Left this morning, walked to the highest temple in the city, known as the Monkey Temple. I now have been blessed by a Muslim in Doha, Hindu Sadi, and Buddha. Leave at 4 AM.
Ka Ka Ka Ka Ka Kathmandu
Bob Seger sang it. Never was sure why anyone would want to go there until now.
I land in Kathmandu after a 28-hour flight, including a twelve-hour layover in Qatar, where I was welcomed into the prayer room at the airport in Doha. Fighting off jet lag, I am up at 4 a.m., and spent the early morning visiting the Hindu and Buddhist temples in Kathmandu. The city is still devastated by the earthquake last year. After my temple tour, I then spend the day working logistics, getting gear checked by our Sherpas, and getting through safety briefings.
There are twenty people on various expeditions through and to various peaks in the Himalayas through Summit Climb. Mount Everest can be reached by both the south side, which is what I am doing with six others, or from the north through Tibet. Twelve people are signed up for the northern experience, which requires lots of red tape from the Chinese government. Unfortunately the north side expeditions are delayed a week, and they are stuck in Kathmandu. Some of those signed up head home, and a couple make the jump to our south side group. The city is terribly polluted, crowded, loud, and beautiful. Probably one of the most dangerous things to do here is the cab ride to the hotel or walking the streets with no sidewalks, while dodging cars and motorcycles.
I lay awake at night and listen. The city has scheduled power outages so the hotel goes dark after midnight. No air conditioning so you hear everything from 8pm to midnight – car horns honking giving way to the loud thumping of the many clubs in the city. When they stop at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. in the morning, the dogs begin barking. There are about two hours of quiet from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m., and since I am jet lagged, I get up, look for coffee and something to do until our next meeting. I don’t think I would like to be stuck here for a week.
I told Lisa that I have been blessed by a Muslim in Doha, Hindu on the streets of Kathmandu, and a high Lama in at a Buddhist monastery in Pangboche, and I know she has almost burned the church down in Morganfield Ky, lighting candles for my safe return.
The journey began two days ago, with a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla – which happens to be the most dangerous airport in the world. It has a runway that ends at the base of a mountain, and only one way to take off and land on a short 20 degree sloping runway – that I, of course, would love to land on.
We are on 3 different flights and have to wait for about four hours for our luggage. Once we have our bags, we load them on yaks and start our 9 day walk to base camp. We cross huge suspension bridges that bounce and sway with the wind. This makes it even more interesting when you meet an oncoming yak. We arrive at our first teahouse, which are small rooms with two single beds and no heat but they do have electricity and WiFi. For the next nine days my biggest risk is getting sick from the food or stepped on by a yak. Trails are narrow but the views are breathtaking.
I appreciate all of the good luck emails, Facebook and text messages. It is kind of overwhelming, and I know all I have to do is to be safe and get back home. If I make it to the top that’s a bonus. I will try to keep things updated, but limited communication until we reach base camp on Day 10.