Sunday, August 31, 2008

Finding my way to Mt. Olympus Day 45 31/08/08

Day 45 (slide show)
I didn't do much today at least in the morning. At noon I did meet up with another nice Couch Surfer named Theadora Patsi and some friends of hers. She had all kinds of information about Mt. Olympus. She has been there many times and is a rock climber to. She told me all about her month long adventure climbing all over the western US from Seattle to Los Vegas. She had the same words of advise about Albania though. Dora, as she is known, had a list of the phone numbers and operators of the Refuges there called. It seems that their are several buildings or Lodges as we would call them run by different climbing clubs in Greece but the main lodge which sleeps over 150 people is owned by a family and has been for many years. She told me their name but I can't remember it. So I think I can make this work. Take the train to the mountain and see what happens. Some how I would have to stop off at Delphi though but that's possible. I can camp right outside there, then a couple of days hitchhiking and a few train stops, no problem. I guess I have a few details to work out but for the first time I know now that I can make it happen. I was thinking I would stay with Dora and her friends for a few hours then see the ruins of the Zeus Temple. As usual in Greece once you sit at a nice outdoor restaurant for lunch it turns into an all day affair. Sorry Zeus Temple. Tomorrow I will get my Credit Card and then I can start packing. This is going to be hard. I need to get rid of a lot of stuff. My ordinal plan was to leave this with friends as I go and arrive in Prague with only what I can carry. You see I have planned this for many months. I have new gear and clothing ready to ship and if I calculate correctly it will be in Prague a few weeks after I arrive and get set up. This is the plan. I planned on leaving several items with my friend in Kathmandu, Khrishna but because we couldn't connect on the last day I just threw everything in my big rolling duffel bag. Now I have to deal with the same question. What do I leave behind. It is raining here today. A real nice summer rain, but it will be cold on the mountain. How can I carry everything I need to get me to Prague. I'll bet my friend Alex from REI would know. He is the best I've seen at packing light. I remember talking to him about all the variables. I always ask what if and he asks why. What would you take. O' and by the way. Sorry but the pic's were lean today. I saw this printing press in the morning then forgot to take any more pictures. I don't know why.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Acropolis Day 44 30/08/08

Day 44 (slide show)

(Must See Video)
I received a call this morning from my Couch Surfing friend Maha. She has some folks who want to go to dinner tonight at 7:30 so I think its a good day to see the Acropolis. I walked around for a few hours in the morning trying to get a better feel of the city. I found a tourist open air train that would take me up the hill but the walk is much better. The weather is perfect. I arrived at the site around 11:30 at what I guess is parking area. I feel I got lucky because the crowd hadn't arrived yet. Once you leave the parking area there are many different trails to get up to the ruin. Most tourists take the steps up but the trails wind through Olive trees and small ruin areas. The only word I can use is stunning. The Archaeologist have all the stones marked with numbers to make it easier to find the right location for the pieces. Its a giant puzzle. The Theater was my favorite place. I wish I could see a performance there. I walked around the whole mountain. There is even small trails through the neighborhoods. Afterwards I found a nice little restaurant and sat down for a Greek Salad and a glass of wine. (This was my second Greek Salad in as many days) I meet Maha and her friend for dinner later that evening. His name is Constantinos Gofas. I great guy who is a rock climber as well as a trekker. He had just returned from a climbing trip to the Dolomite's in Italy. We ended up at his house to review some maps. I told him of my plan to trek on the original Athenian trail to the summit of Mt. Olympus. "Never heard of it" he said. "Come, let's look at the maps" He had not climbed Mt. Olympus since he was a kid, some 20 years ago. I think he felt a little ashamed he hadn't been up to the mountain more. Its a great symbol of pride to the Greeks, even those who don't climb love the mountain. He said he had a friend that he would talk to about the Athenian trail and get back to me. I had a great night talking about the mountain with him and Maha. O' and one more thing is they were very worried about me and my plan to leave Greece by going north through Albania. Both he and Maha were quite emphatic that I not do this. We left it at that and I went back to my hostel. This is Saturday and I have to wait until Tuesday for my credit card to arrive at the hostel. I extended my stay to get it by UPS. I don't like it but I had no choice.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Temple of Ames Day 43 29/8/08

Day 43 (slide show)
I was so tired last night that I went to bed to early. I woke at about 5am so I thought I would go walk the city and get some early morning photos. I was out before the sun rose. This its a great time to see the area before the people are around. I was surprised at the amount of graffiti everywhere. It looked like LA did 15 years ago. Also there were many people sleeping off the night before on the benches and steeps. They might sleep there every night but they looked like they had some source of income so I'm not sure. The temperature is great here though and it would be real easy to drink to much and just fall asleep. I wasn't going to spend a lot of time walking the streets but I did want to see this Botanical Garden they had by the Parliament Building. There wasn't anything great here but it was very quite and a good way to start the day out. I worked on several different ways to use the camera too. All this time and I still find new things that it will do. I got word on the Couch surfing Site yesterday that I will be meeting a nice lady today named Elpida. (Elpi-th-a) It took me way to long to remember her name. I posted a note on the site that I was looking for information on the Mt. Olympus climb. She answered and we are to meet later. Right now I'm heading out to see some of the sites close by and get a feel of the place. My hostel is right in the tourist area and very close to a big ruin site. I don't want to go to the Acropolis until I can do it without rushing. This area will be fine for a few hours. Well that turned out to be wrong. The area I went to under the Acropolis is huge. (Here is a google map of it) I couldn't see it all in one day. I will have to come back later. I meet with Elpida in the afternoon and she had lots of good information on Mt Olympus. She grew up in the area and was very knowledgeable of the situation there for climbing. We spent several hours looking over the map and talking about the different sites in the northern part of Greece. My goal is to find someone how has heard of the original path the Athenians used to get to the mountain. She wasn't aware of this but we talked about different ways it might be possible. I also found where Delphi is and now I am starting to develop a plan. Just need to decide when to start out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Athens, Greece Day 42 28/08/08

Day 42 (slide show)
I did sleep well last night. I was so tired. Went to a great restaurant and got my first taste of a Greek salad the way they are suppose to be made. Before I see anything and there is a lot to see, I have to find a Citibank Branch office. Remember my card was stolen almost a month ago and these folks can't seem to get me a new card. So, my first full day in Greece and I'm going on an adventure across the city. After figuring out the Metro and making some mistakes I find the branch office. Of course the day is half gone by now, but I walk into the office with a since of accomplishment. I go through three service lady's before I get English. "This is Citibank Greece not Citibank USA" she says. "Can I have a card sent to this office" I asked because I was changing hotels so much. "No we don't work with the Citicards division." I walked out thinking this sucks. Somethings Wrong (Junior Watson-Blues Man) I spent most of the day working on this problem. I made my way back to my hotel area and found a cybercafe. I called Citicards. Of course it is Thursday night and they can't get a card out until Monday then three days for delivery that gives me a card next Wednesday. I don't want to spend a week in this hostel but I need to have an address. I sucked it up and told them to send it. When you make a call from out of the country to Citi the computer voice comes on and says "we accept collect calls." Well that would be great except I can't find an operator to talk to place a collect call. You still have to pay the hotel or the cybercafe. After Nepal I'm already into this problem for almost $65.00. Citibank is a pain in the ass if you loose your card. Tomorrow will be better. I keep saying that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

