“Trying to be fine”

Posted in Bo, cloudy days, Ebola, penny for my thoughts, Sierra Leone with tags , , on December 1, 2014 by twotwoeight

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“What are we going to do? People are not coming to help us. We are doomed”. These are words spoken by a bright young Sierra Leonean man to me during my last shift at a hospital in Sierra Leone. A man blessed (or cursed) with the foresight to see what lies in the future for his country and him. A man, whose hopes and dreams have been destroyed and life will be forever changed by one thing.

Ebola.

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A virus which has evoked insurmountable fear in everyone and generated mass paranoia outside West Africa has parachuted Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia into the eye of the world. Many who have not even heard about these countries, let alone realize that the African continent is much more than just these, are now aware because they are stricken with unfounded fear of people returning from West Africa. We follow the progress of this unprecedented outbreak on the news, we gasp and worry about the statistics showing increasing numbers of positive cases and deaths, we criticize and make judgements on how this outbreak is being handled by the powers that be, we read harrowing accounts about the challenges of being in an Ebola management centre by people on the frontline, we hear touching stories about individuals who have survived Ebola and entire families that have lost their lives to Ebola and we feel sorry for them.

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And then we close the newspaper or turn off the television and go back to our normal lives. Our Ebola-free lives. Where bodily contact will not possibly infect you and you are free to hug and kiss your loved ones, where community living is still not endangering your life and you can share your food and a joke and laugh together instead of having to choose to abstain from the normal living practices that you have been used to for generations in order to prevent yourself from getting infected by the deadly Ebola; where your future is not hanging by a thread because you no longer have a job, a job that puts food on the table. Yes, we have none of that.

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But what about the West Africans? What if your life is not Ebola-free and you cannot resume living your normal life because Ebola has enveloped your world? What then? How do you go on?

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Underneath the “sexiness” and labelled-heroism of battling Ebola, the few touching tales that has caught the journalist’s attention and the fear and paranoia that is being emanated to outsiders, we forget about the remaining population – the local people who have nowhere to go and “leaving West Africa because there is Ebola everywhere” is not an option for them. These are the people who have to try and live their lives as normally as possible, even with the threat of Ebola looming around the corner because life needs to go on. This outbreak is not going to be over in a matter of months, and people cannot put their lives on hold indefinitely. And the uncertainty of the future makes it impossible to have any plans as the country is not going to be the same even after the Ebola outbreak is over. The healthcare system has collapsed and rebuilding it will be difficult with the loss of so many healthcare professionals when there were already not enough to begin with, families have been ripped apart and Ebola has orphaned countless number of young children whose welfare remains in question, business and economical development will be severely stunted and education has come to a halt. These countries will be set back many many years and the West Africans will have no choice but to pick up the pieces and move on, because that is what needs to be done, move on.

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I have always thought that if there was an apocalypse or worse yet, a zombie attack, I want to be one of the first to perish, because I cannot imagine being one of the few survivors, trying to face the impending doom alone or left to live in a world that has been destroyed and completely foreign to me. This is only in my hypothetical thoughts. But for my friend, this bright young Sierra Leonean man who had big dreams and aspirations for a better future for him and his family, this is now his reality. And for the rest of the West Africans whose stories we will never ever hear, because not everyone’s story is spectacular or touching enough to be newsworthy, but whose ordinary lives are filled with happiness and pain as real as yours and mine, they are just “trying to be fine”.

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Happy 2nd birthday Caleb…good job!!!

