Namche Bazaar -> Phaplu – the trek comes to an end

19. – 22. April 2024



We had thought that it was best to cross the bridge before or after all the traffic. I was in favour of before, because I assumed there would be no wind. So we set off again at dawn at 5.30am. However, I was wrong early on: the horse-drawn caravans had already set off too.


loaded horses


Fridays and Saturdays are market days in Namche Bazaar, where people from neighbouring villages flock. It was Friday and even that early it was mainly women who were out and about, lugging their goods upstairs. Grmpf. But first we had to get to the bridge, i.e. walk down 500 metres in altitude. My heart was sinking again. But Tenji had gained a lot of confidence and when we reached the bridge, we waited until there were no more animals approaching from behind (at least the oncoming traffic hadn’t arrived yet). Then he instructed the last person crossing on the other side to stop the people and there was also someone on our side who was supposed to wait. Then I clutched his hand (instead of his backpack), wet with sweat, closed my eyes and off we went. The bridge was actually very quiet and we got across quickly. Relieved, I had to rest again and thanked the porter waiting there very much that he really hadn’t started and Tenji that he had managed it so well for me this time.


I hardly took any more pictures that day. It was just as crowded as before. Teabreak in the lodge of his one sister, who wasn’t there though.




I almost started to hate the people jumping around in front of and behind my feet again, there was no mountain experience this time either. We were in Phakding at lunchtime and I was very hungry. We tried a restaurant that Tenji didn’t know and that was actually the only real mistake. I ordered something with tuna (I know, actually a no-go, but I felt like it so much) and when I started the meal, I wondered why the tuna didn’t really taste like tuna and wondered if there were several varieties – until I was absolutely sure that one piece wasn’t tuna. I went into the kitchen: oh right, it’s not tuna, it’s chicken. I got really upset about how something like that could happen and then I felt a bit sick and Tenji said his food wasn’t good either.


Apart from that: I had all sorts of infections to contend with, but what was completely stable was my gastrointestinal tract. No problems at all. I had been a bit worried because people with diarrhoea had to be flown out. I belong to the rare species that can complete entire treks without a single dal bhaat meal. There is a lot of fuss about dal bhaat (rice, vegetables, lentil dish) here, there are T-shirts with the inscription “Dal Bhaat 24 hour Power” and big fans. I prefer to eat potatoes or pasta. Tenji likes to eat everything and a lot. No matter where we were and how much was already in his stomach – if you put a portion of food in front of him, it was always eaten happily. Guides always get tea and a meal for free in lodges and restaurants, you kind of pay for it with your meal. This also applies to people without a guide, who pay the same prices. And then I’ve heard that porters have to cater for themselves – usually in teahouses built especially for them. By the way, here is a very interesting documentary about porters in the Everest region on Youtube.


other sister’s house


Our destination for the day was Tenji’s other sister, who had a restaurant with a shop and a few rooms, relatively close to the turn-off to Lukla. He would be delighted if we could spend the night there. Even if there were no showers or washing facilities. And anyway. I actually really liked it there. I only had one problem: I didn’t have enough panties and socks with me and I had to wash and dry them again. Ah, that would be no problem, I could do that in the kitchen and a special construction was built for me. It worked – everything was dry in the morning!


drying laundry


The sister lived here with her husband, who is 20 years older and half a head shorter and very active, and their daughter. Here’s a family photo and then another with me:




with me


The sister was very nice and made me very tasty momos with greens from her garden. Incidentally, the dough is not rolled out here, they all have a pasta machine.






I felt very comfortable in the kitchen. However, the power went out early and I quickly disappeared into bed and had one of the best sleeps here. And Tenji was beaming because I had enjoyed it so much.


As usual, we were on the road relatively early the next morning. Soon we reached the turn-off to Lukla and more village life for us.














These are flying traders who travelled through the villages with their goods (bed sheets, for example) on their backs, hoping for paying customers. We had another break in Surke – and then the really hard part began. It was uphill in the heat. Not only had it been cloudy the days before, but it had also rained a lot, so the path was quite muddy and slippery. At first we travelled with the horses over the new road that was to be built, later along a narrower path.




nice picture of not-nice part


little muddy


There was even another rain shower over a cup of tea. But eventually we arrived in Paiya – our start and end point. Tenji had quickly organised a driver for the next day and there was a big bowl of warm water for me at the lodge. My second full-body wash after Phortsa – but without hair. It behaved very strangely and didn’t grease at all but looked like it had just been washed the whole time.


