Sunday May 27

Started the day by moving accomodation down the the road to Dragon Inn as our current hotel had no room for us. All good as Dragon was half the price. Nima joined us and we taxied across town to pick up my medical records and our laundry.  Then off to Swayambhunath Temple or Monkey Temple, high above and overlooking the sprawling city of Kathmandu. Not too many monkeys about but lots of Stupas and Religious symbols. Many of the buildings look very old and delicate and have done well to survive. We explored the hill top area and enjoyed a good lunch.

On the way back to our hotel we stopped off at Secret Garden an oasis of beauty and reflection on the outskirts of the city. We can’t remember the history of it but it is very well looked after and popular with the locals.

Nima had invited us to his home for dinner and arranged a taxi to pick us up. We did another lap of the Bodhnath Stupa looking for a suitable gift for Nima’ wife Asha. We settled on a Cashmere Scarf and 1kg of plums. It was a long bumpy, dusty drive to Nima’s place on the city outskirts near the Sundarijal NP. 
We enjoyed a lovely evening with great hospitality and a delicious meal prepared by Asha.Their home is very modest, a large single room dominated by a large queen size bed but perfectly functional.  The bathroom is shared with the 3 other rooms on the floor. Asha was lovely and the baby grumpy. A tradition here is to highlight the baby’s eyes with black Kohl (like Mascara). Unfortunately our photos didn’t turn out very well. We shared a few beers with dinner. Another tradition is for the wife not to eat with the guests.  We felt honoured to be bought into their home and enjoyed the evening.

Saturday May 26

Today Nima is not available as he is attending the funeral of a friend killed in a fall on Everest. We decided to walk to Pema’s house. I had planned to do a bit of handyman stuff around her house but she adamantly refused and put it off until Jon was back. We relaxed on her cool patio and read up about the surrounds f Kathmandu in the Lonely Planet Guide. Pema made Momo’s for lunch. Then we took a taxi to the ancient city of Patan. The city of Fine Arts
We tried to do a self guided tour but immediately got lost.

We managed to find many old temples and shrines nestled in between buildings. 

So many ancient buildings in various states of disrepair and repair much related to the 2015 earthquake. We paid to enter the Buddhist Golden Temple (Kwa Bahal). Pema was thrilled as she had never been here before. It was pretty spectacular and a guide filled us in on some of the history and story’s.

We finally found Dunbar Square and were blown away by the magnificent architecture of the Temples, Royal Palace, Water Conduits, Statues and Baths.

Amazing detail carved into timber lintels, window frames and buttresses. Superb stone carvings being carefully restored.

We wandered around in awe for ages and could have spent more time here but we were getting tired and dusty so headed back to our hotel. Pema left and made her way home. We enjoyed s beer at a rooftop cafe watching the pilgrims doing their clockwise walk around the Stupa.

Thursday May 24 Day 13 

Lots of rest but cough still very heavy and my temperature started to climb. With concern over developing Pneumonia, Antibiotics were prescribed. We were kicked out of the room late morning for room cleaning so went to the little cafe on the hospital grounds. Nima came to visit and we enjoyed lunch   together. He was to attend a funeral tomorrow for a Sherpa friend who died on Everest a couple of days ago. That makes 3 deaths we knew of in less than 2 weeks that we had been in the Khumbu region.
On Care International rang to make sure all was ok. We watched old movies all afternoon.

Friday May 25.

I felt a bit better and was keen to check out but the doctors wanted me to stay another night as I had experienced a night sweat. We went down to the cafe for coffee and 3 guys from the Helicopter Company approached us there. They were concerned that they were not going to get paid by our Insurance Company. We had believed they had already sought and received prior approval for payment by the RACV. The helicopter company wanted us to lie about the height we were picked up from and ring RACV with a story about how the Helicopter Company was holding my passport and that I needed them to pay immediately so I could leave the country. 
We told him we don’t play games like that but would investigate further and if necessary we would pay the account. We got his number and said we would get back to him. We rechecked our policy booklet and buried in the fine print was the exclusion for trekking over 3000m. Shit! We had been sold an insurance policy that was totally useless for the intended purpose. Lea had gone to see an RACV Consultant back in Bairnsdale and discussed our trekking plans. Although we purchased the policy online at a later date we did so on the basis of the Consultants recommendation. All contact with RACV Insurance and their agents had led us to believe we were covered. Bastards! Lea rang the RACV again and they were quite dismissive, stating that if the event was over 3000m then we were not covered, end of storey.
Based on this we decided to check out of hospital, as I was feeling much better, and settle all our accounts. We rang the Helicopter Company and they were around with an Eftpos machine in no tome flat for their $6200.00USD. They also wanted to charge us a 4% credit card fee but I convinced them to waive that. We also settled our $1500.00USD Hospital Account. The hospital was great and even gave us lunch before we left as well as a big bag full of ongoing medications. 
With my passport back Nima arrived to take us to a nice quiet hotel. The Shechen Guest House just near the Bodnath Stupa which dates back to 600AD We dumped our gear and set off for a walk around the Stupa.

