We started today at 5:30am and I took my last warm shower for at least 3 weeks…it was amazing. I managed to pack a few erroneous things into my bag (unfortunately). I cannot help but wonder what my friends and family are doing back at home.
We made it to the domestic terminal of the Kathmandu airport where we are anxiously waiting to see if we can catch our flight to Lukla. There has been a cloud hanging over the airport which has stranded many adventurers in Kathmandu for a few days…I hope we aren’t one of them. I am looking forward to the flight (it is supposed to be one of the most dangerous in the world}, and hiking. I cannot wait to focus on the trail and enjoying the outdoors once again. We learned a chant called the Oh Mani Padme Ohm prayer. I forget what it means but its relaxing and fun to say.
Dr. Richard made a move and it seems like we are not departing for Lukla today and we are heading back to the hotel.
Today was a busy day touring around the Kathmandu. We visited the historic Darbar Square that was decorated with wooden pagodas and gold painted statues. We had lunch on a rooftop restaurant that had a great view of the square below. I could watch people trying to sell their wares from a table covered in statues, music bowls, and necklaces. I could also see the local people using a spring to wash their clothes and fill jugs up with what is probably the only clean water in the area. Fun Fact; Pagodas actually started in Nepal and the design was stolen by the Chinese.
After lunch we visited the Monkey Temple that reminded me of something straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. The temple is located on a hill just outside of the city and is surrounded by trees and of course…monkeys. One of the monkeys tried to steal my bag, but after a few stern “NO’s!” the monkey scurried away to the top of the Stuppa, a Buddhist temple. Apparently the monkeys will not bother the people selling fruit on the ground, only tourist carrying bags. The view from the temple was incredible! You could almost see the entire city. You could also see how bad the pollution was. It was so bad that the hills which surround Kathmandu were merely silhouettes you could only see if you squinted hard enough. I still cannot believe I am here and seeing all of this.
I cannot wait to be back in my natural setting, the mountains/woods, tomorrow. I just hope the altitude doesn’t affect me too much. I hope I can make it up to base camp. I am a little worried something may go wrong and I will have to head back to Kathmandu and not be able to experience everything, but we’ll see as the day comes. Time for bed, tomorrow is an early morning.
The famous Kathmandu Stupa.
A monkey family at the Monkey Temple
The “Eyes of Buddha” are typically found on all Buddhist stuppas
After nearly 21hrs of flying and another 10 hours of layover between London and Qatar, we have made it to Kathmandu! The view on the flight in was incredible! I could see the Himalayan Mountain range rising in the distance like icebergs lazily drifting in a sea of blue. The Appalachian Mountains, of which I am accustomed to, are nothing like this. I could compare it to a fourteener in Colorado, but the peaks I am looking at are most likely 17,000ft or higher.
The city of Kathmandu is amazing and the epitome of controlled chaos. There are so many buildings (most of them falling down), so many people on motorbikes dodging traffic like an extreme game of frogger…I just saw a small van like car with 5 seats carrying about 20 people. Despite its third world appearance, there is a mystical beauty that surrounds the city, and I cannot believe that I am nearly 180 degrees around the world…I’m in Nepal!
Our Trekking guides met us at the airport and greeted us with leis of orange marigolds, symbolizing good luck/safe travel/welcome. The guides had huge smiles and carried all of our gear and threw it on top of our van. Most of the guys were about my size, which is a nice change coming from a place where everyone seems to tower over me.
The hotel is beautiful in a quint way. The power is out most of the time, which is a minor, problem, but really cool at the same time.
We ventured out onto the streets, an entirely new world. There were people everywhere, people selling knock off adventure gear, guys trying to sell you chess sets who would NOT leave you alone, men and women of all cultures dressed in their respective clothing, and most of all…dust/pollution. It’s almost hard to breathe through it all. It is nothing like Selinsgrove or any city I have visited in the United States. There are stray dogs sleeping everywhere and people washing clothes in the street. As dirty and crazy as it sounds, I already love it here. I have never seen or experienced anything like this!
