Just getting there….
It was quite an adventure just getting to Lukla to start our trek….
As you know, our first attempt did not work out well for us…. we were at the airport for about 8 hours before we were sent home to try again the next day. So, the next day, we showed up – ready for a long wait. But no sooner had we sat down and prepared ourselves to buy an overly sugared shot of coffee that you can buy at the airport (which is not quite coffee but more colored water that is WAY sweet) – than the ticket guy came by and waved us on for the plane! Yes — we are going to Lukla!
Aboard we got on the twin otter (sits maybe 20?) and away we go. It is a beautiful flight – over wooded valleys towards the mountains. We can just barely make out the mountains although it was pretty clouded over. About 15 minutes in, we notice that the plane is taking a nose dive into the mountains (on purpose) and we seem to be headed right for the ground! Since Katherine and I are seated right up front, we can see the mountains and then all of a sudden a short grassy runway – and bam, we are on the ground. The 6 of us or so on the flight who are not nepali are slightly confused – is this Lukla? When all of a sudden, the pilot turns to us all and says – this is not Lukla. The Lukla aiport has closed. We are in Phalpu.
Of course, that means nothing to any of us – other than we are not in Lukla. We all sort of look at each other and then people make a move to get off the plane. There is a lot of confusion outside of the plane and a lot of standing around. Lots of rumors are going around (stemming mostly from the fact that we do not speak nepali and even the nepali seem confused!). We are not sure if we are getting to Lukla that day or….
so — there we stood for awhile (like 4 hours) just waiting for word. at first it sounded like we would be going later that day. then it sounded like we would have a choice to whether we wanted to go back to Kathmandu or stay the night in Phalpu. One german woman decides to leave with her guide. They are going to walk to Lukla – we hear it is a 3 day trek (later confirmed by Katherine and I when we do it – but that is getting ahead of the story….)
At this point, we have made friends with the two other trekkers – Ben from Australia and Scott from the states. We tell stories, drink tea that some one has brought down (he brought down a cup of milk tea for all of us waiting there) and play farkle.
When it is decided that we are staying in Phalpu for the night, the pilot and crew head back to Kathmandu – katherine has the pilot promise to come back and get us in the morning. We all (meaning everyone who was on the plane) head up and find a guest house — who were not prepared for 20 guests! Ben, Scott, Katherine and I go find food and go for a walk – as we are all stuck in this tiny town for the night.
The next morning as we were getting ready to order breakfast we got word that the plane was going to be arriving so we skipped breakfast and hurried down to the airfield. We excitedly watched a plane fly in, circle over a few times and then….. fly way…. There was all sorts of conversations, Nepalis are talking to each other, we of course have no idea what is going on…..
Then word comes to us that there was no one in the tower. The guy is late for work. So, people go off searching for him while the rest of us just sit there… hungry, wondering when we will get to lukla….
Finally, they find him. He took a different path to work and got lost. you know…. as it happens sometimes.
anyway— a few hours later, another plane arrived, picked us up and 15 minutes later we were in Lukla having breakfast and drinking coffee (at starbucks!). No problem.
There is of course lots and lots more to tell…. i will be getting to it over the next few days. Kat and I are going to go explore the city (and drink coffee and eat donuts and walk as little as possible!). Good to be back and good to be in touch! much love!