Day 4: To Ama Dablam Base Camp

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Yesterday afternoon, I again had nothing to do, so I was reading and went to bed around 8pm again. I woke up around 12am and dozed on and off till 6am. I had breakfast and immediately set off to Ama Dablam Base Camp. It was a relief not to trek with my big backpack! I felt so much lighter… Just outside of Pangboche , I had to choose between 2 trails: one was a big wider than the other. I asked a Nepalese and he pointed at the wider one. I walked and walked and met many others. Ama Dablam was constantly at my right side, but there was no trail leading down. I had to go down and cross a river to go to Ama Dablam. After more than 1 hour, I came to a sign in stone to point to Periche and Dingboche, no Ama Dablam. At that moment, some porters passed by with yaks and I asked them. They told me I had to go all the way back to Pangboche. So, I thought it was the smaller trail that I had to follow, not the wider one. Fortunately, the trail was not that hard and I went back. I took a rest at a bakery in Pangboche. I thought of having a nice snack there, but the cinnamon roll I had was at least 1 week old! I asked the manager the way to Base Camp and my feeling was right: I had to take the s20160517_125411maller one.

I went down to the river, crossed it and the hike was amazing. It was quite steep all the way up, but I didn’t find it that hard (again, the smaller backpack helped a lot!). I think my body is getting trained. I can definitely feel that my clothes are starting to be baggy, even after only 4 days! The view up there was amazing, but the wind was really strong. It was much colder. Ama Dablam Base Camp is at 4600m, so I climbed more than 600m in altitude. I could definitely feel it in my breathing: every step, I was out of breath and my heart was pounding in my chest. I had my lunch up there: a chapati, with yak cheese and… chocolate! I love it that I can eat, and even have to eat chocolate, because it gives you instant energy. So, when you are trekking and you feel tired, you have an energy dip, chocolate is the best snack. I stacked up on Bounty, Twix, Mars, Kitkat,… You can buy these things in every village.

I loved being there all by myself, surrounded on all sides by mountains. I was in awe to be closer to Ama Dablam, 6812m. I will definitely try to summit this mountain! The moment I laid eyes on her, I knew I would climb this one. Every time I looked at the summit, I could picture myself climbing it. It was really calling me. I had a strange feeling the whole time I was there. I knew I will come back here. This is my next goal!

Day 3: from Namche Bazar to Pangboche

I woke up around 2am. I went to bed last night around 8pm (there is not much to do in these villages and most trekkers go to bed early to rest well before their next trek), so maybe that’s why I woke up that early. Or maybe, it’s because Eric would start his way to the top at 2am this night. It will take him 4 days to go from Basecamp to Camp 1, Camp 2, Camp 3, Camp 4 and finally the top on 20 May!

I couldn’t fall asleep anymore and got up around 5.30am, had breakfast in the lodge and set off trekking at 6.30am. Yesterday, just before coming into Namche Bazar, I met the guy who sat next to me on the plane to Lukla. I told him about the lodge I would stay in and he decided teverest_trekking_map 3rd dayo stay in the same lodge. We had breakfast together this morning, but he left a few minutes before me. Just outside of Namche Bazar, we bumped into each other again and decided to go trekking together. He first thought of going another way: first go to Khumjung and go through the 3 passes, but he decided to do the same trek as me for now and do the 3 passes when he comes back down. The first one and a half hours were quite easy. After one hour and a half, we came into a village and decided to have a milktea. We sat outside and enjoyed the view! We continued trekking, and we went down a lot (from 3400m till 3200m), that made us a bit apprehensive, as we knew we would have to climb up more, later on. And yes, a bit later, the climb started: up till 3800m, Tengboche! I lost the guy on the way. He was slow. At first, I waited for him, but he told me not to wait and I kept my own pace.

