Room 205, please

This is a re-post of an article that was written by Jiddu Alexander for The original can be found here.

Our room. In the whole of Kathmandu there is not one room that Aron and I prefer more than 205. The room has nothing special to it, it is actually a rather dark place. But still, Purna and Aneel reserve it for us each and every time we visit Annapurna lodge.

We left ‘home’ again for another trip. Everest Base Camp was on the map. Two ways to get there from Kathmandu. First option: You take the 30 minute flight to the trekker’s hub Lukla and trek for 14 days up and down to Base Camp. Or second option: You take a 10 hours bus to Jiri, walk for 7 days to Lukla and then complete option one. As the romantic saying goes, Life is about the journey, not the destination, so we took option two.


Seriously, as a recommendation: Start the EBC-trek from Jiri if you don’t want to miss out on lush green valleys, wild rivers, Buddhist festivals, rhododendrons, Himalaya sunrise views and a local community that hikes mountains just for a cup of tea.After a few days our path joined up with the main trek that stretches from Lukla, passes Namche Bazar, and goes up to the Everest. During the high season 400 hundred people walk these paths each day. It felt demoralising to enter this walkway-highway aligned with luxury guesthouses and fancy ornaments.

We arrived in Namche and the racing pace at which we sprinted across the foot hills (1500-3500m elevation) of the Himalayas for the first few days was abruptly brought down to a crawl when we hit serious heights of over 4000 meters. We allowed ourselves to climb no more than 500 meters a day. That limited the daily stages at 3hrs trekking. Add two rest days for acclimatization and suddenly you have a lot of spare time to read and get bored.The oxygen levels at Base Camp elevation are half of those at sea level. Reaching the camp we both felt the first signs of altitude sickness. Despite the headache we obviously managed some smiles for the pictures we took at the highest mountain in the world. But the exhaustion was severe. It puts you in the awkward position that even though you have a euphoric feeling of a great accomplishment, you want nothing more than to run back down.


Comparing start to finish we had risen three kilometers, but in the 12 days it took we actually ascended nine vertical kilometers and descended six. Now on the way back we had to do this in reverse. So we did what we did best for the first few days. Pick up the pace, fast as the stream that flowed down the valley with us. There was no more rest days or half days and late in the evening just 120 hours later we arrived at the jeep that would take us home.“We’re back!”
It’s ten in the evening, Purna and Aneel are sitting in the restaurant. A big hello, a hug and a laugh. Then the news.
“We’re fully booked.”

Bam! Like a door that shuts in your face. Maybe we can ‘couchsurf’ in their restaurant,we thought.“You can stay in our room.” Their staff room was on the rooftop and within no time they had spread the floor with mattresses. Wow.

I woke before the others, in a sea of blankets. Being totally fatigued the night before I hadn’t noticed how small the space was; it wasn’t meant to be shared by so many. I freshened up and walked down the stairs for my breakfast. The usual milk coffee, toast, grilled tomatoes, fried potatoes and two sunny side eggs. Served with, best of all, the key to room 205.

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