**A week ago we traveled to Nepal. The posts that you will see over the next few days are excerpts from my travel journal recounting our trip.**
Morning in Lukla is a frigid and completely uninviting affair. At this point we were freezing and chilled to the bone, hadn’t showered in 5 days, and the sound that first harkened dawn was a man horking outside my window. We hauled ourselves to breakfast, barely being able to walk. I can’t imagine what we looked like as we slowly descended the stairs. Every muscle in our bodies was crying out in extreme pain from overuse.
Around 7:30 a.m. we walked to the airport (a 3 min. walk) and realized that checking in and getting a flight out to Kathmandu was going to both test our patience and cause us to spend hours in prayer. There was no clear system to the naked eye. I mean, it’s entirely possible that the “airport staff” (and I say that loosely) felt they had a streamlined system… but it seemed quite chaotic to us outsiders.
There were cranky and cold trekkers all around us, some of whom had been trekking for a month or more. So I felt it was necessary to stay positive, having strenuously hiked for 3 days…
The “check in” line up moved from desk to desk, and the ever-growing crowd flowed back and forth dragging giant back packs across the floor. There was no real line as people pushed and shoved to get the attention of the clerk. And as they say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” So we did. We shoved our way in, trying to get on as early of a flight as possible.
You see, flights in and out of Lukla are dependant on weather. If the clouds roll in too much then the flights are cancelled. And everyday we had experienced rain and clouds around 11:00 a.m. and onwards… and our flight was “booked” (again, a loose term in Lukla) for 11:30.
As it turns out, our hotel owner has some sway and we were given boarding passes 2 hours after arriving. We were ushered through “security,” which consisted of a guy asking me if I had anything dangerous (“no”), and we found ourselves in a waiting room.
Everyone was given a pass with a number from 1-4 on it, which told us which flight we’d be on. They come when they come, so as time ticked on and clouds got lower, we continued to pray that #4 would depart soon.
Sure enough, our time came and despite the inefficiency inside the airport, unloading and loading the plane was very fast. Before we knew it, we were soaring above the Himalayas, leaving the relative chaos behind.
After a quick 35 minutes or so, we landed in sunny, warm Kathmandu. You know that perfect temperature where you’re completely comfortable in a t-shirt, there’s no real wind, and it’s just…well…perfect? Yah, that’s Kathmandu in April. It’s glorious! I never once felt cold.
Anyway, I’m jumping ahead of myself. We got back to our hotel, settled into our room and the very first thing I did was shower. And oh was it wonderful!
For the next two days our agenda looked much the same: we slept in as long as we felt like, read, shopped and ate. It was truly exactly what we needed a.) after hiking and b.) after a few very busy weeks at school.
The hotel we stayed at is directly in the heart of Thamel, which is the epicentre of all things “hippie” in Kathmandu. The streets are narrow and maze-like. Despite the constant flow of small cars, motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws, hippies, trekkers and vendors, there are still seems to be enough space for everyone if we all juggle it very carefully.
The air has a constant aroma of incense, garlic, barbecue and dust. The bright and bold fabrics of Aladdin-plants and wall-hangings contrast the muted bricked pathways and simple aluminum store fronts. Horns honk at varying levels of annoying decibels and people are constantly laughing and chatting. “Namaste” is the greeting of choice, and the only other popular word you hear on repeat is “hashish?” murmured covertly in your ear as you pass a dealer.
Our favourite part of Thamel has to be the abundance of garden/terrace restaurants. They are quirky, quaint oases tucked into every alley. Wandering down any narrow passage can lead you into a surprising sanctuary of green; trees adorned with twinkle lights, candles aglow, flags strewn from corner to corner and Nepalese art hung on the walls, accompanied by soothing music in the background. These comfortable little spots are ideal at any time of day.
Eventually after a late dinner, we’d head back to our hotel, and slowly thereafter, while lying in bed, we’d hear the steel grates of the shops closing up, and the happy holidayers following the distant sounds of the clubs, pumping out techno versions of Adele and Carly Rae Jepsen.
Read more about our trip to Nepal…
Nepal: Day 1
Nepal: Day 2
Nepal: Day 3
Nepal: Day 4
Nepal: Day 8