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Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Declan’s Experiences on the July Trip, 2014 — Part 1

20/6/2014

Despite being the first day of my journey, this day shaped up to be a fascinating experience in itself. It started fairly normal after a sleepless night of tossing and turning. I finally got up around 9 am in the morning and ate breakfast, thinking of what to do to make the day pass faster until leaving at 3:30 pm to check in for a 4:35 pm flight to Brisbane. Well, my brother Kyran came out after I had finished eating and asked if I would like to come out with him to McDonald’s for lunch! I was really excited to hear him say that! Something to look forward too!

So in the lead up to lunch, I got my room in order and double checked my list of things and the items that I had as people typically do in the lead up to a long journey. I became fairly certain that I had packed all I needed and the weight of my bag was enough for all the Airlines that I would be travelling on.
The check in went smoothly, despite of my flight being delayed. We exchanged farewell hugs and goodbyes and I said goodbye to Cairns.

When I got to Brisbane, I tried to check in to my Malaysian Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur, waiting patiently in line until it was my turn. When I walked up to the counter, the computer systems crashed! I spent the next hour standing quietly listening to the hostess’s discussion on how to fix the problem.

Eventually they had to do it manually. I got a hand written boarding pass! So I finally went into the departure lounge and ordered a sub from Red Rooster. That was just the beginning, the flight was further delayed for reasons unspecified. They kept calling people for 3 hours. So we finally got on and had a late dinner.

21/6/2014

My flight was delayed so much I had missed my connecting flight to Kathmandu. They sat us there for another four hours to get our flights rescheduled. After I got my rescheduled flight I rushed around for a while to find some way of getting in contact with home or with Som to brief them of my situation. I tried buying an international SIM card, that didn’t work when my battery died! I tried exchanging some money and using the pay phones. They didn’t take any small change and the people there were not very helpful when it came to the phones whether it me money or phone card. I got some free food. Needless to say when I got to Kathmandu I was ready for a good sleep.

When I arrived I went pass the visa section as I had mine already made up. I took my steel sole boots off for the X-ray machine again. Retrieved my bags and stuck them through another screening station. The airport there was efficient even though it was showing its age. When I got outside I looked around for a ‘Take on Nepal’ sign. Thank God it was there! Som had recognised that my flight had been delayed and his brothers were there waiting with a Taxi. The route through Kathmandu at night was interesting to say the least with many twists and turns, potholes and stray dogs. When we got to the hotel it was great relief. They told me about breakfast and the hotel expectations. I was still surprised that I could still take it in after all that time running on adrenaline. I thanked the brothers, bolted the door and hit the bed, straight to sleep!

22/6/2014

The hotel I was staying at was the Tibetan Peace Guest House. It was basic with a bed, bathroom and shower and a TV bolted to the wall, but it was clean and secure. After a bit of a sleep in, I went down for breakfast and ordered the basic breakfast. Two poached eggs, two slices of toast, some Nepal style Hash Browns (Sliced Roast potatoes in a sweet and sour sauce) and two small bowls of butter and jam. Afterwards, Som came in and made himself known asked me how I was going and if I was ready to take on Kathmandu. I said ‘bring it!’, but after I get some stuff organised in my bag. I went with my guide, Som’s friendly trainee guide called Denys.

We walked down Kathmandu’s streets. It is as much a packed urban sprawl as you will get. The traffic you need to learn to “go with the flow”. Everyone watches and gives way and moves aside as needed. The drivers and pedestrians communicate verbally and non-verbally to make their way along the road.

Denys showed me several Hindu temples in a large square. I cannot remember their names distinctly, but they were next to a large university building and they had steps that you could ascend to get a better look around. Needless to say I took a lot of photos of the temples and the wood carvings around the place! There were many statues of Gods and one of the Kings of Nepal that we passed. We rested for a moment in a park where the founding monument of Kathmandu is located.

We then made our way along the busy streets to Kathmandu tower, a large white tower that is higher than most of the conventional buildings in Kathmandu. We paid 200 rubbles (about $2 AUS) each to climb the tower and saw the city and its surrounding mountains. After that we took a look at the shrine at the top and made our way down. There are many shrines that are located around Kathmandu in central places such as intersections or in different places in the street where people offer small tributes.

