Bowery Mural

The best of times, the worst of times

Friday, 29 May 2009

I'd laid awake most of the night going over and over in my head of what lay ahead. At the same time i was continuously coughing and trying not to wake Emma up. I hid under my sleeping bag hood and just cried and cried and then made the decision that I wasn't going to go to Gorak Shep (or Base Camp). I was heartbroken - simple. But strangely I felt a real calm come across me and then i dozed off to sleep. I think I got 3 hours sleep and as soon as I heard the porters up and about the camp I dragged myself out of the sleeping bag, grabbed my toilet roll and boots and headed out of the tent.

It was a wonderful clear morning except for the stiff breeze blowing. Blue sky above, giant mountains almost 360 degrees around and the gentle chiming of yak bells in the distance - what a way to wake up! I headed for the loo (which by the way I was now an expert at the drop squat toilet manoeuvre!). Daljit was just getting up and we had a wee chat. I told her i wasn't going to attempt it and she gave me a big hug which i needed. That set me off again. She said if it felt like the right thing to do then it was. She's quite a wise woman. Very spiritual. Slowly people were appearing from their tents. The next was Peter. I broke the news to him and again he provided a much needed hug and told me i was brave to make that decision.

We headed into the lodge for a wash and a seat out of the wind that had gotten up. I tried to have a wash with a few wipes, had a cup of tea and decided to break the news to the rest of the group. I tried to be strong but I'm a blubbering wreck once i get going. They were all really great and some tried to persuade me to go but i felt rotten. Breakfast was a strange affair. Nothing wanted to go down but I knew I would need it for the tough day ahead. I think I ate a piece of toast and some egg, then of course another cup of tea.

We got our stuff together and set off up the ridge that we'd climbed the previous day. I kept thinking that this was as far as I'd go and the dream was ending any time now. Damn this stupid cough!!! The climb up and up seemed to go on for ever when in reality it was only about 105m up. We stopped at 2 monuments and the view was totally amazing. We could see up the valley, down the valley, over to Island Peak and Makalu, the only thing missing was a view of Everest. I think I was pretty quiet by now. If anyone spoke to me i think i just nodded. A few snapshots were taken and then it was time... Time for Team X-treme to head off on an epic 2 day journey. One by one they said their goodbyes to the group and I was last. Big hugs all around and then the were off. Luckily I had my sunglasses on but i don't think that could hide my tears and my utter disappointment that they were leaving and I wasn't. We watched them go off into the distance until they were like little ants. So I was now with Carol, Daljit, Peter, the Doc and Mingma. We would head down to Upper Pangboche today, it was to be a long road.

We set off a few minutes later and I was still sniffing and coughing and trying to wipe he snot from my nose. 'It'll be ok' were Mingma's words - very kind. The wind was up now but the sun was out and it was actually a very lovely day in the upper Khumbu valley. We headed to Pherice and what a place. The view above Pherice was fab. It's situated on what looks like a dry riverbed again with stunning mountains all around. The back of Ama Dablam can be seen. It the home of the Himalayan Rescue Association and a very nice lodge that we had a good break in. In fact, this was the location of the only 10 out of 10 loo we found on the trail. After a very long tea break we headed down to Upper Pangboche where we were greated at the amazing Gumba Lodge with hot lemon, chips and french toast for lunch and a very warm and cosy lodge to sleep in a night.

It was very welcome luxury to sleep in the lodge since this was the night when my fever came to a head. I laid down on the benches an listened to the conversations about the nexts days activities. Peter was heading to Ama Dablam base camp with the Doc, I was too sick so couldn't even go there!, Carol would come wiht me and Daljit was switching between Peter and Carol and I. This went on for a while and she eventually decided to go with Peter. Mingma would get up early and set off at 5.30am with her.

And so it was time for bed (it was way past 8pm after all!). I settled into my cosy sleeping bag on the benches and Mingma and a couple of others settled down too. My ribs were now killing me from the constant cough that followed each breath. Why won't it stop?! And... then it started.... it was a faint rumble at first and got louder. Someone was snoring!!!!! It was so funny. Mingma shouted across that his bench bed was shaking and I was killing myself laughing. So funny. 'It's nice to see you with a smile on your face again's said Mingma. What a nice guy! And with that i fell asleep...

