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Mmm mmm momos

While in Nepal and Tibet, I made it my mission to eat as many delicious momos as possible. Momos are steamed or fried dough parcels containing minced meat and/or veg and are served with a chili sauce. We don’t have a first-hand recipe but here’s an outline of how to make your own. We’ll be trying this out as soon as we have a kitchen to cook in!

Ingredients*
To make the dough:
500g plain white flour
add just enough water to make a sticky but smooth dough

For the filling:
250gm minced meat (chicken, beef or pork)
onion
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
spring onions
half tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp salt
1 green chili, seeds removed
1 tsp garam masala (optional)
fresh coriander leaves to taste

*Quantities are approximate so you will need to experiment and use your own expertise!

Method:
– prepare the dough
– finely chop and mix all filling ingredients
– take a small ball of dough and roll out thinly into a circle of approx 6-10cm
– place a small amount of the filling in the middle
– wet the edges of the circle and fold in half, enclosing the filling
– pinch together the edges, sealing the momos tightly and making small pleats in the dough (perhaps Google for a picture so you can see what they look like)
– steam the momos for 12-15  minutes over a pot of boiling water, oil the steamer so that the momos don’t stick
– when cooked and ready to eat, the momos should be shiny and not sticky
– serve with chili or tomato sauce


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The Renjo La pass (part three of three)

Gokyo from Gokyo Ri

Gokyo was one of the prettiest places we trekked to. In the sunshine the lake is a mediterranean blue, surrounded by snow-capped peaks.  Our lodge sat close to the edge of the lake, and we enjoyed the amazing views from the sun-warmed restaurant while drinking lemon tea.  The best views were from Gokyo Ri (5,357m), from where you get a more complete view of Everest, including an incredible 360 degree panorama.  We’d planned on having a well earned rest day following our three previous eight-hour days, but the weather was so perfect we couldn’t miss the opportunity. It was definitely worth the windy and dusty two hour slog up to the top.

After climbing Gokyo Ri the only decision left was which route to take back down.  We had five days remaining which was enough time to tackle the Renjo La pass, but it was a hard ask of our legs.  The easier option would be to just head straight back down the Gokyo valley to Namche. In the end we decided to go for it as crossing the pass would take us to one of the less touristy valleys, and  the ancient trade route from Nepal into Tibet.

The day didn’t start off that well, having to traverse two frozen waterfalls over our path before we even started the climb to the pass.  We were expecting to be one of the few people crossing this less-trodden pass, but as luck would have it the 70 competitors and 100 porters of the Solukhumbu extreme marathon were crossing the pass in the opposite direction before running up Gokyo Ri on the same day.  These mad (mainly French) people were running for 18 days split into 12 stages from Jiri to EBC and back down to Lukla.  Spotting the competitors and wishing them good luck kept us entertained on the difficult and rocky climb up.  We celebrated reaching the top of the pass by eating our final two Snickers.  It was our last view of Everest.

Yak poo, a great navigational aid

The far side of the pass was beautiful with a series of lakes on the long way down.  The cloud started to set in and unfortunately we lost the trail, coming down into the valley too high up.  We followed the river down but were starting to get worried about finding accommodation for that night.  A helpful nomadic yak shepherd led us up to the right path for Lumde, and we were glad to stagger in to the welcome warmth of the lodge just as it was getting dark. Our expected six hour trek had instead lasted a gruelling and freezing cold nine hours.

The next day we started out refreshed knowing that Thame, our next stop, was an easy three hours walk away. Our going was slow as the previous day’s walk had aggravated Lou’s left ankle, but luckily the track was straightforward and more importantly, downwards! After the most intensive walking we’d ever done (from Labouche to over the Renjo La pass), the return trek to Namche and then on to Lukla was a piece of cake. We welcomed the reappearance of trees and the beauty of the lower alpine tracks. We made it to Lukla in four easy days, one day ahead of our flight back to Kathmandu.

All the way through our trek, we’d kept an anxious ear open for news on the flight situation in Lukla. Due to the unreliable weather at Lukla, the airport is frequently closed for days at a time. We had seats on a confirmed flight on 25 November but after spending two hours at the airport and watching the cloud roll in, it was very clear that we were joining the ranks of the other poor souls whose flights had been cancelled. Lukla is quite a dismal place when trapped but we bumped into our American friends again and kept our spirits up with yak cheese pizza and the local brew, chang.  We finally flew out of Lukla on 27 November, after camping out in the airline office for all the previous day. Our quiet persistence paid off and we jumped the queue to make it on the third flight of the day. Our relief at finally leaving was mingled with anxiety over the very short runway and so with crossed fingers, and our hearts in our mouths, the pilot released the brakes, gunned the engines and we were off! Once in the air, we just had to sit back and enjoy our last views of the Himalayas.

