While I write these words, I stop to concentrate in my breathing. It is normal; I’ve got no difficulty breathing normally. I was curious how would my body adjust and feel in the Himalayas and here I am. It is night time and I’m shivering, it’s cold. As I look outside the window of the first of many Tea Houses where I will be sleeping as I hike, I can hear nothing. It’s pitch dark outside. Phakding is a small town, part of the Kumbu region; our first stop.
Krishna, my guide, tells me that Phakding is the main stopping point for trekkers going to Sagarmartha for Mount Everest via Gokyo Ri, our route. Apparently Phakding has a main function to support the tourism industry and hence we are here with an obligatory stop before continuing our hike to Namche Bazaar tomorrow.
I don’t feel tired but I can start feeling the cold. I’m still in awe of the Nepalese scenes I have been observing on our way up here. I feel so far away from my life and yet I’m fascinated by all and again I feel there is no place in the world where I would want to be right now but here. I feel the mountains; the cold makes me shiver and I feel very alive. How peaceful is live up here and how was I in London less than two days ago?? I have not only put physical miles in between us but also mentally I’m worlds away and I can’t even contemplate to think about it.
My day has been intense, I feel tired and is so dark outside but it’s early and I want to write, I want to leave a legacy for myself of my very special moments up here and so this is how my day started today, I was miles away in Kathmandu and….
Before I go to bed, I ask in my Guest House to have a wake up call at 4.15am and I also set my mobile for that time, I have to be at the agency at 5am sharp to be taken to the airport to catch our little plane to Lukla.
I hear a knock on my door and disoriented as I am, I manage to check my mobile only to realise that is bloody 5am!! I supposed to be at the agency like right now! Pure panic evolves me and I swear I have never packed or get dressed so quickly in my life. I rush down to stairs blaming anything that comes to my mind but mostly the receptionist and my mobile for catastrophically failing me like this and when I’m ready to jump to the street I almost eat the main door as it is shut and no one’s around! I think I’m about to have a heart attack. At this spoint, I do the only thing I can think of; I start shouting like a mad woman who makes a sleepy man appear more disoriented that I myself was about three minutes ago. I can only scream to him and ask him articulating like crazy to open the door. He opens it not understanding much of what’s going on and I start running like the devil through the laberintic streets of Thamel.
Miraculously I find my way around and I arrive to the agency where my guide and other people are still waiting and I pray to my lucky starts that they’re still there. All right, no one looks pleased when they see me but what can I do?? For once, it wasn’t my fault!
We are all taken by a van and driven to the Kathmandu airport. I don’t recognise this part of the airport but there is one thing I’m certain of as I look around me; the adventure has already started. This tiny room is fill with chaos, disoriented trekkers and locals shouting in all directions. All of a sudden, I feel doubtful that we will even be able to fly; no one seems to understand anything of what’s happening. Surprisingly, after less than an hour feeling confused and handing papers and documents to random people who seems to be in charge, we are finally let to the runaway where our charter plane awaits.
(I pay 400 Rupees tax at the airport)
As I stand opposite of our plane, I want to cry. I am certain I’m going to die and I’m not longer willing to trek. I want to run away from that antiquity. As I look closer to that tiny, old twin-engine plane, I don’t believe it can even fly. I look at my guide, the other trekkers and their guide and I just want to spot someone who is likely to be thinking the same as me but everybody seems to be in great spirits. Surely I’m not the only one who thinks this is a suicidal flight?
I’m the last one to board the plane; I almost have to be pushed inside. The plane has only two rows of sits and is illegally tiny, I can see the pilots from my seat and I’m right at the back! I could even hold a conversation with them without even have to raise my voice if I wanted. To make it worse, one of the two engines is right outside my window.
About forty terrifying minutes and some shaky pics of amazing mountainous landscapes later, we started descending to the Hillary-Tamzin Airport, the so-called one of the most dangerous airport in the world. As we approach the tiny runaway, I can understand why. With a thud we hid the runaway, bounce up and down very hard a few times and then coast up the runaway. Everyone applauds the pilot. Now I’m sure we all thought we would die. I feel I could climb the Everest after this scary experience!
I recover my cool as I don’t want to look too terrified in front of the several Sherpas waiting at the tiny terminal to carry the trekker’s bags. It already feels chilly and being at the door of Mount Everest feels all of a sudden very real.
I take my own backpack that I’ll be carrying all through my trek and Krishna and I start walking towards a lodge restaurant where I have a warm coffee before we set up on a non strenuous three hours trek to our new destination where we will be spending the night; Phakding.
I feel my bag too heavy and again I’m blaming myself for it but I know as I keep walking that both my legs and my willpower will get stronger with every step.
80 Rupees for a coffee with milk in Lukla
250 Rupees for lunch
250 Rupees for dinner
200 Rupees for Accommodation
80 Rupees for a bottle of water