Posted in family, kidz talk, love on November 2, 2014 by twotwoeight

My dearest nephew,

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Thank you for brightening our lives with your smiles and cheekiness and filling us with love. Yiyi loves you very very much, and thank you for waiting for yiyi to come back for your party!!! 😁


Caleb : Yiyi’s iPad at Mama’s (grandma) place
Caleb’s mum : Yes, Yiyi’s iPad. Not Caleb’s iPad. When Yiyi comes back, must give back to Yiyi yah. And to tell Yiyi good job because Yiyi go Africa to do work.
Caleb: Yiyi not good job. Caleb good job.
Caleb’s mum : What work did Caleb do?
Caleb : Caleb do art work at Mama’s place.
Caleb’s mum : Oh…okay. Good job Caleb. 😳

Hehehe!! You never fail to make me laugh! Good job indeed Caleb!
Love you to bits! 🙂

No Death, or so it seems…

Posted in Bo, caffeine, cloudy days, doctoring tales, Ebola, Gondama Referral Centre, MSF, penny for my thoughts, Sierra Leone on August 15, 2014 by twotwoeight

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The last hour — sitting at the porch outside the doctor’s office in Gondama Referral Centre (GRC), sipping hot “Starbucks Americano” and listening to Jacky Cheung on my iPod shuffle while writing down hand-over notes from the night. The last hour of my first night shift in GRC. No deaths. Dare I count my chickens before they hatch? After all, there is another 55 minutes to go before 8am. And anything can happen. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Most of the doctors and nurses who work here have attended more resuscitations, or rather, witnessed more deaths in the few months of working here compared to in their entire working lives. Judging from previous years, the numbers are expected to rise in the rainy season as this brings a surge of severe malaria and pneumonia cases, but on the contrary, the wards are quieter than ever this year. Under normal circumstances, this would be something good. A quiet hospital with low bed occupancy rate…who wouldn’t want that?

Unfortunately, this unnatural apparent peace does not reflect a healthier population or availability of better health facilities at this point in time. Admissions are significantly less because the people are not seeking treatment – not at hospitals, at least. Why? Because they are terrified of the deadly Ebola. There are many myths and rumours related to this disease; some don’t believe the virus exists, some say it is an act of with craft or supernatural in origin, some say it is a conspiracy designed by the authorities for population control, some say it is purely a scam of healthcare workers and scientists for research – the list is endless. The worst of them all, is that many of them believe that if you go to a hospital, you will get injected with the Ebola virus there.

Whichever the story, the devastating outcome is that these beliefs keep them from bringing their children to the hospital, even when their child is critically ill. They’d rather let their children die at home or go to traditional healers than risk coming to the hospital. As a result of this, they die from potentially treatable diseases like malaria, pneumonia or gastroenteritis which are so prevalent in this community. It is tragic to know that there are so many preventable deaths out there – that every empty bed we see in the ward could mean that there is a child out there who is denied proper treatment because of false beliefs.

Ebola is a deadly virus indeed. Once infected, the mortality rate is high. But the destructive path it leaves behind without even needing to infect the individual is more terrifying, and this deadliness grows silently, unseen and unheard. When will this destruction end? Only time will tell. Until then, we continue to pray for the number of admissions in our wards to increase, so that less lives will be lost unnecessarily. Ironic, I know.

 

Co-habitating with Ebola

Posted in Bo, doctoring tales, Ebola, Gondama Referral Centre, MSF, penny for my thoughts, Sierra Leone on August 15, 2014 by twotwoeight

15th July 2014

The lights go out and the fan slows to a complete stop within minutes. It’s 5pm. That’s the time that the generator goes off every day for an hour and a half in the evenings, and 2 hours in the morning. Today the sweltering heat doesn’t bother me because it has been raining steadily almost the entire day, and the breeze that accompanies the pitter patter of raindrops is much welcomed. Sitting at the terrace behind the house, listening to Phantom of the Opera and sipping hot coffee – this almost feels like home. Except that the very visible barbed wires all around the perimeter of the house is a stark reminder that I’m continents away from home.

