The typical trail for a Himalayan hiker is to lead out to the northeast beyond the luxury outpost of the Hotel Everest View. Directly north, of course along a winding, downhill path through the pine forest, you will pass between the villages of Khunde and Khumjung, and you’ll be met with a steep incline leading up the face of the holy mountain Khumbi Yul Lha. Several mountain peaks are revered as holy lands and are not defiled with errant footsteps. Khumjung itself is a holy gathering point for Buddhist monks and other faithful Sherpas. Below in the village is an enormous stupa, a wall of mani stones that leads on for what seems to be hundreds of meters, a monastery (with an ancient yeti scalp on display), and Pema Dorje’s personal pride, a Buddhist chapel he has crafted in a corner of his own home. Pema has enjoyed spending some time there in his home region this winter without having any white monkeys to watch over.
He has spent the last couple of months between Khumjung and his lodge further northeast in Phortse. He tells me he has not lined up any trekking groups for this spring, so once the cold and snow have broken from the Khumbu he will return from his respite in Khatmandu to attend full-time to his Phortse lodge. I asked him for a picture of the lodge, but I can imagine it’s not that easy for him. It was hard enough finding an electrical outlet up there, and I don’t think he has a digital camera. Just imagine the process: First he would take a few photos (wobbly and poorly lit) with film, then the best he could do would be to scurry back down to Namche where the is an old, beat up camera shop with heaps of mangled metal and scuffed up optical gear. They claim to do photo processing, but not a word about “one hour”. Let’s say they can do it within a week. Pema hikes back up to Phortse, and a week or two later stops in again to check on the film. Miraculously, the film was developed and printed, and Pema pays out a thick wad of Rupees for the job.
Now he magically pulls an envelope out of the air, since I don’t remember seeing any for sale up there, nor do I remember seeing stamps, or mailboxes. Alright, I give up on the idea of him sending me photos in the mail while he’s in the Khumbu. Let’s say several months later he makes a quick transit back down through Kathmandu, and he’s able to put together a letter for me. It’s a high price to pay for a curious glance at the fruits of his work and toil on the rocky hillside overlooking the Dudh Koshi river valley. If he were a little more technically inclined I might send him a simple digital camera. Then he might get along by just pointing and clicking, and among a few hundred photos there would be a few gems. He could then stop through our favorite computer shop in Namche and upload and email out the best. I do have another solution though. I can just ask what improvements Pema has made and make my own subtle enhancements to the photos we already have. That would be a great way to visualize the neon sign we had in mind too.hiking hotel Kathmandu landscape lodge mountains tourism Trekking in Nepal