In Tim’s words, “Upset with the American vacation system, I decided to scorn my future, take my life savings, and buy a bunch of plane tickets to travel around the world until I was out of cash. It was by the far one of the best decisions I ever made, and a life-changing experience.”
Food poisoning again.
I’ve been stuck in my room for the past 5 days and I’m about to lose my mind. So, I’ve had time to come up with two theories;
1. Nepal is in fact trying to kill me. The operatives that poisoned me on the way to Everest Base Camp failed, so someone infiltrated my guest house in Kathmandu and poisoned my Chicken Mo Mo several days ago. To combat this I’ve sworn off all foods that don’t come sealed in plastic or a can.
2. Nepal believes I’ve gotten a little overweight after 8 months of drinking beer and eating everything I want, so put me on a genius weight loss program!
Step One – Eat bad meat.
Step Two – Skinny!
They’re some ugly steps in the middle, but it works! Zero exercise or self control needed and I’ve watched the lbs scarily vanish in days!
I hear stories about people traveling around the world and having life changing epiphanies then moving home and making billions. Steve Jobs, acid in India, 10.2 Billion. John Paulson, uncles apartment South America, 12.5 Billion.
Well I think this is my idea. Carl’s two step weight loss program!
For those of you asking yourself, “Did Carl really take a picture of himself shirtless in his guest house then post it online?” The answers is; Yes. I’ve been stuck in a room for 5 days with nothing to do and no internet, so be happy it didn’t get weirder.
I’m losing it!
I would tell you where I’m going next, but the operatives… you understand.
One of the most aggravating aspects of travel is trying to find a flight. Prices swing seemingly uncontrolled and airports a $10 taxi ride apart can vary hundreds of dollars.
As I’m sure you figured out, when backpacking you don’t need to be anywhere in particular at any time. Most travel is dictated by cost. You’d think this flexibly would make finding cheap flights easy, but it doesn’t.
There are a few tricks I’ve learned that help, but the greatest discovery just happened.
When on their home page you can select your start destination then type “Everywhere”. In the date range you can select an entire month or longer.
This will give you the cheapest options of where to fly over the month stack ranked by cost.
For the sake of being complete; here are a few other tricks I like:
Google: Type “origin city” to “destination city” (Some times adding the word “flight” helps). Example:
If there are any direct flights between those two cities Google will give you the carrier and a link to the homepage at the top of the search. Sometimes you can find cheap flights that don’t show up on the flight search websites.
Wikipedia: The cheapest flights are usually local budget airlines (ie Jetstar, Air Asia [So. East Asia], Ryan Air [Europe]). Wikipedia will give you a list of these budget airlines if you ask it. Just pay close attention to extra fees; baggage, ticket printing, etc.
Google Flights: Google launched this over year ago but kept it pretty quite. It’s only good for flights within the USA, but it’s pretty awesome.
Trekking to Everest Base Camp (EBC) was no joke. I thought it would be. Over the two weeks four people died, many were evacuated via helicopters, 1 in 4 got food poisoning, and even more felt the painful first stage of altitude sickness.
Fortunately I only added to two of those figures. By the time I reached Base Camp I was well into the first stages of altitude sickness due to dehydration from five days of food poisoning that hit me four days into the trek (meat sanitation is extremely poor past the the town of “Namche” as it’s all carried un-refrigerated on the backs of porters. While I avoided meat, I most likely got food poising from cross contamination from the kitchen staff. Thank you Hotel Hilayan.).
Altitude Sickness: At 18,200 ft, Everest Base Camp has 2/3rds the oxygen of sea level which is why it’s a good place to acclimatize your body before heading further up the worlds tallest peak. The lack of oxygen causes a myriad of issues. The most common is a bad headache. From there your body can further deteriorate leading to Pulmonary Edema (your lungs filling with fluid) and death.
The scariest thing about Altitude sickness is its vague symptoms and how it randomly selects its victims. An Olympic athlete could be hit with altitude sickness while your grandmother carelessly snaps photos of the pretty high altitude scenery.
So, If you decide to go… take it seriously.
Aside from the dangers, it is unbelievably beautiful and far more rewarding then I could have imagined.
I went with a guide from Advanced Adventures (Laxman, aka “the Locks-A-Nator”) and couldn’t have been happier that I did. You can go on your own and you’d probably be fine and save a little money, but make sure you do your research and can handle carrying your bag the equivalent distance of halfway across the country of Nepal. In the end, I’d pay extra for the safety and convenience.
With a guide and two porters to carrier our heavy bags it cost $1,150 a person. This includes accommodation and food for the whole trek (About 14 days). (Not including water. You can buy water for 150-300 Rupees [$2-4 liter, at minimum of 3 liters a day], or buy purification tabs).
