18th August 2017: Moving off to Karkara Camp (Mervin Ng)
We started the day with an array of buffet delicacies at the International Breakfast in Hotel Kazzhol. I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve had but if you compare to the following days to come… I wouldn’t mind having a few more days of this. Around 9am, we left the hotel and started loading our duffels into the van before we had a pre-departure photoshoot.
After thanking the staff at Hotel Kazzhol, we departed for our 5-hour journey to our next destination – Karkara Camp. We tried not to sleep as we’re slowly gaining altitude (thinking back on the previous trip, I made the mistake and slept after a whole school term filled with countless sleepless nights. I woke up with my body struggling to adapt to the sudden shock from the lack of oxygen). Just a couple of minutes into our journey, the driver picked up our guide, Sanken, and back then little did we know how fearsome he truly is.
We stopped for lunch near a beautiful valley after about a 3-hour long drive. Really love how fresh the ingredients are from the packed lunch – the juicy tomato, the rejuvenating aroma from the fresh free-range eggs; Everything organic from dairy products to home grown vegetables, they were just perfect for our taste buds.
*Featuring Joo Ern – with the most monstrous appetite
We then continued our journey till we stopped somewhere to change vehicle. There was a group who looked like mountaineers who were all cheering and welcoming our arrival. Apparently, they were awaiting our vehicle as it was their transport home. They must be thrilled judging from the look on their faces, filled with exhaustion and desperation.
Jaw dropped, we piled up our duffels into the military grade vehicle, which we’ll soon understand why we needed it. We eagerly held our cameras in position to document the epic ride we were about to embark on. Little did we know the next 30 mins was a roller coaster ride. While we struggled to steadily film our journey, we also had to attend to the tumbling 6L bottles. We were flying left right up down — we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The rocky roads to Karkara camp, was an experience to behold.
Upon our arrival at Karkara camp, we unloaded our belongings and were immediately greeted with alluring smiles of the locals and guides from Kan Tengri Expeditions. Surrounded by lush greenery and breath-taking skylines, with pine trees at the backdrop coupled by the distinct smell and harmonious sounds from the animals, we found ourselves comfortably settled in to a beautiful farm stay, unconsciously drawn in by the capitative tranquillity. Right at the edge of the campsite was a string of 8 national flags, gracefully waving free. One of them was Singapore’s. It makes one feel proud to be out in a foreign place, stepping out of our comfort zone to scale new heights and make a name for ourselves. We’re really pumped up feeling patriotic and all, thinking of how National Day had just passed and how our families and friends are back home giving us their fullest support.
We were invited to enter their wooden lodging and inside was a huge space reserved for dining. Once we arrived at our seats at the far end of the dining room, they began serving.. Pizzas!
After our hearty meal, we began preparing our equipment before we heading over to our actual base camp site at OTC/OSM the next morning. We didn’t want to do it in the harsh conditions. As most of us have been to Dafeng’s Ice climbing trip last December, Edwin briefly gave us a refresher course whilst teaching Wenkie and Wueng Kee, who have never been on any technical climbs before.
After our preparations, we went for dinner back at the wooden lodging in the evening. It We then went back to pack up the rest of our belongings to get ready for what we came here for – OTC/OSM! Sleeping in our tents under the starry night, our minds were filled with thoughts of the thrilling climb in the days to come.
Milky way at Kakara Camp!