A Difficult Day

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Apologies for not finishing the posts about my trek. I've been busy of late and it's difficult to recall what i never wrote down. The trip was awash with many different situations, meetings, fun times, sad times and all sorts of other highlights and lowlights that happened. I did however take some time out on my own to sit on the steps of the wonderful Tengboche monastery and collect my thoughts. Here you will find the exact account from my diary - no edits, nothing taken out, just straight from the heart.

Monday 13th April 2009

I'm currently sitting on the steps of the Tengboche monastery after seeking some time away from the group I've been left with. (Carol, Daljit, the Sirdar and cook team). It's around 3pm here (can't remember if my watch is 10 minutes fast or slow!) and we've had lunch and the others are having a nap. Peter went to Ama Dablam Base Camp with the Doc and Mingma and so he'll be back in a few hours

The totally devastating news is that I never made it to Everest Base Camp. I am totally gutted and there's been lots of tears. Saran took Kate, Ruth, Andy and Emma up to Gorak Shep yesterday morning and they should be making their way back down by now. Hope they made it ok. We don't even know if they'll make base camp. I am really gutted, words cannot describe it...

We lost 3 days at the start of the trek so that's why it's all gone Pete Tong! Then I went and got this stupid Khumbu Cough. I'm aching all over from coughing and cannot get enough sleep. Had a rough night last night with a high temperature but was allowed to sleep in the cosy Gumba Lodge at Upper Pangboche. The lodge owner was a very funny wee guy - but he snored all night! Mingma was laughing.

My view at the moment is a bit hazy. The clouds have come in low as in normal for this time in the afternoon. But behind me is the peaceful monastery, to my left is the view up the valley to Pangboche and above that on a clear day (but not just now) would be Nupste, Lhotse and Mt Everest with the magnificent Ama Dablam to the left of the vista.

In front of me in the distance is our campsite for the night (above). In front of a wee bothy type building where the cook and kitchen team are busy playing games and most likely preparing our dinner. The Tashi Delek Lodge and Restaurant is right in front of me as well as the Himalayan View Lodge.

Not many people are around, probably because the weather is closing in and quite frankly I'm freezin now!!! It's been a strange day. I can now almost touch the clouds they're coming in that quickly. Here comes a yak train, the bells around their necks ringing in a rhythmical fashion that is very soothing. It is interspersed with their owners huck-tooing and spitting out the dustiness from their throats. Of the very few people milling around is a guy wearing a red down jacket, shades and floppy mess of hair under his skip hat. He seems like he's looking for someone or something - aren't we all?

The reason for me not going to Gorak Shep is i developed this stupid cough in the dirty polluted Kathmandu air and as we've gone further up to the altitude it's unfortunately gotten worse to the point of losing my voice, wracking my ribs and having a high temperature on my way from Deboche to Dingboche (on Saturday 11th April). The route to Dingboche was very dusty. When we reached there at around 4pm it was pretty cold and the weather had come in. But you could see that back end of Ama Dablam peaking through. We went for an acclimatization walk up another 105meters or so to a ridge. That was very tough, i had to stop every now and again to take a deep breath, have a cough and perhaps even a wee spit!

After the walk we settled into the lodge for dinner and then came 'the talk'... about the next days plans - when the group would split!! We were going round and round in circles and things were getting a bit fraught. I was listening to everyones views. My view was that I wanted to go to Gorak Shep cos at least it would be closer to base camp. I'd planned this for a year! My dream wasn't going to be shattered by outside influences or other people! I would pay towards the cost of a helicopter to get to Lukla and worry about the cost later! I WANT TO GO! Of course these were the things that were going round and round in my head but they just didn't seem to come out of my mouth. Story of me really. I have conversations like this all the time in my head - like when someone asks you to do something or go somewhere and your heads saying 'no, no, no' but your mouth says 'aye ok then!' Get an effing grip Ange.... Anyway these thoughts were interrupted by my constant coughing and the conversation turned to the time it would take to get there and then back down to Lukla. The plan was to go to Gorak Shep, maybe to Base Camp (a big maybe), then head back down from there to Namche Bazaar. All in the space of 2 days. Yikes!!

