We leave Lawi Schyasa in the morning after breakfast, around 8:15 am. After an hour we reach Kyangjuma. Here the trail is wide and well-paved for a short distance. There are a few restaurants and shops and a bar near the trail. A large colorful prayer wheel is located on the trail. Jewelry and handicrafts are displayed for sale on a sheet laid out on top of a low wall next to the trail. A lonely Sherpa sits on the opposite side of the trail waiting for customers. We stop at the Mountain High Bakery & Cafe for tea. We drink tea, sitting outside on the terrace with a good view of Mount Ama Dablam.
After some time we reach a relatively flat trail going to Namche. We hear a loud boom, as if an artillery shell was set off. Ngima stops and looks around. Is it a rockfall, he wonders. No, he concludes. Perhaps the Nepalese army fired an artillery shell, he thinks.
We take a shortcut, bypassing the center of Namche Bazar and pass through a small, dusty market, built on the mountainside. Merchants, men and women, are sitting by the side of the trail, to sell their goods: food items stored in bags, baskets, and cardboard boxes kept on the ground; incense packages and small boxes and bags laid out on a sheet covering a ledge. Further down, we go past a shop, where customers are standing in line for buying 25 kg bags of rice, Sona Masoori rice. I wonder whether it is a ration shop. A couple of girls are among the customers. Each of them buys a rice-bag and effortlessly carry the bags on their back.
A short distance from the market a middle aged Sherpani and three girls come against us. The older woman has a mischievous smile on her face and says something to the girls and they all laugh. Ngima joins in the fun, and they all laugh loudly at his joke.
Now, we reach the part of the trail where the “endless steps” begin. This time we are, of course, going down hill. But the steep flights of steps give me pause. Occasionally, I hesitate on top of a flight of steps. And Ngima holds my hand to help me out. We go down the steps faster than I am able to do by myself, which makes me a bit uncomfortable. Going downhill has been tough on my feet as well. I have a big blister on my right foot.
We cross the Hillary bridge, and soon reach a relatively flat area. We stop at the Riverview Terrace Restaurant in Jorsalle for lunch around 2 pm. We had stopped here on our way up as well.
We have reached a relatively flat part of the trail. At places, the trail seems to be going through people’s front yards. At one point, I walk between two Sherpas, who are standing on either side of the trail talking. I mutter “Excuse me” as I cross them, but they don’t pay any attention to me and continue talking.
We have been walking for a long time after lunch. Rahul and Ngima as usual are way ahead of me. I see them entering a lodge by the side of the trail. I am relieved that we have reached Phakding, our destination. When I too reach the lodge, I am surprised to find that the sign in front says Toktok, not Phakding. I wonder why Ngima decided to stop early… Perhaps like yesterday, he thinks that I cannot walk the rest of the way to Phakding. In front of the door, I find a Sherpa standing with folded arms, blocking my way. I am slightly annoyed that he wouldn’t move aside and let me in. I tell him that my companions have already gone in. I am not sure that he understood what I told him. Nevertheless, he reluctantly steps aside. I go inside the lodge and look around. It is a bit dark inside, and I don’t see a single soul inside. I am confused: where did Rahul and Ngima disappear so suddenly? After a few minutes, I step outside. Now, I see Rahul and Ngima coming back on the trail, looking for me. When I explained what happened, Ngima laughs, “Altitude problem, Sir!”.
We resume walking. After a while we cross Dudh Koshi river one last time and see the familiar signs of Phakding. We reach Buddha lodge, nine hours after leaving Lawi Schyasa.
The Fitbit is again out of charge.