**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.**
At some point during the evening the music stopped and things in Kathmandu settled into a comfortable silence. I know this because I was awake for much of the night. I think it was a mix of jet lag, sweating and not being able to turn off my mind. With turning 29 and having a scheduled power outage (thus no power for our alarm clock to catch an early flight), and being concerned about flying to the “most dangerous airport in the world”…I was not able to sleep.
Regardless of my worry, we woke up just fine, at a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, with a side of sweet ‘n’ sour hash browns. We at on our hotel’s terrace overlooking the stacked buildings, swooping birds and trees and flowers of all kinds. They all neatly fit together in a multi-coloured hodge podge. It’s hard to tell which buildings existed first.
After breakfast we were taken by our driver back to the airport to the domestic section to catch our flight to Lukla. He let us off at this random gate with the advice to just “go down there and you will see line.” …So we got out, walked outside on this rough trail, past a random monkey, and tons of people (none whom looked like they were flying anywhere), towards a run-down building. Now, the flight on a dinky plane to the “most dangerous airport in the world” was worrisome enough… but now this, a very dilapidated building, added to my concern.
We pushed past the crowds and into what appeared to be the Nepalese airport version of the New York Stock Exchange. There were tourists, locals, backpacks, crates of resources, and it was all happening very loudly in every chaotic direction. We both kind of laughed and then dove into the craziness and headed toward the “flight counter” that said “Lukla.” We moved around the desk trying to squeeze in amongst the others. Eventually we were given tickets and told to go to our gate. So we went through some pretty relaxed security and passed through these curtains. All of a sudden it was like we’d entered another world. There were regular airport seats and large windows facing the tarmac. It all seemed so relaxed and civilized in comparison.
We met up with the father-son duo we’d met the previous day and we all revelled in the check-in “process” we’d just been through. No sooner had we arrived than we were rushed out for our flight. When we checked the time it was barely 8:30 a.m., and yet our flight was scheduled for 9:20. As it turns out, there are no “real” flight times. They’re merely “suggestions.” What really happens is that when enough people check in, they go. So apparently they were ready.
Our small gaggle of passengers were taken by bus to our tiny plane. We loaded the 18-seater where we held our bags on our laps. We also could see the entire cockpit. It was both interesting and unnerving.
We took off with the engine humming in our ears. We were offered cotton balls and candies to help adjust to the sound and cabin pressure. The mountainous terrain was quite stunning as we soared quite closely to it. Our fellow plane companions were practically on the edges of their seats as they snapped photos and filmed the journey. You could sense the excitement and anticipation, thick amongst the gore-tex-clad trekkers.
As we began our descent, I decided not to look up due to the fact that we were about to land on a 420m runway that ends directly at a brick wall.
My fears were allayed when we landed smoothly on this mountainside “airport.” We hopped out and our guide was there with a sign all ready to go. We walked through the village of Lukla with only a brief stop to go to the toilet and for the locals to record our trekking passes.
After that we were on our way. Our guide (who, by the way doesn’t speak a word of english and who is probably only 18 years old) carried my pack which made things pretty easy for me. It was hard to take in all the incredible scenery around me while simultaneously trying not to step in animal dung.
Nevertheless, our rocky path led us through some truly magnificent views of the Himalayas. It seems to be layers of lush green grass, trees, bushes, all nestled into the mountains, with some homes and monasteries scattered throughout. Birds were chirping, the bells of the herds of cattle and donkeys were clanging.
We passed dozens of Buddhist prayer wheels where trekkers and sherpas all took turns spinning them, listening to the chiming bells, as they hoped for protection, peace and prosperity.
We paused briefly here and there along the trail to catch our breath, drink water and eat copious amounts of trail mix.
The morning was perfectly overcast with a fairly warm breeze and just a sprinkling of rain. We stopped more officially around 12:00 or so, after we’d been hiking for 3-3.5 hours. We settled in at the Shangri-La Guest House where we we warmed up with a bowl of fresh, hot soup. We rested and chatted with fellow trekkers, just enjoying the afternoon.
As we sat, we realized the rain had picked up, and instead of a light mist, it was legitimately pouring. So it was in that moment that we chose to settle there for the rest of the day. This is vacation, after all. So we sat in a room by a pot of charcoal staying warm, eating snacks and generally chatting the afternoon away to the sound of the pitter patter of raindrops. It was absolutely lovely and relaxing.
Read more about our trip to Nepal…
Nepal: Day 1
Nepal: Day 3
Nepal: Day 4
Nepal: Days 5-7
Nepal: Day 8