There were rumors of internet connectivity at the village of Zhongla. I hesitate to call it a village—more like four tea houses that are seasonally staffed to serve trekkers ascending and descending the nearby Cho La pass. We had seen it the previous day, during our hike up the ridge above LBC. It seemed to be about 45 minutes uo valley, just as our sirdar Lopsang suggested. Weather was perfect, and this was a planned rest day, so why not stretch our legs and check out Zhongla?
Beautiful walk, more or less level, that took us into new territory for me. 50 minutes after departing, we pulled into Zhongla. Our guides are friends with the owner of one tea house, and we gratefully sat down for some hot lemon water, beer, and snacks.
My main agenda was to gain wifi access and upload blog posts from the prior three days… you have probably seen them already. Getting them online took about 4.5 hours, because bandwidth is limited, but it was a nice way to spend the afternoon.
The innkeeper is a Sherpa who has climbed in the Himalayas for years, but some years ago gave that up for a more stable and lucrative life in Scotland. He still returns to Nepal seasonally to run this tea house, and enjoys it… although business this year is down about 80% vs last year.
I heard the same figure independently from another Sherpa named Lakhpa, a guide who brings trekkers up and down Cho La. He agreed that last year’s quake has had a profound impact on the tourism business here. Like most everyone I have met, he has other sources of income, particularly ornate Buddhist painting. He was trained in this art at the monastery in Lukla, near his home. He proudly showed me pictures of the edifice of the monastery in Namche, which he and a friend painted by hand during a three-week period. The detail and precision were magnificent.
After more than four hours, all the blogs had uploaded successfully (I hope), and so I prepped to walk back to LBC. No trouble route finding, and I had a radio in case of trouble. In fact, it was fun to walk alone—a rare if not unique treat during the expedition. Some weather closed in, as often happens in the afternoon here, but no worries. I jogged much of the way to keep warm, and this may have triggered a bit of a cough, but it will pass.
Tomorrow we plan to walk to EBC! So excited to make the move to our new home-away-from-home.
Word of the day: Solitude.