For the next five days I am in an area with no cellphone coverage and no Internet coverage. Hence I will be uncontactable, for anyone wanting to contact me.
This also means I will not be blogging obviously!Tags: DPF
For the next five days I am in an area with no cellphone coverage and no Internet coverage. Hence I will be uncontactable, for anyone wanting to contact me.
This also means I will not be blogging obviously!Tags: DPF
This is the exterior of the boutique hotel we were at.
A few blocks away was the Cerro Santa Lucía. A great area to visit, and get excellent views from.
After the initial climb, then some flat park like area.
We were going to pop into the Castillo Hidalgo, but there were Police everywhere. It seems a meeting of Latin American Finance Ministers was being held there.
The entrance to the Castillo Hidalgo.
Then another steep climb to the top.
A great view of the city from here.
Sadly there is graffiti everywhere, including on the plants!
A little ancient church on the hill.
Many of the Police around this area are on horseback. A majority of the officers are female, or at least the ones we saw.
Neptune’s Terrace towards the far end. Very beautiful.
And at the entrance at the far end.
This park stretches for several blocks, and is a popular place to relax.
It has one of their many museums and art galleries in it.
More of the park area.
A fountain and statue to Rubén Darío. He was a famous Latin American poet.
And the front of the fountain that is near out hotel. Took around three hours to do both parks, plus an art gallery.
Tags: Chile, DPF, Latin America
In Santiago for a couple of days. This is Barrio París-Londres, which is a nice cobble-stoned area.
In this area is a building called London 38. It was a detention and torture centre under Pinochet. Outside the building are the names and ages of those who died inside it. 219 people died or disappeared.
This is inside the San Francisco Church, which was consecrated in 1622. It is the oldest building in Chile.
A photo of some of the roof tiles.
This is the back of La Moneda Palace, the office of the President of Chile. It started construction in 1784.
Underneath the palace, is the Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda.
Two of the presidential guards. Note they have daggers, not guns!
Inside the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral which began construction in 1748. Its predecessors had somehow angered God who destroyed them in earthquakes.
A view of Santiago from the Santiago Metropolitan Park. It is very smoggy here, but still a great view of the city nestled behind the Andes. I’m told the view in winter is absolutely spectacular.
In the afternoon we did some wine tasting at Concha y Toro. It is the second largest wine producer in the world.
The best wine is kept down in the old cellars. Each barrel of wine is worth around $45,000.
In the old days, the owner spread a rumour that the devil lurked down in the cellar, and it seems this was enough to deter would be thieves. Today it would probably attract them!
Snakes on a plane!
This is the wine blackboard at the Bocanariz Restaurant. It is one of the top restaurants in Santiago, and we managed to get in without a booking. Highly recommended. Rated No 4 out of 1,404 on Trip Advisor.
This is in the Parque Forestal, which is opposite the hotel we are staying at. We’re at the Su Merced Boutique Hotel which has just nine rooms. The rooms are quite spacious and nice, and the location is right in the centre of town.
My first ever time in Latin America. Having a direct flight from Auckland helped.
Tags: Chile, DPF, Latin America
An Unseasonable Fall of Snow, at Circa, is one of those plays that grips you from the first minute and never lets go. It is a play full of mystery. Who is Arthur the interrogator? Is he a police officer? A lawyer? And what exactly is it that young Liam has done?
It is a who dun it, but not in the usual way. For 90 minutes you are intrigued and guessing, and then somewhat stunned and moved as it all comes together.
The play is a fest of Brophys. Well known Geraldine Brophy is the director. The other three Brophys are not related to Geraldine but are father Jed, mother Yolande and son Riley.
Jed and Riley play Arthur and Liam respectively, and both excel. They portray their characters with conviction and you the tension between them is excellent.
Yolande plays Toni, a brief but important character, and she is also the production manager.
For me to enjoy a play, I have to get an emotional connection, and this play not only made the connection but sustained it for 90 minutes. The sense of mystery, the tension between the two leads, the slow revealing of clues, and the, shall we call it, moment of truth. A simple yet effective set supported by sympathetic lighting all contributed to a great experience.
It’s one of those rare plays I’d quite like to go back and see a second time, to see what clues I didn’t pick up early on.
The play is set in Wellington, which also adds to the enjoyment and familiarity. It is on until Saturday 4 October.Tags: Circa, DPF, Reviews
Poor David Farrier from TV3 has been getting abused on Twitter by angry lefties. To help reduce the confusion we posed for this explanatory photo.
It would be preferable if angry lefties didn’t abuse anyone at all (or just self abused), but if they do have to abuse someone, at least get the right person.
David Farrier writes at 3 News about the confusion:
On Twitter, things were more violent. Left-leaning members of society were less puzzled and more angry:
“Are you happy now you National twat”, and “F**k you and Whaleoil”.
On Sunday morning, no doubt after a rousing night out on the town, I got a message from Farrar:
“So sorry for all the abuse you got, meant for me. If you’re around this pm, I’ll shout you a drink.”
It seemed like a good idea, if only for the chance to figure out a way to spread the message that we are two very different people. The evening rolled around and I was given the address of the private residence where he was staying.
Now, this was all a sort of off-the-record affair, but what I will say is that I walked in to a beaming array of National Party faces: all radiant, all excited, and all victorious.
They were well-groomed and smelt delicious. I was an unkempt mess, dressed in jeans and a hoodie. I felt like I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. I believe I got a small pang of what Goldilocks perhaps felt as she walked over the threshold.
I was welcome with open arms. I wine was put in my hand and a wonderful spread awaited me at the table. It looked like a feast fit for a king. I was later informed it was leftovers.
For me – not particularly well-versed in the intricacies of politics – it was a fascinating insight.
We talked bloggers, TV coverage, left, right, Dotcom, Colin Craig. We all seemed to be having fun. I felt like I had teleported into someone else’s body, sitting at that table. I imagine that to them, I was like an amusing jester who’d arrived for some light relief.
Towards the end of our evening, I got out some post-it notes and a vivid, and then we took a photo in the kitchen.
