I awoke this morning with a creeping feeling like there was something missing. And then I remembered what it was: everything. Everything was missing. My backpack full of trekking supplies that I had spent the last three months amassing was lost somewhere in a random Chinese airport. My brother assured me that my bag would be there by tonight but both of us had to consider the possibility that it was gone for good and we pondered the various ramifications this would have for us in the coming weeks.
We spent the day venturing out into the bustling streets of Kathmandu in search of additional supplies for the trek. I quickly managed to rent myself a -15 degree sleeping bag from a local trekking shop. When I took it back to the room I instantly went into a cycle of regret. The bag I rented bore the odor of the sweat of countless other trekkers who had rented it before me. The thought of spending the next 12 nights wrapped up in this smelly old bag was too much for me to bare. After a small crises I resolved to return the bag and buy myself a new one instead.
Kathmandu offers great bargains on trekking gear for those who are willing to haggle. I entered a different gear shop and, armed with the fact that I already had a sleeping bag in my possession and hence did not actually need one, I was able to haggle the price of a brand new North Face sleeping bag down to $65. I was also able to score some sweet waterproof pants for $11. Come to think of it, I wish I'd saved all my shopping for Kathmandu. I really enjoyed the haggling process and so did the shop owners, or so it seemed. I was able to return the rented bag and get my deposit back without too much hassle. I felt much better about owning my sleeping bag and, for a moment there, I almost forgot that everything else I needed for the trip had gone missing.
My brother and I spent the day walking around on the busy streets fending off pushy salesman and then retreating back to our hotel room as soon as things got too overwhelming. At one point I got hit hard in the head by a small flying object. I spun around and a beggar was laughing at me and then asking for a free handout. He really needs to work on his technique if he is going to be successful as a beggar because nailing me in the head did not exactly bring out my charitable side.
After a long day trying to not think about my looming crises, it was finally 10pm and time to once again venture back into the chaos of Kathmandu International Airrport. We took a taxi to the terminal and, with my yellow missing-luggage slip in hand, I was able to slip past security and return to the baggage claim area where it had all gone so horribly wrong the night before.
Tensions were running high- at least mine were. I found myself pacing up and down the cramped baggage hall, unsure of my fate and unable to stay still. The name of the airline that had lost my bag was China Southern and, disconcertingly, their name did not appear on any of the overhead screens. Luggage started moving on various different belts and, not knowing which was the right one I was faced with the impossible task of watching them all at once. It wasn't going well for me until I overheard a security guard telling a passenger that China Southern was on carousel 1. I walked straight over to #1 and there it was. I'd never felt so glad to see a backpack before. I was the first person out of the airport wearing my bag with pride. We spent the rest of the night organizing and packing our things into duffel bags for our porters to carry. At about 1am I crawled into bed exhausted from the emotional roller coaster of the last 24 hours. Still, I had to smile. After all, the very real chance of total disaster is what makes an adventure an adventure- otherwise it's just called a holiday.
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being.