The Path Into The Everest Begins
Staying in Ghurmi or any part of plain lowland of Nepal isnt really my preference. Even though Im from Malaysia, it seems that I couldnt stand the hot weather. Probably Ive been staying too long in cold places since the past few winters, so I now prefer it cold. Ghurmi was hot, it was difficult for me even to sleep early due to the heat. I could sense that my body would get sick if I stayed longer. So the next day I got on my bicycle seat as early as possible to get to the highland, to Solukhumbu, the Everest region where it is cold there due to the high altitude of the region. But I didnt get too far, after crossing the bridge, the super big climb starts. The road leads me right to the high mountain, always a steady climb from some 1000m altitude all the way to some 2400m altitude in less than 40km. It was way too difficult and I started not to enjoy my ride. This time, I lost fighting the gravity. My strength couldnt match the big climb of the Himalayan mountains. So I turned back to some nearest village and waited for the bus. With the help of some locals, I then took a bus to Okhaldhunga then changed into a jeep to Phaplu. Once in Phaplu, the weather changed totally into a different world. It feels like the summer has turned into winter in just 4 hours of bus and jeep ride.
My Sherpa friend whom I met in Kathmandu, Furi, helped me with the arrangement to send my bicycle back to Kathmandu and sent a guide to Phaplu to meet me. Early the next morning, I started to trek right from there towards the Everest Basecamp… which gonna take weeks. When I started trekking from Phaplu in the morning, the sun was giving too much heat… both me and my guide were sweating a lot. But the sun was shining only for some good two hours. Right before noon, the sun and the blue sky were quickly disappeared by the thick clouds coming out of nowhere and followed by rain only a few minutes later. The path was climbing steadily for a few hours before it went down again. Surprising, I was faster going up compared to the descend, since the path down was steep and very slippery, it was quite dangerous. My guide who is a porter and a guide fell down once when we were going down through a rocky area. I kept on looking at where my feet gonna land everytime when I took my steps, very carefully. It took us two days of trekking to reach Kharikhola passing by some small villages and mostly forested areas.
Upon reaching Kharikhola, I was welcomed by the beautiful view of the village hidden between the clouds and greeted by a friend, Furi, who has been helping me out since I arrived Kathmandu the first time from Sikkim last June. He was the one who helped to keep my bicycle safely in Kathmandu while I was in Slovenia. Only after a few days, the relation between me and the sherpas is quickly becoming like brothers. I stayed 2 days in Kharikhola in his house taking a rest and wandering around the small village between the mountains.
The Sherpa is probably the most known minority in Nepal, since they mostly work as a porter and a guide in the mountains of Everest region. Many people mistook the word sherpa as a porter from Google, but the word sherpa means people from the eastern part. They are originally from Kham, Tibet, migrated through the high Himalayan mountains some 500 years ago passing by upper part of Namche crossing the Nangpala, before finally settled in Solukhumbu (Khumbu region). Theyre Tibetan Buddhist, speaking their own language which is originally from Tibet and has slightly different culture than Tibetans. Just like the Kyrgyz or Kazakh in Central Asia, they’re also descended from the Mongols, seems that Genghis Khan and his fearsome Golden Horde army has done a good job to turn most people in Asia into the Khans. I could see the similarities in their faces, just like the Bhutanese as well, they have the Mongol eyes.
Kharikhola village is part of the bigger Jubing district, which has the population of around 5000 people consists of Sherpa, Rai, Maghar and Bishokharma. Theyre mostly farmers here producing corn, maze, potatoes, soya beans and many other vegetables and fruits… and I could see many guesthouses here offering hot showers and good food for trekkers, since Kharikhola is part of the route into Everest if the trekkers start from Phaplu. The surrounding here is a bit like villages in Bhutan. Life in the countryside always amaze me. Village life always starts early, they spend most of their time with their family and working with the land and animals and always smiling. I came across Bishwokarma people as well here who are the experts working with iron to make things like knives, machete and the legendary Nepali Khukuri. The feel of the countryside here in the lower Khumbu region feels a little like in Sikkim. I feel that theyre like in between the Bhutanese and the Sikkimese… the people, the faces, the environment and all.