After winding our way through the narrow streets we walked in a clockwise direction around the Stupa. It is surrounded by 3-4 storey shop houses, many with rooftop bars and restaurants,  and has an old worldly, almost European feel about the architecture.

We then took a taxi to the Hindu Temple of Pashupatinath on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River.

Funerals take place here and the bodies are cremated in the open on a pyre, then the ashes thrown in the River. 

We didn’t have a lot of info on what we were seeing but it all looked impressive and old.

Found a great Vietnamese Restaurant near the Stupa for dinner and picked up some fresh fruit for breakfast.

Day 12 Thangnak 4700m. Medivac KTM

I had a dreadful night, unable to sleep, developing a deep seated chest cough an feeling very weak. During breakfast we discussed the options with our guide Nima and the proprietor of the Cho Lo Pass Resort, My Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa a very experienced guide and climber. It would take 3 days trekking to reach a point where we could descend significantly. The days walk involved a difficult Glacier crossing and a slight increase in altitude. Not very appealing or wise in my current state so a helicopter evacuation was considered the best option. 
Lhakpa advised us that if the helicopter company could get prior approval from our insurance company they would agree to come and pick us up. We gave him our passport details and our Insurance Policy details with RACV Insurance and he made the phone call via the Everest Link Network. He further advised us that the Helicopter would not come without prior approval from our Insurance Company. Our initial thought was to evacuate to Lukla where there is a Swiss run Medical Centre. However, Lhakpa further stated that in his experience Insurance companies would only approve evacuation all the way back to Kathmandu where full Hospital Care was available. It was a 2 hour wait during which we assumed  the Helicopter Company  was clearing our evacuation with RACV, our insurer. We were in the dark even though a channel of communication had been opened to RACV. When Lhakpa got the call advising him that the Helicopter was on its way we breathed a sigh of relief.
We moved out to the landing field and Lea and I boarded the Helicopter with Nima. Our luggage was piled in and soon we were hurtling down the valley at 110 knots to Lukla.

The clouds were shifting about but the runway was clear when we landed. 

Almost immediately the clouds closed in and the Airport was closed. We later found out that no planes had come in or out of Lukla for 3 days. We made our way to a nearby tea house. We now had internet so messages to family were sent and Lea tried to contact RACV. Unfortunately we had plenty of data but no credit so the call to RACV dropped out. We further tried to call them through the International Operator for a reverse charge call as per the instructions on the RACV website but this failed too. RACV did not try to call back although we received an email from On Call International, RACV’s Agent, acknowledging that a Claim had been opened. 

Nima found out that the Helicopter for the next leg of our journey to Kathmandu was waiting 300m further down, at Surke, for a break in the weather. We were being pressured to walk down to it. A 90 minute walk down steep terrain for 90 minutes and 300m down was the last thing I felt like doing. We decided to visit the Swiss run Medical Clinic here in Lukla. 
The doctor diagnosed an acute viral chest infection that had bought on AMS. Some drugs for symptomatic relief were prescribed and we were recommended to descend further.
After a quick lunch that I couldn’t eat we agreed to walk down to the Helicopter. Nima took my pack and employed a couple of boys to carry our packs down.
It was a bloody tough walk down through small villages and farm plots growing vegetables. The Surke landing area was in the grounds of the local hotel on a flat overlooking the valley.

Our helicopter was waiting but as soon as we loaded up the clouds came in and blocked visibility. 30 minutes later there was a gap in the clouds and we were off. As soon as we dropped down we were out of the clouds and the flight was pretty smooth. Stunning scenery as we zoomed down the valley went by largely unappreciated.

