Slug Life Status Report: May 2018

It's been a hell of a month!

May was definitely a month of chaos for us, with lots of changes of plans. It certainly made us grateful that the way we travel means that we're able to be totally flexible. So without further ado...

Where we've been

At the beginning of May, we were still in Kathmandu, excitedly preparing ourselves for our upcoming hike to Everest Base Camp. From there, we had a dramatic start to the hike, culminating in a helicopter ride to Lukla. The next day, our trek started properly, as we made our way to Monjo. It was an amazing day of firsts as we soaked in all the sights and sounds of the stunning countryside. Things got a little more strenuous from there. Our hike from Monjo to Namche Bazar left us with jelly legs and burning lungs, so we enjoyed a much needed 'rest' day, which included a steep hike to a hotel famed for its views of Everest - sadly, all we got to see was clouds. From Namche, we enjoyed a nice start to the day along a flat path, with stunning mountain views, before another agonising climb into Tengboche. Luckily, the reward was glorious Everest views, right from the window of our bedroom. Sadly, there was an unexpected additional reward: food poisoning! YAY! We took a surprise bonus rest day in Tengboche, and were delighted to wake to find that it had snowed overnight, and the countryside was blanketed in white. While the food poisoning was still complicating energy levels, the hike to Pheriche was wonderful. Sadly, this was where things started to take a turn - Zev got sick too, and the struggle began. Our 'rest' day hike to Dingboche, which should have been a piece of cake, nearly killed us. And no one was getting any sleep. Regardless, we decided to power on to Thukla. Sadly, it was not to be. Another rough night led to the decision to call it a day on the trek. We hiked for 10 hours in search of lower altitude, and spent a few days recovering in Namche Bazar. When it was time to leave, we spent a couple of days hiking back to the airport in Lukla. Sadly, just when we thought we were getting back to civilisation in Kathmandu, the weather gods had other plans. We spent a fraught couple of days, desperately trying to get out of town. Finally, we managed to secure the world's most expensive helicopter back to Kathmandu. After returning all our rental gear and buying some unnecessary hiking gear because it was obscenely cheap, we caught our flight to New York! We've now been in New York for just over a week, which has been a different kind of whirlwind!

Travel distances

This month we've travelled:

  • 14,425km flying (280km of those by helicopter), bringing our trip total to 29,760km
  • 0km by train (trip total 2,204km)
  • 0km driving (trip total 4,227km)
  • 95.6km walking!

Highlights

  • Kathmandu
    A true outdoor lover's mecca! I could happily have spent days wandering the alleyways shopping for gear I didn't know I needed. 
  • Our first helicopter ride!
    While it wasn't entirely planned, getting to ride in a helicopter was pretty damn cool!
  • Mountain views
    Getting to see Mt Everest, and my new favourite mountain, Ama Dablam, up close and personal while hiking
  • Snow in Tengboche!
    Since we were hiking in the middle of Summer, we weren't really anticipating any decent snowfalls, so we were super excited (especially after a spew-filled preceding 24 hours) to wake to a winter wonderland!
  • Clearing US customs and immigration in Abu Dhabi
    What a great idea! It meant that when we got to New York, we just had to pick up our bags and get a cab - no queues!
  • Getting to New York and seeing family
    After a rough time in Nepal, it was so nice to get to New York to see some familiar faces, and to get back to a country that felt more like home than anywhere we've been since we left NZ 5 months ago
  • Two broadway shows!
    Since arriving in New York we've been to see Waitress, and Book of Mormon, and both shows were great fun (but very different!).

Lowlights

  • Getting sick in Nepal
    This sucked on a number of fronts. First, it sucks being sick anywhere. Second, it sucks being sick in a remote area of a foreign country. Third, it sucks being sick at altitude. Fourth, it sucks when sickness leads you to cut short a hike that you've been looking forward to for a long time.
  • Getting stuck in Lukla
    An absolute NIGHTMARE
  • Trying to organise buying a car in the US, and having it fall through
    We haven't written a post about this yet, but we put quite a bit of time and effort into trying to buy a van once we arrived in New York. As most administrative tasks are in the US, it was pretty difficult to navigate, so we were really bummed when the seller sold it after spending 2 days dodging calls from the mechanic that we'd arranged to go and check it out... We're all sorted with a rental car now, so it's not the end of the world, but the stress involved in the whole process was not ideal!
  • Getting my debit card scammed
    This is the 3rd time we've had a card scammed since we left NZ, and it's getting ridiculous. We've just been reunited with our reissued credit cards, but this was still a pain in the ass that we really didn't need. Luckily we have plenty of ways to access funds on the road, but this is getting ridiculous.

Best accommodation

  • Hotel Bright Star, Kathmandu
    While the hotel itself was nothing special, the people who own it make it phenomenal. They helped us with everything we needed, from flights to where to eat, and it was cheap as chips. The scalding hot shower was just an added bonus.
  • Hotel Edelweiss, Pheriche
    Big, lovely warm rooms and friendly staff, with good food. What more can you ask for?
  • Hotel Khangiri, Namche Bazar
    After a rough few days and a decision to call off the hike, Hotel Khangiri was a welcome sight. Our room with a private bathroom contained power points to charge our devices (something not seen anywhere else on our hike), and the hot showers were an absolute lifesaver after over 10 days without bathing...
  • Loren and Carol's apartment, New York
    While perhaps not available to the general public, this has been by far our favourite accommodation this month! In addition to the friendly faces, the little luxuries of home, like a washing machine and a kitchen, have been a very welcome change! Being in the heart of Manhattan is a nice perk too.

Worst accommodation

  • Kala Pattar Guesthouse, Thukla
    While the accommodation itself wasn't actually too bad, we were both sick, and it was FREEZING! They were burning plastic in the fireplace, there was no power, and the toilets had no lights and also didn't flush. Life was not good.
  • Himalayan Lodge, Lukla
    We're pretty sure we ended up with the last room in the place, and as a result it smelt like paint and turpentine, and was filed with bugs. It was also right next to the toilets, where drunk guests congregated to chat throughout the night. Yippee...

Meals

I'm not even bothering to write about the meals this month! Although we've  been indulging in some cracking food since arriving in the US, all of our meals in Nepal were basically the same (fried rice, veg curry...), so it would be impossible to pick the best from the worst! We'll have more to say about the food in the US once we head off on our road trip on Tuesday!

Finances

This month has been EXPENSIVE! From unexpected helicopter flights ($250USDpp and $550USDpp respectively), plus travel insurance for hiking at altitude ($500NZD for both of us), to extending our travel insurance to cover us in the US ($700NZD for both of us), and the general increase in daily costs in the US, we've been spending a lot! We've also hired a car for 2.5 months (after realising that buying a car over here is too risky, and would take too long to organise), which is likely to set us back about $4000USD that we weren't planning on spending. All these extra costs have certainly added up, and naturally, it's impacted on how long we think we can keep travelling for. At this stage, we're set to travel up until the middle of August in the US, but then we'll definitely need to do a serious financial stock take to determine where we go from there.

Where to next?

As I mentioned, we've booked a rental car from Tuesday, and we're doing a road trip! We head to Philadelphia first, then on to Washington, DC. From there, we're driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway, before heading to Orlando to check out HARRY POTTER WORLD!!!!!!

From there, our plans get more vague, but we'll see how much we can get done between now and Zev's fishing trip in Montana in the middle of July!

Lots of love,
S & Z
xxx