That thing when you’re shovelling your breakfast into your chops, unsure as to whether you’ll be flying back to Kathmandu today or if you’ll end up spending the next 24 hours trying to find some manner of entertainment in Lukla which would more than likely involve the slow annihilation of your liver. Me and Nat were okay. Our only Kathmandu related plans involved large quantities of sitting down whilst consuming prosecco but the others had flights to catch the next day. No one had told them that getting into Lukla was a weather lottery, and getting out was as easy as getting in. Shit was arriving though. Fixed wings were flying in and we were lined up for an early flight. They were also taking off from and not casually dropping off the end of the freakishly short runway into sheer cliff faced oblivion which was nice and comforting. We made our way to the terminal with the porters showing up one last time to take our bags to departures because there was a small hill involved and foreigners can’t possibly be expected to carry their own bags up a hill at 2850 metres, where we waited.
Oh for fuck’s sake, this was all too familiar. I paced and drank overpriced tea that had the strength of a small, dead kitten. Sarah decided that sacrificing potato products to the stomach gods was the way to go and chewed nervously on Pringles. We all spent a lot of time staring out of the window watching planes that weren’t ours arrive and leave and mate, that sense of relief when your aircraft finally shows up and you’re ushered out onto the tarmac to board the teeny little flying object that was to take you back to the capital. So yeah, I might not have been able to land on the world’s most dangerous runway in a fixed wing but I did get to take off from it whilst sucking on a sweet handed to me by the air hostess. I just love that they bothered with cabin crew on a plan barely big enough to fit 12 passengers.
There’s nothing like flying through the Himalayas though. It doesn’t quite seem real. It’s adventures like this that make me realise that I’m one of the luckiest motherfuckers in the world, being in a position to just quit my job and do shit like this, usually in countries where the locals can barely afford to travel to their own capital city, never mind fly overseas to a distant land with a totally different culture and way of life.
We got back to Kathmandu, realised that Nat’s bag had been left in Lukla, waited around for that to arrive with the next flight whilst she panicked that there’d be no next flight and all of her skin would fall off because her special moisturiser was in that bag, and headed back to our hotel. Not everyone could stay at the wonderful Eco Hotel, some of us were shifted to a hotel a few doors down but I didn’t care where I slept as long as I got to stand under a constant stream of hot water for 20 minutes. Oh my god. It was bliss. At least it was once we’d worked out the tap was on backwards and to get hot water you had to flick it to “cold”.
I’d be back to basic backpacking after this, I was going to enjoy having a shower that wasn’t luke warm to tepid, going onto freezing after around 4 and a half minutes. Me and Nat had been smearing ourselves with baby wipes on the trek and calling that a “proper wash,” as opposed to when we got to higher altitudes where the only washing I got was when my hand got a bit wet whilst breaking the ice in the barrel next to the toilet so I could bucket-flush it. This shower was basically what heaven must be like. Except I’d be expecting more cheesecake in heaven and probably cocktails handed to me by a Milla Jovovich lookalike as I reclined on a sunbed on a tropical beach.
Anyway. Heaven would probably involve prosecco too. Me and Nat had already found Bamboo Club, a lovely little restaurant that flogged the fizzy stuff and we’d already decided we’d be pouring it liberally into our faceholes upon our return whether we made it to EBC or not. Nia and Sarah joined us too and we decided that obviously the best thing to do after consuming booze would be to locate and purchase a scarf and a poster of the Everest mountain range for Sin-Mei given that it was her who went though the stress of organising these strangers into a group to trek up a massive fucking hill in the freezing cold. No mean feat. I couldn’t have done it. I have enough trouble coordinating myself, never mind a bunch of other humans.
The whole experience though. It was incredible. We were going to go it alone, just the two of us and a porter/guide who we’d find in Lukla. But having Birenda, the owner of Adventure Club, sort out all our shit for us, not having to stress about what to do when our flights were cancelled, having someone to negotiate a chopper for us, get us to where we needed to be when we needed to be there. And let’s face it. Twelve days just the two of us? We’d have fucking killed each other before we got to Dingboche.
I’ve used a few of Nat’s photos for this post on account of the fact, and I’ve no idea why, I didn’t take any at the airport, plane, or when we were hanging out in Kathmandu afterwards. She’s asked me to mention her Instagram account in the hope it’ll get her more followers. I’ve told her no fucker reads this blog but hey. If you ARE reading this then maybe click here and follow @postmannat82. Hope you like dog photos.