As you can tell, we are definitely different people. But like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins, we had a nice time together. Our movie probably wouldn’t do as well at the box office though.
Hopefully there will be less confusion in future!Tags: David Farrier, DPF
Circa has put on a production of A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney.
The play, written by Lucas Hnath started on Broadway, and I think this is the first time it has been produced in New Zealand.
I was excited to see the play, as it starred David McPhail as Walt Disney. However, despite some very good acting, I found the play overall under-whelming.
The four actors did well. I loved seeing David McPhail on the stage, and he looked and felt the part of a domineering boss. Maybe he was channeling his years spent playing Muldoon.
Nick Blake played Walt’s brother Roy. Roy was CEO of Disney for many years and was portrayed as the guy kept in the shadows by Walt, and even used by Walt as a foil. His depiction of Roy was very sympathetic .
Jessica Robinson played Walt’s daughter (Diane, but not named in the play). She had few lines but they were the best parts, especially when she said she didn’t want to call a son Walt, because “When I say your name, I think all sorts of things I don’t want to think. When I say your name, I think of you, and when I think of you I get all angry, and when I think of you and the way you act, and the way you yell …”
And Richard Falkner played Ron, Walt’s son-in-law. He was portrayed as a bit of a sports focused jock (and looked the part). He wanted a role with the Disney empire, even as a cleaner, but was not seen up to scratch.
The cast did well, and I liked the production details such as having Diane and Ron on stage through all the scenes where they didn’t talk, but reacting with facial expressions. Robinson especially conveyed as much with her expressions as her line.
But overall I found the play hard to get into. It livened up around half way through, but it did not emotionally engage me. There was some dramatic tension and humour, but you never felt particularly warm or repulsed to any of the characters. It almost seemed ordinary, except it was about the family of Walt Disney.
It could have been redeemed (and the fault is with the script, not the local production) if the play was based on real events. I like plays where you learn stuff about someone famous, especially a side not seen before. One could do a very good play about the darker side of Walt Disney. He was on the fringes of the anti-semitic movement, and he had feuds lasting decades with staff.
But the focus on the family didn’t work for me, as it seems to be more speculation than fact. While Disney may have been a difficult father, his daughter actually is very loyal to him, and has attacked other works criticising him. She even set up the family museum in his honour. And one of her sons is named Walter.
The son-in-law actually was CEO of Disney for many years, so wasn’t a thicko. And the stuff on Disney wanting to be cryogenically frozen is a debunked urban legend.
John Smythe at Threatreview commented:
It’s entirely possible A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about The Death of Walt Disney could work much better in the relative intimacy of Circa Two – and I have a strong feeling Destination Beehive (in Circa Two with its cast of eight) is destined to sell out and leave many punters disappointed. If it was logistically possible for the shows to swap venues, I think they should.
I’d endorse that. This play is unlikely to have mass appeal, but it is still an interesting insight into the Disney empire.Tags: Circa, DPF, Reviews
Went to Circa yesterday to see Destination Beehive, and I laughed almost non stop for 80 minutes.
It’s a great production that anyone who has even a small interest in politics will adore. Pinky Agnew and Lorae Perry have combined a topical hilarious script, with some great acting and some mashed up tunes that are very catchy.
The basic premise is that you are in a Meet the Candidates meeting for Port Nicholson. Through a combination of video, and live acting, you meet the ten local candidates, and their party leaders (or senior MPs).
The mixture of video, singing, music, acting and even weather reports are a fabulous combination.
A cast of eight play multiple characters. They all did really well, but the one that I must highlight is Jack Buchanan. His Colin Craig character was side splitting. He also played a leggy Jacinda Ardern and the ALCP candidate. some of the costume changes were done in less than a minute.
The play was updated to keep event of currents events. We went on Sunday, and they had a piece on Judith Collins’ resignation the previous day.
Labour had a secret surprise candidate for Port Nic, who may just turn out to be the next Leader of the Labour Party.
One audience members got dragged up onto stage to get a “political makeover”. What was very funny is that unknown to the cast, the person they chose is a senior ministerial staffer. She took her makeover in good grace!
All parties, leaders and candidates are mercilessly mocked. No on is spared. Kim Dotcom makes an appearance, and his local candidate is a very Bavarian Heidi Dotcodotnz.
Crowd favourite was Dame Kate Harcourt playing the NZ First candidate. She was, as always, just superb.
Whale Oil got more mentions than most MPs. Luckily Kiwiblog was mentioned only once!
There are many great musical parodies, including take off’s of Lorde’s Royals. The crowd really got into it, and started singing along.
There’s also a great dance number at the end that will surprise.
This is one of those plays that I can recommend you see without hesitation. It’s on at Circa until 20 September. You’ll kick yourself if you miss it.Tags: Circa, DPF, Reviews
Peter Zohrab has done an open letter to the Speaker of the House.
27 August 2014
The Speaker Rt. Hon. David Carter
Dear Mr. Carter,
On 26 August 2014, Human Rights lawyer, Tony Ellis, said in an interview on Television New Zealand that Human Rights are only paid lip service to. It was not clear whether he was referring to human rights in general in New Zealand, but that may well be the case!
On August 1st 2014, some Men’s Rights activists, including myself, were mounting a demonstration outside Bowen House, Wellington, which of course houses the offices of many Members of Parliament. Three security guards who were working inside Bowen House came out — one-by-one and later en masse — to harass us, by questioning us and implying that what we were doing was not allowed and that they had some authority over us, both of which was untrue. They took our photographs. I only got rid of them by taking their photographs and starting to phone the Police. As you know, they have no jurisdiction over the footpath and so were interfering with our Freedom of Expression.
At one stage, an obviously Feminist woman appeared out of nowhere and started arguing with us. I assume that she was deliberately dropped off by car in front of us, because I had not seen her walk towards us from the side along the footpath, and she left by being picked up by car from the footpath in front of us. She was obviously an agent provocateur, and it was after that that the three security guards appeared together and said that they had received a complaint, which appeared to be from her. It was a false complaint.
