It was nothing like I had ever seen before. The poverty, the way of life, it was like I had stepped into a film set, yet it was so surreal. There were children running around the streets, dogs lying in the roads and don’t even get me started on the traffic. It was so incredibly busy, every second a different car horn sounded, you’d think they’d lose interest when everyone’s horns are constant, but no it seems not.
Then we arrived at the hotel, tired and drained from around 10 hrs travelling, we couldn’t rest. Maj Blackwood had a meal planned, which turned out for the best, as it was a restaurant called the ‘Funky Buddha’ and because there were so many of us, we had to take our shoes off and sit on the floor on cushions in front of multiple tables that had been pushed together. It was crazy, but a brilliant experience, after which we returned to the hotel tired out after a hectic first day.
The next day we were up bright and early for breakfast at the hotel, which was a lot yummier than I expected. After which we set off for the day sightseeing around the World Heritage sights in the Kathmandu Valley. First we went to the ‘All seeing eye’ which was a large white statue, with a square bottom, and a dome on top with a tiny metal statue above, which came to a point. From the top point tumbled unbelievable amounts of prayer flags of all colours and sizes, it was so beautiful. The statue was situated in the centre of a small square lined with quirky Tibetan shops and stalls, which we wandered round and bought lots of souvenirs.
Then we went to a small area that had temples with all different purposes. They were so ornate and detailed it was fantastic, and we lingered for lunch in one of the small quaint restaurants. After lunch we visited the monkey temple, where the monkeys are free to roam. It was really exciting as there were some that were possibly mother and baby trundling round together. In the evening we visited another local restaurant, and enjoyed a lovely evening, eating scrumptious Nepalese food.
In the Sunday we were scheduled to fly to Lukla, but the flight was delayed for 2 hours in what was probably one of the most basic departure lounges ever. Anyway, when we finally got on the plane, it was tiny. Our group of 15 was all that could fit on it, together with Mansingh our guide. It was a tiny little plane, with propellers on both sides under the wings, and was a terrifying yet incredible journey! Especially when you see the size of the runway, it’s ridiculously small.
When we began what was going to be an all day trek, it wasn’t too bad, and we all got along really well and our spirits were high. This continued to be the case throughout the trek until we reached base camp. It was utter elation when we finally reached our goal. After all our hard work, and 8 days of constant walking, we’d made it. Then as we began our walk back to the lodge at Gorak Shep, our spirits dropped as everyone began to realise the extent of their exhaustion. However, we all seemed to improve in mood over the next 3 days as we began our descent back to Lukla via Namche Bazaar.
On returning to Kathmandu, we were given a free afternoon to shop for souvenirs, and presents for family and friends. In the evening we had dinner at the Rum Doodle restaurant, and everyone ate meat for the first time in 2 weeks, it was brilliant! We were given a large wooden foot which we all signed, and put on the wall. Hopefully if I ever came here again, I’ll be able to find our foot.
On the final day, we went on the early morning mountain flight; it was amazing, as we flew all around the Himalayas. I was able to take some incredible photographs as memories. Then after some more shopping time to tie up those loose ends, and for the final time we went out for dinner, at an old Nepalese Palace. It was really exciting, and a brand new experience as we had to remove our shoes, after which we had a red powder dot placed on our foreheads. During the evening, we were entertained by local Nepalese Dancers, and the meal was a series of small courses ending with traditional Nepalese Dhal Bhat.
It was a perfect end to an almost perfect trip, if you ignore the flight delays, and the frozen accommodation! I’m so happy that I’ve been given this opportunity to explore a part of the world which is the opposite of my own, and I will treasure these memories for always, as a wonderful chapter of my life.