Surprised at how much vibration occurs in a Helicopter. At Kathmandu an Ambulance was waiting to take us to Swancom International Hospital.

Here I underwent a barrage of tests including blood work and a chest XRay. I was given a lovely double private room and Lea was welcome to stay too. A steady stream of doctors, nurses and specialists came and went. We can’t praise Swancom International  Hospital enough. The staff and doctors were all excellent and very professional. The diagnosis was Acute Viral Bronchitis.

Day 11. Dzongla 4810m. to Cho La Pass 5368m. to Thangnak 4700m.

Not a great nights sleep at 4800m. and I had the beginnings of a head cold. Lea was awake from 0100. We got up at 0400 as today was to be a long tough trek. We had hoped to get Jon served breakfast early so we could get going but of course he was in for breakfast last. We were on the trail by 0515.

Another beautiful clear morning with no wind. A few other trekkers were off early too.

It was a steady uphill climb to what appeared to be a near vertical rock face. However, there was a scramble path up the rocks against the cliff

We followed this up to and above the snow line.

Then out onto the Glacier, walking on snow with water running underneath in places. 

The snow traverses were slippery and freaked the girls out a bit. We didn’t have crampons unlike some trekkers but managed in the end ok.

We walked up to the top of the glacier and then the final steep ascent to the pass at 5368m by 1000.  We shared some snacks and hard boiled eggs. We enjoyed the views and relaxed for an hour.

Then it was time for the very difficult, slippery descent. My cold was developing quickly and I was getting very tired. It was a brutal descent and we were relieved not to be climbing it. We could see a large moraine ridge in the distance and thought this was the finish point but it proved premature and the trail involved more scrambling between and over large rock piles. We were all pretty stuffed at the bottom. 
We ran into a group of Chileans trekking with a guide about to ascend to the pass. One was suffering AMS. I made sure he had some Diamox and advised him of the difficulty and height of the ascent. Not my place to say it directly but I thought he was very foolish to continue. It was already late to be starting the climb and they had a long way to go. 

By the time our Lodge came into view I was feeling terrible with a runny nose and bad headache. 

By the time we got to the lodge I was struggling. After a some soup and rehydration I tried 3 types of pain killers over the next 3 hours. Nothing touched the headache and I began coughing. I believed and Nima agreed that it shouldn’t be AMS as we had descended and were well acclimatised. I thought it was the flu. In the end I took a whole Diamox finally the headache began to subside. 

The clouds closed in during the afternoon so we had had the best of the day. 
The Cho La Pass Resort was also in shut down mode and we will be the last guests of the season. The dining room was lovely and warm after the fire was lit early afternoon.

Day 10 Loboche 4910m. to Dzongla 4810m.

A gorgeous day with not a lot of up and down today. After saying goddbye to our host at New EBC Lodge we began our traverse. Stunning views across Ama Dablam, Tabuche and Cholatse. We had missed the view in this area as we came up on Day 7. 

Helicopters were busy up and down the Khumbu Glacier but once we turned right onto the Cho La Pass Route things became a lot quieter. We dawdled along enjoying the wildflowers and scenery. Lots of patches of Dwarf Rhododendrons. 

The estimated 5 hour walk only took us 3.5 hours.

Zongla Inn was very basic and quiet as the season comes to an end. 

Day 5 Tengboche 3840m. to Dingboche 4260m.

At 0500 we looked out the window and saw only cloud so went back to sleep. At 0600 there was a knock on our door from Sue saying the mountains were out. We jumped up and got out side with camera in no time flat. Mt Everest was just visible in the background from our room.

Behind the hotel the sharp peak of Ama Dablam was out in the clear.

All around us were snow capped mountains.

It stayed clear all morning. Our breakfast table looked out toward Everest, Lotse and Nuptse. Still can’t get Jon up and going before 0800

Set off through more beautiful Rhododendron forests in full bloom. The mountains and forests stayed with us until lunch at Syomare.

From here we left the trees behind to a more stark landscape.

We saw a musk deer in the forest and these large mountain goats. Also snow pidgeons, aNak (female Yak) and vultures. We even had a cuckoo bird hooting in the distance.

Solar collectors to boil the kettle.

Freezing clouds whipped up the valley as we approached Dingboche.

We stayed at Everest Resort which is a long way short of any resort we know. However, the hot shower was good and we relaxed near the pot belly. Sue and I played Scrabble while the others read. We were the only guests here.