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Archive for September 29th, 2009

Got water buffalo?

9-29
When Angin awoke me from a short nap before dinner, I was shaking violently.  I sat up and immediately threw up all over the floor – the hand hewn logs had ample vomit gaps and the mess disappeared to the earth below. Not sure what was wrong with me but the combination of poor diet, high altitude, and walking in the rain for 8 hours may be a factor.
At some point the rain always penetrates your best defenses. Sweating from the complete humidity, It first hits you neck like a squirming ice cube, follows you spine as you brace, runs down your ass crack for a second cleaning, and ultimately ends up in your shoe. Like New Zealand, in Nepal you have to be careful as you can go from so very hot to so very cold, so very quickly.
Playing with my diet and simple is good.  Oat porridge or a hard boiled egg for breakfast along with black tea.  But be careful as the very tasty oats are unrefined and will most likely have several rocks mixed in.  For lunch I have been sticking to noodle soups and like everywhere the soup is as good as the kitchen it came from. Some contain homemade noodles and are seasoned beautifully and some are literally the Asian version of Top Ramen.
Bamboo, Cedar, pine, a type of Madrone, and ferms all within meters of each other.  What a diverse flora; and species so far up the slope (at home, this is above timberline).
Down slope to a smoked filled tea house with “dinare hool” printed above the door, we stopped for warm liquids. Above the stove hung strips of meat that I had seen throughout the region in limited quantities, but had never seen on a menu or up close. I inquired out of curiously and was indeed told it was meat as I took a photo; no kidding. As I finished my tea and got ready to leave the women took down one of the strips and with a curved knife and brute force cut it into corn kernel sized pieces. Heating oil over the stove until it smoked she added onions to the black skillet, then seasoning, then a splash of water and ultimately the meat. Complete, she, surprisingly,  brought the plate of meat to me. I had decided, largely, to not order meat on this trip, but if it was offered out of kindness I would accept. The smaller pieces of meat and onions were good in that salty greasy way and the larger chunks tasked like old dirty boot leather. Actually really dirt boot.  After a lot of going back and forth I understood why.  The meat was specifically:  an old, male, water buffalo.
Regarding meat.  I LIKE it. I like it a LOT. But I have come to understand that the way we raise, produce, and distribute it in the states can only be described as environmentally sinful and morally wrong. That does not mean I do not eat it, I am just trying to be honest about the decision I am making; my like of meat out weighs my objections to how it get to my mouth. Interestingly, in Nepal meat is very limited and therefore it is used quite sparingly and in a sustainable manor. The diet here is dominated by plants. They have no choice, the land will not support a lot of meat production and thus that limited land must be used to produce the greatest (plants) return.
Witnessed high living trekking yesterday that a month ago I would have scorn. An older German man with a younger – drop dead (actually I was hoping he would drop dead….I wanted her) gorgeous French girlfriend or wife were traveling with 8 Nepalese; three porters, one guide, 2 cooks, 1 server, and 2 assistance.  Excessive?  Certainly, but this couple was providing good jobs for these local people; job good enough to support an extended family in a place that many live on less than $2 per day. I met another solo traveler who had three people working for him.  “What is that about?” I inquired.  “It is about giving back, sort of my way of sponsorship.  I employ this same family each year I come to Nepal, my friends here are brothers, and he is a son in law.  I go on a trek, go to their village, and pay for their children’s education….everyone wins and I feel good about it”.  Besides he continued “ If the children of these men are not educated, they will fall further prey to growing world economic gap and will be exploited further.  I am not advocating they give up their culture, just the opposite, but without education other will simply take their culture from them”.
9-30
Kutumumsang to Chisopni 2180m
“Good no rain, we can take the local route” proclaimed my able guide. I have been on ladders that were not that steep, but I resigned myself not to let those 7 year old girls who were carrying 15 kilo of millet each beat me to the top. I should have left my ego at the bottom of the dry water fall that was the local route. Two thirds up and my shirt poured rather than drip sweat off the tail.  At the top I was on my knees not sure whether I should ask for salvation or simply death.