19 hours in the Bahrain Airport Day 41 27/08/08

Day 41 (slide show)
Arrived in Bahrain at 7pm last night. Now its 1am in the morning and I have a lot of waiting to do. I don't leave until 2pm today. I searched around and there aren't many places to hang out. Many people from all over trying to find a place to sleep. I found a Cathy Pacific VIP Club and convinced them to sell me a membership. Only 4hr though so I'm going to wait until about 4am then go in and wait till they kick me out. Its 21euros and worth it. Free food, nice lounge area with big screen and showers. I stayed until 10am. the best thing was a free computer. I didn't get an upgrade on the next leg but It wasn't so bad. Gulf Air. Next time your on a plane and have to hear the safety message think about this. The message given in five different languages I think it took 45min. On a short flight you could land before the finished. I'm in Athens now sitting in my new room or should I say closet. Its a hostel at hotel prices, that's fine though because I didn't even know if I would have a place or not until I was in Bahrain. Thanks to my friend from Couch surfing. Her name is Maha and she was very kind to help me out. She has a CS'ers at her house right now, he is from Argentina. They will be coming to get me to go to dinner in a few hours. I'm quite tired and need to find a second wind.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Leaving Kathmandu for Bahrain Day 40 26/08/08

I started packing today. I leave about 5pm for Bahrain. I was to meet Arjun for breakfast and sure enough he came rolling in right on time. As he sat down he told me he had been up all night with some new sponsors for the Porters Progress. He was insistent that I come to his office in Themal at 11:00am. I told him yes but I had to pack and my mind was already on the plane. As I scrambled to figure out how to pack my gear I noticed it was starting to rain early today. I was going to have to walk 20 min in the downpour. I took off with my poncho on which helped but there was a lot of mud along the way. As I walked in he had the leaders of the Porters Progress waiting there. They had a presentation for me with all five of them in attendance. I was made the first Lifetime Member of the Porters Progress of Nepal because of the help I had given them. They also made me the US Ambassador and told me they need my help and to keep promoting them in my travels. I told them I would do my best. Its quite an honour. It's 2pm now and I'm sitting in the lobby waiting for the shuttle to the airport. I'm looking forward to moving on. Crazy things happen on days like these. I'm on the plane now but I have to mention a few things that have happened. As I was waiting for the shuttle at the hotel a nice guy came in and was looking around. When he saw me he came over to ask how I liked the hotel. I told him it was fine and it was a good location to. We started talking and he just got to Kathmandu and was going to be here for 3 to 4 weeks. His name was Walter and he was from Switzerland. He had come to Kathmandu in 1990 and trekked to Tibet. That's a 3 week trek. He said they were a group of 5 guys and they had a great time and had a lot of stories. Anyway I only got to talk for about 1/2 hour. I wish I could have meet him earlier. Real nice guy. He would have been fun to kick around with in the city. Next crazy thing happened at the airport. My bag was overweight so I had to pay the overage and I asked if I could get bumped up to Business class. No problem she said. "WOW Cool." Not finished yet. I run into Leonard and Enric from Spain. I run into these guys everywhere. I think they said the same about me. After leaving them I realized I had paid all my Rupees for tips and was hungry. Just like in Hong Kong. I had enough for a bottle of water maybe. I walked into the restaurant and nobody was there except a guy from Edinburgh. He says "Come on over and sit here." Turns out he is a Botanist and works for the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. He just got off a 3 week trek of the mountains of Nepal to discover new species in the area. We had a great time and he bought me lunch. Thank you Dr. Mark Watson. I wish we could have spent more time together. So now as I said I'm on the plane in Business Class next to this young lady that doesn't speak any English. I was able to figure out that she works for the Nepali Embassy in Bahrain. There isn't any talking going on here until all of a sudden in perfect English she asked me if she could go to the toilet. I said sure and started to laugh. Crazy day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kathmandu Day 39 25/08/08

Day 39
Well the rest of the group leaves for home today. Other then Paul they were sure hard to get to know. O' well this part of my adventure could have been better. Paul was a nice guy and I enjoyed his company.I headed back to the phone company's cybercafe for more torture. I tried to work on the pic's today and got lucky. I spent 3hr.. If this keeps up I might need to buy a computer. I was reminded of a conversation with a friend at REI. His name is Bayani Espino. He was showing me his new 9in square mini laptop about a month before I left. It was very nice and he asked "you should get one and take it with you" as I looked at it I thought it was just waiting to be stolen. Bayani I should have listen to you. All the travelers I meet on the road have one. No one I've meet has had them stolen yet. I received some news from Athens today and I might have a place to stay there. I hope so I don't have a clue where to go once I arrive. I'll just see what happens. I don't have a slide show for you today just this one picture. I saw this kid who was laid down here yesterday morning. He looks very sick. I saw him last night and this morning. He is on the sidewalk of a busy street. Today I had to take his picture because I hate to see this. I tried to hide around the corner and check to see if anyone came to get the money I left but saw nothing. Other people take the money because he is to week to hold it himself I'll bet.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chillin' in Kathmandu Day 38 24/8/08

Day 38 (slide show)
I was so tired last night and I new the best time for me to use the hotel computer would be real early. After being on the mountain so long I needed to post some blogs and catch up on emails. I was in the lobby at 4am. The night clerk thought I was crazy and he was right but with our group and the other guests I knew the three computers here would be full by 8am. So I'm loading up the computer and getting to work. Everything is so slow it took 25 min. to load the blog and email after logging on. I started to work on the Terracotta Soldiers and then WHAM. All the power in the place went out. This had happened before when I was here and some folk were stuck in the elevator until the backup generator could be started. 20 min. later a generator started, I think its a lawn mower engine with a belt on it. Everything was lost. So much for getting up early. Its always something. I think I've said that before. I did get a few emails out like to the Citicard people. What a joke. I just need to chip away at it. Its 7:30 now and I'm having breakfast in the courtyard by myself. Its nice out here after the rain stops. I'm just listening to the Blues and sipping on a cup of morning Joe. To bad its instant coffee. That's all they have here I guess. I sure would love a cup of brewed black coffee, the kind where the spoon stands up straight and salutes. I'll take what can get though. Fells like a good day. I got with Paul this morning and we went out to the Themal Tourist area for some shopping. I needed a new Swiss pocket knife, the Chinese Security had taken mine, and Paul wanted to get some gifts to take home. I told him about a great restaurant we needed to go to called the Yak and Yeti. My friends Sigmund and Gabeielle from the China/Eclipse Tour told me it was a must if your in Kathmandu. I'm glad he wanted to go because I have been wanting to go there ever since I came here. We decided on meeting in the lobby at 7pm. In the meantime I left Paul and got with Arjun who took me to an Internet spot affiliated with the local phone company. WOW some speed. Not great but good enough to get out 110 pic's into the Photo Bucket. Nice. That really helps. So now I'm running late and I got to get to the hotel. Let me tell you about walking in Kathmandu. You have to keep your eyes open and watch everything. Cars, people on bikes and the damn motorcycles are all trying to get past you while your walking. The streets are very narrow. Often when a car or motorcycle goes by you need to turn sideways to keep from getting knockdown. At night its a fight to the death. No streetlights, no I think I saw one. Anyway a long story here to say that I got hit in the wrist by the handlebar of a motorcycle, right above my watch. I thought I broke it but not to worry it turned out to be a big bruise. I was in to much of a hurry and didn't see him coming up behind me. Ya, you need eyes in the back of your head here. So Paul and I headed out in search of the Yak and Yeti. After a few wrong turns and some dark alley's we found the entrance. The place was very impressive. It's a Palace with a Casino at one end. The problem is we took to long to find it. Sorry I didn't get very good pictures but I got a few. The restaurant was to expensive for us so we went to a dinner we had seen earlier. Its quite a place though.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back in Kathmandu Day 37 23/08/08

