Erik og Betinas Jordomrejse 2008/2009
Beskrivelse af vores oplevelser på vej jorden rundt

Chaos! (English post)

Posted in Jordomrejse 2008-2009  by Erik
november 27th, 2008

Hi all,

(Bemaerk, at vi har lavet to indlaeg i dag. Beskrivelse af vores trekkingtur er i et indlaeg nedenfor. Dette indlaeg er paa engelsk og beskriver vores kvaler det sidste doegns tid med at komme ud af Kathamandu pga. problemerne i Bangkok. )

We promised some of our new-found friends, our travelling companions on the GAP tour through India and Nepal that at least one of our blog entries should be in English. We found this to be definately the right time.

Already the night before flying back to Kathmandu from Lukla, where our trek ended (below is an entry in Danish that describes our trek through the Everest region), we got word from Betina’s mother that there were problems in Bangkok. Since then, we have received so many text messages on the cell phone (thank heaven, it is working again) and e-mails from you out there. Thank you very much to all of you, it is comforting and warming to us that so many of you not only follow our journey, but also do your best to help us out, when problems arise.

Since we had heard that there were problems in Bangkok already before we got back to Kathmandu, the first thing we did was to turn on the telly at our hotel here in Kathmandu. Fortunately, we had BBC (it has often been the case in both India and Nepal that they have BBC rather than CNN), so we could easily get an update of the events in Bangkok, yesterday. It seemed pretty hopeless to go to Bangkok any time soon, and completely out of the question to go there today. Hence, yesterday, we tried all day to call Thai Airways’ offices both in Kathmandu and Bangkok to know if we were still supposed to show up at the airport, even though there weren’t going to any flight for us. As we didn’t manage to get hold of anybody by yesterday evening, we decided that we would just go to the airport this morning as planned, as there were little else we could do, since we hadn’t spoken to anybody. Then we were going to sort out the tickets at Thai’s office in the airport. We did not manage to get hold of our hotel in Bangkok to cancel our reservation either, but sent them an e-mail to cancel our reservation, which they have fortunately replied to by now.

This morning, we turned on the television only to find out that the Bangkok blocade was no longer the main story. Now, terror bombings in Mumbai were. We have not really got a close overview of the various places the bombings and shootings have happened, but at least it seems that there have been explosions at one of the restaurants that we ate at, and at two of the hotels that we had walked by when we were there. The hotel that we ourselves stayed at in Mumbai, were probably not target of any explosion of shooting, as it was relatively low-key compared to the Taj and Oberoi hotels. Our thoughts are right now with two of our new-found friends from the GAP trip, who were supposed to be in Mumbai around this time, we hope to hear from you soon that you are OK. We had also received a couple of text messages from you back home in DK, informing us of events in Mumbai – thank you.

This morning after having had our breakfast, we tried to call Thai Airways again, and this time with considerably more luck, which saved us a trip to the airport, as they could confirm that the flight to Bangkok today was indeed cancelled. Thereafter, we went to the Thai office here in Kathmandu to change our tickets. As the only destination of Thai Airways out of Kathmandu is Bangkok, there was little they could do for us more than changing our tickets to one of the following days, hoping for the situation in the Bangkok airport to ease. However, they did tell us that if we could get a ticket out of Kathmandu to any destination with any other carrier at all, they would be willing to exchange our ticket for a new of that airline. Having already yesterday done our research on the internet, we knew that the only viable other options were Nepal Airlines to Kuala Lumpur and Silk Airlines to Singapore. Hence, we decided to head for Nepal Airlines’ office to see if they could get us to Kuala Lumpur, as it would then be a relatively easy task to go from there to the Thailand Andaman coast (Krabi, Phuket or the like). At Nepal Airlines they told us there were no flights to Kuala Lumpur until tomorrow (Friday), and Thai is only willing to exchange the ticket if we can get on a flight on the same day, because, as they say, you never know if the airport is open tomorrow. We think not. Therefore we asked Nepal Airlines to reserve us two tickets for the Friday flight to Kuala Lumpur. They only had available seats in business class, so we called Thai Airlines to hear if this was OK. It was, but they still wouldn’t issue the tickets until tomorrow morning, given that the flight tomorrow is indeed cancelled. Hence, it all ended up with us having reservations for the tomorrow (late – 23.30) flight with Nepal Airlines to Kuala Lumpur. However, we still need to have the tickets issued, which we hope to have at Thai Airways’ office tomorrow morning, once it is confirmed that they do not fly tomorrow. And apparently, it will not cost us a dime extra. We keep our fingers crossed that nothing will go wrong, but is looks as if we are guaranteed to get out of Kathmandu some time tomorrow. Please also keep your fingers crossed for us. :-)

