Sunday, 7 July 2013

Day 1 to Phakding Part 2

The first thing that strikes you about this place,and is soon to be amplified, is the scale of this place. Compared to my New Zealand, everything is huge-valleys,rivers,mountains. The two porters  have appeared from nowhere and are strapping our packs together. Yes, we are walking with a day pack and they are carrying 3 packs each. The kiwi in me is uncomfortable; he is quoting fairness and physical prowess from my shoulder.We realise later that Phinjo had meant to tell us that we should limit our pack weight to 15kg. Dave has enough clothes to cover a Nepalese family. (Later we also try to jetison the load but Phinjo makes it hard,saying "no problem" when we look pained at the massive load hiding the diminutive sherpa porter.
The trail right up the valley has been made by the locals-when I don't know. Large parts of it are flagstones laid by hand.Its easy going for walking and allows your eye to wander.
We have our first encounter with animal trains that ply the route up and down the valley. Donkeys seem to dominate down low. Every animal seems to have a bell around its neck which i first thought was cute and then saw it as torture for the poor animal (and us humans).I'm struggling in myself to be here as I encountered some unexpected expenses and got bailed out by by Dave.
We get easily to Phakding, a lovely small group of marble block buildings 2-3 hours from Lukla.We rest and then take a hike several hundred metres up a steep hill to a monastery above us. You get a feel for the enormous challenge of building something up here. Why did people inhabit these barely liveable outposts such as the polar regions and here? One thought I had was that they would be left alone-there were no resources over which to fight. Its hard,but damn sight easier than the constant threat of ransacking that may have faced peoples on lower,warmer, more fertile land.
From the beginning Phinjo is chanting "Om mani padme hum" (The jewel in the lotus flower?) as we walk, in a lilting sing song fashion.It  reminds me of the rosary chants of my Catholic childhood and no doubt serves to centre oneself,to encourage oneself, and to escape the babbling mind..I am uplifted and carried into this stupendous landscape.
Passing on the left a prayer wheel and ever present reminder of the inscriptions all over the pathways to the Himalaya
"Om mani padme hum"

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