And so it was decided that me, Kate, Ruth, Andy and Emma would set off for Gorak Shep in the morning with Saran. Peter, Daljit and Carol would head back down to Ama Dablam base camp and then onto Namche Bazaar with Doc. 'The talk' eventually ended but not without a few tears and a lot of tension. I headed to the loo and then to the sanctuary of the tent...

Everyone has their own Everest to climb...

Thursday, 21 May 2009

I'd thought about changing the name of my blog from Project Everest to something else when I came back from the trek but i recalled with a smile on my face of an evening at a talk by a mountain man. Quite a well known one too. He said 'Everyone has their own Everest to climb, it might be to get to base camp, it might be to climb Mt Everest or it might be just life'. So that's why I'm not changing the blog name, because I've been on a journey and I am still taking it. Hopefully it will take me to places I've never been before. To meet people I've never met before. To live a life that I never knew could be lived before. This blog will be my journey and ramblings about all things that happen in my life - Project Everest.

This week has seen many teams reach the summit of Mt Everest and here's a few I've been following (links to their dispatches can be found on the right of this page):

First Ascent - team 1 up and heading down, team 2 on their way!

Dream guides - Finally Sir Ranulph Fiennes made it to the top. This being his 3rd attempt. Well done to everyone in the team. Grand effort indeed!

Eco Everest Expedition - includes Apa Sherpa who we met at our hotel in Kathmandu. 19 summits!!!! Wonderful.

There's lots of different teams still on the move up that wee hill and I wish them all good luck and best wishes. Very good website with regular updates :

Speaking of having a mountain to climb, I am delighted and excited to announce that i have now reached the £4000 mark with my fundraising for Marie Curie Cancer Care. A huge big massive thank you to every single one of you who have donated and sponsored me and to Mr PTC for pushing me to that total by donating just the right amount - £13.65! Pure dead brilliant so it is!

This message is for Fernicus and Roofus. Ptarmigan sightings!!
Glen Fiddich is currently on the move, no news of Mr Pastry yet, White Water Steve (see what i did there ;-) ) no news but perhaps Glen Fiddich has caught up with him, Banu's 'brother' I'm still not sure he is even there!!

I've not found a cure for the CMS yet. I think the Diamox might work like it does for AMS - fingling tingers, giggling fits, general tomfoolery... oh what fun, not to mention the frequent trips to the outside loos (remember your antibac hand gel!). Anyway i'm not sure i want a cure for CMS, i kinda like it!! ha ha. Keeps us busy during the day when we're meant to be working. Love it.
Ange xx

song of the post: Move Any Mountain - The Shamen..... pah! just kidding it has to be:

Wild Mountainside Eddie Reader (sings Burns)

Beauty is within grasp,
Hear the islands call
The last mile is upon us, I'll carry you if you fall
I know the armour's heavy now, I know the heart is tired
It's beautiful just over, The wild mountainside

Snow is falling all over, Out of clear blue sky
Crow is flying high over, You and I are going to wander
High up where the air is rare, Wild horses ride
It's beautiful let's go over, The wild mountainside

Wild and free we roam, Only a mile to go
Beauty is within grasp, Hear the highlands call
The last mile is upon us, I'll carry you if you fall
I know the armour's heavy now, I know the heart inside
It's beautiful let's go over The wild mountainside
It's beautiful just roaming The wild mountainside

A brief musical interlude, books and my new challenge...

Monday, 18 May 2009

Hey everyone
I realised it's been a while since I've updated with a song of the day/week to go along with blog posts. Well I won't lie by saying I've bought new music or heard new songs but I'll say that in the past few weeks these songs have been the soundtrack to my life.

I have to say I am STILL loving Kings of Leon album Only By The Night. Love nearly all the songs on it but favourites include Use Somebody, Revelry, I want You, Cold Desert ('I never ever cried when I was feeling down, I've always been scared of the sound') and Be Somebody ('given the chance, I'm gonna be somebody...'). Ace.

Life in Technicolour II is fast becoming a favourite Coldplay song. Life for me this past few months has been in technicolour. The sights, smells, tastes, sounds of Nepal were a vivid and lasting memory that will stay with me forever. I know, I know that was a bit corny but allow me this one time.

Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles was a much loved song on the trek and i can't wait to see the final cut of our trek video to see how Peter has managed to shoehorn all of our songs into it.

