Everest Base Camp. Three words that had never crossed my mind until I met Dave. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would be trekking for 12 days to the base camp of the highest mountain in the world. Even more, I definitely could never have guessed that I would go for 12 whole days without showering or washing my hair (I’m not one of those people who even goes one or two days without washing my hair!).
When Dave told me very early in our relationship that it was one of his life goals to hike to Everest base camp (EBC), I knew that my fate was sealed. When we began planning our RTW trip about a year ago, with EBC as the grand finale, I was definitely more nervous about the trek than excited. I spent months worrying whether or not I would make it to base camp, what equipment I had to bring, whether or not I had to train, etc etc. Well, now [SPOILER ALERT], Dave and I are both Base Camp veterans and along with that came one of the coolest experiences and proudest accomplishments of my life.
We arrived in Kathmandu on August 30th at around 3pm. We were greeted at the airport by our guide, who told us that we would be the only ones in our trekking group.. AKA we had a private guide to take us on our 14-day trek. He also had another surprise for us. We had expected to start our trek on September 1st and have a full day to prep before flying to Lukla airport. Well, not anymore. We had a 6am flight the following morning. Now, we had so much to do and so little time to do it. We had to go to our tour company’s office for our orientation, rent coats, pants, and sleeping bags for the trek, email our parents and let them know about our change of plans, and then we had to first start packing. We were busy getting ready until about midnight and then slept for a few short hours before waking up for our flight.
The $300, thirty-five minute flight to Lukla, aka the “most extreme and dangerous airport in the world” was much less scary than I thought it would be. I was expecting everyone to applaud when we landed (I had read that this is what happens on every flight to Lukla), but we didn’t even get that! But, we were definitely lucky to get out. The weather is a huge issue for the Lukla flights. If it’s a cloudy day and the pilots can’t see the runway, they have to cancel the flight. There were no flights to Lukla for 4 days after we got in. I guess it’s a good thing we left a day earlier than we had originally planned for.
We stopped for a quick breakfast at a tea house in Lukla before heading off for our first day of trekking. As soon as we sat down, in walked another group of 4 Americans (3 guys and a girl) from Portland, Oregon. Three of them had also quit their jobs as waiters to spend a few months traveling. Unlike us though, they hadn’t booked their base camp trek 6 months ago. They had booked it about 6 hours ago. After hearing that you can book your trek much cheaper once you actually get into Kathmandu, they showed up with no plan. They hired a guide that they found while walking around the streets of Thamel (the tourist area in Kathmandu) and decided to do the trek without a porter (this seemed crazy to me – I was nervous about making it up the mountain without having to worry about carrying my own stuff!). They paid $60 for their guide (less than $6/day) and estimated that between food and lodging, it would cost them an extra $20 or so a day. Dave did the math over and over and realized that if we hadn’t booked our trip in advance, we could have saved about $500pp. Well, that would have been great but I’m pretty sure he would have been freaking out for the two months leading up to our trek not knowing what our plan was, especially since he likes to half-joke that he quit his job/career for this trek, because there’s no way he ever would have been able to take the requisite 3 weeks off work to do the trek, let alone be without internet for that long. With our tight timeline, we really couldn’t afford to take any chances. Also, if you were going on your trek during the high season, this most likely wouldn’t be an option for you because the tea houses get filled up. Imagine hiking for 7 hours only to get to your destination and realize you had to continue on (or go back down) because there was no where for you to sleep! But
After much discussion on the topic (which continued for several days) we were annoyed about the money we could have saved, but conceded that the last minute plans probably would not have worked for us in this case. But for any future EBC trekkers, if not going during the busy season (mid-Sept to Nov), I would suggest not booking your guide/porter ahead of time but rather just booking your flight into Kathmandu and possibly into/out of Lukla.
After a big breakfast, we were ready for our first day of trekking from Lukla to Phakding. Day 1 was the easy day, with only three hours to go, all downhill.