I finally figured out our plan.  After studying the miniature map in the guide book and piecing information together, I realized we were walking back to KTM-or nearly so.  Up a ridge to a saddle, down a ridge to a saddle, repeat. But the landscapes are amazing and we are now into a new caste area that is dominated by Hindu rather then Buddhist of the high elevations. While brutally hot and humid these low lands are dotted with homes, people, cows, goats, chickens, ox, dogs, buffalo, and even a non-black cat.
In Nepal when you are trekking a route, you are simply following an ancient route that has been named as a trekking route. The PCT this is not, and to call much of the last several days a trail is quite optimistic.  Rather, a landslide clears the vegetation and that slide, as if ordained, becomes the new route up or down. Six hours of this and your knees are begging for salvation.
Having a local guide is great and given that Angin is so well liked along the trail, I get the benefit of traveling with him, and thus receive excellent treatment and service.  And when we walked into the local bar tonight, as we grow near the end of our trek, I felt at home playing pool on a table with felt so thin you could see through to the slate below.
This town has some limited road access to vehicles (motorcycles only) but I am unsure as to why.  Never mind, I am sure.  If three young men can get a bike here why wouldn’t they.  One runs the clutch, one pushes or holds the bike back on down hills, and one pulls on the assents and try’s to slow the bike while not getting run over on the descents. Yea, I would try to get my bike here. Standing around we diagnosed the bike’s problems and get cheers from the local crowd when we get her to fire – only to hear moans as she dies when the clutch is let out. I know just enough, thanks to Dan my friend mechanic man, back home to know that the problem is fuel/air; oh if I  only had a different needle for this carburetor to compensate for the altitude, I could be king for a day.
Sometimes food just shows up. Today as I write a plate of spicy curry and potatoes combined with a dry rolled grain appears before me and Angin.  Ok, push the spoon aside with approving nods and use only the right hand to mix and transport food to mouth.
Today’s diet worked: Two boiled eggs, and black tea with sugar for breakfast; walk 2 hours and score a 500ml coke (plastic bottle and I don’t care); walk 2 hours for Ramen and a milk tea (milk slightly curdled but sugar cut it well), walk 2 hours and rely on Chili Verde burrito I ate back on August 27th to get me up the last hill; reach lodge and enjoy and Sprite and thank God and Warren Buffet for ensuring Coca Cola Bottling Company is still number one in Nepal and provides Coke, Fanta Orange, and Sprite to guys like me.
9-29
When Angin awoke me from a short nap before dinner, I was shaking violently.  I sat up and immediately threw up all over the floor – the hand hewn logs had ample vomit gaps and the mess disappeared to the earth below. Not sure what was wrong with me but the combination of poor diet, high altitude, and walking in the rain for 8 hours may be a factor.
At some point the rain always penetrates your best defenses. Sweating from the complete humidity, It first hits you neck like a squirming ice cube, follows you spine as you brace, runs down your ass crack for a second cleaning, and ultimately ends up in your shoe. Like New Zealand, in Nepal you have to be careful as you can go from so very hot to so very cold, so very quickly.
Playing with my diet and simple is good.  Oat porridge or a hard boiled egg for breakfast along with black tea.  But be careful as the very tasty oats are unrefined and will most likely have several rocks mixed in.  For lunch I have been sticking to noodle soups and like everywhere the soup is as good as the kitchen it came from. Some contain homemade noodles and are seasoned beautifully and some are literally the Asian version of Top Ramen.
Bamboo, Cedar, pine, a type of Madrone, and ferms all within meters of each other.  What a diverse flora; and species so far up the slope (at home, this is above timberline).
Down slope to a smoked filled tea house with “dinare hool” printed above the door, we stopped for warm liquids. Above the stove hung strips of meat that I had seen throughout the region in limited quantities, but had never seen on a menu or up close. I inquired out of curiously and was indeed told it was meat as I took a photo; no kidding. As I finished my tea and got ready to leave the women took down one of the strips and with a curved knife and brute force cut it into corn kernel sized pieces. Heating oil over the stove until it smoked she added onions to the black skillet, then seasoning, then a splash of water and ultimately the meat. Complete, she, surprisingly,  brought the plate of meat to me. I had decided, largely, to not order meat on this trip, but if it was offered out of kindness I would accept. The smaller pieces of meat and onions were good in that salty greasy way and the larger chunks tasked like old dirty boot leather. Actually really dirt boot.  After a lot of going back and forth I understood why.  The meat was specifically:  an old, male, water buffalo.