Day 37
I had breakfast with my friend Arjun this morning. He came to the hotel to meet me. The hotel scheduled a local Temple tour around Katthmandu but I had already seen them during the week before the rest of the group arrived. They didn't want me around anyway. They weren't to happy with Paul either but he went. He wanted to see the Monkey Temple and get a taste of the city. It was nice of Arjun to come over and get me. As we walked to his office and he told me all the latest news. As it turns out he was made General Secretary of the Porters Progress and Krishna is being put on the payroll to help out in the office. As we were walking he asked me to help out with some people he wanted to talk to about getting some donation money. We talked to a travel agency and a restaurant and talked for sometime about a plan to keep steady flow of revenue coming in. I was glad to learn that my donation had kept them in their offices and helped them get on track again. Arjun told me he was given the appointment because of me but I think he was just trying to make me fill good. Its amazing what just a little money can do here. I didn't give that much just $150.00 and some of my time. Tomorrow were to meet the rest of the members of the Porters Progress because they have something for me. So after spending most of the day with him working on plans and meeting people I was pretty tired. I started back to the hotel around 4pm but didn't realize I was so far away. It took me about an hour to get here. I just realized I didn't take any photo's today. I think that's a first.

Here are Paul Syer's photo's from the Everest Base Camp Trek.
Thanks Paul

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lukala to Kathmandu Day 36 22/08/08

Day 36 (slide show)
We had a 5am wake up call to catch the plane for Kathmandu. I think everyone was begging for good weather. I know I was. I didn't want to miss that first flight out. Lukala is a crazy airport and you just don't know. The planes started to come in from Kathmandu around 7am as the clouds lifted, I was relieved. It wasn't a clear day but good enough to fly. As Paul and I were waiting to go I ran into the Spanish team again or what's left of it. Down to three. We got a laugh out of it. I think I mentioned before that there guide even got sick somewhere around Chiagboche. There were other's I had meet on the trail also like Julian from Belgium. I didn't see him until we both were getting ready to walk out to our separate planes. Each plane only holds 18 to 22 passengers. I asked him what happened when he went on up the glacier. He said they hiked on for about an hour and walked right into the base camp area. There was a sign stating the location for the 2009 season base camp and several leveled area's for the larger equipment, radio and medical tents. He said it wasn't hard to get there and it was right at the base of the mountain side. I was very upset because I had my suspicions but now I have conformation. I gave him my card and asked him to email me his pictures if he could. He took it and ran to his plane as I ran to mine. I was the last one on board too and I almost missed it. On the way back I decided the others aren't going to want to hear anything about this. I will talk it over with Paul and see what he thinks. Landed in Kathmandu and made it to the Hotel Tibet and I still have my own room how cool is that. Turns out my credit card from Citicards didn't make it as I had heard but my Citibankcard did. That was good enough. Hard to figure why one would make it and not the other. We had a dinner planed by our guide at a restaurant in the Thamel district at a place where the different trekking groups could go and all sign there names to a place on the wall. The food was alright but I was tired and I just wanted to sleep for a couple of days. Paul wasn't in the mood to start drinking and neither was I so we headed back early. I had told Paul of my talk with Julian, he said he had his own suspicions so we went to the computer in the lobby to check for any passible pictures but couldn't find anything due to the speed of the thing. I think it hurt him to hear the news.

Special note added: Lukala plane crash 08/10/08

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Phokading to Lukala Day 35 21/08/08

Day 35 (slide show)
The group left early for a 6hr trek to Lukala. The trail is wider but there are several steep areas and this last section has a long uphill grade to get past before coming into the Lukala area. I pretty much walked with my friend Paul the whole day. We didn't talk much I think because we were so tired. That was fine because I have a hard time hearing when people are talking behind me. As far as that goes in front of me to, it's better when I'm face to face. When we did stop for a break we had some pretty good laughs. Turns out that Paul is an expert in Ti Kwon Do and has been into it for many years. It was hard trekking today. I just tried to find a zone and focus on where I was stepping. All I can think about now is the next stage of my adventure. I have five days in Kathmandu then on to Athens. I had a conversation with our guide today about some of the problems I have had on the trek but he didn't want to talk about it. I was hopeful that we might be able to talk about a few things but he just blew me off and made no effort to understand where I was coming from. As he walked away I reminded him that I paid for the trek like everyone else. Well its raining again. Paul and I went for a walk around the village. There was a lot of talking amongst the others in the group about the tip. Finally I was told that they had decided everyone was to give 3000 rupees to our guide and he would divide it up. I told them I would not tip that way and I would put in 1000 for the porter pool and tip the people I thought did a good job separately. That didn't go over very well. No one came over to ask why but I could feel it in the evil eyes I was getting. We stopped at the lodge that the Spanish group said they were staying. I didn't think we would see them but there they were, having a snack on some kind of pie and some wine. It was nice to sit and talk for a while. They were real nice folks who I kept running into throughout the trek. Paul left early but I stayed for a bit longer. It was raining so hard I wanted to see if it would let up a little. It didn't so when I proceeded to find our lodge it was quite hard. I had gotten a plastic garbage bag and was trying to see where to go. Idiot, I forgot my poncho. After walking around in the mud for a while I finally found our place with a little help from one of the assistant guides. He is the big guy that was pretty nice to me for the trek. I wish I could remember his name. Turns out he was out in the rain with some friends and saw me walk past the lodge. He lives in Lukala. I gave him a good tip as well as one of the other assistant's. I also gave a nice tip to the porter who carried my bag for most of the way. I did get his name, Dhan Kumar Dui. Real nice people and I wish all of them well. I leave for Kathmandu tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Namche Bazaar to Phokading Day 34 20/08/08