20140815-111011 am-40211587.jpgThe first week working at Gondama Referral Centre here in Bo has been interesting, notwithstanding the ominous presence of Ebola that is creeping too close for comfort, overshadowing everything in its path. Talking about Sierra Leone at present time without mentioning Ebola would be like ignoring the elephant in the room but I am going to do just that. For underneath the wave of chaos and feelings-of-impending-doom that Ebola brings, the normalcy of the original needs of the hospital persists — providing acute healthcare to children stricken with diseases endemic to the region. Practicing medicine in the local context is going to be a new experience and somewhat of a challenge – not only because of the difference in severity and types of diseases here, but more of facing the brutal reality of our limitations here. The old adage “You cannot save everyone” has never been so true. What remains is, who can you save?

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The ICU, which is lined by ‘couches’ (name given to a small high cot) on one side for the more ill children, and ‘beds’ on the other side for those less critical is filled with semi-comatose children. Juggling a few diagnoses of severe malaria, severe sepsis, severe acute malnutrition, severe anaemia, severe pneumonia and herbal intoxication each, these children are cheating death for every single day that they manage to pull through, and those who survive, do, because of the right combination of strong will and lots of good luck because medicinally, there is not much that we can do for them. Other than antibiotics, antimalarials plus a cocktail of other drugs and supportive treatment, we have no ventilators, no means for dialysis, no monitors, no scans and only a handful of fundamental laboratory investigations available. Meaning other than relying on your good clinical acumen, you are left with a whole lot of guesswork. Which also means, when the CHO (Clinical Health Officer) calls you to review a patient because he is critical and is in respiratory failure, instead of securing the airway, taking over the work of breathing and connecting the child to a ventilator to ensure there is adequate oxygenation to his vital organs while you treat the infection, you can only pray that either the child has a fighting spirit that is unbeatable and defies the odds, or that he dies soon, and as peacefully as possible. Mostly, it’s the latter that happens. I silently cringe on the inside and gulp down an uncomfortable feeling of helplessness after I examined the boy and told the CHO that I have nothing more to add to the current plan. LGD – Let God decide. I remember we had laughed about this ‘plan of management’ one of the consultants wrote in the case sheet when we were interns. Well, never has it been more real than now.

I watch as one young mother sitting at the side of her child calmly shakes his scrawny limp body intermittently with great force, trying to prevent him from drifting into a permanent sleep – her boy, who is semi-conscious from the severe malaria that has affected his brain and causing him to have seizures despite the repeated doses of anticonvulsants lies in a fetal position on the couch with a dazed look and grunts weakly only occasionally.

I marvel at how the mothers take it all in. They remain unshaken when watching their child moan in pain from the severe skin infection that is eating away at their flesh leaving huge gaping wounds on their tiny bodies, they remain strong and resolute when sitting vigil at their child’s bedside watching while their child is struggling to breathe with each shallow breath, they watch in a helpless surrender as their child’s life slips away in front of their eyes and although visibly upset, they show tremendous strength and maintain such a calm façade that it is unfathomable.

Life is cheap. It’s disgusting but it’s true.  Death is a common occurrence here that a day with no mortality is a rarity. It is ironic that somewhere, someone is complaining that their doctor’s manners was less than satisfactory or is demanding for a private hospital room, when at that exact moment, maybe not even halfway across the globe, a child is fighting to survive despite the odds, weakened from the start by severe malnutrition from the impoverished state of living, denied of what the ideals of basic healthcare needs is to the more privileged and leaving it all up to fate. What is deemed to be a basic necessity for some that it would be absurd to be without, can, and is indeed a dream which may be forever unattainable by another. Sadly, this is not a touching story with a happy ending. This is a tale of two worlds which ideally should be one, and a witness of the continuous struggles of humanity in trying to narrow the gap between the two. A couple of months ago, I laughed when my houseman said during a case presentation that the patient is from Utopia (it was, in fact Ethiopia) and I had to explain that Utopia is an ideal that does not exist, but in retrospect, wouldn’t it be nice if I was wrong, and that there is a Utopia after all?

