Published: August 8th 2008July 30th 2008
So we arrived in Kathmandu safe and sound. As we made our descent David looked out the window and said 'are we crashing or landing'! The plane merely skirts over the tree and rice covered peaks surrounding Kathmandu. Lots of steep banking and nose diving sees you touching down all rather quickly but at least safely - perhaps this a landing I wouldn't want to do in a storm!!
So we had a quick walk out in the evening and visited the Rum Doodle Bar, home of the yeti inscribed footprint bar. This is one of the many places (but perhaps the most famous) that everyone comes back to post trek or climb. The likes of Hilary, Bonnington and Hall - to name but a few - have added their signatures to the footprints. It oozes atmosphere and must be electric to the tales at the height of the season. Outside it was raining quiet heavily which is the pattern here, warm sunny days and rain in the evening.
Next day saw us walking down to Durbar Square and we avoided the 200 nepalese rupee charge - don't ask me how but we did. Kathmandu is a maze of narrow little streets, where shops rub shoulders with homes, temples and prayer wheels. Everywhere is bubbling with human activity and cattle, goats, dogs all mingle into day to day life. Every shrine and every temple is alive with flowers, incense and offerings. Medieval carvings cling onto doorways, windows and balcolnies all looking down onto the bustling life below. It is magical.
Durbar Square itself is another maze of temples all varying in size and reaching towards the sky. All date back before the 17th century. Life goes on as normal here interspersed with tourists and occasional gatherings of locals. We watched life go by from a rooftop restaraunt where David drank Everest Beer! We had a quick visit into Freak Street but that was that!
Next day saw us venturing to the Chinese Embassy in a bid to get our visas. Ha Ha what a waste of time that was. They are not issuing any to foreigners. Infact if they were you have to meet a whole load of criteria to get one in the first place. It goes something like this... you have to provide flight tickets for entering and leaving, all hotel bookings for duration of the stay, no overland travel, written letter from employer confirming vacation dates, bank statement showing means of support, if staying with a host a letter from them and they have to provide their id .... it goes on. So now folks we are not going to China. We met a young french couple who are supposed to be picking up the Trans Siberian Railway from Beijing. They have everything booked but can't get into China, lord only knows what they are going to do, they are supposed to be going at the weekend at least we have flexibility.
So to the big story so far!!! We booked tickets for an Everest Mountain Flight. Tuesday morning came with me getting up at 4.15am for my departure at 5.00am to the airport. This is where two became one as David was too ill to leave the hotel and I had to go on my own. The flight was due to leave at 6.30am. The taxi was late and dropped me off at International Departures instead of Domestic. By now it was 5.45am and I was getting a little worried. After a 15 minute walked I discovered the Domestic Departures building and found Yeti Airlines Check In Desk. Thankfully I was not too late and the flight finally departed at 7.00am.
I had a window seat all to myself and we once again quickly rose through and out of the cloud over the green peaks. Little villages are dotted everywhere, rivers of varying sizes run through the valleys and everywhere are well trodden footpaths. Magnificent. The flight lasts an hour and for the first half the Himalayas were to my left. We were allowed into the cockpit of the plane and there right in front of me was Everest. WOW! She sits magnificently dominating the landscape and was not at all what I expected. Well she was, what I mean is, I always imagined the summit would be hard to spot as it would me amongst a range. But no she sits quite magnificently with the other peaks at her attendence some distance below and around. The skies were clear only low cloud was evident and Everest and all the other peaks shimmered in the morning sun. Awe inspiring and amazing, words will never be quite enough to describe the sights and experience. I saw the other peaks of Kanchenjunga, Pumori, Cho Oyu, Nuptse, Lhotse and Gauri Shankar to name but a few of some of the more recognisable names. I was glued with camera to the window for the duration and have fulfilled a lifelong ambition, I'm soooooooo happy!!!!!!
On arriving back clutching certificate, flight details etc we haven't done much. We both picked up upset tums from - we think - our overnight stay in Delhi. So I've got some antibiotics and will march David upto get some once he feels he can leave the bedroom!! We have decided to extend our stay here as we have lost some days to illness and will leave here on the 9th and fly direct to Calcutta. We are planning various day trips to come and are thoroughly enjoying Kathmandu.