After 30 minutes or so, we passed our first village and I decided I should probably stop to go to the bathroom. I didn’t realize we’d be passing village after village all along our way to base camp, and instead thought that this might be one of my last times to go to the bathroom in an actual bathroom (and when I say actual bathroom, I mean a little shed with a hole in the ground). So, I went down to the shed and as I was leaving I slipped (on who knows what) and one of my feet/legs landed right in the hole in the ground that they called the toilet. Yes, I fell in a toilet. I thought that I would at least be able to stay clean for one day, but so much for that. It was disgusting. My entire leg was covered in human poop. One day 1 of our trek. Pretty much the worst start to a trek ever!
I had no idea what to expect with the tea houses. From what we had read, the first night was the only night that it was warm enough to sleep comfortably. But, we got to our first one in Phakding at around noon and I was surprised by how nice it was. It was like a cute little lodge with a restaurant on the ground floor. We had private rooms every night, with mostly shared bathrooms (one on each floor) and electricity only at night. The most surprising part about the tea houses though is that they’re basically free to stay in, as long as you eat in their restaurants which you pretty much have to as otherwise you’d need to bring enough food for 10-14 days. Of course, Dave wasn’t happy to learn that we pretty much could have stayed for a dollar or two every night (plus food), like the other Americans did. But such is life. At least we could order whatever we wanted for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as our tour was all-inclusive.
After we ate lunch, we had the rest of the day free. We quickly learned that we’d have a lot of downtime on this trip. Every day, we would arrive at our tea house by 1 or 2pm at the latest, and after lunch, we would have until dinner to do whatever we wanted. And by whatever we wanted I mean read (or on rare occasion play chess or cards) – there was really nothing else to do. You know how much we love sitting around and doing nothing (note-sarcasm)!
Anyway, after lunch, we spent some time exploring Phakding. We ran into an Australian couple we had met earlier that morning at the airport. We spent some time chatting with them and comparing notes. We were happy to learn that they too had also booked a tour company about 6 months earlier, for the same price we paid (and we later learned that their deal did not include tea/coffee, which we had with every single meal for 11 days, so we probably saved a hundred bucks or so there).
We got back to our tea house and spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies… All about mountain climbing and Everest. The mountain was pretty dead and we had our whole tea house to ourselves. We kind of wished that we had more people to talk to, but we did have full control over the TV, so we couldn’t complain. All I have to say is that after our day of movie watching, I was very glad to only be climbing to base camp, and not the summit.
We had read that day two was supposed to be one of the hardest of the trek (other than the day we actually reach base camp). We left at 8am, after another good breakfast (we had also read a lot about the food on the mountain not being very good. Even though the options were limited, especially since they told us we shouldn’t eat any meat on the mountain, and by the end we were pretty sick of eating some combination of fried rice, pasta, pizza, fried potatoes, and eggs every day, we thought that the food was really good. And, we loved trying all of the different teas they had at each lodge) and were supposed to hike for 6 hours. The first few hours were a mix of uphill and downhill with a grand finale of 2.5 hours of straight uphill at the end. In one blog we read, the guy actually said that there were multiple times on day 2 that he wanted to cry. Well, not to brag, but I think we killed day 2. Neither of us thought it was very bad at all, and we definitely didn’t feel like crying at any point. In fact, day 2 of Machu Picchu was also supposed to be the hardest day of that trek, and that was much more difficult for me (though I guess I was also sick for that, so who knows).
After 5.5 hours, we reached our home for the next two nights, Namche Bazar, and immediately fell in love with it. It’s a town of all colorful hotels and shops built right into the mountains. Dave said it reminded him of Queenstown, NZ, and also of Cusco, Peru which we visited a month or so before. We decided it’s our new favorite town, maybe ever, and especially love the fact that the only way to get there is to first fly into Lukla and then hike for two days. Pretty cool! We spent the afternoon exploring, having a great lunch and dinner, and reading. Pretty spectacular day overall, probably one of the best of our trip.
