appetite is an early warning of altitude sickness.
The lodges offer WiFi at a cost of about 500nrp ($6), power charging at about the same cost, hot showers (300nrp), and maybe laundry cleaning.
Toilets tend to be of the ‘squat’ variety, with manual flushing via adjacent bucket, byo toilet paper, or as Rachael eloquently puts them, “shit tickets”.
Meanwhile, back to the trek!
We had a fairly easy day today of about 4 hours, with a gradual climb along the river valley as we moved up to its source at Gokyo (4800mt)
Along the way we passed lake 1 & 2, before greeting the largest, and most spectacular lake, at the small lodge village of Gokyo which in the main services trekkers who converge here from about four different points.
The walk may have been relatively straightforward, but the higher altitude plays havoc with the breathing. The air is getting progressively thinner up here, and to put it into perspective, at 5000 metres there is only 57% of the oxygen as compared to sea level.
At our highest altitude of 5550mt there is only 50%!
Anyhow, we are here in one piece, still breathing and feeling ok, and probably not really looking forward to tomorrow’s walk up to Gokyo Ri (5350mt) which is the view we can see right now as we enjoy a coffee.
Oh, and just to finish the discussion on tea houses, tonight (and tomorrow nights) offering is literally a building under construction, no lights, no power, and not sure if the dunnies have been finished!