Could you please
- discipline your security guards for this arbitrary and totalitarian behaviour;
- find out from them the name and contact details of the woman who complained to them and pass this information on to the Police and to me;
- discipline them if they do not have a record of her name and contact details;
- ask the Police to investigate if the incident with the agent provocateur was instigated by David Farrar, who passed in front of us twice and is a Feminist.
On 7 April 2013 I wrote to you about another case of Parliamentary staff apparently interfering with my Freedom of Expression — with regard to Select Committee submissions. On that occasion, you gave no impression of having got to the bottom of the matter. I hope you achieve a better result this time. I note that the senior of the three security guards was a woman, and that the [deleted by DPF] does a good impression of being a Lesbian woman. David Farrar has mentioned that I have called New Zealand a Dykeocracy, so this may be a case in point.
I attach photographs of the security guards.
Peter D. Zohrab
Should I confess that I did indeed send in a feminist provocateur to argue with Peter Zohrab? Will he discover that the Wellington Young Feminists Collective is in fact a wholly owned subsidiary of DPF Group Ltd?
The vast feminist conspiracy claims another victim. Well done girls. Charlie is very pleased with your work.Tags: DPF, Peter Zohrab
Over the last week or so I have seriously considered walking away from Kiwiblog. While some will take huge pleasure in what has happened, let me say that it is genuinely traumatic to have hacked e-mails to and from yourself (even if you were not the one hacked) floating around, and to also realise that because you are a blogger and pollster, it means you and your office is fair game. One of the worst moments was having a senior staff member of mine, who is also a very good friend, tell me that she had been worried that I might think she was the leak, as our politics are different. I hate the impact this is having on so many people.
Some of the revelations coming out, also do not show aspects of the blogosphere in a good light (to put it mildly) and I’ve thought quite a bit about how this impacts the wider blogosphere.
I don’t believe that the book shows me having acted in any way inappropriately. I have gone out of my way to be open about my background and leanings and relationships, and I follow my own views when I blog – hence why I campaigned against the Government last year on the copper tax (despite being a Chorus shareholder!). I never have taken any form of money or kind for blog posts, and disclose even the mist minor gifts.
There is part of me that wants to walk away so I am no longer a target. Politics is far less important to me than family and friends. I’ve also considered whether to do what Cameron often calls me, and become a travel and arts blogger, and have less or almost no focus on politics. But the trouble is the blog for me is an outlet on what I think – what I like, what annoys me, what amuses me, what appals me. And I can’t imagine it can function as that, if I try and avoid politics. I do genuinely blog because I like having my say – that is my primary motivation.
Also I do like to think, without being immodest, that I do make good contributions to politics in NZ. I can data crunch, I have a 20+ year history of political knowledge which can put things in context, I have good relationships, and I generally get good feedback on my commentary in the mainstream media. I’m far far from irreplaceable, but there are not that many people who have the time, skills and employment situation that allows them to substantively blog.
So after some reflection, I have decided to carry on, but to make some changes. I want to improve trust in myself, Kiwiblog, and perhaps the wider blogosphere. So I’ve decided on the following.
I hope people will appreciate the changes. I welcome feedback on them, and other suggestions. I believe political blogs can play a very valuable role in political discourse, and want to do what I can to be a constructive part of it.
UPDATE: The hone of mainly anonymous bloggers, The Standard, has a go at my decision to have even more transparency than I currently do. And what is hilarious, is the post is anonymous.
Also they print an extract from the book which is totally factually wrong. The party they cite was not organised by me, and I did not even invite anyone to attend. I went to a party in Palmerston North. Around 30 to 40 people attended the party, and they can all attest I was not the organiser. It’s just a smear.Tags: DPF, Kiwiblog
Rather bemused to find an entire chapter of Nicky Hager’s book is on me, and also how banal it is. Almost everything in there is in the public domain, as I live a pretty open life. But what Hager has done is wave his normal conspiracy theory through everything and make the fact that bloggers and other talk to each other, some sort of sinister thing.
Basically the chapter is a revelation that I am a member of the National Party! I didn’t realise this was a big secret.
He seems to have no curiousity at all over all the bloggers on the left who don’t blog under their real names, and are rumoured to actually work in Parliament. He also doesn’t worry about one blogger who has been on multiple party payrolls and never declared it, until outed.
What is very interesting is that his source is once again stolen e-mails. In The Hollow Men, he claimed they were leaked to him by an insider. In this book they are obviously hacked from Cameron Slater, which to my mind raises huge disbelief over his claims that the previous set of e-mails were leaked.
I’ve had a quick read through the chapter on me, and a few things I’ll point out.
Most of the book is on Cam. Cam does some great stuff and he sometimes does some appalling stuff. Cam does not work for anyone, or even take guidance from anyone. He is his own force of nature.
Hager basically doesn’t like the fact the right now have voices. He basically says no media should ever use me as a commentator. He is threatened by the fact we finally have one organisation (Taxpayers Union) arguing for less government spending, to counter the 2,000 or so that argue for more.
My final comment is to note that people thought his book may be on the NSA and GCSB intercepting electronic communications. It would seem the person who is the biggest recipient and publisher of intercepted electronic communications is in fact Nicky Hager. If someone published a book of e-mails between a group of left-wingers, he’d probably call it a police state, and demand an inquiry,Tags: DPF, Nicky Hager
Someone called Geoff (note not brave enough to use his full name) at The Standard asked:
Why does David Farrar hate Winston Peters so much?
The answer incidentally, which I provide at the end of the 200 comments or so, is:
Best ever thread on The Standard. I love the side-track into astrology.
I guess it would be far too simple to ask me directly why I dislike Winston as a politician.
It goes back to the early 1990s when he defamed numerous people under parliamentary privilege, including several neutral public servants. He once made the mistake of repeating his lie outside Parliament and got done by Selwyn Cushing for defamation.
I was a member of the Young Nationals Executive that in 1992 (off memory) asked the Party’s National Executive to expel Peters from the party. So the conspiracy theories about Brendan Horan and the like are amusing, but rather off the planet.