Day 3 was a “rest day” meant for acclimatization… aka a day to go on a 2 hour hike, all uphill just to come back down. Ugh! We were hiking to the Everest View Hotel, which is supposed to be the nicest and most expensive hotel on the whole mountain ($100/night, rather than $1/night at most other tea houses). Our guide told us that Bill Clinton even stayed there! Obviously, the point of hiking to the hotel (other than to acclimatize) is because there’s supposed to be a really great view of Everest. But, the weather was pretty bad, so all we were able to see was a sky full of clouds. I was annoyed because our guide knew we wouldn’t see Everest and I feel like he should have told us the hike wasn’t really worth it. Oh well, at least we got some exercise.
We came back to our hotel, had some lunch, and then set off again to see a monastery and a museum. I really liked the museum. We learned all about Everest and the surrounding mountains, the National park, Sherpa life, and the Buddhist culture. All along our trek so far, we’ve been seeing these huge stones with prayers written on them, and our guide told us that we were always supposed to walk on the left side of them, out of respect. I learned more about these mani stones (including their name) at the museum.
When we got back, it was reading time for the day. I had found a book at our tea house called Eiger Dreams by John Krakauer, the same author as Into Thin Air. It was a collection of short stories about all the different kinds of mountaineering activities from canyoneering to ice climbing and more. I thought it was really interesting but also pretty terrifying. Again, glad we’re only going to base camp and not any summits.
On day 4, we woke up to another day of very cloudy skies (argh!!). It rained on and off all day and we were starting to get frustrated that we hadn’t gotten to see Everest yet (if only we knew how long we’d actually have to wait). At this point, we were starting to get nervous that we wouldn’t get to see it at all, but we still had a week left. Luckily, we learned that we come down the mountain the same way we go up, so we’d have a second chance at all of the views we were missing.
Our hike to Tengboche was only 4.5 hours, the last two of which were very steep uphill. Still nothing too bad though. We had another full afternoon of downtime/reading time and I was already almost through my second book. I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to find something else to read for our rest day coming up in a few days! Overall though, the downtime wasn’t that bad. A little boring, yes, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to read so much (Jamie, if you’re reading this, you would have been in heaven!). Especially with how busy we’ve been over the past couple of months, it was kind of nice to have to do nothing for once. Dave said he read more in ten days on this trip than he had in the past ten years, other than boring law school/work books/briefs.
We’ve been on the same pace/staying at a lot of the same places as the Americans that we met on the first day. We’re still pretty annoyed that they’re doing their trip for half the price of ours, but I just keep thinking that at the end of October, they’ll all be going back to the States to their same restaurant jobs (and that we have more in our savings than they can even imagine). I’m already so glad that we’re not doing that. I’m nowhere even close to being ready to go back to the States and I don’t think I will be for a while.
Surprise, surprise, day 5 was another cloudy day. Not only that, the bridge on the route we were supposed to take to Periche (our next camp) was broken. We had to go on an emergency route through a very muddy jungle, probably an hour out of our way. Luckily, the walk through the jungle was actually pretty cool (aside from the mud). The trail was just wide enough to walk through in a single file line. This was the first time we were walking somewhere that didn’t really feel much like a tourist’s trail.
With the detour, our guide estimated it would take us about 6 hours to get to Periche, but we did it in 5. Along the way, we talked to several people who had made it to Base Camp and didn’t get any good views along the way. This was pretty discouraging, but we hoped that because we were about a week behind them, we’d have better luck. We also met a couple who had to turn back when they were just two days away because one of them got altitude sickness. Dave and I decided then and there that at this point, if either of us got sick, they would go down with the porter and the other one would continue on to Base Camp. We shook on it.
We also decided that we’d try to make the trip down from Base Camp in 3 days, instead of 5. We’d rather hike 7-8 hours a day and have less time sitting around the tea houses. Especially when we were going downhill, we thought this would be much better. We could probably even get an earlier flight our of Lukla. Our guide told us about a tiger safari it Chitwan (about 5 hours from Kathmandu), which sounded like it could be a pretty awesome way to spend our couple of extra days.