Day 34 (slide show)
We left Namche Bazaar at 8am for a short 4 1/2 hour day we were told. It took us 6hrs. When I asked our guide how long the day would be he said 4 to 41/2 but maybe he thought I meant to the lunch break or something. Whenever I ask him a question he is vague and unclear. Always walking away from me. I'll be glad to get away from this jerk. I don't know how many times I've asked him to keep me informed but I always have to ask him what's going on. Anyway the rain came early. It started at 12:30 instead of the normal 2pm. I don't mind the rain except it does make the trail slippery. You have to take care and watch your step. Most injuries happen on the way down. As Paul and I were walking down the trail we were looking at this mountainside to the left. It was quite green and plush with vegetation. I was pointing to this little farm and noticing how nice it looked. Then all of a sudden we see this big piece of rock fall off above the place. It was quite a loud noise. Below this farmer in the house you see in the picture comes running out trying to get out of the way. The rock and trees that fell stopped just short of his house. As we stood there for a moment the dust was floating above the area then a small waterfall started from the spot. That guy was quite lucky. He came within a few meters of loosing his house and maybe his life. I wonder what he was doing just before he heard the sound. I'll bet he went and changed his pants after the sound. Finally made it to Phokading where we spent our first night. It was strange walking into place again. It seems like I was just here. Well its time to eat this lousy food again Can't wait to get to the hotel in Kathmandu. Both Paul and I were thinking today how nice it would be to get some fruit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Khumjung to Namche Bazaar Day 33 19/08/08

Day 33 (slide show)
Another long 7hr trek down today with rain and wind for the last 3hrs. I'm so tired. Its hard to write much about this day because it was so hard. My knees and feet hurt. Last night I noticed that I've got some problems with my forth toe on the right foot and my left Big toe. The nails are going to come off soon. Its from jamming into the ends of my boots. We left around 7am which put us into Namche Bazaar around 3:30pm. Long day. When we were going up we did this section in two days. We all made it and it is nice to have the day over. I didn't take to many photo's today it seemed like we were moving to fast. We arrived at the same tea house that we had been in before when we were here in Namche. There were a group a trekkers in the dinning area when we entered. They were on there way up. These folks were with Intrepid Adventures and were also a group of 12. The expression on there faces told it all. We came in all haggard and sun burned, limping and dirty. They were fresh and excited, full of energy. As I sat down I thought to myself we must have looked like that when we were here. After some introductions Paul and I were asked by a few of them what they could expect. We said "try not to get sick and watch your step so you don't fall down." We also told them to get to the bakery and get some good bread before they leave. They said their guide had all that taken care of. They even let their guides fill their water bottles in the back room. I warned them of this but they didn't see a problem. Sounds like they trust the guide to much. As we told them they didn't want to believe us. It was funny. I kept thinking I wish I could have talked to someone who was coming down at that point of the trip. I would have asked what base camp looks like and how far up the glacier it was. It turns out that this group paid a little more the half of the amount I paid. O' well live and learn. Later that night Paul and I went to a "Billiard Room" the sign said. I don't know about that. There was a pool table but the felt on top had to be taped with duck tape and there was no 8 ball. This was substituted with another Que ball which is larger then the other ones. It cost 50 rupees per game I think. It wasn't so bad though when you consider that the whole table was carried by some poor Nepali Porter. For some reason it didn't fill right so we left after one game. I think I turned in at around 8pm that night.
I can't stop thinking what Greece will be like. I'm ready for the next segment of my trip.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Goreck Shep to Khumjung Day 32 18/8/08

Day 32 (slide show)
A long 8hr trek down today with rain most of the way. The group split in two this morning. For those who wanted to climb up a separate trail to Kala Pathar it offered a chance to see the top of Everest. As we woke though I went to get coffee at about 6am and several of the Brit's were starting to get ready to leave. I didn't get the word about the 6:30 departure but it looked cloudy already so I didn't think there was much of a chance to get a shot. Paul was just coming out and asked me if I wanted to go but I said no but he went for it. I never did see any of the pictures so I'm not sure if the clouds broke for them or not. I hope so that's a long way to go at 16,000 feet. At 8am the rest of us left to go down. The trail was steep and wet. It is very easy to slip and fall. When we came to the drainage area where the Lambushe Khole River begins it was raining pretty hard with wind. Try walking down this trail with a poncho on. You can't see your feet to know if your stepping in the right place or not. I like the poncho though. It is very convenient and compact. Its from Sea to Summit and has several nice features. A little tip for my friends at REI. . As we approached the drainage area I realised it was much harder going down then coming up. The wind and rain made it hard to pick a spot to place your foot. This went on and on for 3 to 4 hours. I can't remember, I do know I was cold. I'm glad I had gloves. The group of seven was 4hr behind us and the weather kept getting worse. At this point I knew I made the right choose not to go up there. We arrived at Khumjung at about 2:30pm. It was nice to get out of the wind and rain but of course the stove will not be fired up until 5pm. That's all right I'll wait. A little later I noticed a few of the porters sitting and saw that the guy that had carried my bag on several occasion's was there. I went over and talked to them for a while. Real nice guys. Broken English but we got along great. I especially like the guy that was handling my bag. He knew it was mine. I have his name, I'll add it later.
Note: A real nice guy named Juan from Barcelona, Spain was sitting on the trail back up at Labuche when we stopped for a lunch break. He was with his guide Bishnu and he was having problems. Juan had been my card partner two nights earlier when I meet him and the Belgian Julian. Bishnu and Julian took on Juan and I for a great game of Harts Spanish style as Juan said. We had a good time and Bishnu is my friend and the Vise President from the Porters Progress in Kathmandu. Juan was on this wall by the trail having bad chest pains. Bishnu told me he couldn't take the altitude and he had called a helicopter. Juan was apologizing to me for not being strong enough, he felt real bad about it. I knew his age because he told me at the card game. He was 63. He made to 16,000ft I told him that was a great accomplishment. I reminded him that he told me he wanted to get back to the beaches of Barcelona during the card game and now he can be there in a couple of days. As I left him I was thinking, I just hope he makes it, he looked quite pale. Poor Bishnu could do nothing but console him. It's a bad deal.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gorek Shep to Base Camp of Everest Day 31 17/08/08

