Thursday, April 29, 2010

Welcome to the World Lhakpa David Henry!

When we left for Makalu base camp, we knew that we would likely be up on the trek somewhere when my sister and her husband were going to have their baby. On the way to base camp, we were able to get updates by e-mail via the satellite phone the climbers had. As we got closer to the due date everyone on the trip was asking about the updates and as excited as we were to hear about the baby being born!

When we headed down from base camp we no longer had internet or phone access for about 5 days. However, when we were with the Sherpas we felt for sure that the baby was imminent so we headed into the small teahouse at Dobate where we were camping at 3900 meters and cheers-ed to our new nephew David Henry. The teahouse was small and smokey and kind of reminded us of the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana goes to the snowy pub in Nepal to find the medallion that Marion had. Together with the Sherpas we toasted to the baby with Raksi (home-brewed alcohol made out of rice, millet or barley).

When we got further down and closer to the end of the trek we were able to call home from a phone in one the villages. We were so excited to hear that David Henry was born on April 29th. And our guide Pasang busted out more Raksi! As we were talking to the Sherpas they said that since David Henry was born on a Wednesday his Sherpa name is Lhakpa. One of the traditional ways of naming babies in the Sherpa culture is naming the baby by the day of week they were born and Lhakpa is Wednesday.

Finally we are able to call and get word on David Henry...

...from this village...

... and properly toast to our new nephew!



Friday, April 9, 2010

Kathmandu, Nepal and Prep for Makalu

We are in Nepal! We just arrived and only have pictures from the flight in (my first glimpse of Everest), but we wanted to post this update since we likely won't have another one for about a month. We were fortunate enough to be able to re-route our trip and join our friend Rob and his expedition heading to Makalu.

From Wikipedia:

Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world and is located 22 km (14 mi) east of Mount Everest, on the border between Nepal and China. One of the eight-thousanders, Makalu is an isolated peak whose shape is a four-sided pyramid. Makalu is one of the harder eight-thousanders, and is considered one of the most difficult mountains in the world to climb. The mountain is notorious for its steep pitches and knife-edged ridges that are completely open to the elements. The final ascent of the summit pyramid involves technical rock/ice climbing.

We will be with the expedition until base camp (5200m; 17,000ft), but we won't be making a summit bid as Rob will. Still this is a unique opportunity and we are very psyched. The hardest part of this is that the timing isn't perfect. We will be deep in the Himalayas as our nephew is born and that is extremely difficult for both of us.

The expedition has a blog and should be updated as we go, so that is your best bet for following us over the next month.

The journey for us will be just under a month; for the climbers more like two months. So please check it out!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010


We only had a week in Australia (which is obviously not even close to enough time to really travel in Australia) but we were excited to head up to Byron Bay as numerous friends had told us that it was one of their favorite places.

We flew into Sydney and checked into our hostel Kangaroo Bakpak. It was apparent as we got into Sydney that the Australians are just overwhelmingly nice. Everyone we met seemed to be going out of their way to help us out. The staff and everyone at the hostel we stayed at hung out and made dinner together and made us feel welcome right away.

The next morning we got our new van. Our van was from the same company as the van we had in New Zealand but this van was pretty bad and run down. It was scary to drive and Jim did a great job driving the van on the left side of the road, with a manual transmission (on the left), minimal (if any) shocks and a ridiculously high center of gravity. It gave some hair raising moments we DO NOT want to repeat. However, the Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends painted on the side was cool! Though neither one of us had any idea what it was when we picked up the van.

We took our time driving up the East Coast of Australia for the 10 hour drive to Byron. I loved the birds we saw. I was especially excited to see a kookaburra!

As we had mentioned in a previous post we meet Darrell and Michell Lamb on the Milford Track and they had graciously offered to let us park the van at their house and use the facilities. This was an amazing offer that we took them up on as the Byron Bay Blues Festival that weekend meant everything was are booked up including campgrounds. We had a great time with the whole family and it again just shows how incredibly nice Australians are!

Byron Bay is an eclectic town that was a whaling town until just the 1960's. Luckily the whale industry was shut down and surfers started noticing the great breaks in and around the bay. The legend grew and Byron is now a surfers/hippie paradise with ever rising housing costs and population. (Yup, trade surf for mountains and it does sound like Boulder!)

The water here is beautiful and we took a suggestion from the Lamb's and hiked the nature preserve around the lighthouse.

We also spent a good amount of time on the beach. The water was beautiful and the sand perfectly fine and white. It was a great change of pace as New Zealand was getting cold! We had planned to go snorkeling, but were told visibility was very poor due to high surf so we just played in the surf instead.

As it was Bluesfest time we were able to catch a bunch of local bands at the band competition at the Beach Hotel. Unfortunately reality intruded just a bit and we used the bar's free wifi to do our taxes while listening to the various bands. This band was our favorite but unfortunately they came in second.

Also at the Beach Hotel Bar we randomly ran into a bunch of folks from the U.S. band Umphrey's McGee. We had a great time talking travel with the group. Also we were lucky to be able to go to Bluesfest (Thanks Dave!!). It is a good sized festival but not too huge (about 17,000 people a day). We ran around the festival and checked out U.S. Umphreys McGee and Old Crow Medicine Show and a host of other bands that were new to us.

We had to leave sadly, and took our time heading back down the coast for our flight from Sydney to Bangkok. On our way down we heard that we had to check out Fredos Pies. A couple of surfer guys we met had mentioned that Australia is the only nation to eat its national emblem. As I had not seen a Kangaroo, I decided that I might as well eat one at least! Fredos is famous for its "gourmet" pies including emu, crocodile, camel and sometimes possum. The surfer guys said that the croc was pretty much just fatty. So I went with kangaroo. It tasted like beef and not gamey. It was good!

There was also a kangaroo playing a banjo painted on the wall at Fredos which I, of course, thought was hilarious!

Our time was really short in Australia but we felt like we got quite a bit in. We were sad to leave Australia but are ready and rested for the challenges of South East Asia and the rest of the world to come.