Sandakphu Trek – Day 3

Day 3

Sandakphu to Timburey

Starting elevation: 11,941’
Ending Elevation:  5,905’
Net Elevation Loss: 6,036’’
Distance:  8.07 miles

We arose before sunrise this morning to climb a nearby hill in hopes of getting beautiful sunrise pictures of the Himalayas.  With all of the fog we had the afternoon/evening before, I was hoping for clear weather.  We were lucky and did have a clear morning.  We scrambled up the nearby peak of Sandakphu to watch the sun come up.

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First light hitting Kangchenjunga (28,169’).

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Josh and I with our guide Mr. Binod Tamang on top of Sandakphu at sunrise.

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Another shot of Josh and I on Sandakphu. In this shot, you can see Kangchenjunga (28,169′) and the sleeping Buddha in the background. The Buddha’s head is right above Josh’s head and the body stretches out to the right.

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It was cold and windy on top.  Here’s short video of the view of the Kangchenjunga Range.

Another shot of the sleeping Buddha and the Kangchenjunga Range.

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After viewing the sunrise, we decided to do a short morning hike before breakfast.  I thought our guide had said we would hike 4km roundtrip.  I was mistaken – we ended up hiking 8km roundtrip.  Probably more than what I wanted to do before breakfast but we were blessed with some more spectacular views of surrounding peaks!

We headed down the trail.  We stopped after about 4km to turn around on a high knoll.  From here we had some nice views.  Here is a shot of Mt. Everest, highest mountain in the world at 29,029′ (peak in the middle of the photo), Makalu, 5th highest mountain in the world at 27,825′ (peak to right in the photo), and Lhotse, 4th highest mountain in the world at 27,940′ (faint peak to the left).

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A close up of Makalu.

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A close up of Makalu and Mt. Everest.  The quality is not the best on these photos.  In reality, we were still quite a distance from the peaks so I definitely lost quality in the photos the more I zoomed in.

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A shot of the “head of the Buddha” of Kangchenjunga.

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As we were hiking back to our lodge for breakfast, looking back in the direction we had hiked.

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A couple of more shots of Kangchenjunga as we headed back towards the lodge.

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Back at the lodge (Sunrise Lodge) for breakfast.

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After breakfast we packed up and headed out on our way to Timburey.  One last shot of me with Kangchenjunga in the background.

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On the trail to Timburey.

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Our lunch stop for the day.

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Waiting for our lunch to be prepared.

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Our huge lunch again – much more than we would normally eat for lunch.  We had to start telling them not to prepare so much food but I don’t think they listened!

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Continuing down the trail after lunch.

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Josh and our guide heading into the village of Timburey.

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Timburey is a very small picturesque village on the river side of Srikhola River.  We stayed at a wonderful homestay run by  Milan Tamang & Lucky Tamang .

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IMG_7094e1The building with the bedrooms

IMG_70921The building with the corn was the kitchen and eating area

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IMG_70951The small courtyard between the buildings

Some shots from inside our room.

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After arriving, we settled into our room and were provided with a bucket of hot water which we took into an outside stall to freshen up.  Dipping hot water from a bucket and pouring it over yourself never felt so good after three days on the trail (as long as you ignored the big spider in the wall in the corner)!  A picture of the “shower” stall.

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After cleaning up, I took a little walk around the village.  I guess it wasn’t so much a village but a small grouping of houses, only about eight in total.  It was very peaceful.

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Below is a wind horse prayer flag.  The wind horse is an allegory for the human soul in the shamanistic tradition of East Asia and Central Asia. In Tibetan Buddhism, it was included as the pivotal element in the center of the four animals symbolizing the cardinal directions and a symbol of the idea of well-being or good fortune.

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Below is the Avalokitesvara Mantra (Om Mani Padme Hum) painted on the wall near the stupa. Avalokiteshvara means “The Lord Who Looks Down (in compassion)”.

A mantra is a sequence of words or syllables that are chanted, usually repetitively, as part of Buddhist practice. The function of a mantra is understood differently by the several schools of Buddhism, but at its most basic level, the chanting of a mantra is thought to evoke enlightenment. Sometimes mantras are used as a form of meditation

Tibetan Buddhists believe that saying the mantra (prayer), Om Mani Padme Hum out loud or silently to oneself, invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. Viewing the written form of the mantra is said to have the same effect. It is often carved into stones, and placed where people can see them.

