Journey to HRA day 1: Lukla to Monjo

March 8, 2015

Today our journey really begins. Waking up at 0415, I take one last shower, and pack the last of my things, and say goodbye to my internal room (so weird) before heading down to the waiting taxi, which takes us to the domestic terminal of the Kathmandu Airport. There we board the first flight of the day, which takes us to Lukla in approximately 40 minutes. The flight is absolutely spectacular, and Reuben Renee, and I are sitting on the left side, where we can watch the Himalayas the entire time. It beats any in flight movie you’ll ever see.

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The Lukla airport is notorious, with good reason. It is known as the most dangerous airport in the world, because of its short runway, which begins at the edge of a precipice, and ends with the stone retaining walls of the hill and the town. The runway is tilted to help deceleration during landing, and to increase speed during takeoff.  If you google the Lukla Airport, you will see several examples of planes landing and taking off at this small airport. DSCN0132

 

After landing, we gather our gear, praise God for our safe return to Terra Firma, and have breakfast in Lukla before heading into the field. Today’s hike is very pleasant, still at relatively low altitude, with beautiful glimpses of the Himalayas, which I have been so longing for since arriving in Kathmandu. We pass several small villages, and I am continuously impressed with the neatness of each village, and the beautiful stone buildings that we pass by. Amenities are basic, and everything is al a carte, from toilet paper, to hot showers, to electricity or WiFi. I am glad that once we get to the HRA, these basics will be provided for us by our little outpost.

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We eat lunch in a nice hotel in Phakding, where they had some very good chicken fried rice, and delicious lemon tea. I am trying to get as much protein as possible in the lower villages, because the higher you get, the harder it is to find things like chicken, beef, or eggs. Everything that comes to these villages, comes up by trains of donkeys or Zopkyo, which are a cross between a Yak and a Cow. Before leaving the restaurant, I was asked to talk with an Aussie who had hurt his ankle several days before and was having some mild pain posterior to his medial malleolus. This could be an area of concern for fracture, however he really didn’t have any swelling or bruising. He said his pain was only minor, that he had been seen by two Indian doctors a few days before, and that he was ACE wrapping, icing, elevating, and using ibuprofen and a Tylenol / codeine combination. I told him he could try some tape, which he said he knew how to apply, and that he could probably continue onward, at least to Namche Bazaar, so as not to lose his whole trip, however the guy seemed perfectly happy to sit in the warm hotel watching cricket on TV. I’m not really sure how he wanted me to help him, but as Katie said later, some people are just looking for a reason to not have to continue onward. The guy reminded me of Katz from Bill Bryson’s story A Walk in the Woods.

 

DSCN0201We continued climbing, and ended up in Monjo, which is where we spent the night. Monjo is a small community literally built into the hillside that surrounds the main hiking trail. Although I wouldn’t know it until morning, Monjo has beautiful views of Kusum Khangkaru, a 6,000m peak that we would continue to see most of the next day. The hotel we stayed at was very basic, although Reuben and I each had a good Sherpa Stew, called Shakpa, for supper. Renee had only got two hours of sleep the night before, and so went to bed immediately, skipping dinner. She must have slept for 14 hours. She later told me she is a “professional sleeper”, which I believe.

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One Response to “Journey to HRA day 1: Lukla to Monjo”

  1. Bonnie hankinson said

    Amazing…Andy!! You need to write a book on your adventures..
    You have a wonderful journalistic talent. Thanks for making us feel like WE are right with you — XO

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