We made it to our lodge in Periche and heard that the prince of Qatar had stayed there the year before on his trek to summit Everest. For the first time, the place we were staying was actually pretty packed. Our American friends and Australian friends were all staying there; It was nice to have some other people around to hang out with! We spent the rest of the day hanging out and reading (surprise, surprise!) in the hotel’s very nice and very warm restaurant. They even had a fire in the evening. Luckily, I was able to find another book to read. Hopefully Cloud Atlas will be easier to follow than the movie was!
After 5 long days of nothing but clouds, we FINALLY woke up to clear skies and mountain views on day 6. At 5am, we heard people outside our window, looked out, and immediately jumped out of bed to take some pictures and wake our guide up to take us on a very early morning rest-day hike. We were out the door before 6am, but the only problem was that this was one of the only days there was no chance for a view of Everest (just our luck!).
We hiked for about an hour and a half to see some views and were still back by 9am. The whole day was beautiful and so warm. We spent a couple of hours reading in our hotel’s “sun room” and then went for another leisurely walk before lunch. After we ate, we sat ourside for a few hours enjoying the sun and playing chess (of course, Dave won again. This time since I lost, I had to stay up for the Bears game the following weekend, which would be on from 11pm-2am).
After spending the rest of the day doing whatever we could think of to keep busy, we were pretty glad that our rest days were over. We decided that two rest days on this trip was probably two too many, but we could have done with just one. We were also glad that day 7 would be our last day with a full afternoon to kill after hiking. After that, the rest of our days should be more like 7-8 hours of hiking than 4-5. We went to sleep praying for another day of good weather.
Day 7 was the perfect day. Definitely the best on our trek until that point and probably also one of the best days on our whole trip. We woke up again to clear blue skies and it was the first day we were going somewhere and would be able to see views. We only had a 4-hour walk to Leboche, but all along the way, the views were amaing. We saw two different mountain ranges and spent a lot of time taking pictures. We also came up with a new plan…
If the weather was nice the next day, there was no way we could go right past Kalapathar (which was supposed to have the best view of the trip) on our way to Base Camp. Instead, we were going to try to do that and Base Camp all in one very long day. It would take us around 11 hours from start to finish, but it would pretty much be the most epic day ever.
We got to our tea house and it was still really nice out, so after lunch, our guide told us to hike up another 30 minutes or so to see the Khumba glacier, which leads all the way to Base Camp. Well, we got up there and there was no glacier to be seen, but we were able to see where the glacier should be. Our guide failed to tell us that it would be dried up, but it was still a nice walk.
We ran into our Australian friends on the way down and told them our new plan. They said they had been thinking the same thing – there was no way they’d pass right by Kalapathar if the weather was nice. But, they’d wait and do Base Camp the following day.
When we got back from our walk, we did our usual routine of reading, relaxing, etc. We had met a Spanish couple at Periche and they were staying at the same place as us in Leboche too. They were probably in their 50’s or 60’s and the husband had already been to Base Camp 3 times. This was the wife’s first time but they were actually skipping Base Camp all together – nothing to see, the man said. They were going straight to Kalapathar then onto some other trekking in the area. Dave loved practicing his Spanish with them. I loved that they let us try the cheese and chorizo they had brought with them all the way from Spain :). We gave them a candy bar in exchange.
Day 8 didn’t turn out to be quite the epic day that we’d been hoping for. We woke up to clouds, clouds, and more clouds and knew before we even set out that we wouldn’t be climbing Kalapathar. Luckily though, there weren’t really any views to see from Base Camp, so we ended up sticking to our original plan. Dave was pretty stuck on the fact that we wouldn’t get the views from Kalapathar, but after months of worrying whether or not I’d even make it this far, I was still pretty excited just to reach Base Camp.
We had a 2.5 hour walk from Leboche to Gorek Shep, where we’d be spending the night. We stopped there quickly to grab some warmer clothes and then set out again for the three hour walk to Base Camp.
