“Because it’s there”
When asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, mountaineer George Mallory famously said, “Because it’s there”. Well, I was here in Napal, tantalizingly close to Everest, so how could I not go see it, right? That’s how I found myself on an early morning mountain flight, on board a tiny 12-seater plane for the $150 one hour ride, flying first down one side of the mountain range and then doubling back so that everyone got a chance to see. Despite being in a small plane, the ride itself was relatively smooth.
Photos from the passenger windows were difficult to get, so the best view was actually from the cockpit, wedged between the two very accommodating pilots, where we each got a turn to look out over the impressive sea of mountains. I vaguely recall the pilot pointing out Everest, but looking at the pictures, I couldn’t pick it out now. I just remember an otherworldly expanse of icy blue, just as the sun was rising.
Now I can check Everest off my bucket list. I mean, How many people can actually say that they’ve been to Everest? Yes, I know I wasn’t really on Everest, but I’m always going to say I was and I have the schmaltzy souvenir sticker on my suitcase to prove it! After all, it’s the closest you can get without shelling out for the $60,000 trek to the summit. My way was much cheaper and didn’t involve oxygen tanks or hypobaropathy…
My last day in Kathmandu and I wasn’t sure what to do. I had hit all the spots I wanted and was ready to just relax and possibly take more photographs. As I was meandering through town, I passed a long wall enclosing what, I couldn’t tell. There was a simple sign hanging over the doorway beckoning me inside with the mysterious words, “Garden of Dreams”.
It turned out to be a breathtaking green space right in the middle of smoggy Kathmandu, a beautifully landscaped place to curl up with a book for a few hours. There was also a gorgeous cafe inside, serving up wonderfully plated chicken Florentine, an out-of-place but lingering memory of my trip to exotic Nepal.
Travel tip: Kathmandu is very much a DIY location. There are tons of travel agencies well versed in arranging trips within Kathmandu and beyond. Chances are your hotel will also have a driver / guide they usually deal with. So not much advanced planning needed, unless you’re applying for permits or need train / plane tickets in high season and aren’t flexible in your dates. Overall, I think 2-3 days in Kathmandu itself is plenty. Spend your time exploring the natural beauty of the surrounding area.