Everest Base Camp Trek: Day 2 – Monjo to Namche Bazaar
Weather: Warm – shorts/t-shirt
Trekking time: 3.5h
Altitude change: +1,903 ft
Namche Bazaar Altitude: 11,286 ft
Average daytime temperature: 65 F
Hot showers: yes (in room)
Blankets and pillows: yes (electric heating pad included
Wifi: Good. 800 rupees for 2 days
Bedtime Room Temperature: 62 F
Morning Room Temperature: 55 F
Day 2 of the trek started us into our typical routine. I was up at 6:30am for a 7:00am breakfast. There isn’t much to do in the morning since you aren’t taking showers or other time consuming things like that. Some people routinely were up and about amazingly early. For the most part, all you have to do is wake up, pack your duffel, place it outside your door for the porters to come pick up and then head off to breakfast. I woke up pretty sore this morning and also started into my daily routine of Motrin 800mg, Diamox 125mg and a multivitamin in the morning and again in the evening except for the vitamins. The saying of “take the Diamox when you wake up and your fingers will be tingling during your first cup of coffee,” generally proved true. Breakfast was pancakes, oatmeal (which they call porridge), tea and coffee
A side note on my experience with Diamox through the trip… I took 125mg twice daily from Lukla up through our highest elevation day. I commonly had tingling in my fingers, but also randomly had it in the tip of my nose and my heels. In talking with others, people would get random tingling all over their body. One of the first days I forgot about the Diamox I was taking and got all concerned trying to figure out what electrolyte abnormality or other medical malady was causing my nose to tingle. Was my parathyroid suddenly ary? Apparently not. It’s just the Diamox I eventually remembered. On one of the colder days when we were out hiking I hadn’t put any gloves on and then only got some liner gloves on. My fingers were all a tingle and I was mad at myself because I was too lazy to stop and get my gloves out and now was getting frostbite, even eventually despite the fact that I got 3 layers of gloves on each hand. Again, I eventually figure out that I wasn’t going to need my hands amputated, but that it was just the Diamox.
The hike up to Namche Bazaar took 3.5h. Along the way we had our first view of Mt. Everest. Thankfully the view was clear, unlike almost every other chance to get a view of Mt. Everest we would have. We paused for a bathroom break and everyone took a bunch of pictures of and with Mt. Everest. Everyone has heard and dreamed so much about Everest that it was amazing to finally be seeing it in person. After the little photo op/bathroom break we started the big climb up into Namche. I’d heard a lot about how much everyone hates the big hill that leads into Namche. In the end, while it was a long tough hill, especially with our ever increasing altitude I don’t think it was nearly as bad as the climb back into Lukla on the way back down. THAT hill was miserable!
We finally hiked into Namche around 11am. It was a beautiful, clear 65 degree day. Namche, like Lukla, was another one of those places of almost mythical status in my mind because I’d read so much about it that finally actually being there was an incredible experience. Namche is a layered, U shaped town with the levels connected by stairs. We hiked up to our home for the next few days – Hotel Namche. Its a great place with a super friendly staff. We hung out in the dining room drinking tea before going to check out our rooms. The rooms had 2 beds with included electric heating pads, in room bathrooms with hot showers until the hot water runs out and electricity. Take advantage of Namche to charge everything and get both yourself and your clothes clean. They offered laundry service for 80 rupees per item, which is insanely cheap compared to American hotel standards of ~$3 for a pair of socks. The wi-fi, which worked pretty well, was 500 rupees for 1 day and 800 for 2 days – a bargain compared to what we would find up higher.
We had lunch in the hotel and then had the afternoon free to explore Namche. You can find pretty much any type of hiking gear here that you might have neglected to bring or would like to add to your pack. Some of the items are real, some are counterfeit and generally clearly so. I saw an Arc’teryx shirt for $30 and was immediately dubious as its hard to find one for under $100. I also found the shop keepers to be forthcoming with what was real and what wasn’t. Authentic items cost about the same as you would pay for them back home. I ended up buying some Tang to add to my water bottles, a few Snickers and a t-shirt. Snickers were 50 rupees in Namche and 200-300 rupees in shops along the trail.
On a more unpleasant topic, it was in Namche that most people’s intestines became unhappy that they were in Nepal. Most people had some form of GI distress (diarrhea) for the first week we were there. It was generally benign and resolved on its own. No one seemed in dire distress from it, although I think one person did take a dose of Zithromax to treat travelers diarrhea. This is a good place also to note that toilet paper is available for purchase everywhere for 200-400 rupees/roll, but is not found in any bathroom on the trek other than those in our rooms in Hotel Namche. Most people brought a roll from home and then just bought more as needed. A plastic bag to keep it in is very handy.