I could also add on half a dozen other reasons for my dislike of Peters (which is rare – I like most MPs) such as his splitting up the Coalition in 1998, his lies over the Owen Glenn donations, his racist scaremongering against Asians etc. But we don’t have all day. Suffice to say my position on Peters has been rather consistent for 20 years or so.
But what I love are the various comments from the assorted commenters (again none willing to use their actual names) which include:
“Heard Farrar on RNZ today. Confirmed two things – he has a voice best suited to silent movies and he has nothing interesting to add to political debate. “
“yeah well they are all complete arseholes and we’ve all seen far, far too much of those hagged, wrinkled tory scumbags over the years so it’s entirely understandable we’ve ruled them out.
The problem with tories is they’re all psychopaths that hate the idea of people working together. Why would any sane person really care to listen to their stupid opinions??”
“Nah, it’s David Farrar. He’s a bad person. He’s working hard to make most peoples’ lives worse.”
“It is very, very simple and understandable, that David Farrar dislikes Winston and NZ First. They are the most unpredictable factor in the coming election. David Farrar is a Virgo by star sign, that means he likes order, control and such, and that is what leaves him in a situation, where “disorder’ and “unpredictable situations” just cause too much distress to him, he simply cannot cope with that.
So here we go, Winston is anyway the total “enfant terrible” in NZ politics, he may be in the game, he may not be, but for the fact nobody, least Fart(arse) aka Farrar can predict anything, it is an element that causes irritation and disturbance. Farrar better book another trip to climb another mountain, if he cannot bear the unpredictable and insecure situation.”
“Because winston is dashing and debonaire and is a hit with chicks while he farrar is a snivelling little tory kiss ass suckup with zits.”
“Farrar is a grossly over-entitled political parasite, a Wellington courtesan who loves being near power and exercising power and imaging he can manipulate the powerful. As an unelected player, he joins the Gowers and the Garners and the rest of the incestuous parasites on the democratic establishment who are drunk on the idea of being able to exercise their power without fear of any responsibility or of being held accountable by democratic means.”
“David Farrar is John Key’s Mini – Me !”
“Thanks to this thread I now have a disturbing image of Farrar being the court eunuch ‘ Varys’ aka ‘ the spider’, from the Game of Thrones ……….. just out of interest does he get around in silk robes ?”
“farrar hates everyone. thats the nub.”
The suggestion that my dislike of Winston is because I am a Virgo is my personal favourite. I also like the comparison to Varys – I take it as a compliment, even if not intended as suchTags: DPF, The Standard
I was in a taxi in Wellington this morning and the taxi driver asks me if my kids are grown up.
I tell her that I don;t have any kids, trying not to panic at the the thought that if I did have kids they could possibly be adults.
She asks if my wife didn’t want any. I reply that I don’t have a wife or partner – that I’m single.
She asks why not, and I reply that I’ve yet to meet the right woman.
She then tells me that I need to pray to God and God will deliver the right woman to me.
While I could take this in a negative light, as suggesting my dating life needs divine intervention, I prefer to see it as a suggestion that my next girlfriend will be an angel
Have had quite a few people ask about how to go about doing a trek in the Himalayas, so here’s what we did – for those interested.
Choose a company
Almost everyone sensible uses a company to arrange guides, porters and accommodation. On a personal recommendation we used Himalayan Encounters, and they were excellent. I can recommend them without reservation.
The cost was around US1,500 each and this covered:
Our guides were top class. They were incredibly safety focused, and were very helpful to me when I got altitude sickness. They were also informative and a lot of fun. I recall at one stage I had to take a leak on the way back from Everest Base Camp, so went behind a large rock. They yelled out that it was a holy rock, just to freak me out (it wasn’t). Lots of fun chatting to them in the evenings also and playing card games etc.
The company covers the internal airfares. We travelled Malaysia Airlines (booked before they lost a plane) to and from Kathmandu. They lost or delayed my luggage both times, and their planes are old and tired. The service was pretty average. I would not use them again.
It takes around 12 days to go to Everest Base Camp and back if you go directly up and down. If you can spare the extra five days, I highly highly recommend the 17 day route via Goyko and the Cho La Pass. It is harder, but the views are even more spectacular – and you get to do a loop, rather than up and down the same way.
I joke that our biggest achievement was none of us got Travelers’ Diarrhea. Nepal has the highest prevalence of this in the world. If you’re trekking up to eight hours a day, you really don’t want this.
We were religious with disinfecting our hands constantly. We used water purification drops or tables on all our water – even for teeth cleaning. We did not eat meat above Namche.
I did get altitude sickness. The rest of the party didn’t. You won’t know if you do, or not, until you get there. Make sure you have a spare day in the schedule, and once above 3,000 metres don’t climb more than 500 metres a day (or technically don’t sleep more than 500 metres higher than the night before).
Generally need to immunise for Hep A, Hep B, Polio, Tetanus, Diptheria and Typhoid. Malaria not a high risk trekking. Rabies is more a risk in Kathmandu than trekking.
Some general issues, taken from Lonely Planet guide:
I’ve included my gear list below after the break, for those interested.
If you don’t plan to tramp or trek a lot, then it will be far cheaper to buy most of your gear in Kathmandu or hire it in Namche. They have absolutely everything and it is exponentially cheaper.
But if you want top quality gear that you can keep using for other treks and tramps, then you end up spending a lot of money at Macpac, Kathmandu, Bivouvac and Mountain Designs.
The one thing you must have in advance are your boots, as you do not want to try out new boots on a 17 day trek.DPF, Nepal
Headed out early to Bhaktapur on the final full day in Kathmandu. Bhaktapur is a historic city that was capital of Nepal until the 1400s. It’s only 20 kms from Kathmandu and is a must visit. One thing that makes it very nice is that most parts of it are closed to traffic.
By comparison, going through Thamel in a taxi is incredibly scary. You’re driving down narrow streets dodging pedestrians and cyclists every few seconds.
Just after the main entrance is this museum.
Durbar Square – one of four major squares in Bhaktapur.
One of many temples.
Wonderful old sculptures.
I love the elephants.
Now that is how I’d like to travel about!