Anyways, once we got out of Nepal Airlines’ office, we suddenly noticed that all shops were closed, and couldn’t figure out why. We started walking along one of the main streets, New Road, and a little further ahead we saw that there had been bonfires in the streets and there were policemen everywhere. At that time we decided to go straight back to the hotel. There was chaos in traffic, bacause the inner city had been blocked. Here at the internet cafe next to the hotel, where we are sitting now, we have read that the chaos and riots here in Kathmandu has been due to the discovery of two missing teenagers’ dead bodies yesterday. They had been reported missing for weeks, and protesters are claiming that the police had not done enough to solve the crime. The situation is still a little tense here, with shops opening and closing all the time contingent on the presence of protesters nearby. However, we still feel relatively safe, and we stay around the hotel tonight and take a taxi to the Thai office tomorrow morning.

We are so happy to receive all of your comments, so please keep them coming. For those of you who have not yet written comments to us, remember that it is very easy to do so by registering – you only need to enter a username and a password.

Finally, here is a brief description of our trekking in the Everst region (more elaborate in the below post in Danish). The trekking, which was a total of ten days, started out with a domestic flight with a very small airplane (!) to Lukla. The landing in Lukla was itself a pretty interesting experience, as the runway is extremely short and located on a semi-flat part of a cliff. Anyways, we landed safely.. a group of Germans was as late as September not so fortunate when they collided with the face of the mountain – all died. The first two days were spent in the valley leading to the small town of Namche Bazaar. The trekking to there was nice and relatively easy going, as it more or less follows the river upstream. The stretch is what is often reffered to as “nepali flat”, which essentially means up and down, up and down all the time. Namche Bazaar, where we arrived after two days of trekking is a funny little town located amazingly beautifully in a southward facing valley that seems suited for a town like this. The altitude here is 3400, which is approximately 600 meters higher than Lukla, where we started. Most people stay in Namche two days to acclimatize, which we also did. Most people are then heading for Everest Base Camp. Unfortunately, we did not afford the time to do this trek, which is normally around 15 days, so instead we went into a side valley to visit the village of Thame with its monastry. Still, relatively easy trekking, which was actually typical for most of our days. The longest day we had was around four hours of trekking. In Thame, we felt the bitter cold for the first time. Temperatures at night drop to around minus 10 to 15 celsius, and most of the guesthouses, where we stayed, we literally build by thin pieces of wood with no heating inside whatsoever. So yes, you bet it was cold. Our sleeping bags were a bit too summerly for these conditions, as they were only suited to temperatures down to around plus 0 to 5 celsius. Thame was the first of three nights, where we experienced to wake up with frost on the inside of the windows. Brrrr…

After this cold experience, the next day (day 5), we walked almost back to Namche, before turning to the village of Khumjung, the largest of the area, and relatively untouched by tourism, as it is not on the road to Everest Base Camp. On day 6, we continued to the monastry of Thengboche, which is on the Everest Base Camp route. We were so lucky to have clear skies; it was so beautiful, the view towards Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablan. We even had a view of Everest from our bedroom. Amazing… but cold… winter at 3800 meters is cold. By this time we were glad that we were not going all the way to Base Camp, as it would just get colder and colder. After spending one night at Thengboche, we walked back to Namche Bazaar, and the next two days we walked out of the valley back to Lukla again. We were pretty affraid that it should be bad weather in Lukla (fog), as it is pretty common that flights back to Kathmandu are cancelled or delayed. However, the weather in Lukla was clear and beautiful, so only a little fog in Kathmandu managed to delay us for about an hour, but this was perfectly acceptable as long as we got back to the civilization after 10 days that felt like going back in time with scarce electricity, no roads or wheels (transportation of goods is done by the means of humans or yaks…) and very little heating in the guesthouses apart from the only fireplace located in the dining room, which was hard to leave for bed.

