Like Warm Apple Pie


This blog entry about the events of Thursday, October 14, 2004 was originally posted on October 22, 2004.

DAY 362:  Like pole pole in Swahili and tranquilo in Spanish, the word for “relax” or “slow down” in Nepali is bistarai.

“Oh!  Bistarai!” I exclaimed.  “I recognize it from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.”  I explained to Tilak the scene in Nepal where Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) is in a drinking contest and shouts “Bistarai!” to everyone when surrounding Nepali gamblers thought the other guy might be the winner.  Tilak had no idea what I was talking about.

“It’s an American movie from 1981.”

“Like American Pie?  I saw American Pie.”

I chuckled.  “Uh, no, it’s not American Pie.”

Tilak and I had made way from Namche Bazar northbound and upwards on the trail towards Everest Base Camp.  The rains had passed, leaving nothing but clear skies.  I was all energized from my breakfast of Sherpa soup, a thick porridge-like meal of rice, vegetables, a mild curry and broth.

I was all excited about the landscape around me; nothing I’d seen prior matched the grandeur, the bigness of the Himalayas.  Every turn we made along the mountain path I couldn’t help but think, Wow, it’s just so big!  In the distance were three great visible peaks:  Nuptse to the left, Lhotse to the right, and in the center, Mt. Everest, which always looked shorter at this classic angle because it’s farther back. 

We continued on our way at a leisurely pace, passed stupa after stupa after stupa as a lone helicopter flew around above.  The path undulated up and down, following the nature of the landscape.  Everyone kept to his/her own pace and I kept on bumping into Nariko and her guide and members of Team Portland. 

We met a new face along the way when we stopped for a rest, another long-term traveler from Manchester, UK named Paul.  “Energy food?” he offered to me, Tilak and his own guide.

“What are these, gummi strap-ons?” I asked.

“I thought they were a bit curious.”

We walked with Manchester Paul and his guide for a bit along the trail, which went over more bridges and down a muddy and slippery path to the village of Kyangjuma, and then through the village of Sanasa.  It continued through a mountain forest environment to a rickety wooden suspension bridge across the Dudh Kosi River, whose source creeks provided drinking water for me and my purification bottle.  In the village of Phunki Thanga, we stopped for lunch and I had another Sherpa staple, rara noodle soup, known more commonly in the West (particularly in college apartments) as ramen noodles. 

An Australian was on his way down when we proceeded uphill after lunch.  “You’ve got a steady two hour slog [ahead],” he told us.

The slog was uphill; hard, but not impossible.  Tilak and I trekked at a casual pace as it snowed in the distance, staying clear of the yaks coming down, keeping to the inner part of the trail so as not to be accidentally knocked down over the cliff.  The yaks, even with their pointy horns were pretty benign and the only thing really to lookout for was the many piles of yak dung along the trail — some still steaming fresh like warm apple pie.

Six hours after leaving Namche Bazar that morning, we finally arrived at our goal of the day, the village of Tengboche at 3860m. ASL.  We checked into the Trekker’s Lodge — with its view of Thamserku behind, a great sight around sundown — using the reservation that Nariko’s guide had made for us since they were about half an hour ahead of us.  The reservation turned out to be necessary because that night most of the lodges in the village were full and any latecomer had to trek farther to find a place to crash elsewhere.

TENGBOCHE WASN’T JUST A STOPPING-POINT for trekkers, with its lodges, teahouses, satellite telephone booth and obligatory stupa.  It was more known for the Tengboche Monastery, one of the highest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Nepal, home for monks to pray and live.  Most of the temple was closed off for photography, but inside the ornately painted temple, four monks were meticulously painting another frame.  Around sundown, two monks blew a conch shell, signaling prayer time. 

That’s not to say monks did nothing but pray all day.  Earlier that afternoon I had seen them play volleyball against the non-monks.  Also, of their burgundy and gold attire, some of that was The North Face gear and a lot of them wore sneakers.

