I’m finally managing to update everyone from the village of Gorek Shep which is just 2.5h from Everest Base Camp. It’s amazing that there is mobile phone reception here at 5180m above sea level when there was none all the way from Phortse. We managed to catch a glimpse of Everest finally before the clouds started moving in during our walk from Lobuche to Gorek Shep this morning. The temperature is below 0 deg C in the day now even though the sun is shining bright. My hands are really cold as I’m typing this post on my laptop. The further we trekked up the valley and the higher we get en route to base camp, the more expensive everything got. As I said, everything here, from food to equipment to building materials has to be carried manually up the hills. Thus prices of food and drinks are more expensive than that in Singapore. Even a litre of hot water costs about 5 SGD. Battery charging costs about 6 SGD per hour. Hot showers are available but at about 15 SGD per 20litres of hot water and a simple meal would cost close to 10 SGD. There are just so many trekkers, porters, Sherpa and yaks ferrying loads to and from Everest base camp. From a distance, the animal and human traffic looks like ants walking on a trail carrying their precious supplements towards their nest. It has been difficult getting lodges to stay at especially at the higher villages. The whole village of Gorek Shep was full or pre booked when we arrived that we’ve to settle for a lodge with a dorm room system with no blankets. I’m glad that I’ll finally be reaching base camp tmr and can eat, drink and sleep in comfort without worrying about the price.
Yesterday marked 1 month since my arrival in Nepal. Time has flown by so fast and I’m about to embark on phase 2 of my Himalayan adventure – the Everest expedition proper. I picked up Dr Gayathri and Dr Shuwei from Lukla airport after a 2 day walk down from Phortse about a week ago. Then we began our slow ascent up the Khumbu valley with Everest Base Camp as the destination in mind. Since it was Shuwei’s 1st experience at altitude, we decided to play it cautiously and ascend slowly, having frequent stops and trying not to ascend more than 300m a day.
A visit to Phortse was mandatory since Gayathri would be spending most of her time after sending me off at EBC running the clinic which was set up. We spent 2 nights there. I introduced Shuwei and Gayathri to the villagers, her home stay hosts and her translators. We visited the clinic and unpacked and stock took all the medical resupplies that they had brought from Singapore and Kathmandu. That took a whole day’s work. Another 80kg of medications and equipment was added to the pre existing medical supplies. We also visited some villagers to pass them some special equipment and medications that we not available in the region. We hoped that our small gestures made at least a small difference in their lives.
After 8 days, we’re finally at the last village before hitting base camp. The cold and the altitude have taken a toll on the 2 and they’ve agreed that the trek has definitely been tougher than they had expected. These are their thoughts.
“What were mere words 4 yrs ago have manifested itself into the actually journey that I’m embarking on today. I have dreamt of trekking to EBC ever since a kid but accompanying a special someone is indeed an added bonus. Sitting at the foot of Everest, I can’t imagine Kumaran is going to climb the icy, steep peak that I can barely see. I underestimated the journey from Lukla to Everest base camp. I can’t believe Kumaran said ‘No prob. I will walk from Phortse to Lukla to pick you up’ when we were planning our trip in Singapore. He made it sound like he was walking from orchard rd to little India to pick us up. After sending Kumaran off, I will be taking over the clinic at Phortse. The altitude does take a toll on oneself. I am amazed at Kumaran’s stamina throughout. As the villagers of Phortse put it, he is not just ‘Kumaran’. He is Kumar Sherpa. He has been mistaken for our guide numerous times along our trek so far. In my eyes, he has conquered more than just summiting the peak of Everest.”
“I decided that I wanted to accompany my friend, Kumaran whom we fondly know as ‘Maran’ since our secondary school days, just about two months ago; ‘we’ being the circle of scouting friends from 01 Raffles Scout Group. I know Maran since we were Sec 1s, as fellow scouts through 01 and he will forever be a close friend and confidant from this closely knitted community that I have always appreciated till this day. Today, less than a day away from the ultimate aim of travelling to Everest Base Camp to send my scouting friend off on his remarkable journey of conquering the world’s highest peak, I reflect on the reason why I have chosen to embark on this road with him. Life is about options and opportunities. By selecting an option, we forego other opportunities that could have been taken. Being my first exposure to high altitudes, the past eight days of trekking have been a humbling experience for me. Every day’s trek is a challenge to the unaccustomed. Yet I believe in the value of this journey, albeit a short one compared to the much longer road that Maran is embarking on. This is about sending my batchmate off, someone with whom I have had the chance to work as a team for the many years we were in scouting together, someone who is bringing the Scout Group’s flag up to the peak, someone who has in his way, sought to make a difference in the lives of many others. In comparison, this gesture of mine may not be much but I hope that together, we can send a positive message to all our junior scouts in 01 – that the friendships we cultivate as 01 scouts will always stay strong, that 01 scouts will always be there for one another and that the spirit of 01 and the values inculcated in us through 01 Raffles Scout Group will always bring us through the adversities we face in our lives. No amount of words can describe the spirit of 01 that have held batches of scouts together. Similarly, no amount of words can describe the pride we have in one of our fellow scouts efforts in taking on this challenge. On a final note, I wish him success in his climb.”
Since I don’t know if there will be proper mobile connection up at EBC, I’ll promote another one of my causes in this post. After the 2nd phase of my Himalayan adventure – the Everest Expedition, I will begin the 3rd phase of my adventure in Nepal – helping out the school in the village of Gorkha. BRAND’S® has kindly agreed to sponsor up to $10k towards the school depending on the number of likes on their facebook page. Do your part to contribute towards the school in Gorkha by liking the page. Simply click on the image below (which will transport you to the BRAND’S® facebook fan page) and then click ‘like’. Each and every one of your ‘likes’ will go towards establishing a better education for the children in Gorkha.
I will write again from base camp shortly (if there is reception there)….