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I Went to the Mountain!

October 1, 2012

I saw Mount Everest today. With my own, slightly teary, eyes! It was from the window of a plane, but I saw it!

Buddha Air runs a mountain flight around Mount Everest. Its about an hour and flies along the entire range, turns round and flies back. even though we were both taking international flights in the afternoon, Emma and I decided it would be worth it to see if we could catch an early mountain flight since the timing didn’t work out for us to see the mountain any other way and really, we were so close it would be a shame to leave without getting to spot it. Fiona joined us and Chitra arranged for a 6:30 flight for us.

We got the airport about 6 and, true to our experience the day before, Buddha Air and domestic travel in Nepal is a little bit disorganized. We were approached on arrival by two men wearing id tags. They took our passports and paperwork and came back with seat assignments for us. When we took our boarding passes and passports back they harassed us for a tip. Once inside the gates, we again went through several rounds of ids, queued up in the “Ladies” line for our pat downs and waited for our flight. My flight to Bangkok was leaving at 1:30, so in my head, I needed to get on the 6:30 am flight by 8 at the latest or I’d have to bail. As the clocked ticked towards 8, I turned to tell Fiona and Emma that I was out, just as they called our plane.

It was another super small plane, with passengers seated in window seats only. There was a man seated directly behind Emma (who was across from me) who spent most of the flight yelling to his companions, jumping out of his seat to take their photos (and sometimes ours), and generally causing a ruckus. It threaded to make a tense morning even worse, especially as we were headed out only days after the Everest flight crash. But everything changed as the mountains came into view. The flight attendants went up and down the aisle id-ing the various peaks for us and bringing folks one by one into the cockpit. Emma’s timing was perfect and she saw Everest as we approached it. Fiona and I went up later, but still got breathtaking views. As Everest came into view it was the absolute fulfillment of a dream for me. There it was! It was only slightly higher than the surrounding mountains, but it was there, and unmistakable.

After we landed Chit picked us up and brought us back to the hotel for breakfast to to finish packing. He was raised in a small village near Everest and has been to base camp several times, so he was unimpressed with our enthusiasm about it.

The international terminal is much more organized and Emma and I made it though check-in, grabbed a coffee and lingered til my flight was boarding. She has been an invaluable friend on this trip and I’ll miss her company (i’m missing it now, alone in Bangkok).

On board, I was once again in my least favorite location, a window seat in coach. This time next to a couple Nepali men with an unmistakable odor. There were seats available in the middle of the plane and just as I was preparing to ask if I could move, one of them asked me where I was from. This led to a flight long conversation and they were GREAT! They both worked in television and radio production in Kathmandu and were on their way to   Bangkok for a conference. They had both lived in the US and had a lot to say about our politics and the parts of the country they like and don’t (hated Atlanta, loved San Francisco. Hoping Obama wins a second term). They asked me about my experiences and laughed politely at the stories of my ineptitude in navigating Nepali traffic and haggling.

I asked if they trekked. They both said no, though one had been to Everest base camp several times and the other, who grew up near Pokhara, had a three day walk to his village every time he returned for a visit.

In Bangkok I was greeted by Seree, my guide for the next couple days. He dropped me at hotel and warned me that if I went out to head to the left not the right, as the bars to the right were where men went to have drinks and buy companionship.  I decided to venture left and walked a few blocks throughout he bustling streets. There was all manner of food for sale and rows of stalls selling everything from make-up to sex toys to knock off hand-bags to viagra pills. After passing the stall selling guns, I decided to head back to the hotel and do my exploring in tomorrow’s daylight.

I finally got used to the chaos of Kathmandu. The energy here is very different. Now its time to sleep, there are Buddhas to see tomorrow.

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One Comment
  1. esme permalink

    That is so exciting! So happy for you!!

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