Phakding -> Namche Bazaar – the big drama

10. April 2024


I started the day thinking that I had a kind of “fighting day” ahead of me. And that’s how it turned out. It started off quite nicely: I was one of the first to set off and so I had a bit of peace and quiet for a while until the air was filled with the roar of engines and the crowds caught up with me. There were 5 bridges to cross. I was actually alone on the first one and was able to hurry across. There were also a few smaller fixed bridges that didn’t bother me at all.




There was a public loo and I had to smile at the pictograms.


Poo and Pee


And then they arrived, the crowds. Unfortunately, walking really quickly doesn’t work so well with my short legs. Besides, I like to dawdle and look here and there.




looking here


looking there


A pretty blossoming tree served many people as a photo motif.


blossoming tree


At the next bridges, it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to walk there alone, too much traffic. So new tactics: eyes closed, right hand on rail, left hand on Tenji’s backpack and then together. It was shaking and not nice, but manageable. But it was better when there were no horses at the same time.


bridge 3


I often put my headphones in my ears, listened to cheerful music and walked through the people with tunnel vision. There’s definitely a different way to enjoy the mountains. Did the others enjoy it? Didn’t they care? It seemed to me that I was the only curmudgeon on the trail and didn’t understand the mountain world.


hiking path


Then there was a check post with entry to the Sangarmatha National Park, where was checked that you don’t have a drone with you, warned not to listen to loud music (which many porters didn’t adhere to) and to observe other rules and regulations and you had to pay 5000 NRP (= 36 euros).




It continued with bridge 4:


before the bridge


on the bridge


And then I saw Bridge 5, the Hillary Bridge. It had been newly installed over the old one, 135 metres above the ground. It was afternoon and windy and I was quite scared. And seriously considered turning round here immediately. But what to do instead? I really wanted to see this very popular trekking area for myself. So on we went, first up the 135 metres.


Hillary Bridge


I don’t think the height really comes out in the picture. 135 metres is 35 metres more than the 100-metre running track from childhood sports. And the finish line was quite far away. So it was all supposed to be a vacuum between me and the river. There was a queue at the top:




Unfortunately, you couldn’t really see the oncoming traffic. I summoned up all my courage, clung on to Tenji’s backpack and the rail and we pushed off when it looked like we were going to be able to cope with the crowds. And then, about halfway across the bridge, it happened: horses from the front. Tenji shouted: stand to the side, we have to let them pass. And I had a panic attack. I trembled, cried, screamed, didn’t move a millimetre to the side, was bumped by horse luggage, knew all the time about the 135 m of air below me (it doesn’t matter knowing that you can’t actually fall off because thick wire mesh up to your chest protects you) and kept my eyes shut. It was a very bad few minutes in my life. At some point we were able to move on and I fell to the ground on the other side and continued to tremble and shake and the tears poured out – and I knew that I had to get back here, there was no other way (later we did find an alternative, but it wasn’t a good idea either as it was too steep and in parts was damage).


Tenji was also really upset, he had never experienced anything like it before and felt somehow guilty. All the porters and horse people seemed to stare at me uncomprehendingly. I’ve had two seizures like that in my life: once on an aeroplane in Laos and once in a cave in a crawlspace. I try to deal with my fears in such a way that I can somehow manage what I want to do with strategies, and I don’t even want to do a lot of things (like skydiving or something). But then sometimes something goes wrong.


And we were still a long way from Namche, there were still 500 metres in altitude waiting for us (the goal is 3,5000 m high). In hindsight, I wonder where I actually got this strength from. Tenji carried my backpack for 1/3 of the way, but that wasn’t quite right for me either.


getting higher


Arrival in Namche


In Namche, the accommodation was at the very top end and I was so exhausted that I had to refuel with a hot chocolate:


Hot Chocolate


I was still shivering cold and I realised how I longed for warmth, touch and being wrapped up. But I didn’t get any. Tenji was overloaded and the lodge lady seemed as if I was one of those annoying little fools who want to get too high and then you have to deal with them. Even though she offered to be available for me all night. However, she didn’t say where I could find her.


I was done with the world and never, never, never wanted to go trekking in Nepal again! Those fucking bridges! And anyway! And yes, I can somehow fight my way through on my own and somehow manage it – but somehow this fighting is also exhausting. So as I had already surmised in the morning: it had been a day of fight. And it left me with another souvenir, which I only realised the next morning.