Bowery Mural

You're kidding me!

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Monday 6th April 2009

Day 4 of trip, day 3 of trekking! - not...

Same routine as ever. Breakfast, airport, security, bags weighed, more security and entrance to the departure hall. Overfilled with fed up trekkers who've been delayed for longer than they'd wished.

Another disappointing day sat in the airport departure hall at KTM being told our 8.30am flight was 'closed' again due to more bad weather at Lukla!!! Aaaarrrggghhh, I could scream. We sat on the now familiar metal seats a little bit more uncomfortable than previous days. We were close to the wee shop and Internet room this time though so folks were off doing various things. We'd set off for the airport a bit later today as we knew we weren't anywhere near a first phase flight! Today I'm not sure which flight number we were on but it wasn't or going anywhere anytime soon. There were a few glimmers of hope but alas no flying for the time being.

As we sat there more and more groups were entering through the security 'curtain'. Again lots of very interesting people were appearing like they'd been magicked there by Paul Daniels performing an illusion and opening the curtain. Among the people I noticed was a tall rather handsome looking bloke. Mousey brown hair, tall, lean, very handsome, wearing all the gear and looking very much like a professional. My beady eyes caught some sponsors logos on his Haglofs jacket and I made a mental note - UNDP, Glaxo... He must be a somebody! (I'll come to to Handsome Man in later posts!!) Then there were the various muscly, sporty looking men and women wearing marathon numbers. They were heading for a mountain marathon so were catching a flight to Pokhara - they'd be flying today for sure. Pokhara flights didn't seem to get cancelled.

After a few hours people watching, visiting the 'interesting' drop squat toilets, eating Lays crisps and chatting Emma decided to call 'the company' back in the UK. It would be 6am in the morning but we were at our wits end feeling so helpless at not being able to do something about the predicament we were in. She didn't get through to the right person - emergency phone contact number was switched off!! But however she did manage to speak to the main man, head boy, gaffer - Simon! Because of the mobile signal they couldn't really hear what each other was saying so she decided to text him. We've been stuck for 2 days so far, no chance of flying today, can he look into a helicopter for us? We'd discussed it after seeing a guy hold a sign up to say he needed a few people to fly our at $600 a pop. Andy went and had a word with him. He was definitely flying today. After discussions Andy reported that we could get a 5 seater helicopter for around $2800 each. We'd likely need 2 as there was 8 of us. This meant a few hundred pounds each. Were we willing to pay that? I decided yes as did a few others, some weren't so sure. All I knew was this was the rip of a lifetime and I'd probably never come back so I would do anything I could to get to those mountains!!

Simon and Emma exchanged a few texts back and forth. He'd said 'the company' wold pay $200 each towards the cos of a helicopter if we needed to get one. This eased us somewhat as meant we'd be paying about £370 each. Not too bad. We kind of settled ourselves and then games master extraordinaire Andy came up with some great games for us to play. Doc even contributed with a game of 7up. Fun fun fun. Best of all was our game of Charades that went on for over an hour I think! It was fab we even had a few locals and various trekkers stopping with quizzical looks on their faces wondering what the heck was going on. You could tell some of them so wanted to join in! Films guessed correctly were - Slumdog Millionaire, PS I Love You, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, X Men and Braveheart! What a laugh and it certainly took our mind of things for a while.

I noticed that the aiport seemed to be getting emptier as the afternoon was going on and then a large group of professional looking people passed back through the security curtain and Saran said that one of the men was an 18 times Everest summitteer - Apa Sherpa. We jumped up and tried to see but they were on their way out of the aiport. What my beady eyes didn't miss was the tall handsome bloke from earlier on was with that group - hhmmm interesting!! Shortly afterr this we were told that flights had been officially cancelled for today so at about 3.30pm we headed off back on the very familiar journey back to the hotel. We had been promised 200% by Banu that we would fly today too! Damn it.

Another night in this hotel -albeit a very nice hotel. But surprise! when we got back to the hotel we fidn out that Apa Sherpa and his team are there in the lobby. The team are in fact the Eco Everest Expedition team 2009 and they're on a mission to summit Everest and at the same time clean up rubbish from Everest and Base Camp. Apa Sherpa isn't staying at our hotel but we grab a few words and of course a group photo. Brilliant. He's a very nice man who now lives in Salt Lake City USA. This will be his 19th Everest summit if successful. I'm sure they will be. Handsome man was nowhere to be seen much to my disappointment.

Back to business. We all headed to mine and Emma's room as we were expecting a call from Simon in the UK. As we gathered the room was hot and there was a certain tension in the air. I hoped he wold miraculously come up with a plan and we'd all follow it. The phone call came through and we'd written down some points for Emma to raise. After about 20 minutes of conversation the phone call ended and she relayed info to us. Yes they were wililng to put $200 each towards the cost of a helicopter if needed; they would try to arrange alternative flights home for us on Sunday 19th April which would mean we'd only be 1 day behind on the trek; he would get a representative from Himalaya Expeditions (HimEx - our company in Kathmandu) to come along and speak to us to explain the situation of Lukla flights. This would be Sushil aka The Godfather! He arrived about 20 minutes later and we spoke to him in the hotel gardens. This was not a happy conversation, rather quite a frustrating one. He was a businessman who didn't quite grasp the efforts and expense each of us had gone through in order to fund the treks. He didn't understand the meaning of trekking to Everst Base Camp had to certain members of the team. He laughed off the suggestion that we should have been on first phase flights on that first morning. Apparently you need to book those fisrt phase flights a year in advance - contrary to what we were told at the airport! hhmmmmm. He's a fly guy were my thoughts. We didn't seem to be getting anywhere so it was left that we gave hom our passports and e-tickets and he'd try to get us on later Gulf Air flights home. Please make this work!

Saran suggested we get away from the talk of flights and helicopters as he still had hope that we'd fly tomorrow - for sure. We'd met 3 English guys at the airport who were also with HimEx and a trek guide called Kamal (who was meant to be our guide). They were heading to Rum Doodles at 6.30pm so we would head with them. Unfortunately our meeting wit Sushil had gone on and it was 7pm by the time we left the hotel. We made our way to the restaurant and ordered our drinks and food. The place was covered in large wooden/paper Yeti feet, each decorated individually by teams or people who'd trekked all over Nepal - mostly EBC. Traditionally done after a safe return back to Kathmandu from the mountains. Saran went a got us one and he'd written on it - Charity Challenge, Frequent Non-Flyers, April 2009 (an excellent name choice for our team). We each wrote our own wee messages on it. Mine's being 'Aw naw we're no there yet!... I'm starving! Angela (Braveheart)'. I'd been teased about this for a few days now. We had such fun decorating the yeti foot and the night was successful in taking our minds off the whole airport business. Well done Saran! We had even more fun trying to nail it to the only empty piece of wall we could find.

It was then back to the hotel. We headed for bed and the talk in our room was that we hoped and prayed the weather would hold and there'd be no need for that helicopter!! We can only hope...

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