There’s way too much boring detail about Everest that only I care about, so rather than weave it into a semi-comprehendible story. I’ll just throw words at a page and hope it makes sense.
Day 1 – Monday 12th
I woke up early and had a “refreshing” ice cold shower (owing to the aforementioned fuel shortage – no gas, no hot shower) at 0545 in the morning. The taxi driver refused to negotiate on the price of the fare to the airport. I didn’t have much choice so agreed to $15.
When I arrived, the airport was a shit show. The day before, all of the flights were cancelled because the weather was poor which had knock on effects. All the flights were delayed. After sitting around aimlessly for a few hours, my 7am flight took off around 1000-1030. The domestic airport was tiny, with nothing to do, but work out that the only queuing system that exists are sharp elbows.
The plane was comical:
At Lukla, the landing strip was a small, few hundred metre, uphill runway. At the end of the runway, there was a small turning into a ‘plane-park’ with enough space for four planes.
The baggage arrived within minutes of getting off the plane (not that there were too many bags to remove!). At the airport, a young gentleman approached me and asked if I needed guide or porter services. With, my Roshan level of planning, that’s exactly what I needed – I thought I’d have to go searching for one. Winning. The internet was full of mentions that it’s responsible tourism to get a porter and/or guide – Sherpers have very little in terms of economy apart from the trekking in the mountain, so if you can, you should get it and support the local economy the internet advised.
He guided me to a coffee shop where I bought a tea – it was already a lot colder than Kathmandu. We discussed the price. My only stipulation was that I wanted to carry my own bag all the way. So we agreed, $16/day which would include his accommodation and food, except on days where I needed him to carry some of my stuff – on those days I would pay £20/day. We agreed an additional 500 rupees (c. $5/day) for him to arrange the accommodation. Tip: Accommodation is generally about 200 rupees or free, so don’t feel the need to pay the extra $5 if you’re on a budget.
He cooked me a quick Dhal Baht lunch and we started trekking towards Phakding. The hike to Phakding was easy, it’s mostly downhill. We went from about 2800m at Lukla to 2600m in Phakding.
Traditional prayer wheel. Always walk around these clockwise.
The power of the Yak carrying between 80-100kg of goods uphill.
Religious in scriptures. Once again, pass these monuments to the left.
Phakding is equipped with everything from a Raggae Bar to lots of bakeries.
I had a little walk around Phakding and the opposite valley, before settling back down in the guesthouse. It’s in this first night I realised my grave error in forgetting to bring my Kindle or one of those old-fashioned traditional type books what with pages and normal ink.