I arrived in Tengboche around 11am and had some momo to eat. Momo is the Nepalese variant of Chinese dumplings. You can choose different fillings. That day, I had potato filling and it was really tasty! I continued trekking to Pangboche. The view was amazing! I just kept on taking pictures and couldn’t believe how lucky I was to experience all this… It started to be hard again, because I started to feel tired, but the trail was well-kept and I rested a lot. I was taking pictures and videos, while doing this, I could rest every couple of minutes! I arrived in Pangboche around 1pm, the altitude here is 3930m. Which I could definitely feel. Just walking a few steps makes you breathe heavily in and out. And when I want to drink, it already starts to feel like choking. Your body just wants to breathe!
In Pangboche, I just booked the first lodge I saw and changed shoes. The weather still feels hot and my hiking boots are too warm.

I rested here in Pangboche for the rest of the day, just reading my book. Tomorrow I would trek to Ama Dablam Basecamp at 4600m, without my big backpack. I will just trek there and come back to Pangboche to then stay here for another night. When I first laid eyes on Ama Dablam, a mountain of 4812m, I knew I will summit it one day. I just couldn’t keep my eyes of her… Such a beautiful mountain! I kept on looking at it, and could already see myself going to the top. How something can captivate you immediately and you immediately know what your next goal is! It’s amazing! I will keep on dreaming of this mountain until I reach this goal!

2nd day: Monjo to Namche Bazar

The second day of my trek to Everest Basecamp, I got up at 6am. I did some stretching, because I could already feel the muscles in my buttocks and shoulders.

I had everest_trekking_map 2nd daya small breakfast and set off to Namche Bazar. Boy, was I glad I didn’t do that the day before! I climbed from 2800m to 3400m. It was hard, because certain parts were quite steep and I had to climb onto big rocks. With my heavy backpack, it was quite difficult as the backpack kept on pulling me down. I arrived in Namche Bazar around 10.30am and stayed there for the day. I need to give my body time to get used to the physical part and the altitude.

It was a beautiful trek all through the forest. The trail is pretty straight-forward: very wide and easy to follow. I meet a lot of people along the way and talked to several. A couple gave me a businIMG_20160514_133238ess card of a lodge in Namche, Nirvana home was the name of that lodge. Apparently, the owner is the son of a sherpa who went with Hillary in 1953. That sherpa is the last one still alive from that expedition. As soon as I was in Namche Bazar, I went looking for that lodge and booked a room there. In the late afternoon, I got a chance to talk to him. He is 84 years old and still very clear-minded. He still remembers a lot from that expedition, how they had to cut trees to take them over crevasses, what clothes and shoes they were wearing, how the food and oxygen arrived on the mountain. Unbelievable that they could conquer the mountain in such basic conditions! It was a real honor to have the opportunity to talk to him and he said he would pray to Buddha for my husband to succeed.

The minute I booked a room in my lodge, I went down to get a nice cup of coffee and I ate a nice piece of apple pie with itIMG_20160515_102234. I promised myself to not drink coffee anymore, until I was back in Kathmandu, but I saw a big sign of Himalayan Java coffee and, because I have more than half a day of rest, I treat myself. I won’t drink coffee anymore, until I come down again. Coffee can be dangerous in high altitude as it makes your heart go faster and it takes fluids from your body. So, be careful with coffee, alcohol and red bull. Although, I have seen several people smoke cannabis as it would help to relax and help against AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Some invited me to smoke with them, but I didn’t dare that too. I wouldn’t know how my body woul
d react in these circumstances.

 

Climbing Mt. Everest

My husband summited Mt Everest. He succeeded on May 20, 2016! A big adventure for bot of us. I went to Base camp to meet him when he came down the mountain. This picture is takIMG_20160522_140629en when he just came back from the mountain to Base Camp. I will write in a few blog posts my trekking to Base camp. It is a beautiful trek! I would recommend everyone to do it…

 

 

 

 

 

everest_trekking_map first day
First day of my trek

 

 

The first day I flew from Kathmandu to Lukla. It was early in the morning and the airport for domestic flights at Kathmandu is very basic and not quite organised (to say the least). Everything is very old and it was confusing, also because flights to Lukla get canceled on a regular basis. Lukla is the world’s most dangerous airport and the weather conditions are most of the time not good to land on the very small landstrip. So, you never know when you can fly. I spoke to 2 other people; we were all going around the same time to Lukla, but we all got a different flight numb

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The plane to Lukla

 

er. After a while, my flight number was announced and I could go through. The plane was very basic and old. The flight lasted 40 minutes and we flew around the mountains. The
view was amazing! We landed on a very short strip!! I heard about it, but to really experience it, was something completely different. Those pilots must have great skills. Unbelievable how they can stop the airplane on such a short time.

