I have tried to be careful with my money but it was a shock when I checked my bank and realised just how much this trip was costing me. But I figured well if I need to cut the trip shorter than I had planned then so be it but just as long as I say yes to things whilst I am here. Today was one of those things. It was a bit of a luxury, um ok a huge chunk of my Nepal budget, but today I flew around Mount Everest. I’m sorry but when will I ever get the chance to do this again? I am a huge believer in saying yes to things and this decision took me about 3 minutes to decide. Credit cards were invented for this reason right?!
Getting up at 4am bleary eyed but excited I got to the airport where I would catch the hour long flight. They have flights every morning at this ridiculous time to take advantage of the sun rising and hopefully lack of mountain mist. It is never guaranteed you will get a clear view of Everest which is quite a disclaimer considering the cost of the flight. Right well positive thinking underway, I meet the rest of the group for the flight and we are ushered to the aircraft.
It is teeny tiny! If you had a flying phobia I doubt you would even get this tin can. For the tech geek inside you it is a Beech 1900 aircraft with 17 seats making a row on either side, as well as two seats in the cockpit for the pilots. You had to crouch to get into the blooming thing and sort of half duck, half bend your legs and waddle to your seat, I am five foot four and there was no way I could stand up straight!
Strapped in this spaceship and looking round the plane, which took a whole 30 seconds, I realised it was myself and a group of Chinese tourists. I hate stereotypes but I have to tell you that they did live up to theirs – snapping away at absolutely everything carrying fancy looking cameras round their necks, loads of different lenses in their hands as well as their ipads. Then there was little old me by myself with my battered iphone!
We took off smoothly and were told that one side would see the Everest mountain range first then we would all see the big boy itself before turning the plane round so the other side get to see. I was on the second side so just sat back thinking how the hell am I on a flight about to see Everest!
On my side the view was a mix of tellietubby looking mounds that then grew into Jurassic Park style green craters
Once at the right altitude we were invited one by one to go into the cockpit to see Everest from the pilots view. Eeek! So again I half waddled half stooped down to the cockpit, looking like I was desperate for the loo after a dodgy curry. Once there the number of dials, knobs, buttons and flashing numbers were amazing but that was nothing to seeing Everest right in front of me. Ok maybe that is an exaggeration, you know when people show you a baby scan and you are starring so hard at it trying to make out where the head and feet are on this lump but not wanting to hurt the proud parent’s feelings? Well that was how this went.
‘So there you go that one in the centre is Everest,’ the pilot excitedly pointing towards a whole range of mountains, each one looking like the last one. ‘Errm that one,’ I squinted trying to work out which was the bigger one of the cluster. ‘No right there! You see?’ He repeated. I realised that a fat Chinese guy was trying to get in to have his turn after me. ‘Yep yep looks great,’ I muttered. But honestly I couldn’t make out Everest from the other huge mountains.
Back to my seat feeling like a right plonker and with the plane being turned around it was my side’s turn to see the snow-capped mountains that appeared through the wispy clouds. Terrifying looking peaks, imposing and jaggedy edges, made even more dramatic against the clear blue skies appeared through my oval window.
The air hostess gave me a drawing of the Everest mountain range and that is when I could work out which one it was. In broken English she tapped at Everest on the picture and tapped at the glass on my window and I could see it! It is huge I really don’t know how anyone could think to climb that thing. God knows what the pilots were pointing at but I was so pleased to have definitely seen it.
After lots of photos and just letting my eyes take in as much as possible as well as the excitable Chinese chatter going on around me, we prepared to land. It looked like we were about to land in Noddy town with all the bright stickle brick type buildings and green land.