Thursday, September 27, 2007

Home, Sweet Home

After 2 and half days of traveling (including another long night on the benches of the Bangkok airport) and 21 hours in the air, we are back home! We arrived in MN late last night and enjoyed a long, hot shower and a nice long sleep in a bed! We counted the number of flights during our trip - 16! Needless to say, we are grateful for a safe journey throughout our trip. Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Local Nepali Buses are NOT Fun!

We have been actually quite busy since we returned from our trek. We've been trying to meet with some friends we know here before we take off. We haven't rested much, but we've had some unique experiences here in the Kathmandu Valley the last few days.

First of all, the after we got back from the trip, we went to Shankar's village, since we had promised we would go there before we left....what a memorable experience. We are glad that we did it, but we would never want to do it again. He and his mom live about 2 hours from Kathmandu by bus, so we met his brother Ram early and went to the bus station. We got on the local bus and were happy to have seats to ourselves. The ride there was incredibly beautiful with the rice paddies and rolling hills the entire way. We kept laughing at all the people that sat on the top of the bus....we wouldn't be laughing for long. Once we got to the village, we had to walk through the rice paddies and woods for about an hour. Shankar and his mom were ecstatic to see us. Their home was very basic, and we stayed there for about an hour. While we were there, we had some Dahl Bat, walked their land, Shankar played the flute, gave me a Nepali hat and held my hand a lot (its customary for men to hold hands here).

After trekking up the hill to catch the bus (and we thought we were done hiking) for more than an hour, we got to the place where the bus picks you up. As the bus came to us, we noticed that it was PACKED full. The only place for us was on top...so up we went! We held on tight with the other 20 people up there as we weaved through the mountains. It was actually quite fun...until it started raining. They told us to come down out of the rain, so we somehow managed to squeeze into the aisle with the other 30 people (literally). There were 6 of us standing in the doorway, 3 of which had their heads sticking out the open door. Needless to say, it was a long and smelly ride. The lady behind me had her head stuck out the window the whole time, puking randomly. We had never been so grateful to get to Kathmandu.

The next day we left for Pokhara. Its a 7 hour bus ride, only this bus is for tourists only. It was also a beautiful ride, but you feel as if you've been beaten up by the time you get there from the crazy driving and bumpy roads. Pokhara was relaxing and enjoyable. We are now back in Kathmandu. Yesterday we had lunch with a friend who is here in Nepal for 3 months with Word Made Flesh. Today we had lunch with a Christian Nepali friend who was an interpreter for our team 6 years ago. It was encouraging to spend some time with him, as his faith is so strong despite the persecution of Christians here.

We have decided to come home a few days early. We changed our tickets and will be leaving tomorrow. We have had such a good time on our adventure. We are definitely ready to come home though. We are looking forward to taking a shower without flip flops on, sleeping without our sleeping bags (you don't get much for $8 a night), and most of all....we are looking forward to not being hassled all the time as we walk down the street. Oh, and I guess we're looking forward to seeing our family, too!

When we get home, we'll post some more pictures and hopefully some videos. Also, we'll continue to use this blog as we move and have more adventures. We'll be home on the 26th...please call! We look forward to hearing from you all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The amazing views!

The last step!!! Welcome to Lukla, day 11.

Here is David on the way back from Kala Patthar. Check out the bottom of the Khumbu glacier across the bottom of the picture.



Here we are almost done on day 11!!!! Lukla here we come!


Again day 9, Rabi and David on Kala Patthar. Above Rabi is Mt. Everest and above David is Lhotse.

Oh thank God for mountains! The morning view of Lhotse from Kala Patthar, day 9.

Kelly trying to make it to Dingboche while feeling really sick and cold, day 5.

Nepali squatting on the trail! :-) Good view though!

Here is Kelly again in Namche Bazar at our favorite lodge trying to get warm around the yak shit fire! This is on day 3 after our first shower. We only took two!

Here is Kelly standing above Namche Bazar on day 3.