The first thing I did in Lukla was to have a huge breakfast: masala tea (how I enjoy these!), chapati with honey and oatmeal porridge with banana. It was a bit too much. I could feel it for the next hour in my stomach…
I didn’t have a porter or guide, so I had to carry everything myself: 1 big backpack of 10kg and a small bag of 5kg, going up, I could feel every kilogram!
I started in Lukla at 2860m, around 10am and I took a break in Phakding, around 2610m, around noon. Eric, my husband, told me that I could rest here before going further. But it was only noon and the trek was not that difficult so far. I didn’t feel tired at all, because I was overexcited of everything: the trek, the environment,… The fact that I am finally in Nepal after already almost have gone 2 times. So, this is the 3rd time I planned and finally did go!
I was even thinking of going all the way to Namche Bazar today.
A bit over 1 hour of trekking later, I started to feel that I underestimated it: I started to feel really tired and my energy level dropped significantly. The fact that I got up early and hadn’t slept well the night before because of excitement will have had something to do with this.

IMG_20160514_105018So, around 2pm I arrived in Monjo, 2835m. The first guesthouse I saw, I booked a room and ordered food. After that good meal, I went to my room, took a shower and relaxed for the rest of the day. I didn’t eat anything in the evening. This will be my routine for the whole trek: eat a big breakfast and after my trek, have a big meal, but nothing or just a couple of biscuits in the evening.

 

photo shoot

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I did a photo shoot for his sponsor Camel in their headquarters in Guangzhou.

I thought that it would be mainly my husband that they would take photos of, because after all, it is him that they sponsor, not me. But, as it turned out, I had to be in the pictures as well and it was all more professional than I thought. I thought we would just dress in some of their clothes, they would take a few photos and that was it.
Not according to them…

It took a whole day: from 9.30am till 6pm. They had a stylist who was doing our makeup and hair, we had to change into different clothes a lot and we had to put on some gear (e.g. climbing gear, backpack,…). I felt uncomfortable a couple of times. Like the time when the guy was doing my makeup and he said that I really didn’t put a lot of makeup on myself. He was surprised to see how little makeup I applied myself. I applied mascara and eye-shadow, which was already more than I did before and no, I don’t apply any foundation or BB cream now as the temperatures are still over 30 degrees and it would run down my face in 5min anyway.

While he was doing my makeup, some real models showed up: they would do the normal clothes line. I felt very conscious of myself. They were tall, slim and beautiful!! And most of all: they knew what they were doing. They did their thing and after just 1 hour they finished. As with us, they had to tell us over and over again where to look, what pose, do it more natural, not too natural, smile, don’t smile, look up, look down. It was exhausting! I know now that I am not a model and don’t even want to be one.

Another embarrassing moment was when 1 of the trousers were a bit too tight. The girl who dressed me (yes, I had my personal assistant who took me to the dressing room and helped me dress), said that they might be a bit too tight. Me, not wanting to admit that I do have big thighs, said it was fine. But, I had to wear them a couple of times and yes, I was very conscious on how tight they were. Time to go on a diet, I guess (although till this moment, I still haven’t started on this diet just yet, I will soon)!

All in all it was a nice experience and it might have been the only photo shoot I will ever do, so it was good to see that a model’s life can be quite hard and that it’s not so good for your self-confidence at times!

My Chinese dream wedding…

Us and the people of Eric's family and my friend who were part of the parade through town.
Us and the people of Eric’s family and my friend who were part of the parade through town.

My Chinese wedding was according to the tradition of the Ming Dynasty. You have 2 traditions that are the most popular in China now: that of the Ming Dynasty and that of the Qing Dynasty. Because the Qing Dynasty was Manchurian, this tradition is more popular in the north, the Manchurian region. In other regions, with the Han Chinese, the Ming Dynasty is the most popular.