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I took a walk down to the Srikhola River where there was a small cascade.

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We later went over to the kitchen where we sat around the stove and watched them prepare dinner.

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Our homestay host preparing Tongba, a Nepali millet based alcoholic beverage.  Tongba actually is the cup which holds the fermented alcoholic beverage known as Jaand. Jaand is prepared by cooking and fermenting whole grain millet. The cooked millet is cooled and mixed with murcha (which is a source of molds, bacteria and yeast). Then the mass is collected and placed in a woven bamboo basket lined with green leaves or plastic, covered with a thick fold of cloth and allowed to remain in a warm place for 1–2 days depending upon the temperature. The sweet mass is then packed tightly into an earthenware pot or plastic jars and the opening is usually sealed off to prevent air from entering. After 7–15 days also depending upon the temperature, the fermentation is complete and the mass is converted to jaand.

Jaand is consumed in a unique way: the fermented millet is put in a container, also traditionally called a Tongba, and boiled water is poured in it to the brim. It is then left undisturbed for about five minutes. Once the five minutes has passed it is ready to drink. A fine bamboo straw with a blind end, but perforated on the side to act as a filter, is inserted into the container to suck out the warm water and alcohol from the millet grains. More hot water is added as the tongba becomes dry, and the process is repeated until the alcohol is exhausted.

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Josh and I enjoying the tongba.

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Next was our cooking lesson.  The host had us help prepare the momos we were going to be having for dinner. Momos are a type of dumpling native to Nepal.  A simple white-flour-and-water dough is generally preferred to make the outer momo covering. Traditionally, momo is prepared with ground/minced meat filling, but these days, momo is prepared with virtually any combination of ground meat, vegetables, or paneer cheese.  I’m not sure what the filling was in the momos we had, but they were good.  Just as we were to begin preparing the momos, the electricity went out and we had to make them by candlelight.

Our host rolled out the dough into small, flat pieces.  We then took them, put a spoonful of the filling in, folded the sides up and pinched the dough together to form the dumpling and placed into the steamer pan.  There was a specific technique for pinching the dough together.  Mine didn’t look all that great.  Josh seemed to have the technique down better than I did.  Every time he made one, our host looked at it and said “very good”.  I never received that praise from her!

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It is not uncommon for the electricity to go out here.  We were told that the electricity is generated by a self-made water turbine which is in the local Srikhola River.  Depending on the flow of the river, if it is not strong enough, not enough electricity is able to be generated.  They had an ample supply of candles available and we finished out the evening by candlelight.

We also tried an alcoholic drink called Raksi.  Raksi is a traditional distilled alcoholic beverage in Nepal and Tibet. It is usually made from kodo millet (kodo) or rice; different grains produce different flavors. It is a strong drink, clear like vodka or gin, tasting somewhat like Japanese sake.

After our momos, tongba, and raksi, it was time to call it a night!  We slept well for sure!

 

10 thoughts on “Sandakphu Trek – Day 3

    • Josh, yes it truly was quite an adventure! India had been on my bucket list for years so I was glad I finally got to make the trip. Traveling with my son was great – I was so glad we were able to make the trip together!

  1. A fantastic three days trekking. You got some wonderful views. Makalu was visible from Everest when I visited that area of the Himalayas but we never got to see Kanchenjunga – too far away and blocked by other mountains. The memories of this trip will, I am sure, stay in your memory for a very long time.

    • Yes, my son and I certainly made some memories. Kanchenjunga was amazing. Wish we would have been closer to Everest but was glad we were at least able to see it.

      • The Everest trails are very popular and busy – I guess it was a lot quieter where you were and there are benefits in having the views to yourself

    • Yes, certainly wonderful experiences. We were happy to have a clear morning to get views of the high peaks. The home stay was great – it gives a little glimpse into the life the locals lead.

  2. Hi Bob – enjoyed reading your posts about the trek. My family and I just got back from the same trek last month, also arranged through Ashmita. Great photos!

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