 

of wind and apples — Jomsom and Marpha (AC Day 11)

Posted in Annapurna Circuit, from Kagbeni to Jomsom to Marpha, Jomsom, Kali Gandaki valley, Marpha, professional tourist in the making on June 18, 2014 by twotwoeight

Day 11 — Destination : Marpha

Woke up bright and early today and went down to order our breakfast.  While waiting for breakfast, ventured outside for a short walk.

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The weather was great and the view from just outside our guesthouse was breathtaking.

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Horses strolled about the streets in a leisurely manner and some were having their breakfast too.

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No surprises what we had for breakfast — fixed breakfast set and vegetables noodle soup.  But that morning, our noodles came in a goblet! For a moment there, we felt like royalty. 😉

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After breakfast, we left at about 8am and made our way to Jomsom.  We had discussed the idea of taking a jeep to Jomsom but in the end, we decided to walk and I’m glad we did, or we would have missed the chance to go ‘fossilling’ in the Kali Gandaki river!  Our trail followed the Kali Gandaki valley and many a times, we were walking by the river which was lined by thousands and thousands of pebbles and rocks of different sizes and patterns.  If your eyes were sharp enough, you might even be lucky enough to find fossils among them!  Needless to say, we spent a longer time than anticipated ‘fossilling’ (or in my case looking for ‘zero’ rocks) so we only reached Jomsom at about 11am.

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As we neared Jomsom, it was also getting windier and windier, living up to its reputation, for Jomsom was famous for its strong winds.  In fact, there is even a Jomsom wind song!  Jomsom was a huge town, compared to the little towns that we have been passing through and bustling with activity.

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We went to a local place for lunch and while waiting for our food to come, we killed time by snacking on Pringles (first luxury of the trek!!), channel surfing and the three of them became obsessed with looking for the hidden picture in the 3D art hanging in the dining hall!! Unfortunately, even with adopting a ritualistic-prayer-like stance, none of them could find the hidden picture in the end!

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Lunch of fried chicken with chips and vegetables finally came! PW had curry chicken with rice.  You can tell we miss meat!!

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After lunch, we made our way to the Eco Tourism Museum which was at the edge of town.  The exhibits were very unique and interesting but sad to say, maintenance of the place needed upkeeping.  This was a painting of Ekai Kawaguchi.  He was one of the pioneers who trekked in Nepal and wrote books about his travels that subsequently made Nepal known to the international community.

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Blue sheep skin on exhibit.  No explanation needed.

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Whoever who named this exhibit must have had a great sense of humour!!! What would you expect when you see a name like this?

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Well……….literally what it described!!! 😉

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Part of traditional healing methods carried out by traditional herbal doctors.  Bloody.

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Animals featured prominently in ancient beliefs.

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The walk from Jomsom to Marpha took about an hour and a half and it had started to drizzle as we left Jomsom.  The winds picked up again and at one point while crossing a wooden bridge, I was almost blown away!!  Luckily the windy bits did not last long.  As we neared Marpha, Dev started singing the Marpha apple song — which was what Marpha was famous for.  Apparently, there is a folk song for every village!  We reached Marpha at about 3pm.

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After we passed through the entrance to Marpha, we noticed these fruits which resembled durian, but only much smaller.  Wanted to ask Dev what they were…but never found out the name of the plant.

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Marpha is a pretty small village with one main street where most of the guesthouses and shops were.  There were a few bookstores, but they were mostly closed by the time we were there.

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We walked around to look for the the apple farm and found a cobble-stoned lined path leading off the main street.

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We followed the path and came to a garden orchard dotted with flowering apple trees.  Pretty was the right word to describe the scenery.

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Flowers of the apple tree blooming — would have loved to see the apple trees heavy with apples, unfortunately it was too early in the season.

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Soon after, it started drizzling again and we made haste.

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We walked past this gompa and were contemplating whether to go up or not but after looking at the number of steps, we decided to just take their word that the view from the top IS really beautiful!  No more climbing steps for us!