A pottery maker near Pottery Square.
Wares being made for later sale.
This poor goat has lost his horns.
Some great artwork, even if not quite right for my apartment.
A typical street in Bhaktapur.
The sun was too much for these dogs.
The snake has gone fishing.
On the way back to Kathmandu, we passed this motorcycle with a very young kid sitting happily at the front of the bike.
Back in Kathmandu, a typical street in Thamel. What you don’t see in this photo is the cars swerving up and down them.
For our final evening we went to the Babarmahal Revisited complex in Kathmandu. It’s a former palace that is now a small shopping centre with some very high quality restaurants. Made a change from Dal Bhat (which actually was pretty good).
Then the next morning it was a quick trip to the bakery for a final breakfast. Thee coffee is what they call a Latte!
Then we flew out of Nepal on Friday. Once again Malaysia Airlines were incapable of having my bags travel with me, so the 36 hour stop over in Kuala Lumpar turned into a quick shopping expedition for emergency clothes for all of us. We were told 25 bags were not flown due to over-loading, but I’m sceptical as the planes should be able to carry a full load of passengers and gear.
We made the Pavilion shopping plaza with just 30 minutes to spare before it closed, so was a very hasty shop.
Saturday saw a bit more shopping, and just enjoying the hotel (Hotel Istana) swimming pool. Then out to the night markets tonight and two flights back to Wellington to arrive Monday.
Loved pretty much every moment of Nepal, and already planning my next trip there in a couple of years. So many mountains to see – or climb!Tags: Bhaktapur, DPF, Kathmandu, Nepal
The final day is arguably the most scary – flying out of Lukla Airport. The runway is just 460 metres long and slopes downwards ending in a massive cliff. We got up at around 5 am to be at the airport by 6 am.
The sun just emerging on the peaks by Lukla.
The view from the airport. Planes turn left and head down the sloped runway over the cliff!
We had to wait two hours for our plane (which is about normal) but fortunately it took off with no problems. You achieve lift off around 20 metres before the runway ends, which is somewhat terrifying.
We got back to Kathmandu Guest House. They have an outdoor library which is a great way to relax in the afternoon.
Kathmandu Guest House is in the busy Thamel area, but despite that has some real solitude to it.
In the afternoon, I popped into the Garden of Dreams which is a nice little attraction around ten minutes walk away.
Quite a few people come here just to enjoy the sun or have a bite or drink.
The following day decided to head out to Swayambhunath . It’s around a 30 minute walk. Navigating your way out of Thamel can be a bit confusing but once you’re out, it’s very easy to spot!
Lots of statues and artwork on the way up to the temple.
But it is a long way up. Around 350 steps.
A good view of Kathmandu from the top, marred somewhat by the smog.
The main temple.
Had a drink at a roof top cafe up there, which also got a good view of the nice parts of Kathmandu. One can even see a swimming pool below!
And of course there are monkeys.
Lots of monkeys.
Walking home, came across these pigs, penned in next to the river.
Have one more day in Kathmandu, before we fly home via Malaysia.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Kathmandu, Mt Everest, Nepal
This was the final day of trekking. A pleasant walk through the valleys back up to Lukla.
Different views to higher up, but still incredibly beautiful. Also nice to be tramping again in shorts and one layer – not in below freezing conditions.
Again many more crops grown down here.
But still the odd snow covered peak.
The final valley.
The final ascent. I estimate we claimed a total in excess of seven vertical kilometres over the trek.
Great to have colour back in the bush.
And after 16 days we are back at Lukla, where we started.
The English in the local bars can be amusing. See the above “tit bites” instead of tidbits!
And not sure Coca-Cola appreciates that spelling! I wonder how many people tried to order a cock before they changed it
We then had the final farewell dinner with the five of us, and the porters and guides. I couldn’t resist ordering a Yak Steak. Yes they’re cute adorable animals – but they also taste quite good.
And then we drank. To paraphrase, what happens in the tea house says in the tea house, but it was a lot of fun. The fact we had to be up at 5.00 am for an early flight did not deter us. A great 16 days trekking, with views you really won’t get anywhere else in the world.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Mt Everest, Nepal
A wonderful late 10 am departure from Namche and this view as we depart.
The final view of Mt Everest, partly obscured by clouds.
We spent around an hour descending around 600 metres from Namche. Very pleasant trail in the woods.
The view of the valley we head back along, once we descend. Very different to the icy peaks, but still very beautiful.
The view of the river from the high bridge we cross first.
What happens if a porter is crossing the bridge, and a mule decides to cross the bridge also? A very tight squeeze for the porter! At least it wasn’t a yak!
Then we have three hours or so of walking alongside the river.
At the 4th of five bridges, there’s this kid riding a mule. Very cute.
The vegetables are growing now we’re lower down.
Another bridge crossing.
In the final stages, you pass through a lot of villages, where the path is separated from the homes.
A blossoming tree near the bottom of a small waterfall.
And finally Phakding, which can be seen in the distance just beyond the 5th bridge.
A fairly easy four hours of trekking. While we passed through this area 13 days ago, you get quite different views when walking through it in the opposite direction.
Tomorrow is the final trek to Lukla, where we stay overnight before flying to Kathmandu.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Mt Everest, Nepal
Day 14 was a rest day in Namche, and for once an actual rest day – no hikes up mountains for a couple of hours. It was also my first shower, shave and non-vegetarian meal in 11 days, and I really can’t say which I enjoyed most!
This is the after photo of me having showered, shaved and changed. You really do not want to see the before photo!
Somewhat amusingly, Namche is probably the area where I came closest to doing myself a serious injury. I walked down a pathway without noticing a yak coming the other direction and almost collided with it! It takes a while to have to get used to look for livestock as you walk out from your lodge.
Saturday is market day in Namche, so we went along to have a look at the wares. People come from all over the region to trade and sell goods. If it isn’t here, you probably won’t be able to get it anywhere. Managed to buy a few things for nieces and children of friends.
Later popped into the Everest Bakery (the bakeries in Namche are excellent) and thought Mark Unsworth would be excited that even there they have a Manchester United fan photo.