Those songs have been peppered with a few smatterings of Snow Patrol (A Hundred Million Suns), Bruce 'the boss' Springsteen's Seeger Sessions album, Dizzee Rascals 'Bonkers' (lovin' it!), as well as a few renditions of Bob the Builder and The Wheels on the Bus go round and round courtesy of Ryan and his magical plastic guitar!! Brilliant...

Here's a question: what is the song that would best define the past few months of your life??? Answers on a postcard to me at somewhere close to Stirling (alternatively a wee comment will do).

Now for books. I've been having a bit of a clearout of late. Time to get rid of old rubbish and stuff i don't use and truth be told probably haven't looked at since I bought it. In other words - waste..(I'm ashamed). Anyway there's a pile of books and various other bits accumulated over the years that are going to the car boot sale on Sunday. But i've been getting back into reading lately. If I pick up a book it has to grip me for me to continue reading it. Last book I read and was gripped were the Lance Armstrong books, It's Not About The Bike and Every Second Counts. But I've been given a book by one of my fellow trekkers and so far it's keeping me gripped. It's called Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I'd never heard of it before but she (the author) seems to be writing about me!!! (she's actually writing about herself). I'm going to continue reading and perhaps find some enlightenment.

Today I bought The Man Who Cycled The World by Mark Beaumont - available in all good book shops near you (or even dodgy online ones) now! He's off on another mad-cap crazy ass adventure on his bike. Not sure if it's the same bike? This time he's off Cycling the Americas Starting off in Anchorage, Alaska next week and cycling to Southern Argentina taking in a couple of wee jaunts up some hills called McKinley and Aconcagua!!! Mental... but blooming fantastic too. God speed Mr Beaumont!... be safe.

Anyway if you're a regular reader of this blog you'll know that along with one or two selected others Mark was a huge inspiration to me when he cycled around the world on his pushbike in 2007/2008. Here he was living out a dream and letting us all know that we can do something if we really want to, you just have to go for it. It gave me the kick up the erse that i needed back then. That's why I took up the trek challenge and it is now the reason why I'm currently to-ing and fro-ing between taking up or not taking up a whole new bigger challenge of a wee 'hill-walk' in a foreign land! No decision has been made yet but those pesky two trekkers from London threw me a curve ball last week and hit me with this sooper dooper exciting challenge. Oh you guy's!!! I'm on the swither big time so need some advice? anyone?

I'm off now as I'm currently on Everest Summit Watch. A few teams are near the top, a few are just starting off.

I'll leave you with this insight into my musical taste, iTunes is playing in the background and the song playing just now is 'Come What May' by Ewan Mcgregor and Nicole Kidman singing on Moulin Rouge soundtrack (stop laughing, it's a good song!).

Ange xx

Up the Namche Wall!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Wednesday 7th April 2009

Day 2 of trek

I woke to the sound of the Dudh Kosi River rushing passed our campsite and to the ding dinging of the gopkyo's bells walking past. The sun was up but we were shaded by these towering giants of mountain on all sides. You could just about see the sun rising on Thamserku. What a sight! Photo opportunity later. Mingma and Lakman brought our hot tea and biscuit to the tent and a few minutes later came the bowl of water for washing. This process wasn't easy and soon i was to decide that a tent 'shower' with a few Johnson's baby wipes would be better than washing in the cold with hot water that very quickly turned cold. I was sharing with Emma. She'd been up a few times in the night (a side effect of Diamox!). I was only up once. I'd managed to get the boots and headtorch on and run to the toilet tent. Thankfully I didn't have the runs like a few other members of the group. I was in and out in a flash and back in my sleeping bag before long. Anyway Emma told the story of her midnight toilet trip. I'll spare you the details.

We got our stuff together and packed and headed in for breakfast. There was porridge, cereals, toast, and boiled eggs. I opted for toast and an egg and of course a nice cup of tea. My first night of camping (ever!) had gone well. I seem to have escaped with nothing more than a creak in my neck. Today's walk would take us along the Dudh Kosi River and then after lunch we'd be heading up for a few hours to Namche Bazaar. A few of members of the group had been up sick during the night and weren't feeling too great so they waited for an hour or so at the lodge with the Doc as we headed off on the trail. It wasn't too bad a walk this morning. We crossed a couple of bridges and passed many a giant mani stone painted with the mantra. Then... there it was, a fairly new looking building, the Sagarmatha National Park Entrance at Jorsalle. This was very exciting for me as this was our official entrance. Saran showed us our park permits - very cool! We took a few pics and then set off with Mingma for our lunch spot. Saran headed back to meet the others and Doc. I hoped they were on their way and would meet us at lunch.

