Kathmandu, Nepal – “Tower, this is Maverick. Requesting Everest Fly-By”

Day 5 – 2008 RTW Trip

The Everest mountain flight was something Cat and I had talked about way before actually arriving in Nepal. Cat really wanted to see Everest somehow and, to be fair, I thought it would be pretty cool too. I was hoping we could manage to see it from the ground though, thinking a plane would be cheating slightly, and naively thought that, being the highest mountain in the world after all, that this wouldn’t be so difficult. That’s discounting the

fact though that Nepal has 9 out of 10 of the world’s highest mountains and Everest is in the thick of of a few of them so the view from Kathmandu and the surrounding area isn’t exactly clear.

In the end we had to settle for the wussy version of the Everest view, there just not being enough time to get to Namchee Bazaar, the most practical place to see it from the ground. It was actually a lot better than I’d thought though and we got some amazing views – £100 worth of views I’m not sure, but for a once-off it was no problem. The little British made Jetstream took off from Kathmandu airport and straight away you had an amazing view of the Kathmandu valley hills (mountains in any other country). Another 5000 feet up and the Himalaya view was amazing, covering the horizon from east to west, and the air was clear as crystal. All of the mountains were pointed out to us as we flew east and I got far too excited when I was invited up to talk to the pilot and see the view from the cockpit. I was most impressed by the fact that the pilot’s uniforms seemed to consist of just a t-shirt and a leather flying jacket, and both guys were really friendly.

I thought I’d impress the chaps by coming out with, ‘You know, I fly too, I have my pilot’s licence in the UK.’

The co-pilot resonded, ‘Ah, very good. What do you fly?’

‘A Cessna 152, sometimes a Katana,’ I glibbly shot back.

My bubble was somewhat burst by his snort of laughter and accompanying reply, ‘Ah yes, very small plane.’

Looking upon the two men at the helm of their million-pound plus, twin turbo-prop aircraft, flying 5 miles up and 3 miles from Mount Everest I ceded them this round of the dick measuring contest and retreated to the cattle hold where I belonged. They had pointed out Everest itself though through the front windscreen and we got another good view as they turned the plane. I was impressed despite myself and Cat and I both headed back with smiles on our faces.

In the afternoon we went for a walk outside of Thamel, the main tourist area of Kathmandu, and headed south the Durbar square, essentially Kathmandu’s old town. The temples were pretty cool and I saw some pretty awesome metal lions and dragons guarding doors all over the area. The traffic was crazy though, the motorbikers seemingly squeezing around the cars through any gap they could find, including those containing human beings and it got pretty tiring making our way through the maze of streets. Added to that was the ever present haze of combined incence and exhaust fumes which totally chokes anyone stupid enough to breathe in this town. The locals don’t look so stupid now with face masks and hankies over their mouths and noses and Cat and I weaved back to our hotel through the traffic, t-shirts over our faces, coughing the whole way.

We stopped briefly to buy a little backpack and spent a fun 5 minutes haggling with the little guy to get him down to 500 rupees. Having done it a bunch of times since it’s still good fun, and always good natured, but it does get a bit silly when they ask a ridiculous price for something as simple as a pack of batteries and you have to actually barter them down.

That evening we went out for dinner to the Roadhouse near the Kathmadu Guest House and actually got one of the best pizzas I’ve had in ages. It was washed down with a cold Everest beer and then we nipped across the road to The Reggae Bar, having found it simply by walking out into the street and listening for the noisiest music in the vicinity. There was a live band playing who were actually really good and the place was pretty relaxing so we spent a couple of hours there in their roof terrace listening to the band and gazing at the metal barrel fire they had going in the corner. The waiter was also the most attentive man in the world, hovering around constantly just out of sight so that as soon as you looked around for a beer he’d appear as if from nowhere.

We headed back to the hotel around 10.30 and got ready for our ridiculously early departure tomorrow morning.

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