Here we are on day 10 in Pengboche ready to head down and sadly away from this beautiful view. Behind David is Ama Dablam which means Mother Double in Nepali.

Here is a great view of Mt. Everest which is the small looking one peaking out from behind to the left of the center. The tall one on the right is Lhotse.

This is David climbing part of the steep ups on the first day. It was amazing how the Lord kept us strong and able to keep going up through day 12!

One of about 12 bridges crossing back and forth along the Budh Koshi, meaning milk river because of the color. This was also about how cloudy it was for the first six days.

Still day 1, David posing next to the money rocks. These were all along the path for the first three days and then we saw more prayer flags.

Here we are on day 1. Rabi our guide and David ready to board the plane!

Blomgrens: 1; Everest:0

We came. We saw. We conquered. We are back from our trek and we are safe and sore! Wow, what an experience. That was by far the most challenging yet rewarding thing either of us have ever endured. It was part sheer agony, part sheer astonishment. But first of all, I have to say that I have the coolest wife ever! Seriously...this was very hard and Kelly was only doing it because of me. We both got sick from the altitude, and Kelly also had a cold. It was extremely difficult to get out of our cold sleeping bags to hike everyday but Kelly somehow managed to do it, and do it great. She easily outpaced me the entire trek.

We got back 2 days early since we practically ran down the mountains. It took us 9 days to get up, and only 3 to get back (it usually takes 5 but we were looking forward to hot showers too much). We made it to Gorak Shep and did the sunrise trek up Kala Patthar (we only went up halfway since the summit had clouds...plus, our bodies wouldn't let us go up any farther). We actually never made it to Everest Base Camp, for a couple of reasons. 1: There is absolutely nothing to see there. You can't see Everest, there were no exhibitions there, and all we heard that was there were rocks and rubbish. In fact, there isn't even a sign. A Japanese guy we were hiking with tried to go there, thought he was there, but actually wasn't there. 2: Everyone we ran into that went there (only about 1/2 the people that do the trek go) told us not to go. 3: Physically, we couldn't do it the day we were supposed to go. The day we got there, the altitude was getting to me and I could barely walk up the stairs at our lodge. It was about a 4 hour hike there and back, and my head would have exploded if we went. The next day we did Kala Patthar, which is actually higher than Base Camp and then had to come down the mountain because Kelly was going to lose her dinner from the night before if we didn't. Boy did it feel good to go down.

The views we saw were amazing! We saw 4 of the highest mountains in the world, along with some other amazing mountains. We trekked through very diverse terrain and saw some incredible views and met some very interesting people. The weather was okay. The best time to trek is in October/November, so we still had some clouds but had great views nonetheless. However, it was better to go this time of year since it wasn't crowded at all. We are grateful to be back in Kathmandu, though. Some of the things about the trek that weren't so great: horrible blisters on both my feet (David), bruised hips and collar bones from the pack, never finishing a meal since you lose your appetite in the altitude (I finished 2 meals), diarrhea at 17,000 feet in a squaty potty, horrible headaches and stomach aches, getting out of your warm sleeping bag at 7 to put on freezing cold clothes, my smelly feet, having a cold the whole time, a landslide that took out a bride, requiring a reroute with 5 additional hours of hiking, and having your guide say, "If it wasn't cloudy here you could see Everest." Things that we loved: seeing Everest at sunrise, hot water pouches to sleep with, sitting around the yak shit (as the locals call it) fire in the lodge at night, walking silently in beautiful nature, hearing avalanches, meeting people from all over the world, having a funny and knowledgable guide, being able to breathe again coming down, growing closer as a couple through the ups and downs of the trek, and accomplishing something that we are extremely proud of.

