Teahouse Trekking: Advice for Travellers

My favourite moment of the trekking day
Is to be woken each morning the Sherpa way
A smiling guide brings up hot tea in bed
The reason for this is to check we’re not dead.
Don’t laugh! Altitude sickness can kill you, you know
So take their advice and do everything slow.
If you do what they say, you’ll be on top form
So always remember to keep your head warm.
Even at night you must keep your hat on in bed
To prevent waking up with a pounding head.

Each teahouse we stay in has a story to tell
The yak dung fire has an interesting smell.
But it fulfils its function in keeping us warm
Gathering round it to chat is our nightly norm.
And talking of smells, you can guess what I mean
When I say the facilities are not always that clean.
So be sure to wear waterproof shoes on your feet
And watch out at night for the ice on the seat.
Though you’ll be lucky to find a proper Western loo
In most places a long drop will just have to do.

Plumbing is a term that doesn’t really exist.
It’s a bucket of water – you’ll get the gist.
Don’t leave the jug in the bucket though, it’s not that nice
When at night you plunge your hand in a bucket of ice.
You won’t find running water here – it freezes in the pipe
If you’re lucky there’s a bucket to wash in instead – by now you know the type.

Now the one thing you will find that’s exceptionally good
Is the standard and range of the teahouses’ food.
I think the local dishes are by far the best
You’ll even find yak and buffalo if you want a full meat fest.
Veg dhal bhat and sherpa stew for me cannot be beat,
But higher up you’re better off avoiding all the meat.
And afterwards the puddings offer interesting things to try:
The weirdest and the best of them was for sure the carrot pie.
They’ll even sell you chocolate and various salty snacks
But I suggest you check the date on them before opening the packs.

The walking day is not that hard
But the altitude makes it tough.
The wind blows the dust up everywhere
So keep your face covered with a buff.
It gets up your nose and in your hair
Into your clothes and in your eyes
Of course there’s no shower to wash it all out
But by now that’ll be no surprise.

Chong is always smiling
He likes to make us laugh
With his impression of a yak
He really is quite daft.
He urges us to “look my feet!”
When we encounter a patch of ice.
He nimbly springs from rock to rock
And is over it in a trice.

Pembo and Yuba are the strong silent type
They’ll calmly get on with their day
But if you’re in trouble they’ll be by your side
And help in their own quiet way.

Jangbu is our leader
He does his job with pride
Whatever the problem he deals with it
And takes everything in his stride.
While Jangbu can be serious
When his working day is done
He likes to meet up with his friends
And enjoy a glass or six of rum.

I suppose I should mention the point of this trip
And how it came to be
For some it wasn’t an easy ride
But we made it to EBC.
Some people had terrible stomachs
And generally felt quite rough;
Others just suffered with dust in the lungs
And the ubiquitous Khumbu cough.

Most of us had terrible colds
And altitude headaches were rife
But battling the hills when you don’t feel so great
Is all part of the trekking life.
We’ll miss the mountains when we go back home
We won’t miss the D&V
But we’ll take back memories of all the good times
From our trip to EBC.


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