The day itself began, for my husband, at 6am to get the person who would do my makeup and hair. 1 hour later, he picked me up from his place to bring me to his uncle’s place to get ready there. Normally, I should have slept the night at my parents’ place, or I would have spent the night at his uncle’s place, but we had a big dinner and went to bed a bit late.

At his uncle’s place, the beautician made my makeup and hair. It was beautiful! I thought it would have looked too fake and too much, but she did a wonderful job! I put on my dress and shoes and felt a bit emotional to see my transformation into a bride.

Slowly, more and more family members came and they were all taking pictures of me. I was surrounded with people taking pictures with their phones and cameras. I felt like a movie star!

Eric and I stepping out of his uncle's house. I had to wear a cover over my head.
Eric and I stepping out of his uncle’s house. I had to wear a cover over my head.

We had to wait longer than expected. Normally, Eric would come to pick me up in a carriage around 8.30am, but he finally came around 9.30am. They blocked the door, so he couldn’t come near me and they were all asking for a ‘hongbao’ (red envelope with money in it). He had to shove it under the door. They were shouting it was not enough, and eventually he could push open the door and had to distribute a lot of ‘hongbao”. I had to wear a red cover over my head, so I couldn’t see anything and he had to lead me out of the house.

Eric in his carriage.
Eric in his carriage.
My carriage
My carriage

Eric had an open carriage, carried by 4 people. I had a closed carriage also carried by 4. Before our carriage there were 2 lions and then people holding banners with best wishes written on them. The whole procession went through the village. Inside the carriage I could take off my cover, but still, it was a hot day and it was hot in the carriage. People were trying to get a glimpse of me. It all felt surreal, like I was transformed into some Chinese princess.

Eric carrying me inside and someone is walking around us 3 times with 2 buckets of water.
Eric carrying me inside and someone is walking around us 3 times with 2 buckets of water.

Finally, arriving at Eric’s place, I had to wear the cover over my head again and he had to carry me inside. We stopped at the entrance gate and I had no idea what was going on, but apparently someone was carrying 2 buckets of water and went around us 3 times. Then, someone put something over our head and we could move inside. He had to carry me till our bedroom. There, he could put me down.

We could take a rest till the ceremony would start. By then, it was 11am and the ceremony would start half an hour later. I had to wear other, even more traditional clothes. When the ceremony started, we had to sit in front of the stage under a canopy. We first had to draw eyes on the lions with a brush dipped in red paint. Then, I had to go into the carriage again with the cover over my head. There was a lion performance and Eric had to shoot an arrow on stage (I saw the pictures later). Then, he had to come to my carriage and carry me to the red carpet. On the red carpet there were 3 ornaments: I had to step on the first one and step over the next 2. I can tell you, with a cover over my head, it was not so easy.

I had to step on stage after that, which again, Eric had to tell me every step. Once on stage, Eric could take of the cover, but with a stick. He had to pull the cover up first from the right side to have a look, then from the left side and then finally entirely.

My headpiece, representing the head plumes of a phoenix...
My headpiece, representing the head plumes of a phoenix…

I had a headpiece on that represented the head plumes of a phoenix (the female symbol of yin yang) and of course the cover was stuck on the headpiece. So, finally the beautician had to help us out.

I had to change into more traditional clothes for the ceremony!
I had to change into more traditional clothes for the ceremony!

After this, we had to bow three times to the guests and three times to Eric’s parents. Normally, the parents of the groom or on one side, the parents of the bride or on the other side, but my parents were not present, so his father sat on Eric’s side, his mother on my side. At last, we had to bow three times to each other. Then, Eric had to give his father a cup of tea and his father had to give him a ‘hongbao’. The same with me: I had to give his mother a cup of tea and she gave me a ‘hongbao’.

Then we had to ‘drink’ a cup of alcohol (but that was really fake, because there was nothing in the cup). At last, we had to cut a string of hair, Eric a string of mine and I had to cut some of his (which was not easy, as his hair is really short). We had to put it in a small bag. This is the symbol of our union (a little bit like the exchange of rings in the West).

The ceremony was over and he had to carry me again from the stage into our bedroom. Which was more difficult now, because the skirt of those traditional clothes was obstructing movement.

