As promised, a blog post of my adventures so far – I can’t believe I’ve already done so much in just a few days! I arrived in Kathmandu at around 10am (your time) on Sunday morning and as soon as I set foot outside of the airport I was hit with a complete sensory overload – colours, smells and sounds full of Nepalese culture!
Even though I had been expecting Kathmandu to be a vibrant and bustling city, I was still amazed at what I saw as I took a taxi to my hotel. There were hundreds of people on bikes and the constant sounds of beeping horns!
I arrived at the charming Hotel Shanker which was formerly a palace. It had been badly damaged by the earthquake last year and, like much of the city, it is still undergoing repairs. There are tented areas dotted around Kathmandu where people who lost their homes are still living.
The first person I met from my Everest Marathon group was a guy from Austria who has ran over 150 marathons and 100 ultra marathons! We ate together at the hotel (a fantastic Nepalise feast) before meeting another couple of guys from the group, one of which happened to be John, my room-mate! We got to know each other over a few bottles of the local ‘Everest’ lager – a real treat after being abstinent for such a long time!
Yesterday morning we went to the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon press conference which was attended by important Nepalese dignitaries and guest speakers! I was particular fascinated by Parvaneh Moayedi from Iran who has completed 919 marathons and is in a race to be the first woman in the world to run 1000 official marathons by December 31st 2016! I also met a man called Helmut Linzbichler who climbed Everest at the age of 67 and Shariff Abdullah from Singapore who will be running the marathon on a prosthetic blade!
We were also joined by a group of National Olympian Runners who are carrying a Buddha Peace Flame to Mount Everest to give a message of national revival after the destruction caused by the earthquake.
In the afternoon we went on a tour of Kathmandu. We visited the famous Pashupatinath Temple, where we witnessed an incredible Hindu ritual! People who are near the end of their lives go the temple to die and are then cremated on the banks of the river! A very surreal sight to behold! We also visited the Boudhanath Stupa Temple – one of the holiest Buddhist destinations in Nepal and a World Heritage site! This had also been badly damaged by last years earthquake and was still undergoing repairs!
The day ended with a delicious buffet dinner and a few more Everest largers before packing ready for our flight to Lukla. This is known as one of the most picturesque yet one of the most dangerous flights in the world, mainly because the runway at the airport is extremely short and surrounded by mountains leaving no room for error!
We set off to the airport at 5am this morning with a mixture of nerves and excitement! The airport was incredibly busy and chaotic – nothing like the strict airport security we are used to in the UK! Our little plane seated 16 people and the cockpit was open so you could see the pilots as they navigated the journey. As soon as we took off my nerves started to vanish as I took in the incredible scenery around me! The busy city of Kathmandu quickly vanished and made way for the soaring, snow topped Himalayan mountain range. Luckily, I was so consumed with taking photos of the breath taking vision that lay beneath me that I barely even noticed the turbulence!
It was a 40 minute flight but it flew by and before I knew it we had hit the runway with a bump. I breathed a sigh of relief as the plane came to a stand-still just short of a towering wall at the end of the strip! I can safely say that it is one of the most hair raising, yet awe inspiring 40 minutes of my life!
The next instalment of my journey has now begun, but I will save that for my next post! I want to end this entry with a very VERY big thank you to the anonymous donator of a massive £1000 to Off The Record via my Local Giving page! I am completely and utterly gobsmacked by this generosity and I really am so grateful for this life changing sum of money! I would very much like to thank you personally but I completely understand if you wish to remain anonymous.
I will leave you now as I relax at the Tea House where we are staying. I’m told that we have a hard day of trekking tomorrow!