Here's a breakdown of where we hiked and how long it took (a total of 59 hours of hiking).
Day 1: flew to Lukla, hiked to Phakding (2610 m) (3hrs)
Day 2: hiked to Namche Bazar (3446 m) (5.5 hours)
Day 3: acclimization day, hiked to Hotel Everest View (3860 m) (3.25 hr)
Day 4: hiked to Phortse (3967 m) (5.5 hours)
Day 5: hiked to Dingboche (4252 m) (6 hours)
Day 6: acclimization day, hiked to Chukung Village (4730 m) (3.75 hours)
Day 7: hiked to Lobuche (4930 m) (5 hours)
Day 8: hiked to Gorak Shep (5180 m) (3 hours)
Day 9: sunrise up Kala Patthar (5545 at summit), hiked back down to Pengboche (3900 m) (9 hours)
Day 10: hiked to Namche Bazar (3446 m) (7.75 hr)
Day 11: hiked to Lukla (2710 m) (7.25)
Day 12: flew back to Kathmandu

Thanks for all your prayers and thoughts. We had the experience of a lifetime! We are going to go to Pokhara for 2 days for some much needed R&R. Then, we'll probably take off about a week early to come home.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Everest Here We Come!

We have changed our plans slightly here, and will be taking off for our trek on Friday morning, weather permitting. We should be back on the 21st. We have been busy looking for a new guide, as we didn't really click with the one we had set up. We found a great company and a decent deal. We met our guide today, Robbi, and he seemed really fun and knowledgeable. We are also a lot more confident in ourselves now, especially since our guide just returned from Everest Base Camp with a 67 year old client that made it!

In other news, there was a series of bombings here in Kathmandu the day before we arrived. There has been a lot of peace (at least more peace) here in Nepal for the last couple of years, but they are holding elections here for the first time in November, so the Maoists are trying to scare the voters. Don't worry Mom....we are safe! Let's just hope that we don't run into any Maoists on the trail that find out we're Americans! We covet your prayers during this exciting yet challenging endeavor. Unless we get eaten by a yak, we'll update you all in about 2 weeks.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Namaste

Greetings from Kathmandu! Kelly and I arrived here yesterday and we are so excited and somewhat overwhelmed by being back here. We seriously love the culture and the people here. The loud horns, weird smells, and random animals on the street bring back so many memories. It is really weird to be back here without a group, as we travelled with a group of 50 when we've been here before. Most of our time so far has been trying to figure out our trek, so we haven't been able to see the sights yet. We have, however, run into some old friends. There is this one guy, Shankar, who works in a rug store here that absolutely loves Kelly. He and his brother have written Kelly letters and when Kelly came back her second year here, he was so excited. We saught out to find Shangkar yesterday and instead found his brother who Kelly had never met in peson. He told us that Shankar has been sick and living in his family's village. The brother's name is Ram and he was going to call Shangkar to tell him we are here. He was very sure Shangkar would take the next bus into town! I'm serious when I say this: seeing Kelly will honestly make his year. This brings tears to our eyes!

We will be leaving for our trek sometime this weekend. We will fly to Lukla and land on a small airstrip in the mountains. From there, we will hike for 14 days. Our destination is Kala Pattar(click here for the view from there) and Everest Base Camp. We figure there is about a 65% chance of making it, mostly because of the altitude which will reach 18,500 feet. So pray for our health as we trek! Also pray for Kelly's back, as it has been acting up a little bit. We won't be able to update the blog until after our trek, but we will certainly do so as soon as we get back. We will probably write one more blog before we take off. Thanks for your prayers and support.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Finally, the pictures!!!!

Well, this should be at the bottom since it's in Railay but we loved this amazing tree that was right outside our bungalow.

Here we are at the entrance to the volcano we couldn't hike. See the sad faces!?

The four of us after a really rouch day of golfing the most beautiful course in Jakarta.


David and I with our crappy surf board. Let's just say we both got up at least one time ;-) David on his first try!


The view from inside our room at the Alam Sari. We are so relaxed!


A quick picture before the rain comes pouring down on us during our 2.5hr. bike ride.


I got David sleeping in the Jakarta airport!


Catching the sunset from West Railay Beach. Mmmmmm.


The beach!

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