During the afternoon we went to one of the local bars for a free film showing. It was Sherpas: True Heroes of Everest. A great documentary on how basically no one would ever make it to the summit of Everest without the Sherpas who go up in advance and lay down the ladders, set up the camps etc.
In relation to the issue John Stringer raised, I don’t think a five year ban of climbing Everest would benefit the Sherpas. In fact some years ago the Nepalese Government did try and restrict the number of expeditions up Everest, and it was the Sherpas who complained that it left so many of them without income.
Also worth noting that even if Nepal tries to ban expeditions, then China can still allow them from the Tibet side – and again this is exactly what did happen when Nepal did restrict them – everyone just started climbing from Tibet.
The best thing that can be done for the Sherpa guides and porters is to place pressure of climbing companies to pay good wages, to have a strong focus on safety and to make sure all Sherpas are insured against accidents or death, so their families are looked after. You can’t however make Mt Everest a non-dangerous mountain.
Our guide had his 24th birthday today, so we arranged a surprise birthday cake, and the assistant guides made up some drinks which were a combination of whiskey, coke and orange juice. We had a very fun night celebrating.
We’d had a drink or two at the bar earlier , then the drinks over dinner, and then hit another bar after dinner. Was a very good night, and suffice to say that when I had a headache the next morning – for once it wasn’t altitude sickness.
Also very funny was just after we crashed, I heard my room mate’s phone suddenly say in an American female accent “What can I help you with”. This set us both off with a fit of giggles and laughter that could be heard several rooms down.
Was great to have a relaxing recovery day. Much needed. Two more days of trekking to go.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Mt Everest, Nepal
We stayed overnight at Orsho. It isn’t on most maps as it basically consists of one sole teahouse. However it was one of the best places we stayed at. The dining room was upstairs so we got a great view of the landscape, and also all the people going past.
This is the view looking up, from Orsho. Magnificent.
As we were preparing to leave this man rode past on his horse.
Our route ahead, along the valley on the path on the right.
Once again we had a couple of dogs follow us. But this time they were less endearing. On a narrow path, they were darting in and out around our legs and you had to be careful not to trip on them. But worse, yaks will often attack dogs and so what happened is that when yaks turned up, the dogs hid behind us. That had the potential to end badly for us!
At this stage we’re dropping below 4,000 metres but still lots of snow covered peaks.
The view as we pas through Pheriche.
It was a long day trekking. We covered 15 to 20 kms.
You can see Tengboche in the distance, with peaks behind it.
The remains of a bridge that collapsed. I think they tried three times to have a bridge here but it kept collapsing on the far side due to the unstable rock. Finally they did an alternate bridge down at river level.
Getting back into walking through bush and trees.
We got to Tengboche for morning tea. You can see the famous Buddhist monastery.
Inside the monastery.
The front entrance of the monastery.
The Nepalese porters carry incredible loads. Those working for trekking companies have weight limits of 24 to 30 kgs. Each porter tend to carry two bags or packs. But the independent porters have been known to carry loads of over 100 kgs, as they get paid per kg. Here is the load being carried by a porter up a 600 metre vertical ascent hill.
The path down from Tengboche to the river was one of the few parts I really did not enjoy. It was hot, dusty and a rocky surface.
At the bottom we had a bridge to cross. As you can see you really want to let the yaks get off the bridge first, rather than try and squeeze past them!
Then we had a 400 or so metre ascent, but this was actually more pleasant than the downhill.
You can see here the path we took down from Tengboche.
Readers with good memories may recall this from Day 4. This is where we diverted from the main Base Camp route to go up to Gyoko. So the loop was now complete.
We had a late lunch (2 pm) at Khumjung. Pretty hungry as had been trekking since 7.30 am. This crow decided to help itself to some of the leftovers. What happened next was hilarious. Another crow flew down next to this one, keen to share in the food. This crow then made a sound which everyone one of us heard as “Fuck Off” and the other crow flew away. We were in near hysterics at this.
Then around an hour to Namche Bazaar. Despite being a mainly downhill day, was a reasonably tiring one. We got in around 3.30 pm, so were on the trek for around eight hours.
Tomorrow is a rest day at Namche, and then two more days of trekking back to Lukla.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Mt Everest, Nepal
I thought this marathon might be of interest to Matthew Hooton as he couldn’t make the Southern Lakes Half Marathon last month. He’s a great lover of the region and it raises a lot of money for charity so I look forward to viewing his registration.
The course is incredibly nasty. Apart from the cold, it has lots of rocks and uphill. The fastest time last year for a non Nepali was a bit over six hours!
As we headed down from Gorak Shep, we again saw the glacier.
I had a small fall on the way to Lobouche, where we had morning tea. I was okay, but as you can see one of my drink bottles did not fare so well. It’s quite annoying as it now only holds around 700 ml instead of a litre!
We’re walking alone the narrow trail, with the valley stretching below us.
Then you end up in the valley itself which is much easier trekking.
There is an area with scores of memorials to fallen climbers. This one is for Scott Fischer who was a famous guide and mountaineer who died in the May 1996 disaster.
You can see many of the other memorials lined up.
Then it’s more narrow trails to descend on, but with great views to look at.
Then we hit more wonderful valley walking with peaks in the background.
A baby yak. So cute.
We descend almost 1,000 metres over the day.
Two huge landslides as a reminder of the instability of the region.
We spent the night at Orsho, which is very small and not on most maps. Will blog more on that tomorrow.
Spent around six hours trekking today, but much more relaxing as it was mainly flat or downhill, and the wide valley sections are so easy. Just what we needed to recover from a pretty tiring previous day.
Despite the descent I still had a very mild headache from the altitude sickness, but almost inconsequential compared to previous days.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Mt Everest, Nepal
Today (Wednesday in real time) is the day we head up to Base Camp.
Another early start. Up at 4.45 am and away by 6 am as we have to trek to Gorak Shep, have a wee break there, then go to Base Camp and back to Gorak Shep. It was good to get away early as we avoided most of the crowds going from Lobouche.
Those peaks in the distance are where Everest Base Camp is.