Day 31 (slide show)
Today is the day. we left at 7am for base camp. It was hard to sleep at 16,000ft. (4877m) Just as you fall asleep you suddenly wake up gasping for air. Then after a few mumbles you fall asleep again. My nose and mouth are so dry up here. I can't drink enough water. So off we go. All 12 of us. Even though I'm not getting along with our guide I have to say that he at least got us all to this point. So many parties I've meet have members who dropped back for many different reasons. Every time I see them their party is smaller. The trail is the roughest so far and it changes due to the rock slides from glacier melt. Were told it takes about 2hr to reach base camp but as we went past this one spot we were told that it was the old camp at about 1 1/2hr from Gorak Shep. It's listed as 16,800ft. (5121m) As we went past it and you can see why it was abandoned. The glacier is melting fast. Now you must climb even higher to reach the new camp. Something about base camp that most folks don't hear about. The main trekking season goes from Sept. to June. The camp is set up and opened for that time. For climbers attempting to summit the season is Mar. through the first week of June. During this time there are way to many people at the camp. Late June the camp is closed and cleaned. Everything is packed and taken down the mountain then the next season it is assembled again. So were hiking along this small trail and it starts to turn out onto the glacier. Just about that time our guide and his three assistants come down the line of our group following the trail. They start shaking our hands and saying "we made it" and "congratulations". I look around at the area. "Somethings Wrong" (Junior Watson, Bluesman). But the camp is always at the base of the mountain I'm thinking. I had seen many pictures of it in the season and there is no way you would set up such a large camp in this area. Now I've been on many high altitude glaciers and camped on them for many nights on Mt. Rainer in Washington. So I know that you don't put a camp where we were standing. As I look around I see the base of the mountain ahead and were still several thousand meters from it. At this spot there was no sign or leveled area where hundreds of tents were just two months earlier. As I look at our group the Brits were all pissing their pants and one guy was crying like a baby. Only Paul was standing there looking like he wasn't sure. Just about then our guide walks by me and I say "this isn't it" he stops and claimed "this is it, yes it is". One Brit named Kevin who was standing off to the side steps in and tells the guide "I guess we would never know if it was or wasn't" the guide says "It is ya, it is" and walks away. Now everyone is very tired, I'm very tired and exhausted so I just stand there like an idiot. This is where I'm very mad at myself for not making a scene and demanding we talk about this. I took a few pic's and then Paul and I switched camera's. You can see in the shots that I'm not to happy. About that time two guy's came walking up. It was the Belgian that I had played cards with two nights earlier in Pheriche. His name was Julian Einhauser. Nice kid about 25 years old, trekking on his own with his own guide. I turned to him and said "our guide says this is base camp" he looked his guide and then pointed towards the base of the mountain ahead. His guide says were about a kilometer short. Julian looked at Paul and I "were going on" he said. I wanted to go with them but just then our guide who was behind me says "no you stay with us". Julian's guide said I better stay too. So I did. They walked away up the glacier. As I watched them I didn't notice that our group was organizing behind me into a group photo. Everything was moving so fast. Paul yells at me to get in the picture. I didn't have time to offer my camera to the pile of camera's. The assistant guide was taking the shot. So I don't have a group shot. I was in total amazement. I really felt ripped off. What do you do I thought. The rest of the group was enjoying the moment and I didn't want to spoil it for them. Now I know I should have. They didn't want me there anyway. But I didn't do anything except stand there. On the way down I was convinced this guide sold us short. For what reason I don't know except he knew he had most of the group wrapped around his finger so I guess he just thought these idiots won't know. I don't want to walk up that glacier. On the way down I was stopped by on of the Taiwan members that I had talked to before, he asked" how is it" I didn't have the hart to tell him we didn't make it. I told him it was Shanghai La. He started to laugh. As we approached Gorak Shep I ran into Goldberg from Israel. He asked "how far is to the camp". I told him "about two hours". He said that another trekker had told him it was 3 to 31/2 hours. "What did you run up there" he asked. I just smiled and walked away. As I entered the Tea House I could see everyone was very tired and so I decided to be quite. There wasn't any reason to ruin their moment and I didn't have any proof. I'm tired too.

Here is a pretty good map I found of the Mt.Everest base Camp trail. Take a look at it. It looks like I misspelled some of the names of the villages along the way but I will change that when I get my computer. It takes to much time and of course in these cybercafes your always on the clock. I just discovered that the spell check on the computer is only in Czech. Its always something.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Labuche, Nepal 16/08/08 Day 30

Day 30 (slide show)
I was quite worried about my right heel last night, it had gotten quite a bit worse yesterday. I didn't sleep well partly because of the altitude and I keep thinking how bad it would be to spend this much time and money only to let my blister problem stop me. I thought of several ways and I have quite an array of remedies to solve the problem but only one try at it. Remembering some of the conversations I had at REI with Tammy, Nance and Drew I settled for putting a shell over it. I decided to cut a piece of water bottle to the size of my blister so that I could put the duck tape over it. I tried several sizes of plastic. The one that worked the best was just the size of the blister. If the plastic it to large then it can rub in another spot. This was going to be a good day to try it. Today is a 6hr climb with steep terrain. Well see how it works. Just as we were about to leave I found out that there was a marker for the foreign climbers that have died on the mountain. I frantically searched around and found it just in time to grab my pack and get in line. Well it has been a tough day which included a 3 to 4hr climb through the valley river drainage of a giant glacier. The river is named Labusha Khola and I think the glacier is named the same I have to look it up. If you look at the pictures you can get an idea of the immense size of this area. Looking at the pic's we had to hike up the right side where for hours you have to jump from rock to rock or step in 6in of mud. I'm glad I had my trekking poles they saved me several times from falling in. As usual the rain came in at 2pm so the last part of the climb was very wet. As the rain was at its worst we came to the Tukla Pass which was very steep and the toughest part of the climb yet. At the top was the monument area where several dozen, maybe a hundred it was hard to see due to the rain and mist. These monuments were for the fallen climbers whom have died on the mountain. I tried to find the monument for my friend Marty Hoey who I new from when I worked at Snowbird Ski resort in Utah. I couldn't find it but the rain was coming down so hard that I couldn't look at them all. This is the worst rain I've seen yet. I'm sure some of her friends at Snowbird would like to know if the monument was in good shape or not. I will have to look on the way down because its just to foggy and rainy to see much. Damn this is tough. As we approached Gorak Shep we were looking down on a dry sandy area where the glacier had left what might be called a small lake bed with no water just dry light sand. Quite strange. Also on the right I could see a small hill across from the Tea House where we are staying at. It is the view that I've seen so many times. Its the same panoramic view that REI uses to promote its memberships. They have a member standing as I am with the description that its Base Camp of Everest. So I got a picture of myself in about the same spot. The problem is that it isn't Base Camp. I asked our guide how far it is to the actual base camp. He told me about two hours. There are several tea houses in Gorak Shep where many climbers and trekkers decide to cry uncle and call it quits. I meet many. Anyway I'm going to make it tomorrow. After that I don't care about my right heel, I'll limp down if I have to.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pheriche, Nepal 15/08/08 Day 29

Day 29 (slide show)
The temperature this morning is 7 C. Its cold and no there isn't any heat for us. Were are staying an extra day here to acclimate to the altitude. That's a good idea. You can feel the lack of oxygen. Last night I woke feeling like I was drowning. I told Paul about this and he said he could feel the altitude also. Paul and I are starting to get along pretty good. Last night he made a point to invite me to play in a group question and answer game with the Brit's before turning in. It was the first time I had been invited to participate. It was pretty fun but didn't last long. Sometimes I can't tell what they are saying because of there accent. This morning is one of the few mornings where we had a clear sky. The peaks were beautiful and the air was crisp. This makes for some great photo's. The guide didn't make sure that all of us knew we were leaving so soon again. I asked him to keep me informed but I think he tells some of the Brit's whats up but if I'm not standing right there I don't here about it. I told him not to do it again and he just turned away from me. I wasn't the only one that came running out late this time either. Anyway I didn't get a chance to get my boots tied right so of course right away my blister got a lot worse. I was told last night that we would go for 500m and if we didn't fill like going that was alright. I almost walked back in right away. But I didn't and keep going even though I could feel the heat from the blister. Well as I'm climbing and getting mad I decided to stop when I got to 15,000 ft. When I did you would have thought I was some kind of mutineer. Our guide was all surprised and I told him I had a blister problem earlier but for some reason he didn't like that answer. He looked at me with a smirk look like I was having some kind of altitude problem. I didn't have anything to prove on a stupid climb like this and I certainly don't have anything to prove to the Brit's. My watch said 15,022 so I stopped and told them I would wait there. They all went on for about 100m more. One good thing was that the guide asked his assistant to stay with me and we started talking for the first time. I brought out my binoculars and we took turns looking at all the farm houses below. He seems like a nice guy. I'm back in my room now and my heal is pretty bad. Two blisters one on the other. I will need to do something about this or I won't make it. My duck tape won't go on top of the blister's so that's out. It's about 5pm now and I'm going to rest and clean this blister up.
Note: These guides are comical. They remind me of some sheep herder dogs I've seen. If you get out of position then they snap at your heals to get you back in position.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pheriche, Nepal 14/08/08 Day 28