It takes about 10 days from Lukla (Airport) to ascend to base camp (8,800 vertical feet). Two of those days are acclimatization days where you hang out with other travelers and go on small hikes to keep your body adjusting to the lack of oxygen. The hiking it self is pretty easy and straight forward with a well worn path and short hiking days to help acclimatize. The challenge is your fighting your body. With less oxygen your heart pumps faster and your breathing spikes. You also must force water and food into you body which gets old quick. If you find your self lucky enough to avoid food poisoning and altitude sickness, it’s a pretty easy hike.
The decent from base camp can be done in 3 days or less.
I unfortunately suffered from a catch 22; I couldn’t retain water because of the food poisoning and I was getting increasingly hit by the effects of altitude sickness because I wasn’t retaining enough water. By the time we ascended from base camp I was barely able to get myself out of bed where I’d repeat the phrase,”One foot in front of the other”.
I was complaining to an english guy about 2 days away from base camp about our similar symptoms. We got word while accending from base camp that he was evacuated by Helicopter from Chola Pass with the symptoms of Pulmonary Edema and was held in the hospital for 3 days.
One important note; Have travel insurance! Helicopter evacuation, which can be life or death, runs $6,000-$10,000 US.
Other than the obvious dangers, it’s an amazing trip!
I like “Never Stop Exploring”, but a small outdoor company called “North Face” beat me to it. I discovered it when I Googled it and since then its lack of originality has bothered me.
To me, it meant, “Stay Hungry, Stay Curious”. With North Face it feels more like, “Keep buying stuff”…
Regardless, walking around Kathmandu, Nepal the slogan is practically wallpapered to every street corner, just antagonizing me.
It only took me a minute to come up with a better, new and improved slogan, and my recovery period from Everest Base Camp has given me the time to change it. Hope it does a justice!
*Since writing this, I have gone back to “Never Stop Exploring”, because it means more to me, and because just about everything these days is trademarked by some corporation…
Sorry. My disappearance is two part. 1. Everest Base Camp kicked my ass. 2. Nepal takes being a third world country very serious. I find it hard to complain about the lack of internet, which far exceeds its absence on Koh Tao, because of it’s lack of electricity. Getting online is a fine balance between their city wide electricity schedule and hunting wifi.
However I’m starting to get my energy back and planning my next destinations.
Also, Everest story up soon!
I made it.
I’ll get back to how the trip to Everest Base Camp went soon. All I’ll say for now is this; the title for the trip has been playing through my head for five days – “The Trek to Everest Base Camp, A Most Beautiful Nightmare” …Stay tuned.
Second. Anyone who travels for an extend period of time misses plenty back home. One day supersedes all others. The Mom’s birthday. The day I ascended to Everest Base Camp on the 12th happened to line up with that important day, and according to the Gorakshep Evac Team, “a mom’s birthday isn’t a satellite phone worthy emergency”. So, for now I hope this will do.
Happy Birthday Mom!
I’m at the last real town on the way to Everest base camp, and although I’m at 11,600 feet, the internet is surprisingly strong (I guess going online at $17 a day keeps people off Facebook). However, this will be the last time I’ll see a real town or internet for over a week as we trek further up.
While this post is proof that our turbulent flight to the worlds most dangerous airport landed safely, I will be offline for several days. Probably a good thing as this altitude and trekking turns your brain into mush (and we’re not that high yet).
To keep everyones attention I devised a plan; While I’m trekking I’m going to select a few post to go up automatically. Not sure what yet… but know it’s going to be epic!
So hang in there!
Our Team (The Misfit Hunters): Flower Bandit, Rubber Man, DP, Locks-A-Nator, Bimbo Baggins and Me (Schmidt).
Hanoi – Left
Kuala Lampur – Had 15 hours and 10 minutes to do everything that had to be done. So, I grabbed a hostel and threw my stuff in it. Jumped on a bus, met four girls. Went out to dinner with them. Saw the towers with them. Went home with them… jet lag, I guess the last part didn’t happen.
Grabbed a beer with a good dude and his fiance from Kyrgyzstan who worked at two local hostels (Including mine). They showed me around the city until about 4-5am then I took an hour nap.
Jumped on a second plane to Kathmandu and woke up on the tarmac.
Kathmandu – Joined up with Tyler and Brandon and bought more fake North Face gear and other equipment then I have real cloths in preparation for the 14 day hike to Everest base camp.
Got on a 14 seater plane and flew to the most dangerous airport in the world with my bag of camera gear and a -20 degree sleeping bag.