We returned and had lunch at a small cafe for an egg and salad sandwich. I visited Som’s office afterwards and made an email to my parents to let them know that I had arrived safely and everything was going well. Som said that I could call them on his satellite phone. So we will see tomorrow.

23/6/2014

Another exciting day today!

After paying for a taxi fee, Denys and I arrived at the palace in Patan. We witnessed the thousand year on bells being rung atop a Hindu temple. After spending some time gawking at the amazing temple structures around the palace, we decided to pay for entrance into the museum. I was just wowed out by the majesty of the place and the pantheon of Hindu Gods and the wealth of the Kings of Patan was staggering. The palace breathes with a residence that is fit for a king. The UN provided funding for the palace to be restored to its former glory after destruction by time and earthquakes have taken their toll. So chances are when I return (and I plan to do so) there will be much more to see and some amazing new sights to behold.

Well I turned in early later that afternoon. All that walking had given me leg cramps. I began to feel the effects of the jet lag and the constant movement through the streets so tomorrow I felt like a rest day. Well, later that afternoon Som surprised me with another team member which had just arrived in Nepal. Her name was Phoenix and she was great to talk to. Som took us to a western style restaurant and we got to know each other more. Apparently more volunteers are arriving tomorrow as well.

24/6/2014

Well today I had a rest day and spend the majority of the day seeing how far I could get on a racing game without killing my driver, watching TV, reading Clive Cussler and resting more. In the afternoon though I paid Som a visit at Denys had made it a priority to teach me to navigate to Som’s office. I made a call to my parents and chatted with them for a while. The lag time in the different time zones was really annoying. I was a little worried about the move that I will make I let the people know after I had dinner that I would be moving, and they were very calm about it.

25/6/2014

I had breakfast as per usual in the morning, but I carried some cash down and asked to pay my bill for the meals and the nights that I had spent in the guest house. Afterwards I got my bags organised and got ready to leave by 11 am to Hotel Norbulinka. The taxi was there and I gave him the business card that Denys gave me. It drove me there quickly. I settled in to the new hotel. It contained a lot of mountaineering memorabilia and had an open roof with a garden.

Later that afternoon, my roommate arrived his name was Hamish and he was from Cairns as well! We talked for a while and made each part of the room our own section. We got to know each other more and our different backgrounds. Then the rest of the group showed up and we got together on top of the roof and talked and introduced ourselves. Many people of the group had been to other places and were used to travel and shared their experiences and opinions of different places as well as some funny stories that had happened during their travels. We got some group photos.

26/6/2014

The next day we had our first group breakfast in the new hotel. The service was really good and many people were getting over the jet lag and eager to explore Kathmandu. We were also informed that we should look through Kathmandu to find any final essential needs in the shops around the city. It was recommended that we take a rain covering for our bags in the likely event of a monsoon downpour. We also tanked up on tissues, toilet paper, bottled water, trail food, med supplies, sunscreen and mosquito repellent. We went around as a group for safety and accountability for each other. At the time I didn’t get the message that the porters preferred a pack to a baggage bag to carry, but I didn’t put two and two together when people started shopping for packs.

That evening we met at an Indian Restaurant for some Indian style fried vegies, soups, rice and pasta. We also met our porters. They were young girls from the village that have been taught with Som’s support and were earning money as carriers. Som wanted us to sit down with them during the diner and get to know them. Some had better luck than others. The young lady sitting next to me must have been a little intimidated by my height and thus did not say too much.

We got back to the hotel and got a briefing on how the following day would work. We packed our bags and most of us decided to go out clubbing. I was not used to this so I decided to stay behind.

In the middle of the night I was woken by Hamish and another Nepali person. At first I was uncertain on what had happened, but Hamish told me that he would be spending the night with us as he was one of Som’s helpers. Hamish volunteered to sleep on the rug so that he would have the bed, but the Nepali man insisted on sleeping on the rug so Hamish finally conceded and slept on the bed. We were both very interested on what would happen the following day.

Read Part 2 >>

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