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Life Was Cheap

By Forest Ang

.........The situation was tensed..........

It was an awesome trip to Sikkim, India.

We were lucky to have snow. And mind you, this is the first time in my life that I touched and played with snow. Good for me.... but death for someone who was ill prepared for it.

It was a snowing day when we reached 10000 feet. I can see the brown mountain peaks being slowing showered with white snow.

We were well prepared with thick clothing. We were also given a set of jacket to put on before our departure from base camp. Our target was only 14000 feet, twice the height of Gunung Tahan.

At the campsite, the cold and strong wind made camping in the open difficult. So our guides broke the paddlock to a small store. It was a store and a kitchen. The guides and porters occupied the kitchen while we occupied the store of firewoods. We had to clean and made do with what ever space that was available. It was enough for 15 persons. Enough for 7 of us and 8 of the guides and porters.

We had warm food and cozy bed.

About 9pm, we heard a commottion outside. We peeped outside. We saw a group of hikers - some thirty of them trekked down from the top. Our guides were talking to them. We can't understand their language. And then they started to argue! It was loud!

The situation was tensed. Our guides and porters had their hands on the handle of their machetes. Ready for a fight.

It was silent....

Some moment later, the group decided to continue the journey down.

Everything was ok. The next day we continued our journey up. We started to learn that apparently there was a porter who was not well prepared for the snow. Wearing only thin clothes. And had came to seek shelter at our hut. Our guides refused to offer warmth shelter because they were trying to protect us?

We learned from other group of hikers as we were trekking down that the porter died of hypothermia on the way down.....

Life was cheap.....

Note to all hikers:

  1. If you ever go to Sikkim, please tip the porters well. The guides were well taken care by the tour operators.
  2. Be prepared. On a summer month, snow do fall.
  3. When leaving, give your thick jacket to the porter as they need it more than you need it in tropical country.

Take care!
  

1995

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