Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bucket List #3: Everest In Nepal

For as long as I can remember I have have been fascinated by Mt. Everest. Why? I can't say I am actually sure. I don't remember ever not being intrigued by it.
So when I knew I was going to Nepal for Reach Out Orphanage Ministries I could only hope that I would at least get a glimpse of the mystic Mountain. My naivety hoped to be able to see it from Kathmandu... I mean it is the tallest Mountain in the world right?! Wrong.  While it is the tallest it is wrapped in the midst of the tallest mountain range in the world. While it is taller... it isn't that much taller.There are a LOT of mountains blocking any possibility of seeing it from Kathmandu valley. 

My second hope was to be able to take a taxi or tourist day trip to somewhere close enough to say I stood at, or at least near the base of Mt. Everest... Turns out that idea is laughable also! 

We asked around and soon realized the only ways to see the Mt. was 

  1.  A two week trek to base camp (yeah on your feet)... uh, not going to happen on a 10 day trip... or ever for me... period.
  2.  A two hour bus ride to an overlook only to have someone point to a tiny peak between to equally small peaks. Furthermore depending on the weather you probably wouldn't be able to see it anyway...Uh...  No thanks. 
  3.  Take a 1 hour small plane ride along the snow capped line of the Himalayan Mt range which circles at Everest...  Ummm... Yes please!  
As we weren't in Nepal to sight-see we figured this was the quickest way! And it was an early flight so we would be back in the city by 9:30ish leaving us plenty of time to do other things we needed to do. 

And so we did.
 EARLY one dark morning Amanda and I ventured out to the streets of Kathmandu to find our ride to the airport.  That in itself was a bit of an adventure. After finally making it to the airport our flight was delayed by about an hour and a half due to fog. 
While frustrating to wait I was appreciative that they weren't going to take us out there if we weren't going to be able to even see the mountain! When our flight did finally take off it was still SUPER foggy on the ground... I was a bit skeptical but before long we were above the dense fog and flying along side the most breathtaking mountain chain I had ever seen. 

 And there it was! After about 20 minutes in the air it was there! While we could see it out our side window the pilots let each of us stand hunch in the cockpit for a straight on view! It was stunning!  I said to the pilots, "How lucky you are to see this beauty everyday!" He just grinned and nodded. He either didn't understand me or was thinking 'yeah, yeah i see it every day!"
 God surely outdid himself with this mountian range! The pictures DO NOT do it justice. There is just no reference for how big it really is. The picture above is just the part that was above the cloud line! Truly amazing.
 If you don't feel small well, just go for a peek of Everest sometime in your life!
 For about 15 minutes we were within view for it. When we started turning around to go back the pilot made an announcement. "Due to inclement weather in Kathmandu we will be landing elsewhere".

HUH??? ... Seriously!? What?

No joke we landed at a TINY one-room airport. We weren't sure if we were going to have to take a bus back to Kathmandu or what? We looked at a little map of all the airports in Nepal. Based on the location of Everest on the map we figured out where we were. The last 7 hour bus ride we were on was to a location a bit closer to Kathmandu than we were now... if we were going on a bus it was likely going to take us longer than 7 hrs.
Poor Ali was back in Kathmandu. By this point we should have already been back with her at the apartment. We had no phone to call her and let her know where we were and that it was likely going to be a while.
 We soon learned we would be flying back to the city. We were just going to have to wait out the bad weather.  So we went to the snack stand, got a snack and waited. We did end up meeting some other westerners who allowed us to use their phone to call Ali. Thankfully it was only about an hour wait!  And we were off again.

  This was a view of the runway through the cockpit.  
We did learn that when a small plane (or at least this small plane) looses altitude quickly due to turbulence a very loud alarm sounds! One that sounds like something you expect to hear just before crashing because of engine failure! :/
 Traci not like this. 
Amanda and I both grabbed each others hand... no one else seemed to notice or care. 

And there we were approaching Kathmandu for landing only about 4 hours behind schedule.
Can you make out the mountains in the background? Yeah me neither, but they are there hiding behind the smog.

This was the third unexpected thing checked off my bucket list within three days! Not bad!