Preparing for Everest..
25/06/2012 - 29/06/2012 25 °C
A new day, welcomed by sunshine we headed down for breakfast before hitting the town. We met the guy from the hotel who could arrange the Everest Base camp trek and sat with him discussing different options. He quoted us a number of different packages but wasn't very helpful so we took the information and said we'd let him know. We wandered the interlocking streets in Themal and the chaos is on another level. After wandering for a few hours we went for lunch in a lovely bar to decide which tour company to go with. We decided on the Nepalese set for lunch which was amazing! A huge lunch for 1 but perfect to share: it included rice; poppadom; pickle; dal; curried chicken; curried vegetable; yoghurt dressing with dessert of fruit salad and tea/coffee! Playing the vito game with the pros and cons of the last 2 companies we decided with the smaller company where we had met the guide - we leave on Thursday 5am. We did take some useful knowledge from the larger company regarding our visas for India as we need them before we enter...luckily he informed us!
We had dinner in our oasis garden sampling some chicken momos which Tommy has classed as his 'favourite food!'
Lots to do today gathering our insurance documents, getting passport photos and paying part of the trip. We managed to get the flights, a guide/porter, entry fees for £600 for 2 weeks - at home they were quoting £2500. How morally unfair when you see the need for money this country has!
As we become more familiar with the tracks of Themal, the chaos doesn't diminish but my appreciation of the culture grows and grows. Some sights are shockingly sad and areas look like the 18th Century.
All jobs done by lunch time again - we are so productive! We grab a Suzuki sport taxi and head up to Monkey Temple... Instantly we are surrounded by women holding young children begging. There are monkeys jumping around the place and the steps are really steep, oh well good practise for Everest!! We stroll up to the top getting a panoramic view of the city and witness complete slave labour with women carrying baskets full of rubble with a strap around their heads. The path they take consists of corrugated strips balanced on sand bags/ bricks and bamboo scaffolding and in the heat.
Market stalls are set up at the top and monkeys are everywhere. We wander into the temple where the monks are chanting. Tommy and I sit in a corner of the room and listen it is quite enchanting!
At the bottom we sit and watch 3 young boys playing a simple stone game, we give then our bottle of water and cause a little squabble about sharing. It reminded us that we want to make contacts with secondary schools here ready for next year.
We eat breakfast in the garden trying to befriend the kittens. Today is a shopping day - We confidently weave through the streets with our list of supplies needed for Everest trip with Tommy's bargaining tongue ready to go! We are shopped out by about 2pm and head for some help from Donka our guide who is in the shop. He very kindly goes in search of some XL waterproofs for Tommy and comes back with exactly what we need! Time for an early night as we need to be up at 4am!
Time to go, we head to the airport but it was quite a relief to discover the dogs aren't all dying due to their lethargic nature during the day, they are hyper all night and mental in the early hours! The route we take to the airport looks like a war zone with partial buildings and rubble everywhere. There are also a lot of locals up at about at 5am!
We wait all day watching the airport screen displaying delayed before the flights are cancelled at 1.30pm. We head back to our hotel and relax trying to get an early night as we have another early morning. We did indulge in the usual of momos and Nepalese Set - delicious!
Same as yesterday we head to the airport and meet familiar faces from the day before. The weather does not look promising and straight away we are delayed! Lukla Airport is classified as one of the worlds most dangerous airports due to the air pressure over the mountains, the short runway which was created by blowing up part of the mountain but the runway is on an incline to land to help slow the small planes which also gives speed to help take off! We finally get news that they have opened the airport and we are to fly! Time for the nerves to kick in. We bustle out to the plane and watch our luggage get loaded into the nose and around the seats inside the 22seater plane. Tommy pushed his way to the front to ensure we were right behind the pilot! We squeezed on and got the all clear to go. The view was amazing leaving Kathmandu behind and seeing the Himalayas growing. The flight was smooth but my nerves were still growing about the landing due to Tommy's horror stories! As we watch the Sat Nav get closer and closer to landing the cloud cover thickened. We attempted 3 times to land, visibility must be clear as there are rocks jutting up before the runway, the flight was terminated and we had to turn around and head back to Kathmandu - absolutely gutted, we saw the run way but the clouds meant our angle was completely wrong. As we neared Kathmandu airport the urban sprawl offered a sad and neglected view, with half demolished buildings in every eye line! The surroundings offer such beauty but the towns don't match that in any way! We head home with fingers crossed we will fly tomorrow!