We’re back in Kathmandu, having spent a pleasant afternoon in the lakeside town of Pokhara and then a half-hour flight to the capital, which despite a rough landing easily beat a repeat performance of the sweaty six hours on the bus. Serendipitously, this leaves us with a last free day in Kathmandu that also coincides with a certain date.
Last night we went out for dinner to a traditional Nepali restaurant with our trekking group, but before leaving, Gum enticed us into the hotel bar and then produced a black forest gateau and a scarf to hand around my neck for good luck. Loz swears he had nothing to do with it. This morning, we’d booked to take the ‘mountain flight’ around Everest. A driver picked us up at 5:45am and drove us to the loosely-controlled chaos of the Domestic terminal at Kathmandu airport; then finally, we boarded our little 30-seater plane for the one-hour mountain flight. As the plane rises above the chaos of Kathmandu, it flies you along an endless panorama of snowy mountains – Shisha Pangma, the sacred Gauri Shankar, Cho-oyu, and finally, hovering behind Nuptse and Lhotse, the cone-shaped peak of Sagarmatha, Chomolungma, mighty Everest, with wisps of cloud boiling off its peak. It was worth every penny, and an incredible way to start a memorable birthday.
On landing safely, we had a belated breakfast and retired back to bed for a few hours. In the afternoon, we both had our kinks painfully but pleasurably worked out at Seeing Hands, a Nepali/English community project where young Nepalis blinded by disease are able to retrain as massage therapists. Afterwards, we spent some time wandering in the Garden of Dreams, a beautiful walled garden in central Kathmandu where the storms of dust and honking somehow seem to retreat. We lay on the grass in the garden amphitheatre, watching the birds and the clouds. The day was rounded off with dinner and sparkling wine at the legendary Rum Doodle’s.