Traveling to Kathmandu is no easy task. Having left Tahoe early Saturday morning, I am still in transit two days later at 6pm, Monday evening. And I still have another 5 hour flight ahead of me. After a 14 hour flight from LAX to Guang Zhou, China I faced the daunting prospect of hanging around for 15 hours in a random Chinese airport before catching my flight to Kathmandu. Fortunately, the airline took pity on me when they saw the length of my layover and offered to put me up in a free hotel room.
The long flight to China went by without incident, besides the fact that I was seated across the aisle from a elderly Chinese man with a particularly bad cough. Apparently covering your mouth while hacking up a lung in a confined public space is not a part of polite Chinese custom. The last thing I needed was to catch some random chest infection before this trek even gets going and so every uncovered outburst was met with stifled groans of disapproval and nasty looks from me.
The hotel room they gave me was really nice. I had a warm shower and enjoyed a free breakfast buffet consisting of eggs and bacon and a variety of Chinese food or as the locals here call it "food." I met another traveler from Sacramento and we both headed out on a long walk through the city. The sky in China is gray with shades of brown and the sun is virtually non-existent. The people are friendly enough but very shy when it comes to speaking English. Ten hours later I caught the shuttle back to the airport.
My dream of everest base camp was very nearly all over due to a very basic error. When I got into the line to the board the plane I had a small panic when I couldn't find my passport in any of my pockets or inside my carry-on bag. Premonitions of being stuck indefinitely in a Chinese airport caused my heart to race and cold feeling to spread throughout my chest. Then, out of the blue, this very kind lady walks up with my passport in her hand and asks, "Did any of you guys drop this?" Relief washed over me as I thanked her profusely. My faith in humanity restored, I boarded the plane brimming with newfound optimism. This new positive feeling lasted all the way until the baggage claim area in Kathmandu when my trekking backpack, full of essential supplies and equipment, failed to make an appearance on the luggage carousel. Apparently my bag is still stuck in China although the officials assured me it would be there by tomorrow night. What this means for me is that I get to keep on wearing the same clothes (and the same socks) that I have had on this whole time as I explore Kathmandu tomorrow. Let's hope my luggage arrives before my next flight to Lukla or else I will be forced to buy all of my equipment again.
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being.