We went back to the guesthouse as the rain was getting heavier and ordered some snacks as it was too early for dinner.  Being in the apple village, we had to try the apple lassi which to our disappointment, was rather weird tasting, and not in a nice way.  The chocolate apple crumble and vegetable tempura were nice though!

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We sat around the dining area and did a bit of reading and then it was dinner time.  PW had yak steak as it was our last chance to eat it before we left the mountains.  This one was nicer than the one we had in Manang, less chewy! 😉  Dev let us try the famous Marpha apple brandy which was very strong!! But this stuff is supposed to be really good and people bring it back by the boxful! Well it was definitely good for inducing sleep…we knocked out shortly after dinner. 😉

Today would be the last day of being on our feet and trekking.  Tomorrow would be a whole day of bus and jeep ride to Tatopani.  I haven’t even left, yet I am already missing the mountains. 😦

 

The 山贼 (desert bandit) emerges (AC Day 10)

Posted in Annapurna Circuit, Asia guesthouse, Kagbeni, Muktinath, professional tourist in the making on June 17, 2014 by twotwoeight

Day 10 — Destination : Kagbeni, 3050m

What a good night’s sleep! 🙂  Woke up at 7am which was by far the latest since we have started trekking.  Had a leisurely Swiss breakfast with the best rosti I have ever tasted! Wow, food in Muktinath is really good!  After breakfast, we set off at about 9am for Kagbeni.

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The view as we left Muktinath.

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As we left Muktinath, we caught a glimpse of the Annapurna range and the Thorong-La Pass in front of us.

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The walk started off very relaxing as we were coursing through smaller towns like Chongor and Tzong.  We were walking rather slowly as we were busy taking photographs of the gorgeous landscapes.

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As we trekked further, the landscape began to change.

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We were still at a fairly high altitude at about 3800m and it was miraculous to be walking and seeing the mountain peaks at eye level.

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Green crop fields began to dot the landscape.

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We met a couple of local women bringing their infants to the next town for immunization.  They had walked for hours and still had many more hours of travel before their destination.

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After awhile, the land started to get more barren and dry.

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We reached Tzong and walked up to a local monastery which was located at the top of a hill where the ruins of the former Jhong fortress still stands proudly.  Gorgeous view of the mountain range from here.

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We stopped for an early lunch at the guest house here as the walk after Tzong would be a long one with no stops or guest houses in between.

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We coursed through desert-looking landscape for the next 3 plus hours.  As we were passing through the Kali Gandaki valley, the winds were so incredibly strong that it took effort not to be blown away!  Sometimes, the gust of wind was so strong that it created dust-storms that rushed towards you head-on with a howl and you had to quickly turn your back on it and crouch down until it blew over.

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Hence, the 山贼 (desert bandit) look.  PW and I thought we looked ridiculous but this was the only way to get protection from the wind, the sand and the sun!!! This was pretty much how we looked like most of the day! 😉

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Dev and Mr.Limbu managed to find a caveman looking rest stop along the way where we took some respite from the wind and gave our aching feet a rest.  And of course, they brought out chocolates. 😉

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The road seemed like it would never end…and it was pretty hard persuading yourself that the destination was just around the corner when the road seemed like it would go on forever.

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Thankfully, it came to and end and we finally reached Kagbeni thanks to Dev and Mr.Limbu guiding us down many ‘shortcuts’ (which was more like shuffling/sliding down gravel hills).  Otherwise, we would probably have taken much longer!

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Got our rooms in Asia guesthouse and immediately made a beeline for the dining room.  We were famished!! Had Illy coffee and popcorn (which was listed under the chicken menu but it turned out to be normal popcorn!) while waiting for our tuna vegetable moussaka.  Very fulfilling lunch/tea!!

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We went for a walk around Kagbeni after that.  Kagbeni is a very picturesque town with a very medieval feel.  The town is connected by a series of tunnels lined by low mud houses and some of the ruins of the former fortress still stand.  At the same time, bits of modernization can also be seen, catering to the tourists and trekkers and the brightly coloured Yakdonald’s is a good example!!