If you look at a map of the area and see a reference to a pyramid, well this is it. Part of some Italian research facility.
Those peaks again getting closer. I could stare at them all day. In fact I did!
One of several memorials to dead climbers we passed.
A great shot of this peak with the sun rising behind it.
On a very narrow part of the track, some yaks came down as we were going up. Their horns got rather too close for comfort!
I like this photo of the shadows of the eight of us trekking along. There were five Kiwis from Wellington in our group, and we had three Nepalese guides.
Remember that dog from yesterday? Well him and a mate decided to follow us today. The two of them trotted along with us all the way to Gorak Shep, presumably hoping we would feed them. They never pestered us and were quite lovely, but the guides joked that if you gave them even one bit of food they’d then follow you all the way back to Lukla!
You can see the famous Khumbu glacier that stretches down from Mt Everest.
A fairly unsturdy bridge.
Gorak Shep ahead. The tea house we will stay at bills itself at the highest in the world at 5,180 metres above sea level.
Apart from yaks and mules, they even have horses here.
After a one hour break, we carried onto towards Everest Base Camp. A very rare directional sign. This is not like NZ tracks with marker signs everywhere. It would be very easy to get lost here without a guide.
This is actually the site of the original Everest Base Camp that Hillary and co used. I’m not sure when they swapped sites but it was many years ago.
Another cool shot of part of the glacier.
Recall the advice that you should always be between a yak and the wall, not the cliff. Well on this section it was cliffs on both sides so we just moved a bit off the track for them. During the morning we saw well over 100 yaks move a huge amount of gear to Base Camp for teams planning to attempt the summit.
And that is Mt Everest in the background. The best view of it is around an hour before Base Camp.
You can’t really see it from here but that is Base Camp to the left of the glacier.
Another shot of Everest.
Now you can start to see the tents at Base Camp.
A close up of some of the glacier.
And we are at Base Camp. It is considered very rude to go beyond this point and wander around the tents without an invitation.
You can see most of the Base Camp tents next to the glacier.
Me at Base Camp. A long 11 days to get here.
Posing with Mark Russell from Ideas Shop (you can see their logo on my borrowed hat if you look very closely). Mark organised the trip and did a great job making it all happen. He has been a great companion (along with K, H and J) despite our slight variation in political preferences!
And no he did not trek in that shirt – put it on just for the photo!
Mark Inglis commented on an earlier post that while Base Camp is (sort of) the end for us, it is only the beginning for those who are going on to ascend the summit like he has done. The ledge above is the initial climb for those going up to Base Camp 2.
At times during the trek I flirted with the idea of how amazing it would be to actually try and ascend the summit one day, after a few years of training. However during the trek I was also reading “Into Thin Air” on my Kindle, which is the first hand story of the very sad 1996 expedition/s which saw 12 people lose their lives, including Rob Hall. It’s an amazing and captivating book.
Of course two days after we were here, the avalanche occurred near Camp 1 (not Base Camp) which was another sobering reminder of how dangerous the mountain is – not just up in the death zone above 8,000 metres.
On the way back we passed through this rockslide area, and just as we entered it there was a very minor rockslide. Small rocks, so wouldn’t have seriously hurt anyone. But it did make us move quickly through that section in case any larger rocks decided to come down.
On the way back it started to snow, which made us very grateful again for our early start. We set a fair pace going back and got to Gorak Shep again around 2 pm.
The day wasn’t as tough as the Chola Pass, but it was still reasonably challenging. Six to seven hours trekking is tiring, and most of that time was above 5,000 metres so it only took a small ascent to get out of breath.
Very satisfying to have made both the Chola Pass and Base Camp. Also I decided that I wanted this to be an Ibuprofen free day so didn’t take any pain killers for the headaches. There were a couple of times when I regretted this, but overall they were not too bad, and less severe than when ascending to Gyoko. So you do acclimatise – but different people at different rates.
Tomorrow sees the start of the descent. That doesn’t mean all downhills though – a mixture of up and down – but with more down than up. We hope to be back at Namche Bazaar in two days.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Mt Everest, Nepal
As I had mentioned the afternoons, evenings and nights can get bitterly cold. Ironically you tend to be less cold outdoors when trekking as the activity warms you up, and also you may have sun on you.
Most tea houses have a burner like this. They don’t use wood though, buy yak dung. Yaks are very valuable – in fact a yak costs more (US$200 to US$900) than the average annual income! The burners hep heat the common areas up a fair bit but they often don’t start them up until 5 pm or so.
The guidelines for the trek said you sleeping bag should be good for -10 degrees. Mine is rated for +2 degrees only so I purchased a thermal liner which adds 11 degrees on which would mean I should be good for -9 degrees or so.
However when we got here the guides said you really want something that can handle -20 degrees so at Namche I hired this huge sleeping bag for 12 days. A very good investment as it only cost $2 a day and it really did make a difference.
This is it rolled out. It definitely did the job keeping me warm. However I still found I needed the thermal liner and slept with icebreaker leggings and top plus socks and hat.
We got underway around 8.30 am and this is the local peak by Dzongla.
Most of the day was a narrow slightly ascending path. It was largely snow covered and slippery in parts. Unlike yesterday when a slip would mean a fun slide down a snow bank for 20 metres, here a slip would mean a 100 to 200 metre slide down snow and rocks. Best to be avoided.
We had morning tea here this amazing view of peaks in the distance.
These tents belonged to a group of climbers who were ascending the nearby Lobouche peak. We could see them in the distance making slow but steady progress.
We then rejoined the main trail up to Everest Base Camp, which is much wider than the narrow paths we had been on.
And here’s Lobouche. Height around 4,920 metres.
Have to love the energy efficiency. Why waste good heat!
In the afternoon we did a quick 40 minute climb up a hill. This dog decided to come with us.
Our destination tomorrow. Everest Base Camp is at the foot of those peaks.
