Trek Day 12

Thyangboche to Monzo and a birthday

Wednesday 22nd November 2006

 

A very early start as we wanted to attend the morning puja at the monastery.  Lakpa broke the news over porridge that most of the monks had gone to Pangboche for a service dedicated to the three sherpas killed on Ama Dablam leaving just a skeleton crew of five to do the puja.  So that’s why all the monks were in Pangboche yesterday.  Morning Puja was not going to be very spectacular and I was sorry for those in our group who had never been to a Buddhist puja before. 

We went over to the monastery and the puja was just beginning.  We sat on bits of mat at the side of the room, our backs against the wall.  It was bitterly cold.  Four of the monks were chanting and the fifth appeared to be a youth with autism or similar.  He kept jerking his head and body and didn’t take part in the puja but spent his time examining our group and smiling.  After half and hour or so we were chilled to the bone even in our down jackets.  These monks must be a tough bunch.  Lakpa took pity on us and led us quietly out of the hall and back to the lodge where we warmed ourselves with black tea.  It was still only 5.30am and we ordered more breakfast and sat by the stove for quite a while.  

Eventually we started the day’s trek and walking past the monastery gates I looked in and saw two of the monks circumnavigating a stupa. I stood between the gates while Carole took my picture.  We looked round for a last time, first at the monastery and then at the mountains which had been obscured on our arrival yesterday but now were revealed in all their glory – Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam – I would never get tired of the sight.  Juggling cameras and walking poles we hurried after our group.

 

 

 

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Lammergeir above Thyangboche

Thyanboche Monastery

At the monastery gates

 

The walking was much easier today, nearly all downhill through forest until we reached the river after which there was a steep climb through a couple of villages where we stopped for tea.  More walking, easy again and we were looking down once more on Namche Bazaar, but I felt a lot fitter than I did last time I had stood here.  We called back at our lodge for lunch and were greeted like old friends.  They were good business people but it was nice to have a fuss made of us.  It seemed an age since we had last sat in the dining room.  We ordered our lunch and then Carole, Sue, Clive and I wandered off to do a bit of shopping.  What will the girls do with all these pashmina scarves they are buying, Clive and I wondered. 

Eventually we left Namche and walked on to the village of Monzo where we stayed at nice little lodge.  Today had been my 60th  birthday and I had thought a nice thing about being in the Himalayas was that I would avoid any fuss.  I had hoped that the day would just pass quietly but Sue and Clive had told Lakpa and a conspiracy was afoot.  After dinner we were sat talking when suddenly the lights were dimmed and Ngima entered carrying a large cake with candles.  Stupidly I looked round the room, my first thought being that it must be someone else’s birthday also. Then I realised that everyone was looking at me and singing Happy Birthday.  Sue and Clive produced three half-bottles of Shiraz.  There had been four and they’d carried them all the way round the trek (or rather the yaks had) taking great care packing them until the previous night when one had broken soaking Sues sleeping bag liner in red wine.   The wine was excellent, my first for two weeks. I blew out the candles and the cake was shared among our group and then among other guests.   A couple of the group placed Yak bells round my neck.  I found I didn’t mind being the centre of attention after all and we ate, drank and our bells rang for the rest of the evening.

 

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The birthday boy is at first embarrassed  ....

 ....then loving it

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