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There is a very famous statue which is an old protector of Kagbeni.  It is called ‘Mr.Viagra man’ by some, and the reason is clear!  It is supposedly put there to ward off bad spirits.  We read that there was also a woman counterpart of Mr.Viagra man, and Dev and Mr.Limbu humoured us by looking around the whole town for it, and when we failed to locate it, they even asked the locals.  Well, it turns out that “she” was destroyed during a recent spell of bad weather, and they were going to rebuild “her” soon. 😉

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Kagbeni is also the starting point of the Upper Mustang trail which is a very highly sought after destination due to its completely different landscape and culture from the Himalayas.

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View of the Upper Mustang area from the edge of Kagbeni.  Maybe someday I will be back.

After the walk, it was starting to get dark and cold so we made our way back to the guesthouse.  We skipped dinner as we were still full from the moussaka and ordered a pot of tea to warm ourselves.  We sat in the dining area and chatted with Dev about tomorrow’s plans, and then we went up to bed at 8.30pm.  It was still chilly but we were too lazy to dig out our sleeping bags and so with chattering teeth, we called it a day.

Shuvaprabhat 🙂

 

Are we there yet?? x100 (AC Day 9)

Posted in Annapurna Circuit, Muktinath, professional tourist in the making, Thorong-La Pass on June 16, 2014 by twotwoeight

Day 9 — Destination : Thorong-La Pass, 5416m –> Muktinath, 3880m

This is it! Today is the day of the ‘climax’! Slept only minimally due to a mixture of headache, nervous anticipation and sometime in the middle of the night, I felt the pitter-patter of tiny feet running across my head!!! Gasp!! I jolted up and immediately turned on my head lamp, but could not see any small creatures – read : rodent – scurrying away.  Felt too real to be a dream.  Contemplated waking PW up but since I couldn’t see anything to cause concern, I decided to not disturb her sleep.  Took me awhile before I could lie down again…and soon, the alarm rang and it was time to get up.

Packed up and had as much of the breakfast as we could stomach at 3am…Dev kept persuading us to eat more, as he was worried we wouldn’t have the energy for the trek ahead, and it was going to be a long and hard day. We set off at 4am.  It was still pitch dark but the trail up to High Camp was already buzzing with a flurry of activity.  A steady line of tiny dots of light from the glow of each trekker’s head lamp began to form — in a sinuous ascending pattern, disappearing behind the highest point.  From the foot of the trail, that point seemed like an eternity away.

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I don’t know if we were psychologically and mentally prepped by yesterday’s ‘acclimatization walk’, but the climb that morning seemed easier than anticipated, and High Camp appeared sooner than we imagined it would.  Dev and Mr.Limbu were excellent at locating the easiest route for us, letting us know which places were safe to step on and which to avoid as the trail had become icy and slippery overnight. We reached High Camp just before 5.30am and by then, the light of day had broken through.

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After a few minutes rest, we set off for the Pass and the trekking in the snow began.  It was much harder than I expected and I always felt like slipping even though Dev kept reassuring me snow was not slippery!  It doesn’t help when the trail is just wide enough for 2 feet and on the very edge of the cliff!!! I shuffled around at the pace of a snail…until Dev helped me put spikes on my shoes.  And after that, I could walk so much faster without worrying that I would slip and fall off mountain! Hurray for spikes!!!

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Luckily, Dev offered to take my camera and snap photos for us, otherwise we would probably have no photos of the incredible views on the mountain and at the Pass as PW and I were both busy trying to walk, breathe and stay alive to make it to the Pass!

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We reached a teahouse after about an hour’s walk and stopped for a cup of hot lemon, huddled inside the small little teahouse which was more like a little brick hut.  We were parched, as our water had started to freeze up by then and the feeling of warmth trickling down the insides provided by the hot drink was just heavenly.  Dev literally had to drag us out of the teahouse as we were getting comfy!