Lunch was on this huge pile of rocks beside what looked like it used to be a river bed that had now become part of the trail. It was very picturesque and every few minutes another group of trekkers or porters would pass on by either on their outward or return leg of their own treks. Lunch today was hot orange, onion bhaji's, fried vegetables, tea/coffee and tinned pears. Lovely. The sun was getting hotter as we sat there on a blue tarpaulin on the rocks. The temperature on my watch read 36 degrees at once point!! We'd sat there for an hour and noticed that a few of the kitchen staff had headed back down the valley. After a while they returned with Saran's rucksack. uh-oh i thought! Mingma told us that they were still a while way down the valley and we were to go on without them. So we left our lunch spot at 1.30pm. The wind had got up a little bit and the cloud was coming in as was beginning to be the norm. We headed upwards on the trail and eventually came to a sight that was familiar (perhaps because I'd seen loads of pictures on the web and in books I'd been studying for a year!!) It was the very very high bridge that would take us across the river and then we'd begin the long hard slog up the Namche wall.

We made our way up and had a wee rest then set off on our epic slog. On the way we encountered many a group going up and coming down. It was quite a wide trail but not too wide. It certainly wasn't wide enough for us and the group of central Europeans that kept trying to barge past us at a very quick pace. They did on a few occasions get past us but only for us to catch up with them and more often than not overtake them at our own steady pace. When will people learn? Slow and steady wins the day - is that even a saying! We ran into a few yak trains en route up the track and this provided a welcome few minutes for a water break. After about3 and half hours we finally made it to Namche Bazaar - the Sherpa capital of the Solukhumbu region. We passed the sign reading Namche Bazaar ut still we were going up and up and up. It took about another 20 minutes before we reached our campsite and lodge. The weather was coming in really fast by now and there wasn't really any views to speak of. Our tents had a great vantage point. Namche Bazaar is in a bowl on the hillside. Looking from above or below it's shaped like a horseshoe. Looking up, our campsite was on the immediate right hand side. There was a great giant mountain on the left hand side of our view, the trail to Tibet was higher and in front and to the right was the various lodges, hotels, shops of Namche.

We plonked ourselves in the lodge and got a well deserved hot lemon. The weather came in all of a sudden and it started to rain then hail stones and then snow!! Yippee! This was all very well but the lodge we had taken up seats in didn't have a fire!! oh no. We're going to freeze. We pulled the door shut and settled onto the benches that were all around the lodge. After about 2 hours we were greeted by a welcome sight. Our fellow trekkers had made it up to Namche Bazaar and by all accounts took less time to come up the Namche Wall than us!! It was great that we were all together again. The 3 were still feeling a bit ropey so 2 bedded down on the benches and Ruth managed to join in with a game that Andy had made up. The game ended up a draw and we'd manage to warm up sufficiently to dare go outside and jump into the tents. It had started snowing again just as we were going to bed so i lay there listening to the sound of fresh snow hitting the tents and it quickly sent me to sleep....


Thursday, 14 May 2009

Another wee break from the trek trip report. I will finish it one day...

So I was out the other night for a wee wander. My first real jaunt since coming back from Nepal. It was nothing too strenuous, just my usual walk from work up through Bridge of Allan and out to Dunblane. I got all suited and booted and headed out. It was a nice summer evening. I like this walk and it was a good break from the place I call 'work'. It's been a bit rubbish as of late. Coming back from Nepal I was riding on a wave of positivity, I was looking forward to getting back to work and then perhaps even planning my next challenge. Then you settle back into the old routine and some things never change.

Whilst walking along the road I was mulling things over in my head. The past week hasn't been too good. People can disappoint you in many different ways. Even the ones you thought could never, sometimes do. And the ones you expect to, well they always do. Some people who appear to have everything and yet they still moan when (heaven forbid) they have to do actual work that they signed on for!!

