The first few days of our trip to Nepal and Tibet in April/May 2015. An earthquake gets things off to a shaky start.
The Nepal Earthquake Sets Our Adventure Off On A Sombre Note – Sunday 26th April 2015
As day one merges into day two and we tip over the 24hrs of travel marker, we are still in a holding pattern above Kathmandu.
As much as it is stunning to watch the sun set across the Himalayas from the height of the plane, I want to be on the ground.
The terrible earthquake which hit Kathmandu yesterday, just as we were starting to travel, has caused inevitable delays. It is really only down to the tenacity of our group leader that we have got this far.
Now we must wait again as capacity is greatly reduced at Kathmandu airport. We really do not know what we will be arriving to when we do land. We know that the earthquake has caused huge destruction and loss of life but it is but it is still difficult to imagine what the city will present us with.
Waiting to Land in Nepal
I mainly want to be on the ground because I hate flying. It terrifies me. Take off and landing send my stress levels soaring and turbulence makes my adrenaline spike. So circling around in thick cloud and a thunder storm, next to a huge mountain range does not leave me with much room for relaxation.
Flying is a necessity, because I love to travel. I have always insisted that my fear of flying will not stop me going anywhere. I’ve even braved the notorious Lukla airport in the past, en route to Everest base camp.
I am looking forward to all of our group catching up on sleep so that we can relax together and really start to believe we are on holiday. There are six of us on the trip (including my Dad). Four are staying for the entire month and two depart after two weeks.
I am also in a situation I did not think I would be in when I decided to join this trip. I am in love again – something I doubted could happen after Bob died. So I find myself not only excited to be travelling on this wonderful adventure to Nepal and Tibet but also excited to return home to someone special.
Coming Down With A Bump – Monday 27th April 2015
And so finally we land. It was with a bump but that is not unusual in Kathmandu. This didn’t mean I took it well. I admit to becoming deeply religious during the last few minutes of the flight and then possibly ruining it with swear words as we touched down!
Landing did not mean the end of the journey however. It was possibly an hour and a half after we landed that we finally received our luggage on the stop/start carousel.
The plan was then to meet our driver and head to the hotel. If only! As we moved through the airport the first evidence of the earthquake became apparent – cracked and raised floors plus large queues of people waiting for relatives, news or transport.
As we came out of arrivals the area was dark and crowded and it soon became apparent that our driver was not there. This bought about many more attempts at phone calls from Colin followed by a resignation that we would be bedding down for the night at the airport.
Just as I tried to get comfy – using my large bag as a bed and hand luggage as a pillow – Colin managed to excel himself. Three hotel rooms booked plus two tiny taxis procured to get us there (we were told to move fast as Ralph was ferociously guarding the taxis from other travellers). With very little room in the taxis my luggage was slung on to the roof rack unsecured. There followed a Benny Hill style, two taxi, chase through the dark streets of Kathmandu’s with me attempting to cling onto my bag with my hand out of the window.
A Bed For The Night
Our hotel is lovely and not badly damaged. Many people were choosing to sleep in the gardens due to the violent aftershocks which had been occurring. After 29 hours of travel we decided that the comfort of hotel rooms was worth the risk – making sure to have essentials handy to grab in case of a night-time evacuation.
This morning we woke to bright sunshine and the familiar shouting and car horns of Kathmandu. Surprisingly bright eyed we all had a good breakfast before heading out to the few tourist attractions still safe and intact enough to visit. We took in Boudanath Stupa and Swayambunath temple (the monkey temple) although we could only access parts of the latter due to damage.
There was a notable lack of tourists around and 80-90% of all shops and businesses were closed. It really started to hit home; the hardship that some locals were living in – large open areas are covered in makeshifts tents. Many people have lost their homes and many more are to afraid of aftershocks to sleep indoors.
Kathmandu is an odd place at the moment with rescue teams and television crews from all over the world constantly evident. Sitting in the hotel lobby I hear conversations about where to debrief traumatised climbers and the logistics of repatriating bodies. We are here as tourists and move on to Tibet tomorrow. We are lucky and cosseted from the worst.
To read about the next part of our trip head to: Nepal and Tibet Trip: The Adventure Continues