Several of us sat in to listen to the monks chanting morning prayers in the Gompa. The ridge above it is festooned with prayer flags and little stupas and clay ovens for burning the incense from the juniper bushes during festivals. There was a fantastic view back down the valley we’d climbed the day before and across to Khundre village on the far side.
I awoke early to clear skies and made my way around the Namche Gompa to turn the prayer wheels and exchanged a cheery greeting with the Abbot.
Called a “rest day” to help us acclimatize to the altitude, it involved a three hour walk to a tea house on the hillside far above the township. We had our heads in the clouds, so could see none of the magnificent peaks surrounding us, but the diversity of flowers was more than enough compensation. Our resident botanist Louis has identified 3 species of blue gentians, many daisies and edelweiss.
Early morning rain soon cleared to a cool cloudy day. We set off early, with the sound of the rushing Dudh Kosi river beside us, fresh from the Khumbu glacier. Vistas of river, trees, stone walls, neat fields of cabbages and corn, sal trees, bamboo, wild ginger, wild raspberries and strawberries, fields of corn five feet high, pines, epiphytes, ferns, mosses: just stunning.
The gods were smiling on us today.
We feasted in the hallowed Rum Doodle last night, surrounded with paper Yeti footprints inscribed by all those who’ve climbed to Everest Base Camp before us. It’s a bar frequented by Himalayan climbers since the 19850s. Our table sat below faded photographs and signatures of mountaineering greats like Chris Bonington and Edmund Hillary.
After 6 or 7 hours in the airport, we had an unexpected rest day, as our flight to Lukla was cancelled due to bad weather. It was interesting to hear flights called for Birgunj on the Indian border, Pokhara below the Annapurna Range, and a mysterious call to “Mountain”, which turned out to be joy rides around Everest in a light plane…
Up at 4am, bumping across town in the dark to find the airport still shut. Dawn as we made our way inside, through a creaking security system. Many helpful hands relayi our vast pile of luggage into the main hall.
Our overnight challenge was reducing our weight to 10kg per person, with 5kg allowed for hand luggage. Tara Air changed its restrictions, after several unfortunate crashes in and out of Lukla.
I’ve sadly abandoned half my dried fruit and nuts, struggling to save kilos, but kept ten precious beanies and jumpers.
Bangkok Airport, 9.30am Tuesday 3rd September.
The adventure has begun with the thrill of my enormous waterproof duffel bag vanishing down the conveyor belt. Thai Airways kindly allow travellers an extra 10kg for charity, enabling me to bring 50 beanies and baby jumpers – lovingly hand-knitted by a friend in Adelaide for cold Nepali orphans.
Two of our producer partners put Australian politics to shame.
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship recently announced that Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, founder and CEO of soleRebels, has received the Foundations Social Entrepreneur of The Year Award for 2012. In announcing the award Schwab Foundation Chairman and co-founder Klaus Schwab said “Bethlehem embodies the vision and values of the global social entrepreneur community, and we are proud to honor her exemplary work in creating a highly innovative, ethical and sustainable business that continues to make a strong social impact.”