I vividly recall young girls of no more than 18 years old in our porter group hauling my 15kg duffel bag onto a woven basket along with 2 others, strapping it to their heads and walking 12km a day in nothing but a pair of flip flops. Spending some nights in a cave. Waking every morning to carry our bags and not once complaining. I wish all those fortunate people here would sling a 10kg bag on their backs and walk around the loch at the Uni for 6 hours. They'd soon know what a real job was and that in fact they have no real reason for complaining.

But... people are strange. Some have thoughts of others, some don't. Some have compassion, some don't. Some have a backbone, some don't. Some are great, some are not. But me... well I'm not going to let the negativity that is flowing around the workplace and indeed the country at the moment, interfere with my positive feelings I brought back from Nepal. Those Nepali people, well they were great. My trek buddies, were amazing. My friends, well they are great too. My office buddies, they are just fab. My family, mean the world to me. And really that's all I need concern myself with.

signing off and going for lunch
Ange xx

Agni, Agni, Agni... oi oi oi! Part 2

Monday, 11 May 2009

Tuesday 6th April 2009

... so with a few small bumps and a screech we'd finally landed at Lukla! We let out a cheer! More of relief than anything else I think. How exciting. As I got off the plane I looked up and on all four sides there were these giant mountains standing looking over us. Amazing. The air was much clearer, the colours of the sky and trees and mountains, everything seemed to be in technicolour. The air was crisp not cold but you could tell it was a bit thinner than in Kathmandu. It certainly was a lot cleaner! We were taken to a lodge conveniently located right next door to the airport it was called the Buddha Lodge and would come to be a place of much joy and sadness all at the same time. We relaxed with a cup of tea (our first of many on this wonderful trip), and marvelled at the pilots expertly landing and taking off tin the wee tiny planes. Yeti airlines, Sita Air, Agni air, Buddha air, they were all there. Today was a good weather day.

Shortly Saran brought in our Sirdar (Sherpa Boss Man), our Sherpa and our Cook. 3 important people in our team. They seemed really friendly. It was all getting very real an I wanted to start trekking. After we'd spent about an hour in the Buddha Lodge it was finally time to start. We applied factor 30 suncream, donned our rucksacks and set off. We had to walk around the perimeter of the airport where we got a real vantage point for watching the planes flying in and out of the airport. Then it was off through the village main street of Lukla. Funnily enough we spotted a Starbucks but were told it was a fake! There were lots of different shops, all mostly selling same North Face fake gear, Everest Wear down jackets and 'Loki' walking poles! We trekked for about an hour and headed up a steep part where we stopped for lunch. The views were amazing but by now the wind had picked up and I wondered if the planes were still flying. Occasionally you could hear the buzz of a twin otter engine. After a cup of well needed hot orange, lunch was served and I screamed with joy (on the inside) when they opened the silver pots and I saw..... chips!!!! Chunky proper home made chips and to my great delight they were salty. Aaaah nothing better. Then another pot came... eggs, fried eggs! Woohoo!! egg and chips - a fantastic first lunch. As we sat there eating our fried egg and chips various trekker groups and Gopkyo trains passed us. Porters seemed to be carrying bags that, if you stood them next to each other, would be at least 6 inches taller than the men... and women (or boys and girls).

Lunch was over and we set off again. It was soon time to cross our first wire bridge. I'm not scared of heights or anything but this was a test. Fine test it was too but the bridge was successfully negotiated. The next test however would be different. My first outdoor toilet test. First was to locate it. Next was to not get pee fright cos everyone was standing around outside listening. Next was to assume the correct squat position. After that it was how to get up from the squat, carefully take the toilet roll you had quickly stuffed in your pocket out without dropping it on the floor or even worse, down the hole! Next was either throwing some water down the hole, kicking over some leaves or shoveling a bit of dirt over your business. All very tricky but by the end I'd become an expert.

We finally came to our campsite for the night at about 4 or 5pm. It was a place called Tok Tok. Beside the rushing Dudh Kosi river. Looking way high up in front of our tents you could see the peak Thamserku looming over us - a giant of a mountain at over 6500m high. The immediate area was full of pine trees, alpine like almost. Our tents were all lined up and we would eat inside the lodge tonight - a pleasant surprise. We sorted our stuff and headed into the lodge for tea and then later on our dinner. I can remember being in a quiet mood that night. I was really reflective and trying not to think of home too much. It was also pretty cold, no woodburning fire in the middle of this lodge! Anyway we sat and played a few games and talked, ate dinner and then went to bed. My first night of camping had begun and once I was in my sleeping bag I was toasty warm. I'm gonna be good at this I thought.