Apart from that, I’ll get this straight: the next day we travelled to Phaplu, which was very hot, dusty and bumpy. There we stayed with a very funny uncle of Tenji’s, who never missed an opportunity to make a joke that amused him so much that you couldn’t help but laugh. A whole group of Khumbu people who had travelled from Kathmandu and wanted to go to their villages the following day also stayed here. I really enjoyed it there. I had spent the last few days socialising a bit more with the locals – really nice. The air was also nice there, the temperatures very pleasant – ideal for staying another night, which we did. The only downside: the house was also very not soundproofed and I was still coughing so often and so badly.


funny gathering


view from the room




airstrip Phaplu


outdoor gym


We used the next day for a trip to a monastery high up. It was a bit strange there. There were lots of children and other monks and we were invited to have tea in the monastery kitchen. But nobody wanted to open the door to the monastery room for the next 2 hours. Only after that. I didn’t understand and pleading looks on my part didn’t help at all. I didn’t want to wait that long and so I don’t know what this monastery looks like inside.










Two people from the agency had come with a car, which we were able to use for the way back. This was even more comfortable than the shared taxi, but not really any quicker. And that was the end of the trek.


I think I’ve covered most of the topics somewhere. Perhaps a few words about me and the guide. Already last year on Annapurna I thought that guides had little to do except in stressful situations and that you didn’t really need one unless he could tell you a lot. Unfortunately, mine couldn’t do that. Sometimes it seems to me that the guides’ main job is to run after the tourists with the menus and give an early order to the kitchen (which makes sense if there are a lot of guests or you want to start very early). Tenji was always running after me with it and I felt so stupid. As if I couldn’t order on my own. And then we had a big misunderstanding at the beginning and my food didn’t come at all because he thought I wanted it much later. The dilemma: if I had always taken care of it myself, the lodge people would have noticed and registered this and he would have made an extremely bad impression on them as a guide. I didn’t want that either. And so I often suffered a little.


What I found pleasant: when there were so many people on the path, it was nice to “belong to someone” – otherwise I would have felt very lost. And I think I learnt something about Nepalese grammar. Whenever I seemed tired, Tenji would say “I carry bag you!”. I always refused, except for the day of the pass. His next offer was always “You sticks!”. But I never wanted that either, apart from in the mud and on one pass down from the pass. In principle, Tenji is a great guide, always available, memorised everything, made an effort to look after my well-being, looked after me (maybe he really wanted to carry my backpack on the pass day so that he had something to do at least?) and was pleasant to be with. He was also able to deal with the panic crisis well later on. He really wanted to do everything as good as possible and learn a lot. Except English….. Sometimes I was overcome with the desire to teach him something, but I was rather unsuccessful. We played the game with the end/beginning letters (Elephant – Tiger – Road – Dog – Goat etc.), but I failed to explain the game already in the beginning “I’m travelling to Kathmandu and I’m packing in my suitcase ….”. Or he was too stubborn. Sometimes he switched to writing me messages via WhatsApp, which was actually easier than speaking. We still managed to have some conversations.


He was a bit afraid that I would criticise him at the agency. 3 x criticism means dismissal. He had already been criticised once (but I couldn’t find out why and I suspect it was more of a stupid tourist), which had really affected him. I was very open and said that 90% of the time he really is a great guide, but 10% he really needs to improve his English. He could obviously live with that.


We actually parted more as “friends”, I liked his pleasant manner and his endeavours and that we were overburdened by each other at the bridge, that was just the way it was. And yes, I think he liked me too.




I didn’t actually find the trekking route as I did it so bad. You walked with the crowds for 1 2/2 days, but the rest was quite acceptable. The landscape is beautiful and, especially with the many flight cancellations, I found the road journey to and from the destination much more pleasant despite the time involved. Without illness, we could have done at least 2 more days (Gokyo and Thame). And even though the tourism there had a very daunting effect on me, I found it very good to have seen it with my own eyes, to have experienced it with my own body and to have been challenged with my own feelings and thoughts.


I still had over a week until my departure. What to do?