Regarding meat.  I LIKE it. I like it a LOT. But I have come to understand that the way we raise, produce, and distribute it in the states can only be described as environmentally sinful and morally wrong. That does not mean I do not eat it, I am just trying to be honest about the decision I am making; my like of meat out weighs my objections to how it get to my mouth. Interestingly, in Nepal meat is very limited and therefore it is used quite sparingly and in a sustainable manor. The diet here is dominated by plants. They have no choice, the land will not support a lot of meat production and thus that limited land must be used to produce the greatest (plants) return.
Witnessed high living trekking yesterday that a month ago I would have scorn. An older German man with a younger – drop dead (actually I was hoping he would drop dead….I wanted her) gorgeous French girlfriend or wife were traveling with 8 Nepalese; three porters, one guide, 2 cooks, 1 server, and 2 assistance.  Excessive?  Certainly, but this couple was providing good jobs for these local people; job good enough to support an extended family in a place that many live on less than $2 per day. I met another solo traveler who had three people working for him.  “What is that about?” I inquired.  “It is about giving back, sort of my way of sponsorship.  I employ this same family each year I come to Nepal, my friends here are brothers, and he is a son in law.  I go on a trek, go to their village, and pay for their children’s education….everyone wins and I feel good about it”.  Besides he continued “ If the children of these men are not educated, they will fall further prey to growing world economic gap and will be exploited further.  I am not advocating they give up their culture, just the opposite, but without education other will simply take their culture from them”.
9-30
Kutumumsang to Chisopni 2180m
“Good no rain, we can take the local route” proclaimed my able guide. I have been on ladders that were not that steep, but I resigned myself not to let those 7 year old girls who were carrying 15 kilo of millet each beat me to the top. I should have left my ego at the bottom of the dry water fall that was the local route. Two thirds up and my shirt poured rather than drip sweat off the tail.  At the top I was on my knees not sure whether I should ask for salvation or simply death.
I finally figured out our plan.  After studying the miniature map in the guide book and piecing information together, I realized we were walking back to KTM-or nearly so.  Up a ridge to a saddle, down a ridge to a saddle, repeat. But the landscapes are amazing and we are now into a new caste area that is dominated by Hindu rather then Buddhist of the high elevations. While brutally hot and humid these low lands are dotted with homes, people, cows, goats, chickens, ox, dogs, buffalo, and even a non-black cat.
In Nepal when you are trekking a route, you are simply following an ancient route that has been named as a trekking route. The PCT this is not, and to call much of the last several days a trail is quite optimistic.  Rather, a landslide clears the vegetation and that slide, as if ordained, becomes the new route up or down. Six hours of this and your knees are begging for salvation.
Having a local guide is great and given that Angin is so well liked along the trail, I get the benefit of traveling with him, and thus receive excellent treatment and service.  And when we walked into the local bar tonight, as we grow near the end of our trek, I felt at home playing pool on a table with felt so thin you could see through to the slate below.
This town has some limited road access to vehicles (motorcycles only) but I am unsure as to why.  Never mind, I am sure.  If three young men can get a bike here why wouldn’t they.  One runs the clutch, one pushes or holds the bike back on down hills, and one pulls on the assents and try’s to slow the bike while not getting run over on the descents. Yea, I would try to get my bike here. Standing around we diagnosed the bike’s problems and get cheers from the local crowd when we get her to fire – only to hear moans as she dies when the clutch is let out. I know just enough, thanks to Dan my friend mechanic man, back home to know that the problem is fuel/air; oh if I  only had a different needle for this carburetor to compensate for the altitude, I could be king for a day.
Sometimes food just shows up. Today as I write a plate of spicy curry and potatoes combined with a dry rolled grain appears before me and Angin.  Ok, push the spoon aside with approving nods and use only the right hand to mix and transport food to mouth.