Once again, the walk wasn’t terribly hard (we still didn’t think any of the trekking days had been particularly challending) and luckily, we had both somehow escaped the dreaded altitude sickness. As we neared Base Camp, our guide pointed it out to us. He said, “see that pile of black rocks over there next to the glacier?” I wanted to know where the rocks with the prayer flags were (I love prayer flags) and he answered that he guessed there weren’t any right now. So, what he was saying was that Base Camp was a big pile of rocks with no markings to show that it actually was Base Camp (or anywhere of importance). I literally almost burst into tears of disappointment as I was staring at what he pointed out as Base Camp. And we had been worried that Machu Picchu would be underwhelming!
We finally reached the point in the trail where we were supposed to start walking down to stand on Base Camp. Our guide told us that there’s usually a trail leading right to it, but now the trail appeared to be gone. He asked us if we were ready to turn around and go back to Gorek Shep. If he thought that we’d just walked for the past 8 days and were just going to turn around without actually stepping foot on Base Camp, he was crazy. We decided that we’d make our own trail there (with the other Americans who showed up a few minutes after us). Our guide told us that it would be too hard and that he couldn’t be responsible if we got hurt, but we didn’t care. We climbed our way through the area, and finally after another hour of climbing (this was the first part of the whole trek that was actually kind of hard), the prayer flags came into view.
Thank god there were prayer flags!!!
The other Americans made a sign that said “Everest Base Camp 2013” and we all took tons of pictures, had some snacks, and then explored the area. Finally, we were ready to start making our way back, though by the time we climbed down and back to the trail we were pretty exhausted. Maybe it would have been a little ambitious to do Kalapathar this day too.
Two hours later, we were back at the hotel eating lunch. I felt really good having accomplished what I’d set out to do on this trip, though somehow after 8 days, we still haven’t actually seen Everest. We still had tomorrow though. We had actually been planning on waiting around an extra day in Gorek Shep if we didn’t get good weather the next day, but by now, we were both just ready to start getting down the mountain. A hot shower, a movie, and wifi was pretty much all I could think about at this point.
We woke up on day 9 and knew immediately that Kalapathar was just not going to be in the cards for us. We waited around Gorek Shep for a while, but we had decided that if we didn’t think it would be clear by 9 or 10, we would start to head back. We left at 8. We were pretty bummed, but there was no way we could just sit around for a whole day waiting.
During our hike, we revised our plan for the way down a bit so that we’d have more chances for Everest views. We were supposed to stay the night back in Periche, but we got there by noonish and didn’t want to sit around for the whole afternoon, so after lunch, we hiked a couple more hours to Pangboche – a new town for us. The Australian couple were doing the same thing, so we all hiked together, which was nice and fun.
The hiking down is much easier than going up. We covered the same distance it had taken us 2.5 days to get through on the way up in only one down. We got to our hotel and relaxed for a few hours while we anxiously awaited dinner. Dave was feeling a little under the weather, so he tried to sleep while I read.
As I mentioned earlier, we had been really careful about what we ate throughout our entire trek. We didn’t eat any meat, we didn’t really eat any Indian or Nepalese food, and we mostly stuck to a few staple meals that we thought were safe (porridge and potatoes and eggs for breakfast, soup and either spring rolls or momos, which are similar to potstickers for lunch, and then some combo of pasta, pizza, fried rice, and chinese noodles for dinner). After our India episode, we didn’t want to take any chances with the food for fear of getting sick on our way up. We decided that if there was anything we wanted to try that we weren’t sure about, we’d wait until the way down to try it.
One of the dishes we had been waiting for was Dal Bat (even though we’d already tried it in India, our guide ate it every day, twice a day so we wanted to try it again) and tonight was the night we would finally try something new! We ordered that and two egg drop soups for dinner. Our soups came out and I immediately found a big bug in mine. After a few minutes of searching, Dave found a bug in his too. Not a good start to our dinner. The Dal Bat was ok, but not great and definitely not worth the wait. We decided then and there that we were done trying new things on this trek. This was the first truly bad meal we’d had since we started. When you sit around all day waiting for dinner (I know that sounds pathetic, but with nothing to do all afternoon but read, you really just can’t help it!), it’s very disappointing to have a bad meal.
After dinner we played Texas Hold Em with the Australians. Dave hates playing cards, so I was surprised when he agreed, but it ended up being fun – and I won! I think this was the latest we’d stayed up the whole trip so far – 8:30pm.