Happy trekking memories

To sum up our trekking experience, it really was epic and something we will remember for the rest of our lives. Previously I had only gone for day walks, without a pack, so this was at an entirely different level but something Jon and I will make efforts to include in the rest of our trip and also into our lives once we settle back home. It’s amazing what you can achieve by simply putting one foot in front of another. For all of you reading this from the comforts of your sofas, we recommend you get out and do some trekking!





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Happy birthday Jon

It’s become our custom to post birthday shout-outs and this one is for my gorgeous, beardy husband Jon! Happy Birthday darling, I love you. We’ve written this in advance as we’re actually in Tibet for Jon’s birthday, leaving on Saturday 4 Dec and we’re not sure whether we’ll be able to find any internet access. We’ll try and do something special to celebrate and tell you all about it when we’re back in Kathmandu (about 15 December). Hopefully we’ll be able to ring our families somehow or other – we’ll try our hardest. Comment if you also want to wish Jon a happy birthday 🙂

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To the top (part two of three)

One marker pen later, and we were at 'EBC'

After a cold night in the Dughla lodge, and the start of taking Diamox pills for the altitude, we tackled the climb to Labouche a second time. The extra day’s acclimatisation had done the job and we reached Labouche at a height of 4,910m feeling well. The risks of AMS were still apparent as we passed people we’d met on the trek feeling unwell and having to descend on horseback.

After eight days of trekking it was exciting to think that we’d be reaching EBC the next day. Day nine started with a trek to Gorak Shep to drop off our bags and then we continued to EBC, reaching there in time for a packed lunch of chapatis and peanut butter. The walk took us though the glacial landscape, dusty with loose rock covering the ice below. EBC is marked just by a boulder (no tents as it’s the wrong time of the year for climbing Everest) but the truly astonishing sights are the Khumbu icefall and the close-up view of the glacier with seracs (ice pillars) and frozen pools. We spent most of our time there looking at and photographing the glacier. You can’t see Everest from the base camp and have to wait until the next day’s climb of Kala Patthar (5,550m), a mound beneath the Pumori mountain,  for the close-up view.

At the top of Kala Patthar the next day, we recovered from the steep climb to admire the views. It really felt like we were sitting centre stage surrounded by the mountains we had been walking towards for days. From the start our plan had been to move on from Gorak Shep and head over to the Gokyo lakes in the next valley via the Cho La pass. The pass was described in our trekking guide as ‘treacherous’ and is impassible in snowy conditions. The pass represented the largest uncertainty of our trek and had been the focus of many questions to the guides we met in lodges. From Gorak Shep we moved down to Dzongla to overnight at the last lodge below the pass. The lodge was packed so we had to sleep in the dorm, along with the other unfortunates and late arrivals. Despite this, we enjoyed catching up with friends we’d made on the trek and devouring two big plates of pasta!

Crossing the Cho La pass

We started early the next day to give ourselves plenty of time to tackle the pass. The pass starts in earnest with a prolonged and steep climb over boulders. As always, nimble-footed porters dressed in jeans and trainers nipped past us, making light work of the climb and their loads. The biggest test of our nerves came at the top where we had to cross a short but terrifying icy ledge, wide enough for one person only and a long drop off the edge. After tentatively crossing the ledge, and breathing a big sigh of relief, we were onto the snowy glacial track leading to the pass. A final scramble and we were at the top. There was still hard work to be done as the path down led over more boulders for a long, long way, followed by an exhausting descent to Thangnak. Our legs were ready to stop but we wanted to push on to Gokyo and the lakes so we waved goodbye to the lodges and continued on the path to Gokyo, over another eerie, rock-strewn glacier. We glimpsed the welcome sight of lodges and Gokyo two hours later. We always knew that this would be one of the toughest days but we had made it.

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Photos of Nepal added!

New photos!

We’ve uploaded some photos from our time in Nepal – from Kathmandu and from trekking in the Everest region.  Hope you enjoy looking at them.  There’s even some of Jon’s new beard!

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