Today’s diet worked: Two boiled eggs, and black tea with sugar for breakfast; walk 2 hours and score a 500ml coke (plastic bottle and I don’t care); walk 2 hours for Ramen and a milk tea (milk slightly curdled but sugar cut it well), walk 2 hours and rely on Chili Verde burrito I ate back on August 27th to get me up the last hill; reach lodge and enjoy and Sprite and thank God and Warren Buffet for ensuring Coca Cola Bottling Company is still number one in Nepal and provides Coke, Fanta Orange, and Sprite to guys like me.

Not sure where I spend this night
stupa and lnagtang

Stupa below Langtang

When Angin awoke me from a short nap before dinner, I was shaking violently.  I sat up and immediately threw up all over the floor – the hand hewn logs had ample vomit gaps and the mess disappeared to the earth below. Not sure what was wrong with me but the combination of poor diet, high altitude, and walking in the rain for 8 hours may be a factor.

At some point the rain always penetrates your best defenses. Sweating from the complete humidity, It first hits you neck like a squirming ice cube, follows you spine as you brace, runs down your ass crack for a second cleaning, and ultimately ends up in your shoe. Like New Zealand, in Nepal you have to be careful as you can go from so very hot to so very cold, so very quickly.

Playing with my diet and simple is good.  Oat porridge or a hard boiled egg for breakfast along with black tea.  But be careful as the very tasty oats are unrefined and will most likely have several rocks mixed in.  For lunch I have been sticking to noodle soups and like everywhere the soup is as good as the kitchen it came from. Some contain homemade noodles and are seasoned beautifully and some are literally the Asian version of Top Ramen.

Bamboo, Cedar, pine, a type of Madrone, and ferms all within meters of each other.  What a diverse flora; and species so far up the slope (at home, this is above timberline).

Down slope to a smoked filled tea house with “dinare hool” printed above the door, we stopped for warm liquids. Above the stove hung strips of meat that I had seen throughout the region in limited quantities, but had never seen on a menu or up close. I inquired out of curiously and was indeed told it was meat as I took a photo; no kidding. As I finished my tea and got ready to leave the women took down one of the strips and with a curved knife and brute force cut it into corn kernel sized pieces. Heating oil over the stove until it smoked she added onions to the black skillet, then seasoning, then a splash of water and ultimately the meat. Complete, she, surprisingly,  brought the plate of meat to me. I had decided, largely, to not order meat on this trip, but if it was offered out of kindness I would accept. The smaller pieces of meat and onions were good in that salty greasy way and the larger chunks tasked like old dirty boot leather. Actually really dirt boot.  After a lot of going back and forth I understood why.  The meat was specifically:  an old, male, water buffalo.

Regarding meat.  I LIKE it. I like it a LOT. But I have come to understand that the way we raise, produce, and distribute it in the states can only be described as environmentally sinful and morally wrong. That does not mean I do not eat it, I am just trying to be honest about the decision I am making; my like of meat out weighs my objections to how it get to my mouth. Interestingly, in Nepal meat is very limited and therefore it is used quite sparingly and in a sustainable manor. The diet here is dominated by plants. They have no choice, the land will not support a lot of meat production and thus that limited land must be used to produce the greatest (plants) return.

Witnessed high living trekking yesterday that a month ago I would have scorn. An older German man with a younger – drop dead (actually I was hoping he would drop dead….I wanted her) gorgeous French girlfriend or wife were traveling with 8 Nepalese; three porters, one guide, 2 cooks, 1 server, and 2 assistance.  Excessive?  Certainly, but this couple was providing good jobs for these local people; job good enough to support an extended family in a place that many live on less than $2 per day. I met another solo traveler who had three people working for him.  “What is that about?” I inquired.  “It is about giving back, sort of my way of sponsorship.  I employ this same family each year I come to Nepal, my friends here are brothers, and he is a son in law.  I go on a trek, go to their village, and pay for their children’s education….everyone wins and I feel good about it”.  Besides he continued “ If the children of these men are not educated, they will fall further prey to growing world economic gap and will be exploited further.  I am not advocating they give up their culture, just the opposite, but without education other will simply take their culture from them”.

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