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Nepal April-May 2006
Liz gets sick

Sunday 30th April 2006
Trek Day 7
Sing Gompa to Thulo Syabru
Liz soldiers on, despite a stomach ache

I woke up in the night. I dreamed that Khukri was trapped outside the fence which surrounds the village and needed help. This morning, as I leave the tent to have a wash, I look around but can't find him. All of a sudden, a head appears next to the Mani wall which is on a higher level above us. There he is stretching his legs, having spent the night watching over the camp.

Today is a good-news, bad-news day. Good that Nurbu and some of the other guys, suffering from snow-blindness, have recovered. The bad news is that Liz has been suffering all night with stomach pains. She refused to get up and pay a visit to our comfortable toilet. For some reason she doesn’t like it. As we make our way to breakfast she tells me that she's feeling worse and can’t face eating anything. She manages to drink a cup of hot water, but food is out of the question.

Liz takes a restWe discuss the options. I suggest that we stay here for an extra day to give her the chance to recover. It's a nice comfortable place, and we aren’t in any hurry, but she insists on soldiering on. By 7am we are on our way again.

The sun is up, and shining on our path, but as we enter the forest it suddenly gets cold. I’m still walking in shorts and t-shirt, but have to walk faster in order to keep warm. I’ve got thin gloves on, and have to keep swapping my stick from one hand to the other so I can warm my free hand in my pocket.

The forest is mainly of very large pine, and is beautiful. We pass a couple of tough looking woodmen. I notice that one of them is carrying a white Rhododendron bloom. Liz wants to stop for a rest, and Nurbu tells us that if we walk a little further there's a tea house. We continue to the tea house, and Liz stretches out on a most uncomfortable looking wooden bench. She is so poorly. I feel sorry for her. I know just how she must be feeling. Nurbu and I order a drink, and I wander round taking some photos of the kids; both human and goat.

Goat KidJust as we are about to leave, Liz is sick, but she says it has made her feel better and is ready to move on regardless. We leave the contouring ridge path and start to descend steeply through more forest. Again, there are many birds around. I keep tripping up, as I try to get a good look at them in amongst the dense foliage. Liz keeps getting stomach cramps and we stop frequently so that she can recover enough to continue.

Nurbu and I chat about trekking in Mustang, and whether the high cost of the permit is justified. Mustang is one of the few places in Nepal that we haven’t explored, and we keep thinking that we’d like to plan a trek there at some stage. Having nearly completed our first trek for eight years, I’m already starting to think about coming back again!

We meet up with an Israeli guy, on his way uphill, closely followed by a couple of Englishmen. These two are birders judging by the expensive binoculars hanging round their necks. We discuss their trek and ask about the birds they’ve seen on the way. They’d tried to follow the path that we’ve taken, but got turned back at Gopte by heavy snow. This just goes to show how lucky we were to have made it through.

Prayer WheelsThe forest thins out and we start to descend through open farmland. The fields are growing mainly wheat which has grown to a height of two to three feet. As the wind blows the crops, on the terraces below us, the constantly changing shades of green make them appear like soft velvet. We stop at a viewpoint with a convenient tea-house, and Liz chances a Coca-Cola. I decide that it’s time for a beer. This is the aptly named, ‘Mountain View Tea-House’. It has a decorative entrance archway with three wind driven prayer wheels along the top. We start discussing why we haven’t seen all that many prayer wheels on this trek. Much less than in the Khumbu or on the Annapurna circuit, for instance. Nurbu thinks that it's because they are quite expensive and that this area isn’t all that rich. I'm not convinced.

We descend some more, and stop at a check-post. This is apparently where we need to pay for our entry into the Langtang National Park. The place is deserted, so we decide to just continue. Nurbu says that he’ll make inquiries and come back up if necessary. As we start to pass the first few buildings of Syabru, we see our camp set up on a terrace a little way off the path. We actually occupy two terraces, one above the other. The table and chairs are set up under the shade of a tree on the upper terrace, and the tents are set up on the lower one, with the toilet tent in amongst some bushes at the far end. The hillside is quite steep at this point so we have a bird’s-eye view of the lower village and the main Langtang valley below.

Our terrace campSyabruLiz crashes out on the tarpaulin, but then decides to move into the tent, despite the fact that it's in the sun, and very hot inside. I join her for a short while, and sit outside in the lengthening shadows. From here we can look up and see the path coming down from Gosainkund. It doesn’t seem possible that, just yesterday, we were up there walking on snow. Liz feels better, and joins me watching birds from our vantage point. Just a little way off there's a bird which keeps flying off and returning to its perch on a small bush. We can’t decide whether it’s a bushchat or a flycatcher, it's just too far away to be sure. There's an enormous butterfly busy in a bush just off to our right, and a raptor is flying up and down the terraces below us looking for a meal. This place is another beautiful spot, and I think of how lucky we are to be here.

As the day cools off, the flies start to invade, and they soon get the better of us. We go back into the safety of our tent and read. I doze off, listening to my I-Pod, and the next thing I know, Nurbu is calling us for dinner. Liz is still not well enough to face a meal, but joins us for a hot drink. Khukri is barking at anyone that dares to come close to our camp. As soon as we finish our meal we go off to our tent. We haven’t walked all that far from Sing Gompa, but despite Liz’s stomach problem, we’ve had a good day. We are now at 2,200m. It’s much warmer here, and we end up sleeping on top of our sleeping bags.

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