Day 28 (slide show)
I sleep very well for some reason. I must have been very tired. After a light breakfast we started out for another 6hr day of trekking. I dressed up my heal a little better with the duck tape I have, which by the way I have done every day and will see how it goes.I crossed the 14,000 ft (4268m) today. Tomorrow I will be in new territory for me. The Tea House is a lot better tonight then last night but its much colder up here. Were above the tree line of course and without wood what do you burn in the stove. Well its Jobky pies. They don't smell that bad but when you watch the guides and porters picking the crap out of the cardboard box the use to carry it in from outside then going back to the kitchen and preparing the food you have to wonder. Somethings wrong, (Junior Watson Blues man). Also they won't light the fire until 5pm so they don't use up all the fuel (crap) so fast. Its a good thing but it gets cold from 3 to 5pm. The altitude is now noticeable. Every now and again you find yourself gasping for air and taking a deep breath. The dinning area is quite large here at this Tea House so the it takes a long time to heat up. Food here is the same as below. Some things I have to stay away from. The Potatoes have something in them that makes me nauseous. You don't want to eat the meet it might be the dog you kicked the day before. The rice and the eggs are about it for me. Bread if they have it. The Chinese stayed down the road at the nice place but we picked a fun couple from Italy and a single gal from Australia. All very fun to be with. We are going to spend to nights here to acclimate to the altitude. No one has said anything to me yet but I figure our guide will take us on another climb tomorrow. My heel is getting worse and I need to rest it. There is a critter up here which I have mentioned before called the Jobky. Its a cross between a Yak and a Cow. This thing is ugly. It is very strong and does all the heavy lifting at the lower altitudes. I'm told by my friend Krishna in Kathmandu that these beasts are used below 4000m (13,500ft) but were seeing them a little higher. They really crap all over the trail. You have to watch your step around here. I just had a chance to ask our guide about tomorrow and he said we will be going on a hike of about 500m tomorrow. When I asked where to he just pointed and said over there and walked away. I don't think he likes talking to me much. The Italian couple was sitting next to me and they said it seemed to much and were a little surprised by the way he walked away. I told them it was probably a good thing because the idea is to make it to base camp but my right heal was in bad shape and I might sit this one out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chyaagboche Day 27 13/08/08

Day 27 (slide show)
The climb was 6hr today which was hard because my heel is real sore. Its the right foot. Fortunately its not much worse then yesterday but I don't feel confident it will stay that way. The last time I had a problem like this both heals got double blisters on them and it took weeks to heal. We rolled into Chyaagboche about 3pm today and it had been raining for about an hour. This is where there is a Baddest Temple that is quite nice. Imangian that everything in and on the Temple was carried by Porter or Jobky/Yak. Right across from the entrance is the Tea House we are to stay at. The place looks like it came right out of the 15th century. There was a screw up at a Tea house up the trail and a group of Chinese, maybe 15 or so had a reservation there. Someone forgot to tell them that it was closed so they got lodging at the place we were at. Also there was a couple from Israel who were very nice. We spent several hours playing cards and talking about places we have been. That's not all there was a Spanish group of 7 or 8 who were staying there to. At dinner it was like a UN meeting. We had the Brit's an Irishman a Yankee several Nepalese, then you have the Chinese group how might have been from Taiwan because the one guy I meet wes from Taipei and then The Spanish and these were just the folks I meet. These Spaniards were a great group. There were very friendly and loved to talk with me. They did have a problem though, they were loosing there group along the trail. It was because of injury or stomach illness. That's one thing you have to be careful of is the food and water. At this place the food was the worst yet. Its hard to tell what is going to be safe to eat. I have Cipro and a lighter weight medicine but if you start to get sick from the food or the water then it can ruin your chances to get to Base camp. On this night I didn't feel very good so after a few hours of talking and playing cards I turned in. This is my third night and I not sure what happened but in Kathmandu I had a roommate, John from Dublin but when we got on the mountain two nights ago I had a room to myself. Last night I thought there was a screw up but now I'm not sure. Because the place is so crowded I'm sharing with a guy named Paul. He's a nice guy and we seem to get along alright.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Namche Bazaar 12/08/08 Day 26

Day 26 (slide show)
I was told a couple of days ago we would get to rest and see the village of Namche Bazaar today but I guess not. Yesterday afternoon I overheard some folks talk of some kind of acclamation hike. That's probably a good idea for everyone except I need to make sure the blister on my heal doesn't get any worse. This has always been my problem when I go hiking. I've gone through many different boots but with no luck. We went hiking for about 5 hours to a pretty nice Japanese Tea House that they called the Everest Tea House I think. It was closed for the season except they did have coffee and snacks available. I had a good hike and my blister problem didn't seem to get any worse. I will have to find some way to stop this our it will stop me. The rain started at 1 to 2pm like clockwork. This is a good time for a short nap. It seems I´m spending a lot of time by myself. The Brits want to hang together, that's alright I guess. I wonder if the same guy went to all the tea houses to prepare the menu´s. They seem to be the written by the food supplier at the bottom. I would say that about 80% of the shops and tea houses are closed for the season. It would be nice to see the place a little more active but on the other hand the trail would be a lot more crowded. I think I like it the way it is or maybe just off the season so the peaks would be visible. My goal is to make base camp and that's what I paid for so seeing the peaks would be nice but I saw a lot of peaks in Pakistan. Our guide continues to be evasive and the asst. guides don´t seem to understand. I've asked several questions about the daily schedule or points of interest but don´t get a good response. I told them I have a hearing problem and they need to look at me when we talk but I don´t think they understand. There is one asst. guide who seems like he wants to help me figure out what´s up. Maybe he is trying to figure me out. I don´t have his name yet but I will get it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Namche Bazaar 11/08/08 Day 25

Day 25 (slide show)
The breakfast stunk. I have to stay focused on reaching base camp. It will be easy to succumb to the discomforts. This reminds me of my climb on Rainier. There will always be reasons to quit but it will be very hard to continue. The day was good and I feel strong. The injury from the bike accident is still a little with me but I fell much better. The landscape is beautiful and there are many waterfalls everywhere. We left after breakfast at 7am. The first part of the day was only 200m of vertical but in the afternoon it became a lot steeper. Namche Bazaar is (3440) so we went quite a ways today. The Tea House tonight isn't much better then last night. This one does have a shower for 200 rupees though. Everything cost on this trek. Arjun told me they were ripping me off and now I see why. Breakfast in the only thing included. Its colder here and so it will be easier to sleep. My 0' degree bag has been way to warm but I know I will be glad that I have it later. My right heel got a small blister on it today. Damn. I have to control this. Were told we are going to stay here two nights to acclimate so I can heal up. By the way it started to rain at 2pm.