We woke up on day 10 and for the first time, we were able to get a view of Everest! Finally!! I can’t believe it took this long. Our hotel in Pangboche was called “The Everest View” (not the same as the $100/night Everest View Hotel) and we were able to get a beautiful view from right outside of the South Summit. Our guide told us that even though the view from Kalapathar was closer, this view was just as good. He showed us pictures from Kalapathar so we could see for ourselves, and we had to agree. In fact, surprisingly, you can only ever see the very top of Everest no matter where you are on the mountain. It’s very weird, but there’s no way to get a view of the whole mountain.
It was a pretty great start to our day, and we figured that if we had waited around Gorek Shep longer the day before, we may not have made it all the way to Pangboche and may have not gotten our view of Everest in the AM!
We had a 5.5 hour hike to Khumjung, our second stop on the way down and another new village for us. Shortly into our hike, Dave reminded me about the 1.5 hours of steep uphill we’d have to climb. I thought we were done going up, but I was very wrong!
When we got to Khumjung, we explored the town and immediately named it the poor man’s Namche. There was a huge group of British scouts staying at our hotel. They were all between 15-19 years old and were staying in Khumjung for 2 weeks to help paint schools. Then, they would be on the mountain for another 2 weeks trekking to Base Camp. I don’t know if I would make it in Khumjung and on the mountain for a whole month. I was pretty ready to be back after 10 days.
Day 11 was the toughest day of our trek for me. I think all of the hiking had finally caught up with me, and I was just so tired of walking and especially tired of going uphill when I thought we were supposed to be going downhill!
We had been planning on walking back to Pahkding and then going to Lukla the next morning. Our guide told us that it would pretty much be impossible to get a flight back to Kathmandu in the morning, but I knew that the Americans and the Australians would already be there trying to get on early flights and I knew for sure that there was no chance of us getting on one if we weren’t even there. With the weather as iffy as it had been, I thought we had to give ourselves every chance possible to get back ASAP. So, after stopping in Phakding for lunch, we continued on another 3 hours to Lukla. And, I’m glad we did.
An hour after we got there, our guide told us that we were on the early morning flight the following day! We had bought a small bottle of rum and a small bottle of whisky and celebrated making it back for the rest of the night. We hiked 10 hours on our last day, so I think we deserved it. It wasn’t quite the party I had read would be waiting for us back in Lukla, but still very fun. Our guide told us that there’s more of a party with the bigger groups, so we just had to make our own.
There were three flights that came into Lukla around 7am on the day we were flying home. We were on the third (though they all came in within minutes of each other), which was also the last flight of the day to go out. Thank god we ended up going to Lukla the night before; that was pretty much the best decision ever.
Flying back to Kathmandu, I almost felt like crying, though I’m not quite sure why. I think I was so happy to have made it to Base Camp and so happy to be on my way back. Either way, getting back and taking a shower for the first time in 11 days was pretty much the best thing ever. We spent the rest of the day catching up on emails. The only time we left the hotel was to drop off our laundry (we splurged and spent $13 for same day service instead of $7 for next day service).
Crazy story though – when we got back, we had an email from Dave’s friend Todd’s aunt about his cousin/fiance who we had met at Todd and Kara’s wedding. They had told us that they were taking a trip similar to ours, but for some reason we never connected with them after to find out more details. Anyway, it turns out that they were going up to Base Camp at the same time that we were coming down. A couple of days earlier, I had passed a girl and told Dave that I thought she looked really familiar. Obviously, I thought the chances of seeing someone I knew were pretty much 0, so I didn’t think much of it. Well, now, I’m sure it was Jami!
Overall, Base Camp was an unbelievable experience, one of the best of my life. It’s funny, I thought that I would feel a great sense of pride and/or relief once I got to Base Camp, but I didn’t really feel that until we were back in Lukla. I think that from now on, I’ll probably stick to treks less than 5 days, but our 2 week trek is an experience I will never forget. I’m so glad that I was able to do something with Dave that he’s considered one of his life goals and I’m even more glad that after months of worrying, I actually made it!