All the best from the two of us, hoping to get moving tomorrow. We will keep you posted.
Betina & Erik

2 Responses to “Chaos! (English post)”

  1. Britta Says:

    Dear Erik and Søs
    It is very exiting to read about your trekking in the Everest region, but holy Christ minus 10-15 celcius thats cold! Here in Denmark we had snow last week, but it was acutally kind of cheerfully, because it was just enought to cover the roads and roofs, which was very beautifully. Now I’m in a great christmas mood, and this upcoming weekend I have persuade Thomas to decorate the appartment with all the new christmas decoration we bought. Lene and I is also going to make dads burial plot ready for christmas and the winter cold, as we use to at this time of year. It is nice to have the Christmas holiday to look forward to right now where we are in the middle of a busy study period with all the final exams.
    We think about you a lot, and hope that you will get on the plain tomorrow either to Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur.

    Love from Britta
    Thomas also sends a greeting from his economic book, which he is totally buried in :o )

  2. jamijenkins Says:

    Hi guys!
    We of course have been thinking about you a lot, and are glad to hear that you are finally out of the airport mess. I’m sure we couldn’t repeat ourselves enough in emphasizing what a delight it was to meet you both, and even more so to have had the opportunity to spend some time traveling with you. I’m sure our travels through Northern India and Nepal will only be the beginning of travels to come. :)
    In fact, after saying goodbye on Sunday to you guys, when Sven and I found ourselves finally alone after 2 weeks, our thoughts turned immediately to you both. We definitely spent a few minutes going through Erik and Betina withdrawals. That afternoon we went back to the Pilgrim’s Bookstore Betina had recommended and browsed around. It was in the middle of the bookstore, an open book in hand, that I was suddenly floored with the feeling that this trip was only the first of many for Sven and me and our adventures in Nepal. I have always been intrigued with people who climb Mount Everest, so I bought the book “Into Thin Air” by American Jon Krakauer describing the disasterous events of the 1996 Spring summit of Everest. Something that might interest you, Betina, is that there is a Danish woman named Lene Gammelgaarde who participates in one of the exbiditions involved and who serves a somewhat critical role in saving a particularly annoying rich, American climber. I’ve looked her up online and it turns out she is a psychological counselor. Some of her comments about the event consider her professional perspective as well. Anyway, in case you hadn’t read the book or heard of her already, I thought it might be of special interest to you and nicely juxtaposed with elements of your own adventures in the Himalayas.
    Our simple hike with the group down the mountain in Pokkara gave me a taste of the hiking I’ve always wanted to do in the Himalayas. I’ve now resolved to hike to the Annapurna Base Camp and Everest Base Camp for my thirtieth birthday, which happens to also be quite close to the 10 year anniversary of me being diabetic. Since I throw a party every year, the famous Pancreas Party, celebrating my disease and encouraging everyone to count their health blessings (if only during the party), I figured these accomplishments would be a reasonable goal, be a nice physical celebration of still having my legs, and would just simply be fun. Maybe I’m trying to find good excuses for something adventurous that doesn’t need an excuse. Since you two will also be turning 30 with me that year (81 babies right?), I’d like to invite you to join us, if you like. Of course we’ll have to train, so we might as well hike around Europe in the meantime, right? ;)
    We’ll be following your travels from the comforts of home in Barcelona, and I will definitely try to post something soon with recommendations for your San Francisco and Las Vegas adventures. Let me first poll my North Cali friends, and I’ll get back to you.

    Wish you all the best health, fun, and safety,

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