Just found out that we are going on an acclamation hike tomorrow to the top of a small mountain behind the Tea House. I guess I won't get to heal up after all.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lukala and Phokoding 10/08/08 Day 24

Day 24 (slide show)
It was hard to pack but I did the best with what I had. I needed the duffel bag but I had a very strong XXL stuff sack from REI of course and I used that. I wore my Keens and put my boots in the bag for the porters to carry. I have 4 waterproof stuff sacks that I used for clothes and sleeping bag.For my pack I'm using my Osprey Kestrel 48 which is a little large compared to the others and there day packs but I like to carry a few extra things. I have a hard time packing light. Need to work on that. I think I had the heavest pack but not sure. it was the biggest though. Tomorrow I will change things a bit when I put my boots on. The flight was un-eventful and weather was fine. Sure could have used that extra day. Lukala (2810) is a village and the starting point for the trek to base camp and several other routes. The first day is a lot of downhill and all I'm thinking is how hard thats going to be coming out when I'm tired. Lot's of rock steps in the trail and very wide. Many porters carring everything. Krishna was right about so much. Our first teahouse was the cheapest looking place around. I hope this isn't an indacation of thing to come. The rain started at 2pm and didn't quite until 5am and it came down hard. Tomorrow will be hard. Need to prepare mentaly. No blisters today which is good.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mr. Joshi and the City of Kathmandu 9/08/08 Day 23

Remember Shovan from the other day. Well he told me that his father who lives in Kathmandu might want to take me around to some of the more hidden Temples if I was interested. I told him that would be nice but I didn't want him to offer his father's time if it was an inconvenience. Well that was a few days ago and I didn't think it was going to happen. But he called and we meet. Mr. Joshi, Great man. Strange things happen like this. Turns out he goes for a walk through this area every few days and he thought I might like to see it. I think because Shovan works in Utah and he has been to Utah and he knows that I'm from Utah might have had something to do with it. I was a little anxious because I had some things I wanted to do before the rest of the group arrived from London but it was very enjoyable. We started at 7am which showed me the city in the morning before all the cars and motorcycles came out. The merchants were just getting opened and it was kind of clean. We went to many temples and a palace. It was a special holiday too. The Give and Take holiday. He told me it was something like kids day. I was suprised to see that the poor mothers were giving rupies to the temple leaders so that they could get a small handful of rice. Something wasn't quite right with this. It was a great morning though. I learned a good lesson though. The cab driver wanted to wait for me and I told him no but he did anywhay. When I got back to the main Temple he found me and gave me a ride to the hotel. We argured over the fare because he wanted to charge me for the time he waited. We settled on the low end but the guy tried to rip me off. He didn't get me though. Later I meet with Krishna to talk about some of the things to consider on the trek. He was so helpful. we went to a supermarket and he looked over my gear. He suggested what to take and what to leave. We came up with a good plan. The one thing I was missing was a duffel bag to put my gear in. This bag your to give to the porters to carry and then you just carry your personal gear. Well I had see several stores I could get one from cheap. I thought I would get it tomorrow morning. The group will be arriving soon and they will need to pick up some things. I have been scouting out the area for what I think they will need if they want it. Well the group arrived and they seem like a good group 12 total with me. Larger then I was told. Later to find they put two group dates togather. We had a meeting at 6pm with the guide and it didn't go to well. I was under the impresion that we would fly to Lukala on Monday but the guide wants to go tomorrow morning at 5 am. This was a suprise to everyone. I guess that the airport in Lukala can get clouded in and you don't know until your at the Kathmandu airport or in the air. I thought someone should have told us of this possablity. Another bad thing was the guide was very avasive to many questions ask by me and others. I didn't like the meeting or the guide. This guy is slippery. Adapt, overcome, conquer. Deep breath 5am is going to come early.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Kathmandu 8/08/08 Day 22

Day 22 (slide show)
After taking care of the Credit card and bankcard issue which took longer then it should have I decided to get out of the hotel for awhile. As I left there was a lot of commotion going on. These police wagons were going by full of protesters. You could feel the tension in the air. All the shop keepers either hide behind something or went out to the streets and shouted something. Nothing happened but it was strange. Its a good thing I planned to get robbed. I kept an extra set of cards from another bank stashed away just in case. I leave to go on the base camp trek in a couple of days so I had the Citibank send a card to the Hotel. The Citibank CC people were more difficult but they said they would do the same thing. So it works out alright except my CA drivers license was also taken and I won't get another one of those. I made a mistake by carrying it. So while I'm on Everest the cards will arrive and I will get them when I return. I went to dinner with some Couch surfers that just arrived into town but for the most part it was uneventful.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kathmandu and the trek to the Obseratory 7/08/08 Day 21

Well 3 weeks now, when I woke this morning I was very tired. I had promised to go trekking with my new friend Krishna but I hadn't heard anything yet. I went for breakfast thinking how nice it would be to go back to sleep. Just as I sat down he walked in ready to go. Deep breath. Let's go. Traveled 3 hours on a local bus crowded with people inside and on top. Traveled east to Bhaktapur then changed buses and onto Nagarkot. We walked for about 4km up a road through a few military camps then to this tower. There was the Geodetic Obseratory Nagarkot just sitting there. I was suprised. Krishna didn't know anything about it. After climbing the tower you could get a great view of the Observatory. I wanted to check it out. We walked over and let ourselfs in. It didn't seem like there was anyone there and the building wasn't finished on the inside. A grounds caretaker women found us and told Kashmir that the Observatory was built one year ago and was still being worked on but the funds had dried up. We left and went down the hill to the fenced in grounds that I had noticed on the way up. That's where the sign was. After calling out I told the cartaker the I had just returned from China to see the eclipse and could I talk to someone inside. I also said I was a member of the Planetary Socity. That seemed to work. The most senior person inside was a man who had some information but his job was to watch the place. He let me take some pictures and told us that the property at the lecture and offices belonged to the Nepal government but the Observatory property and funds came from someone in the Czech Rep. Couldn't get much more information from him. Looked like a great place and if they could get the observatory opened I'm sure there would be some good things happening here. The location was perfect. After having dinner at a local diner we started back on the 5pm bus. The weather started to change and rain begain to fall. The people on top had to move inside. When we got to Bhaktapur we found out that the bus had closed because of the fuel shortage. All the buses were stopped or were going to the various yards that were all over. Now it's dark. We walked from yard to yard trying to find a bus. None to be found. Walking in the dark in a hard rain in the muddy streets of a village in Nepal. I started to think I might have to sleep there for the night. Krishna was worried too. He was running all over trying to find one bus going somewhere. We walked about 5km and finaly found one packed with wet people. We crammed our way on and made it to Kathmandu around 10pm. What an adventure. And one last thing. My wallet was lifted while on the bus. No money but my cards are gone. I will have to start to work on that problem tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Touring around Kathmandu 6/08/08 Day 20

