Thursday, 31 May 2012

Arrival back in Kathmandu: 9.5 weeks later!

Having decided to pay for a helicopter flight to make sure we got ourselves and (very importantantly for me) our bags back to Kathmandu today, it was with some relief that the weather dawned misty. There were roughly four or five fixed wing flights first thing this morning before the cloud cover became too thick by around 9.00 am.

Our helicopter eventually came in around 11.00 am and five of us got on board. By chance the cargo handler said 'the old man' should sit in front next to the pilot! What a cheek, anyway I wasn't going to argue.

The helicopter took off and flew within the valleys, much lower than any plane, only rising to enter a new valley. The ground beneath was a patchwork of cultivated terraces and remote hamlets and communities that only increased in size as we approached Kathmandu almost an hour later. At first there were no roads only footpaths and tracks for yaks.

The terraces looked just like contour lines on an ordnance survey map. I don't know what was being grown as the pilot was obviously the 'Stig's brother. He wore a hat, dark glasses and a buff so you couldn't see any of his face. What's more he didn't say a word all trip!!

During the latter part of the trip we encountered a severe rain storm that buffeted the small helicopter. Whilst I wasn't surprised that the wipers didn't work I was pleased the Stig had X-ray vision as I certainly couldn't see where we were going!

I was just pleased that I still had Lama Geshi's card and and scarf in my hand luggage (remember his insurance - apparently no one had died on Everest carrying his card). Although it did occur to me. 'I wonder who the underwriters are and who do you contact in the event of a claim!'. Thankfully we passed through the storm without mishap.

Once at the hotel I had the hottest bath I could stand and just wallowed for about half an hour - bliss. We were back to civilisation!

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