Very exciting to now be just one day away from Base Camp. Was also good to have a more relaxing day than yesterday!Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Mt Everest, Nepal
Today was the hardest day but also the most magnificent. Before I touch on Day 9, I must mention the incredible conversation we had last night with the lodge owner at Tangnag. He has climbed to the summit of Mt Everest no less than seven times. He is on a “holiday” from climbing as he has an 11 month old baby. Was great to be able to chat to him about what it was like to climb Everest, and to help others get there.
Our guides has warned us today would be an early start but had refused to tell us exactly what that meant until the evening before. It turns out it means 4 am. Well up at 4 am, breakfast at 4.30 am, and out at 5 am.
This is me in my full gear at 4.30 am. On the legs I had icebreaker thermal leggings, Kathmandu trousers and waterproof over-trousers on top of that.
The core was an Icebreaker base, then an Icebreaker 200 top and then a Merino 320 top and on top of that a down jacket.
On the head, was a beanie, a balaclava, the hood from the Merino 320 and the hood from the jacket.
I think you get the idea it was rather cold!
A view of Tangnag as we climb above it.
The first two hours is a moderate uphill trek. This is the view looking back.
This is from the top of the first section.
Next one has to climb over these rocks to the Chola Pass ascent which you can see in the back.
We’re now on the beginning of the steep ascent. One group camped out here!
This is the climb up. It took around two hours and it was fucking hard. The top of the pass is 5360 metres so the atmosphere is around 37% only. As you ascend, you get out of breath really quickly. I sounded like I was auditioning for the part of Darth Vader in Star Wars. Also add to that, much of the track was covered in slippery snow. Also for good measure had my usual headache but remarkably not as bad as yesterday.
The climb is around 500 metres and you just take it 50 metres at a time.
Finally made it! The view ahead from the top of the pass.
This is the view back down from the top. At this height we are slightly higher than Everest Base Camp.
After a break the trek down starts. We spent around 45 minutes trekking through snow. At times on a very narrow path. I almost slid the the slope at one stage. The climb back up would not have been fun!
The ice axe got used a few times on patches where it was too slippery.
Some nice snow ledges.
The rest of the descent down and then trek along the flat to Dzongla.
On three occasions we had to use ropes to help the descent as it was so icy. If anyone from Southern Cross Insurance is reading this please note this technically was not mountain climbing, as that is of course excluded from my travel insurance coverage
We had lunch as this spot halfway down. Photos can not capture the amazing panorama views of snow covered mountains on all sides as you sit on the rocks and have chapati and a boiled egg! Oh yeah, I’ve been vegetarian for a week now!
When there is food, there will be a bird wanting some! He looks like an extra from The Omen.
The final stretch. It started to snow lightly for the last 90 minutes – the first time we had been caught out in the snow.
And Dzongla ahead.
For the last 10 minutes it started to snow more heavily so we got here just in time. You can see the poor bird in the snow.
A really hard but great day. The views were amazing. Going through a valley with snow covered peaks on all sides.
We didn’t know this before we crossed the Chola pass, but the main guide said we were the 13th group he had taken across it and we were the first group he had guided to have every party member successfully make it. Every other group had one or more people unable to complete it, or even get helicoptered out. So that was a pretty good achievement.
We’re now two days off Everest Base Camp, all things going well. The height here is around 4860 metres which is the highest we’ve been overnight.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Mt Everest, Nepal
The view from just above Gokyo this morning.
Today starts with a wee climb up this snow covered hill.
The third Gyoko lake from above, as we leave.
Gyoko covered with snow. Yes again it snowed yesterday afternoon and evening.
Once we get over the hill we are into quite different landscape. A valley of rocky piles.
I joked to my companions that this is Gerry Brownlee’s plans for our national parks
More seriously it is like one huge quarry. Totally natural, but mounds of rocks everywhere. Hard to walk over, but quite special.
The odd rock with a different colour. The rocks piled up on top are placed there by people wanting good luck. You see such rock towers literally everywhere.
Then we head to the far side where we have a 40 minute trek through what they call the rockslide danger area. Obviously made it through okay!
Sadly around this stage, my headaches returned. I though two days in Gyoko had got rid of them. Slightly disturbingly we actually end up 100 metres lower tonight, so not a great sign for tomorrow when we have to climb 650 metres over the Chola Pass. That could be rather painful. All I’ll say is praise be to the drug company that invented Ibuprofen. It doesn’t eliminate the headaches, but does make them more manageable.
The worry is it could develop into the more serious forms of altitude sickness such as HACE but I think the risk is minimal. I don’t have any other symptoms such as nausea, fatigue or loss of appetite (far from it!). Also while by blood oxygen level had dropped to 81% the first night in Gyoko, it was back up to 86% the second night.
A view of where we had passed through once we cleared the top.
Then it is far more standard ground and the yaks are a good sign of civilisation ahead.
And we get to Tangnag, at the start of the Chola Pass. Altitude is 4,700 metres. Tomorrow will be a very early start as we’ll have eight hours or so of trekking.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Mt Everest, Nepal
It’s freezing cold and 4.45 am in the morning. The water in fact has frozen inside your water bottle (which is in your room). So what do we do? Set off at 5.00 am to hike up Gokyo-Ri to get a good view of the sunrise!
A view from around 100 metres up.
And then at around 150 metres the sun started to show itself behind the mountains.
A close up of the first rays hitting the peaks.
We stopped at around 250 metres which took us to 5,050 metres above sea level. Amazing feeling to be more than 5 kms high and not in a plane! The pressure is below 50% here and breathing is quite hard as we ascended.
Just to prove I was there.
A couple of hardy ducks down below.
A man made bridge/dam to cross the lake. You really really do not want to get your boots wet as even dry the toes were freezing.
A new lodge is being built. There is no machinery. Three Nepalese chisel the stones by hand. They work in sun and snow. A very tough job.
And this is where one of them sleeps at night. Again, very tough. Assuming they are part of the family that will own the lodge, it will eventually massively boost their income. A lodge can generate more income in a week than the average Nepali earns in a year.
Today is the last day in Gokyo. Tomorrow we have to decide whether to take the Chola Pass for three days over to Lobouche. It’s been snowing again today so it may be a marginal call.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Mt Everest, Nepal