The view of Thamel (the district we stayed in) from my hotel room
Well….it’s all over. I am back at Susquehanna still on an adrenaline rush wanting to tell my parents and friends all about my travels. It’s colder here, but the shower is so much warmer and nicer. Sam welcomed me back and we talked. I can’t believe I just did all that. I re-read my journal and still can’t believe it. I look at my pictures and just dream of Nepal and all the people I met while I was there. Now is time to plan for the next adventure!
Standing on Base Camp look at the Khumbu Ice Fall. If you look at the top of the picture you see a white “cloud” which is actually snow blowing off of Mt. Everest.
We visited the orphanage one last time to make a donation of food and money. I was able to talk with Sunyil (who is wearing the red jacket in the picture below) again…I’m going to really miss these kids and this country. They keep asking when I will be back and I said some day, it probably won’t be for a few years, but someday. I plan on keeping this promise.
We had a traditional Nepali dinner of rice and curry that we ate with our hands (delicious).
We are now on our way to the airport to make the long 21hr flight back to Philadelphia…here we go.
It was great Nepal, until we will meet again!
After a long wait in the Lukla airport we finally caught our plan to leave. The flight, known to be one of the most dangerous in the world, was completely safe and provided me with a great view of the mountains and allowed me to say a figurative, “I will see you again” to the mountains and the people I met there.
Flying into Kathmandu, you really see the pollution. As we flew, in I could see a long thick line of brown above the city…it’s nothing like the mountains. I may be sad now, but I know that one day I will find myself looking up at the enormous peaks that reach into the sky and falling asleep to the sound of yak bells jingling. It is time for a much needed warm shower and a nap in a real bed.
Without Tenzing and Hillary, Nepal would still only be a blip of the average person’s radar.
A Sherpa burning wood, a forest fire, or a yeti having lunch?
At this point I used my buff to cover my mouth to try and taste any remnants of the fresh mountain air.
I was lucky enough to sit right below the wing which has a bubble window where I could look straight down to the ground.
New Year’s Day in Lukla
The infamous Lukla airport. The end of the strip is a vertical drop straight down.
Well…we have made it to Lukla…the final destination of our trip. I am reluctant to be here but the small town is a great way to leave the mountains. There is a Starbucksand a “Yakdondalds”. I visited a bar and had a few drinks with the guys while playing pool with Dr. Richard and Terry Brennan (a great way to remember some great travels).
Tomorrow we fly back to Kathmandu and prepare to head home.
New Year’s Eve! We celebrated with cake and cheering that “we made it”. Technically it’s not New Years at home yet. Tt will be by the time we reach Lukla though!
It is hard to imagine that 10 days ago I was in this very spot…so much has changed in those few days. In 10 days I have learned 12 Nepalese words, hiked nearly 50miles, stood at the Base Camp of Mt. Everest, photo bombed a wild Yak, and learned more about myself then I could ever imagine. Plus, I have a head start on the typical New Years resolution “Go to the gym.” We’ll see if I can keep this active lifestyle up. I’m looking forwarded to a warm shower, but I know I am going to miss the sounds of the Himalayas and its beautiful landscape…tomorrow we arrive in Lukla and the journey home begins.
Today we had the rare opportunity to visit the Tengboche Monastary just after the High Llama passed away. We were able to go inside the temple as monks were performing a ceremony like a funeral. A truly remarkable experience, you could feel a sort of magic in the room from the chanting and candles burning.
We also had to take our shoes off and I realized how poorly my feet smelled.
We have arrived in Gorak Shep (16,600ft) and the final village of our trek. After we eat lunch, we will make the hike to Base Camp.
Tired and worn out…I made it back from Base Camp! The hike was long and very tiring. We walked on top of the Khumbu Glacier where I saw small glacial lakes with caves and some fascinating ice formations. Base Camp itself is on the glacier so the marker moves. I laid a rock at the marker with the name of my family, my cousin Marr who passed away, and also a tribute to my OA friends. I can now say I left my mark at Base Camp! I also picked a rock up that I brought back with me
Base camp is a huge area. The only thing that marks it is a pile of rocks covered in prayer flags.
Army, one of our Sherpa guides. always wore the brightest smile and was constantly looking out for our group.
My mark on EBC. I wrote a tribute to my cousin Mark who passed away, it says “For he who flew the highest.” On the otherwise, I wrote “He who serves his fellows…” which is an honor to the Boy Scouts of America.