Early morning May 13 we headed to the domestic part of the Kathmandu airport. Weather was great and all was going smoothly. There is little organization at the airport and we were thankful we had a guide to get us quickly through the check-in and security process. There are no fancy security machines here and everyone gets a nice pat down before going into the waiting area. Everything was going really smoothly and we were some of the first people waiting at the gate. We boarded a bus to be taken out to our plane on time and drive right up next to the plane. We thought we had avoided the horrors of the Nepal airport that we had read about online. Hilariously, we were wrong.
We sat on the bus looking at our airplane for 2 hours before the bus drove back to the terminal. We sat in the airport for 4 more hours with the flight being delayed, delayed, and delayed again due to the weather at the airport we were flying to. While we waited we met a really nice lady from Taiwan and we fell in love with milk tea. Milk tea is just a black tea bag in a hot milk with a lot of sugar, and it is super yummy.
Eventually in the afternoon our flight was cancelled for the day and we had to go back into the city for the night and do the same thing all over again the next day. The next day, May 14, we repeated the the previous morning’s procedures: wake up early, check out of hotel, get to airport early, check-in, go through security, and wait. We waited a long time again and the weather was not good in both Kathmandu and Lukla (where we were flying to). We even boarded a bus again to get on an airplane, but again had to go back to the terminal due to delays. We probably would have never left the airport if it wasn’t for our amazing guide, Prakash, who spent the entire day running around the airport talking to many people to try and get us to Lukla to begin our trek.
Finally, 30 hours later than planned, we were able to get to Lukla, not by airplane, but by helicopter. In hindsight, waiting the extra day was worth it because the helicopter ride was awesome. I sat in the co-pilot seat of the helicopter and had beautiful views as the terrain below turned from flat plains, to hills, to mountains. We deboarded as soon as the helicopter touched down in Lukla and ran crouched through the rotors’ winds to the edge of the helipad until the helicopter left again.
We stopped quickly for lunch in Lukla and to meet our porter, Dhan. Dhan is very kind and quiet, and he carried our shared duffel bag on his back for the entirety of our trek. It is amazing the endurance and strength of all the porters that we interacted with and saw during the trek and I’m especially thankful that we had Dhan with us.
After lunch, we began our trek with around a 3 hour trek to the town of Phakding. Most of the way to Phakding was downhill so the trekking was not very difficult, that is until, of course, I sprained my ankle. Going downhill we all were very quick and the paths at this point of the trek were all cobble stones. Earlier in the day it had rained and the rocks were very slick. At the bottom of one of the hills, my foot slipped on a round rock and it felt as if my ankle snapped in two.
Luckily we were not too far away from Phakding and I had trekking poles to use as a crutch. Running (more like limping) on adrenaline, we made it to our first tea house. I wrapped my ankle really tight to prevent swelling, took some medicine, and hoped for the best. In all honesty, I was more angry at myself than anything because I was clumsy and got hurt on day 1.
That night, I tried my first ‘dal bhat’ for dinner. Dal Bhat is a really big deal here; it’s what most people eat for lunch and dinner everyday. It consists of white rice, a lentil sauce, vegetables, and various curries. Every place has their own version of dal bhat, but regardless it is a staple dish in the Nepalese diet. I wasn’t the biggest fan of it, but I was happy to be able to try it. We went to bed early to prepare for a really big day of trekking the next day. We loved our first day and were excited to finally have begun our trek! Thank you for reading!