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Then it was another gruesome 2 hours before we finally reached Thorong-La Pass.  We stopped so many times to catch our breaths that I lost count.  Each step forward was agonizing and each breath felt like it was inadequate and not bringing enough oxygen to the lungs.

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The snowy mountain views were too gorgeous for words, but sometimes, we felt so so tired that we could not even look up.

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Sometimes when there is nothing but vast whiteness ahead, and the end seemed so far away, we really wanted to just turn back. At some point, we even asked Dev to entice us with the idea of fake KFC and beer!  Luckily, Dev and Mr.Limbu were there to motivate us and lift our spirits as well as physically help us through some rough parts.  They also brought out Twix candy bars and chocolate when we were half dead!!! Chocolate never tasted this good, I’m telling you!!!

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There were many false passes before we reached the correct one.  The trail would just ascend to the peak and give you the hope that the pass might be just beyond this peak, but every time we asked Dev “Is this the pass???”, the answer was always “Not yet…just a little bit more”.  I felt like Donkey in the Shrek cartoon asking “Are we there yet?” a gazillion times. Luckily Dev wasn’t Shrek! 😉

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Finally, after what seemed like eternity, we could see prayer flags and the famous marker of the Pass ahead! Hallelujah!!! We finally reached Thorong-Las Pass at 8.30am. Woohooooo!!! 🙂

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We were so cold and exhausted by then that much of our enthusiasm and excitement had been zapped away.  Nevertheless, it was an incredible moment to remember, and as I stood there staring at the signpost that said ‘Congratulation for the success’, a quiet sense of satisfaction came over me as I was never really sure if I could make it to one of the highest mountain passes in the world on my own two feet.  No donkeys, no horses, no helicopters.  I was thankful.

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After catching some photos, we started to make our way down. We made our descent quickly as Dev said the winds were coming and it would get too windy and cold at the Pass.

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Thank goodness for the spikes, I could actually literally run down the snow-covered path.  Breathing was also noticeably getting easier as we lost altitude.  We even had time to stop for a rest and what do you know, Mr.Limbu whipped out digestive biscuits!!! These two are incredible! Their backpacks were tiny in comparison to ours and yet they seem to have an endless supply of snacks which always appear just when we needed them most.

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However, the easy part of the descent soon came to an end and the crazy steep rocky descents started! Some parts, the path was so obscure that I didn’t even know where to put my foot.  Luckily, I slipped and fell on my bum only once! We definitely couldn’t have made it without Dev and Mr.Limbu guiding us through.  Finally reached the teahouse at the bottom of the mountain at about noon.  By then, we were beyond exhausted and too tired to finish our lunch of mushroom soup and egg curry rice. Then it was another 3 hours long walk to Muktinath, the town where we would be spending the night.

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We reached Muktinath at about 4pm and had a hot shower which was heavenly!  We were contemplating exploring Muktinath but our legs were adamantly protesting against it so we settled into the dining hall and had the most amazing chicken mushroom pot pie I have ever tasted.  No pictures of it, because we gobbled it up.

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The guesthouse also had wifi, the first after we started our trek.  On one hand I was glad to be connected to the world again, but on the other, I was a little reluctant to bid goodbye to the solitude and peacefulness of the mountains which offered a sense of divine isolation.  Time to come back to reality.

Wanted to do a bit of reading but the electricity supply was erratic and as a result of that, we had a ‘candle-lit’ dinner. We treated Dev and Mr.Limbu to dinner as a token of appreciation for helping us make it to the Pass and down.  We had the pot pie again, yak stroganoff with rice, spinach canneloni and a tuna pizza to share and the food was fantastic! Can’t believe there’s such good western food out here!  After dinner, Dev passed us hot packs and we went to bed at 9pm and for the first night in ages, I managed to sleep well without having any headaches! 🙂

PS/ Muktinath was still cold

*All photo credits to Dev