Everest Base Camp
September 11, 2009 – Day 260 – Everest Base Camp, Tibet side
A full day of driving with only a few stops along the way. Lunch was in a tiny unpleasant town with nothing to offer but a warm, cheap meal. We had traditional Tibetan noodles, a kind of thick noodle soup in a yak broth for about $0.45.
Having been in the jeep all morning, it was time for a bathroom run. The public restroom was across the street from the restaurant and it was one of the most foul places Lin has ever been or smelled. Before even getting all the way inside, there were piles of human feces by the doorway (no actual doors to be had in this restroom). That’s when the atrocious smell started. Unfortunately for Lin, she could do no better than uselessly clutch at her breathing orifices and hope the smell didn’t seep between her fingers. The stalls were 3 feet high stone divider walls with wide open entrance and absolutely no chance for any shred of privacy. To add to it, there were discarded wads of toilet paper, used lady items and places where, somehow, someone has missed the giant open trough running the length beneath each stall. And to add to that, when she got down to business, two girls from the back to stalls were leaving and, as with nearly all Tibetans we have encountered, stared quite hard at poor Lin and there was nothing she could do about it. A truly traumatizing experience that would be matched and even exceeded by one later this very same day.
After lunch we were all feeling a bit drowsy and the hours passed pretty quickly until the moment we pulled into Base Camp. Suddenly we were all very energetic and giddy at being right in front of Mount Everest. The clouds were hiding it but we were told that as evening fell, the clouds might clear off as they sometimes do. We checked into our “hotel” (a yak-scented tent with a yak-dung burning stove) and settling into some warmer clothes and waiting around for dinner and hopefully a clearer view of Everest. Nothing much going on besides regaining feeling in our legs and arses from the long drive today. That, and deciding to try the base camp out house.
If Lin thought the public toilet (er, trough) in that little town earlier today was bad, it was nothing compared to the EBC out house. Hmm…how to describe it properly…Fetid? Putrid? Vile? Revolting? Well, none of these adjectives are quite descriptive enough to fully convey the utter wretchedness that wafted from the door (hey—it had a door!) into the cold mountain air and into Lin’s face. She covered her face to near suffocation and tiptoed inside and sheepishly assumed the stance above a square cut hole in a wooden platform with a war zone below sending untold aromas upward into the tiny shed. Lin practically sprinted out of there with a shudder and a deep fresh breath. Oh, the toilets across the world. Too bad peeing is a daily necessity.
So back at base camp, we still had a couple hours of daylight and used this time to take a shuttle bus up to the closest viewing point to see a better, hopefully clearer view of the mountain. There is a military check point right in from of the small viewing hill and we were given the two rules for the Viewing area.
- Don’t take pictures of the tiny tent that the gaurds use to check permits. (for national secturity resons)
- Don’t take naked photos in front of Everest.
So with these very important instructions, we left the checkpoint and allowed the guards to return to playing World of Warcraft (serious, somehow they get internet out here).
It was windy and cold but we waited around for nearly an hour in hopes of the clouds rolling back and exposing the beautiful famous mountain. By the end of the hour it was looking stubbornly unaccommodating and we boarded the shuttle bus. We had only gotten to the the tip poking through the thick clouds and while that was exciting, we were all hoping for a full view. Just as we had gotten back into the bus, the clouds pulled apart and gave a spectacular view of the entire Mount Everest.
We were stoked! Of course we all fumbled and hurried back off the bus for this lucky photo op, unsure if we would ever get to see the whole thing again. Feeling beyond elated, we made our way back down to the camp and celebrated around the shitty stove with a couple of cold Lhasa beers.
As night closed in, someone wandered outside and immediately poked their face back through the tent flap excitedly inviting us outside to see the sky. It was so dark out there with not one single light in sight. It was difficult to see your hand in front of your face it was so dark. And the sky was a blue black dotted with more stars than we have ever, ever seen. It was a moment that just can not be captured in a photo and can only be truly appreciated with your own eyes. It was unreal and it was a perfect end to an already fantastic day.