After a day of relaxing at our hotel, we were ready to get our and explore Kathmandu. The tour company we used for our trek provided us with a half-day tour of the city, which was fantastic. We spent the morning going to the three main temples in Kathmandu. The first was the monkey temple, the second was the most sacred Hindu temple in Nepal, and the third was the largest Buddhist temple in the world, where many Buddhists try to make a pilgrimage to in their lifetime. All three temples were great. The second one has an outdoor and very public crematorium where we literally got to watch a body being cremated. I’ve never seen anything like that before. The first one (the monkey temple) had great views from the city and the last one (the largest Buddhist temple) was surrounded by super cute restaurants with great rooftop views.
After our tour, we spent the afternoon walking around Thamel, the tourist area that we were staying in. Of course, we both wanted Everest Base Camp t-shirts, so finding those was our mission for the day. We spent the afternoon going in and out of shops and I found myself liking Kathmandu more and more by the minute.
I may have mentioned it earlier, but we were worried that Kathmandu would be very similar to Delhi – very crowded, very hot, and very pushy people. So far, it had been the opposite. In fact, Nepal has quickly become my favorite country that we’ve visited on our trip so far.
And, best of all, we were finally back to eating meat again. We had a great dinner at a restaurant near our hotel. Once we saw their happy hour special (2 for 1 drinks at $2.50), we knew we had found our spot. We ordered one of the biggest burgers I’ve ever seen and pesto pasta. And, best of all, I remembered that we had some Indian Rupees left over that we hadn’t been able to use and the restaurant let us use them. So, we kind of felt like we got our meal for free!
We spent our next day in Bhaktapur, which is a walled city that doesn’t allow any cars (but motorcycles are ok) about an hour from Kathmandu. We had to pay $15 just to get in, but at least it was an activity that took most of the day. We walked around the city looking at all of the very old buildings and squares and walking in and out of shops. We got back to Kathmandu late in the afternoon and walked around Thamel for a couple more hours (we love that area!). We had been looking to buy a large painting of Everest, and after searching everywhere, we finally found the perfect one.
Before dinner, we checked our email and finally heard back from our contact at Assumption University about setting up a meeting for when we arrive in Bangkok. We thought we’d be meeting him toward the end of the week, but he actually wants to meet us right when we get there, first thing on Tuesday morning. At first, we were worried about meeting him so soon after we arrived, but I’m actually really happy because now we’ll have the whole week before leaving for Cambodia to take care of anything he tells us we need to do.
We had another great dinner, this time Mexican, and went to sleep early before our day-trip the following day.
We originally thought that we might want to do an overnight trip with our 2 extra days in Kathmandu. I mentioned earlier that our guide had told us about a tiger safari in Chitwan, about 5 hours from Kathmandu. After looking into this more, we realized that there was a very small chance of seeing tigers, and instead it was more of just an elephant ride in the jungle. After it took us 10 days to see Everest, we didn’t think we could take also not seeing any tigers, so instead, we decided to do a day trip to go white water rafting. Neither of us had been in years, so we thought it would be fun.
It ended up taking about 4 hours to get there, and then probably 6 to get home, all for about 2.5 hours of rafting. On the way home, there was a motorcycle accident (that actually left 1 person dead, maybe 2), and we got stuck at the accident scene for over 2 hours. There were hundreds of people who got out of their cars to stand around and watch. No one was in a rush to move or get anywhere, which was pretty frustrating, but we realized there was really nothing we could do but wait.
The rafting itself was fun, even though it was very short. The scenery was much more beautiful than we expected it to be. But, our guide was splashing us and dumping water on us the entire time, which I found really annoying.
Not sure if I would recommend the rafting day trip, mostly because it was just so much travel time for such a short time actually on the water. But, it was still a cool experience, and I’m glad we got to see another area in Nepal.
We spent our last day in Kathmandu catching up on more emails and some work. We loved Kathmandu and Nepal, but we were ready for our big move to Thailand. Neither of us can believe that after all the planning, it’s finally here!