Part 3: #EBC2017 – Everest Basecamp Trek – Day 1 in Kathmandu

This is one in a series of posts about my recent Trek to Everest Basecamp (EBC). If you wish to read the posts you can access them at #EBC2017

 March 19, I landed in Kathmandu after a “short” flight of 4 hours and 30 minutes from Singapore. It was a direct flight on a small 737-800 plane packed with passengers. I sat next to a nice lady who works for the Red-Cross organization and was on a mission in Kathmandu. It was her first time in Kathmandu, and so was mine, so we started chatting a bit. I told her about my Everest Base Camp (EBC) adventure, and she seemed fascinated by the idea. We part ways once we landed, and my EBC experience has begun.

Landing in Kathmandu was a bit, hmm, how should I put it, surreal. I had to obtain my entry visa at the airport and the process itself was a bit confusing and not at all self-explanatory, as I needed to go from one station to another until I finally managed to get my Visa. It took me about 35 minutes before I managed to get the process right, and in all this time I was thinking about my backpack. 35 minutes is a long time, and I was sure someone has already snatched my backpack and walked away with it. Immediately after I (finally) had my passport stamped I ran to baggage claim area to pick up my backpack, only to find out a jammed-packed area with hundreds of people waiting. There were no visible signs to direct me to the right conveyor, so I simply tried to find people I recognized from the flight. It took more than 60 minutes for my bag to come out, but I was happy it did.

Kathmandu
Kathmandu
I stepped out of the airport to look for my driver, and it is at this moment when reality hit me. There were hundreds of people standing outside–a lot of them were drivers waiting to pick up passengers–and the state of chaos overwhelmed my senses. In addition, dozens of people were hovering around asking to help with my bags; I refused to all of them as crime in Kathmandu (stealing your bag, snatching your wallet, etc) is quite common. I finally found my driver (I’m not sure how), and he escorted me to an old Toyota jeep which he used to transport me to the hotel. Driving in Kathmandu has no rules. There are no traffic lights, no (modern) traffic laws, no signs, but still, the system works. It was the most anxiety-causing (and fun!) drive I have ever taken. As we were driving through the streets of Kathmandu I finally was able to witness the level of poverty. People sleeping on the streets, beggars strolling the streets asking for money, poor roads infrastructure, and over-floating sewage running through the streets. (Somehow it reminded me of the awesome work our members at Impact Hub are doing around the globe to solve these type of problems….but that it is a story for a different post :).)
Kathmandu
Kathmandu
Kathmandu
Kathmandu

The original plan was to start the EBC Trek on March 22, but when I reached the hotel I was informed by the trekking company that we will be leaving on March 20, which basically was in 12 or so hours! It was exciting and scary at the same time because I thought I will have two days to prepare myself mentally; I didn’t, and it was ok. I was ready to go. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6am, and we needed to leave the hotel at 5am in order to get to the airport. I was up by 3:00am that morning. I wanted to make sure I get myself prepared mentally for what’s to come only to realize that nothing could have prepared me for the next 24 hours….

To be continued….

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