We rose early for the flight back to Bangkok, then on to Kathmandu, Nepal. We got here around 1 pm, and found a great guide named Raj, who formerly resided near Everest. We had a quiet and early evening, as we had a 5:45am appointment for a flight to Mt. Everest this morning. We arrived at the airport, only to find several fog delays. After several bad cups of coffee, we got on the 9:30am Buddha Airlines flight over the Himalayas, and on to Everest. Once up in the air, the flight attendant pointed out all of the various peaks. Then each of us (taking turns from our seat to the cockpit) got to see the mountains, including Everest from the cockpit of the plane!!! No way will they allow something like that back home. It is very important to point out that although Everest is spectacular, all of the major peaks are noteworthy, and interesting in their own way. We also saw Base Camp, and many small and large farms terraced in the mountains.
The ride got a little bumpy at high altitude, but we survived, and earned an Everest certificate!! Once back on the ground, our guide took us to downtown Kathmandu for a long needed meal. We had a fried rice dish, along with some grilled fish. It was the first meal that we enjoyed here, as the native spices are a little to strong and sour for us. We went on a walking tour of several temples in Durbar Square, including the famous golden pagoda. We also saw a few monkeys, and lots of stray dogs. The temples and pagodas in the Square were built about 500 years ago. They exhibit great craftsmanship in wood carvings, and metal etching, along with intricate brick work.
We also stopped by the famous “monkey” temple, near the top of the city. The view was fantastic. This area is much cooler than the SE Asia we normally see. A jacket is definitely needed at night. In fact, we had a huge thunder and lightning rainstorm last night as we were having dinner. The monkeys were very tame, and respond to noises, much like dogs. The number of beggars along the temple walkway numbered in the dozens, mostly older people, and handicapped. Sheri, as usual, had to give each person some money, for which they were very grateful. They look you in the eye when they thank you, and give a very appreciative bow as well.
From here, it was on the Thamel, an area known for shopping, tourist hotels, and great places to eat. But it is a traffic nightmare. The driver told us there are NO rules for driving the roads. It is a mix of pedestrians, trucks, cars, motorbikes, and bicycles, with everybody enjoying the use of their horn. We also drove through the wholesale fruit and produce area. By far, the most plentiful items are apples, oranges, cabbage, and cauliflower, by the thousands. Picture chaos, and traffic, terrible roads, noisy horns, and you have experienced Kathmandu at its best (or worst).
We had lunch the next day at the famous Rum Doodle Cafe in Thamel. Anyone making the climb to Everest Basecamp gets to put their name on a paper cutout of a foot. Those making it to the top of the world get free food for the rest of their lives. But the highlight was seeing Sir Edmund Hillary’s signature on the wall!
We plan to rest up today, as we may either head out to an animal reserve, or a famous and beautiful city called Baktapur, about 25 minutes away. We will also go back to Thamel to pick up a few souvenirs and T shirts. The country is truly depressed, due to heavy corruption by both the King and the Prime Minister. The young people cannot wait to get out. Yet, the mountains, temples, and forests here are among the world’s most spectacular. Oh, and just to make sure we get to see life as it really is here, our guide is having us for dinner before we leave. He wants us to see how the locals live and eat. We can’t wait!!!