Agni, Agni, Agni...oi oi oi!! (part 1)

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Tuesday 6th April 2009

Day 4 of trip, day 3 of trekking...

I woke early this morning with a certain trepidation and expectation. Was this the day that we would finally fly to Lukla and start trekking? We'll see. After packing our bag for the possibility of a ride in a helicopter we headed down to breakfast. All I could manage was a piece of toast and a wee cup of tea - to settle the nerves. We sat there and I think everyone was a bit anxious about what would happen today. Saran turned up for breakfast and sat at a table a few metres away chatting with Kamal and making the odd phone call. By now I think we were all beginning to read his body language, i certainly was. Today i think he was extremely nervous, a little bit worried and like us, just wanting to be on that trek. We finished up breakfast, packed our last things away for the store room and headed to the lobby. Kamal and his 3 clients were in the lobby too and suddenly we were told to move quickly, the bus was here waiting. I thought uh oh! what's this all about? It could mean that we were late for the airport or there was a good weather window approaching and we did not want to be late for that!!

We drove the all too familiar bus journey to the airport, got ushered in as quick as we could and waited in the check in/weighing area for a while. There was no sign of any movement. I think word might have come through that Lukla was closed again. I clocked a group we had seen the previous day, they too were waiting patiently, a couple of the women playing cards. Then i noticed them talking to a young couple and relaying stories of delayed flights and 3 day waits. The young guys face fell. Welcome to our world i thought. Today we were flying Agni air (Agni meaning fire! - yikes). Strangely Banu seemed to be working for them today! having previously been seen wearing Yeti airlines attire. Yep, you're thinking the same thing as I thought - Del Boy!!! Soon we were weighing the bags and walking through that security curtain to the departure hall. Banu came through and told us to go and get free hot coffee from the wee shop. I think only a few people took up that option. I had a wee seat. Saran seemed in a lighter mood, was this a good sign, did he have some insider information - hope so.

After about half an hour Banu came over and told us that Rooster had flown the day before (possibly on a first phase flight!) but his bags were still in Kathmandu. He'd received a text from him to say the weather in Lukla was sunny and not windy at all. That made me feel a whole lot more positive. We started to relax a little but still didn't want to get too over excited at the prospect of flying, let alone actually landing at Lukla. After about half an hour we were called to the gate - woo hoo, here we go, her we go, here we go......

We get through the gates and onto a bus that seemed to take forever to go anywhere but we were soon on our way to the little Agni Dornier 22 plane. The bus was packed, more than one flights worth of people i was sure. Ok guys lets push and barge our way off this bus and onto that plane when we stop. The very short little bus ride took forever and there were a group of Americans on it who quite frankly loved the sound of their own voices. We learned that 'Baaaahb' gave good massages and another member wanted one tonight! How amusing....

When the bus stopped they called Agni XXX and we got off (the Americans did not, ha). We patiently queued to get on the plane and Banu who was still with us, went over to the very cool looking pilot, uttered a few words and shook his hands. This, in my eyes, confirmed to me what I already thought - Del Boy, fly guy, cowboy however you want to call it. I wasn't caring though, we were on that flight and would hopefully land today!!!!!!!!!!!

As the flight took off we were still a bit anxious as we'd been here before and never landed. But this time felt different. There was hardly a cloud in the sky and the flight seemed really smooth so surely no high winds. Andy started one of the music games - the letter this time was W. Wings, Wham, Wet wet wet, Stevie Wonder, L'il Wayne!, and then we sort of gave up as we grew closer to the mountains. A few more pictures were taken and this time it was clear. Then we started to descend. And this tiny little airstrip came in to view. Of course by now everyone had their cameras and mobile phones set to record the moment when we finally landed. And so we did. This was, to my relief, a surprisingly less scary event than I'd imagined. Woo hoo - everyone cheered!!!!! We were at last on the mountains... in the Himalayas, can you believe it??? ...... to be continued.....