Day 20 (slide show)
Remember Shovan. I mentioned him the first day when I was in LAX. Well as it turned out he has been here for three weeks with his family. He and I meet on the flight over. Well, he is going to take me out to see some Temples and see some of the city. I left my friend Arjun's place early for the Hotel and chilled for a while. I need to rest and get settled into this place. Shovan came in the afternoon and we went to the famous Monkey Temple and the old Kings Palace. There were quite interesting and the Kings Palace was full of 1910 and 20's personal items. Also a hierarchy list of the Kings back to 1760. Boy they sure know how to loot their country. It's about 7pm now and I noticed they have computers at the hotel. I,m going to give them a try. I hope they are faster then in China. Tomorrow I'm to go on a training trek in the mountains. I need to get a workout before going to Base Camp.
I just heard that 6 Chinese guards were killed in Kashgar by a bomb. I don't know the details but I'm sure the security is even tighter now. Glad I'm not there.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Porters Progress of Nepal 5/08/08 Day 19

Day 19 (slide show)
Yes, today I was able to find a computer that would download a few pictures. I'm way behind and I'm sorry to those of you who are watching this. But I have some pic's in photo bucket but now the trouble is getting them onto the blog. The speed is slow that it just keeps stalling. I'm trying though. I went exploring into Kathmandu today and meet other Couch Surfer's. Their everywhere. What a great group. Today I gave Arjun my donation of 150.00 to the Porters Progress of Nepal. He had asked me to stay at his house in return I would donate the room charge that I would have paid. Its a good group and I get a chance to make new friends here. They sure need the money. My 150.00 is going to save them from getting kicked out of their office. It seemed I arrived just in time. a few dollars sure goes a long way here. Check out their website at

Monday, August 4, 2008

Kathmandu 4/08/08 Day 18

Day 18 (slide show)
Arrived late last night after a long day. Nepal was great at the custom's counter. Little problem except they wanted to know "Why George Bush." I just shrugged my shoulders and apologized. Almost lost the passport while getting my luggage, it slipped out of my pocket but a nice Nepalese luggage guy found me and returned it. Arjun was waiting for me with another CS'er named Leo from China. Great guy trying to make it to India. We both stayed at Arjun's house. Today I'm off to find supplies and work on the computer. Little did I know that the speed was going to be so slow. I had a week to wait for the rest of the group so I scouted out the area with Arjun and Leo. Kathmandu is a very busy place. Many motorcycles and cars. Everybody honks their horn all the time. A lot of begging too.You have rickshaws, buses, pedestrians, and cars all fighting for position. WOW.
Here are some photo's from my friend Paul Syer who was with me on the Base Camp of Everest trek.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hong Kong to Kathmandu 3/08/08 Day 17

Day 17 (slide show)
Didn't arrive until 1am last night. Nice Hotel but won't be able to enjoy it. This whole trip I have been disappointed with the schedules. Anyway I saw the Eclipse. Off to Kathmandu. Today more flying time. I contacted Arjun and Couch surfer in Kathmandu and he will meet me at the airport. Nice Guy. How many people do you know that would meet you for an airport pickup at midnight. The flight in Hong Kong was long and my allergies got me on the plane. Of course the airport security took my nasal spray. Bastards. I made a mistake in HK. I changed over all my currencies, three-HK, Pakistani, Chinese, to Sterling Pounds as soon as I got there. I thought this was a good idea because I didn't know how much time it would take to find the gate and make the transfer. It turns out I didn't have much time with a new set of security checks but I had about 20 min. to spare. I got hungry so I went to a sandwich place. They wouldn't take pounds. Bastards. Somethings Wrong.

Special note: Check out the nice pictures from my friend Tom Damon. The Silk Road Tour
Thanks Tom

Saturday, August 2, 2008

94 seconds just isn't as long as it use to be 2/08/08 Day 16

Day 16 (slide show)
Yep, that's it. 94 seconds. I think it was worth it. I'm tired and in need of rest but I'm glad I saw it. Today we left for an early flight to Chungqing. This begin a day where everyone was wanting to get to the next hotel and crash. While waiting for the flight we stopped at a museum the was full of more propaganda then anything but I didn't want to be there so I was not a good judge of the content. About this time I found out that we won't make it to the hotel until midnight. Say What! Somethings Wrong.

Here are some nice photo's from Joan Caly who was in our group.
Take a look

Friday, August 1, 2008

Altai and the Eclipse 1/08/08 Day 15

The hotel has a stinky bathroom with a door that they found in a river. There isn't a door knob. Also a lousy breakfast too. But after eating the crap we went into a lecture room where all groups were assembled. Total of maybe 50 people. There were four groups here in China at different stages of the tour. The lectures were great. Starting with the Director of the Planetary Society, Louis Freedman then Mary brown from Cal State I believe. Both talked about what we could except at the site. Very interesting. Mary asked folks to stand if they had seen an eclipse before, then she asked for everyone to sit who had seen just one, then two, then three. Now there were about 10 or so folks still standing. Then four, now I think about two or three left. These people search for the eclipse experience. I was surprised that only two or three had only seen four. Now these folks have seen five. OK after Mary and Louis we had a special guest, Nobel Laureate in Physics 2006 George Smoot. He gave about 2 1/2 hour lecture on the latest information about the beginning moments of the Universe. He was great and way over my head. My son Levi would have liked this part. We left to the solar site at 3:30pm and everyone was ready. We had a 1 1/2 hour ride to the site in a bus. This place was in the middle of nowhere. Very close to the Mongolian border and the Russian border. I brought my Poncho and trekking poles to build a leanto for shade. The temperature is going to be 95 plus. They don't have any coolers or toilets. The folks in charge are working on the toilet issue. As the moon passed in front of the sun you could see a big difference in the way your shadow looked. It became much crisper and the lines were sharp. Then the shadow passed over and it became like night. People with good cameras got some great photo's. I took a movie of it and you will seeit after my friend Tom cleans it up a bit. It was fantastic and humbling at the same time. My planning paid off and Ed and I brought a few bottles of wine to celebrate with. I also had some dried apricots from Pakistan that went well with the wine. It was a great day and made all the torture and pain of the buses and planes worth it. 94 seconds of glory. Seams hard to believe. Lots of celebrating that night in Altai. Note: The locals only heard about the eclipse the day before. They weren't sure what to think of all these westerners traveling all this way to see such a thing. I'm sure you can guess what they thought. If your reading this your thinking the same thing.

Poster scan of the "Total Solar Eclipse"

This poster scan is provided by:
Dr. Louis Friedman
Executive Director, The Planetary Society

Here are some Silk Road/Eclipse pics...from Mike Caruthers