In what was to become a recurring theme of this trip it was a nice early start at 6am, I just had time to catch a quick breakfast before my guide met me and we headed to the airport to for a flight to Lukla. A note about flying either to or from Lukla, it is known to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world partly due to the small runway which you land on but also due to the unpredictable weather conditions. Basically if the weather is cloudy you cant fly as the runway is on a cliff face and the pilot needs to be able to view the landing area, also since the runway is 2,800m above sea level there tends to be a lot of clouds. This leads to an anxious wait at the airport while you see if your flight is actually going to be able to take off, we waited for a couple of hours before getting the go ahead to leave. The next step is for your bags to be weighed (its a small plane and each kg has to be accounted for), they were 10kg for my check in bag and 4.5kg for my day pack which meant my re-packing paid off.
The flight to Lukla is short and scenic but also not for the fair of heart, you board a plane with with on 16 seats and from my seat i could see both pilots and even out the front window! The flight only takes around 30-45 minutes and on arrival to Lukla its a bit of a heart stopping moment. The runway is on the edge of a mountain with no room for error, if the plane lands short its a few thousand feet drop and if it lands long its a brick wall that you are crashing into too. This is the reason that pilots have to have special training to be able to land at this airport but lucky for me the landing went without incident and the plane hit the runway and the turned right towards to terminal.
After I retrieved my bag from the outdoor luggage collection area my guide Niraj and I headed to a tearoom for lunch before the real trekking started, a tearoom is a form of accommodation where you sleep on the trek but also they also act as eateries. I went with the vegetable fried rice and also some ginger tea (which was to become my drink of choice on the trip) both were really good.
After lunch it was time for a light trekking day, the “real” trekking begin tomorrow but today was a nice easy day, with a decent of 200m (last time I was going to be going downhill!). It only took a couple of hours to get to my tearoom at Phakding but it was a good opportunity to test out my pack weight and trekking clothes before the longer days ahead. The one thing i did not get to test was my water bottle, somehow between the tearoom in Lukla and the 2hr trek i managed to loose it! It was not a big deal as you could buy 2ltr bottles of water and i ended up buying a couple of these and then reusing them for the rest of the trek (with purification tablets).
The teahouse was quiet when i arrived which was pretty common through my travels, as this was off-peak season. I had my own room and it was actually not too bad, it had its own toilet and shower although the shower didn’t work along with two single beds.
After dinner I bought a couple of bottles of water for the trekking tomorrow and then ended up going to be at around 9.30pm which is usual on the trek as there is not much to do in the evenings and its always an early start for trekking. My nights sleep was not a good one, I woke up about a dozen times, the rooms have thin walls so you can hear each drop of rain outside and also it got cold at nights (whatever temperature is outside it’s the same inside).