“You sometimes forget that monks are people too,” Manchester Paul said when he bumped into me as I sat by the monastery entry gate, writing and acclimatizing.  He had seen a young monk wearing a Manchester United shirt.

Paul and I went to check out the building labeled “BAKERY,” to see what a remote mountain town like Tengboche could bake up.  I thought maybe they’d just have loaves of bread to cater to the Westerners sick of rice and potatoes, but it turned out to be a fairly decent European-style bakery with cupcakes, chocolate eclairs, donuts and angel-wing cookies (picture above).

“Oh wow, they have apple pie!” I rejoiced.  “If I get apple pie, can you put it in the microwave?”  Behind the counter was a microwave that some poor yak probably carried up for days from Lukla.

I had my warm apple pie and a hot chocolate and sat with Manchester Paul and his new friend Maria, a solo trekker from Portugal.  We sat around and chat about the life of a trekker until the bakery, which obviously had much more of a reputation that we had thought, packed up to capacity

“It’s like McDonald’s in here,” Maria said. 

BACK AT THE TREKKER’S LODGE, I met more trekkers:  George, a Brazilian from Sao Paolo (who was excited that I knew about his home country’s Skol beer); Greg, an older guy from New Brunswick, Canada, and three other Canadians originally from Ontario but lived and worked in Saudi Arabia (even though they got all their camera gear from New York.)  Those last three Canadians were on their way down and were happy they found a place to crash for the night — even if it was out in the big open room and not in a private one — since everything else in town was full.  They filled us in on the trek ahead and told us what to expect.

“There’s a Canadian doctor at a clinic in Pheriche,” one of the girls said.  “They recommend that you take a rest day there, but we didn’t and we’re fine.”

Sundown came and most of us went back to the center of town to the sundown effect on the western peaks.  In the distance were the peaks of Nuptse, Everest and Lhotse, and Everest was the longest to be lit by the sun, proving that despite its shorter appearance, was still king of the peaks.

That night, warmth came not from a freshly-nuked piece of apple pie, but from the stove in the center of the big room — it kept us all warm through the cold night, just like The North Face did for the monks.

Next entry: Garlic Me

Previous entry: The Mysterious Yeti

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Comments for “Like Warm Apple Pie”


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/21  at  07:45 PM

  • damn, if you keep posting like this, I am never gonna get back to work!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/21  at  08:04 PM

  • tjw: i totally agree! but the show must go on! i can see the movie in my head!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/21  at  09:56 PM

  • wow, that photo is cool. it looks like lava is spewing from everest or it’s on fire. the monks are pretty cool. i didn’t think monks would be making doughnuts, those things are so unhealthy. i figure they would eat healthier.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/21  at  11:19 PM

  • alice - maybe they are just trying to kill off the tourists and don’t eat them themselves wink  haha

    Posted by Liz  on  10/22  at  04:03 AM

  • ok i just changed my desktop to the Dudh Kosi River pic in this entry…

    too many to choose from…


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/22  at  08:36 PM

  • ummmm…. pie

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/23  at  07:13 AM

  • I am so enjoying the posts from the Everest trek… Thanks whoever that the show IS going on… By the way I hope Talik is doing fine too, you mentioned in the special report that he had to be rushed down to the clinic before you.

    Oh, and we have Skol here in Malaysia now! I didn’t actually find it in the supermarket, but I read on the newspapers about the launch. I’m so thrilled to have a little taste of home in my favourite beer from Brasil!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/24  at  09:12 AM

  • LETS:  Tilak is doing well; I saw him today (10/25) for the first time since The Incident on The Everest Trail.  He’ll be back to normal soon; details to come in the coming entries…

    SKOL in Malaysia?  I’ll meet you there!  (Malaysia, early/mid December, possibly.)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/24  at  09:29 AM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Garlic Me

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The Mysterious Yeti


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