After that, I could change into my original wedding dress again. The beautician helped me with changing clothes again. I was a bit embarrassed then, as it was a warm day and even the half hour I was wearing those traditional clothes, sweat was dripping from me. But, I was relieved to finally take them off.

When I came out again, people were sitting at the tables, enjoying their lunch. A huge lunch and I was hungry, but I had to go to every table and pour a drink for each one of them. Eric had the ricewine and I had the soft drinks in my hand. 2 others joined us to give the ‘lucky candy’ and ‘lucky cigarettes’. Fortunately, I didn’t have to toast with every table. Normally, it’s a tradition that the couple has to toast with every table and they would get really drunk, but it was lunch time, so many people still needed to drive. And Eric can’t really handle alcohol (after a half glass he is already drunk. People were very surprised to see I could handle alcohol that well), so he didn’t want to toast. There were 160 people, so there were many many tables. After having served everyone, we could finally sit down ourselves and eat. It was delicious!! I kept on eating. I didn’t count them, but I guessed there were around 20 different dishes and each one of them looked too good not to try.

After lunch, Eric had a presentation about us: from the beginning of our relationship till our honeymoon, but he was too enthusiastic about the pictures and showed way too many! So, many people left already during the presentation, which I didn’t mind. I know this is the Chinese way: after the meal, everybody gets up and leaves.

The local tv was there to shoot a video of our wedding. The wedding company had arranged this, because it was good publicity for them and we didn’t mind. This way, I had a video to show to my family. After the presentation, we went with the cameraman to a parc to take some pictures of us together. The parc’s entrance fee was 80rmb/person, so he just shot some pictures at the entrance of the parc and we left. The cameraman went back and I had a friend from Holland who joined my wedding. He was with us and his train would leave that evening, so we decided to go to a coffee shop for the afternoon. I was so glad I had him! I had someone to talk to, because Eric was too busy with talking to his family members and I didn’t understand much of it as they were all talking in their local dialect. And, I hadn’t seen my friend for 2 years, so it was nice to catch up!!

After we dropped him off at the train station, we went back home. We ate the leftovers with some of his familymembers that were still there and then 1 of his neighbors wanted to play games, but no one was really enthusiastic about it. We did one, where he bound a candy on a string and I had to get it with my teeth and give it to Eric. Of course, he circled the candy around Eric’s face, so it seemed I was kissing Eric all over. In the end, I could catch it and that was the end of the game and of all other games. People just wanted to talk and then left early. In China it’s not like in the West where it goes on till late at night (or actually till the next morning).

I am very glad that Eric gave me this wonderful day! I know it sounds like a cliché and I never believed it myself when other people told me, but your wedding day is truly the most beautiful day of your life!!

Long time not online

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I have posted another blog.

A lot has happened these couple of months! Beginning of July we went on honeymoon for more than 6 weeks. I succeeded to:

  • summit my first mountain of 5300m (well, actually, my first mountain ever! I had never been close to a mountain before);
  • we did a trekking of 5 days in between mountains (where we had to climb over a few mountain passes, some as high as 4800m, my feet were covered in blisters and I was just glad I was still kind of able to walk till the finish line);
  • we climbed a second mountain: I went till 5000m and stayed at the campsite, while Eric went with our guide to the summit of 5588m. Although, Eric climbed already several mountains, some of them much higher than this one, he told me that it was the most difficult and dangerous one he ever did;
  • then, we did a last trekking of normally 5 days, but we ended up doing in 6. Our last day, we would go on a hiking without our guide in nature. It would normally take 3 hours, we did it in 2 full days: we got lost, had to sleep on top of a mountain on a small ridge and the next morning we had to leave all our stuff behind as it was too dangerous to take with us. We managed to finally arrive at the touristic side of the region and were just in time to take the last bus back (otherwise we would have to walk another 40km to get out of the spot).

And… finally we had our Chinese (very traditional, but a lot of fun too) wedding party. All this, I will describe in more detail these next few blogs…

I will start with our wedding party first, as this is still the freshest in my mind and the most wonderful, happy, mystical experience my husband could give me!!!