Everest Base Camp Trek Travelogue: Day 1 & 2

Travelogue Emails

During my adventure travels, I send emails to friends and family and have a record of my entire experience. I’ve taken those emails, corrected my type-o’s, added a few more pictures, and have made them available here in the Everest Base Camp Trek Day-to-Day series. I’ve divided the trip up into sections and will include a sort of “Table of Contents/Index” to easily navigate through the series.

Everest Base Camp Trek Day by Day Index
First glance of Everest on Everest Base Camp Trek

Pre-trip Thoughts & Flight to Nepal

To understand the full why for the decision to go on this trip and a complete overview, you’ll want to read the “Everest Base Camp Trek Overview.”

Here’s the first email sent while waiting for my flight to leave.

September 25, 2014

Hello from LAX,
Since I have a few hours to kill, I thought I’d write down a few pre-trip thoughts as well as give you a rundown of my trip.
A lot of people have asked me why Nepal, why basecamp? Well..that’s a good question. Nepal has never been on my bucket list. I like hiking, but I’m not a hardcore backpacker. Pretty much this is an “I’m craving adventure, and I need an epic trip” thing. I crave adventure like most people crave chocolate. So in January when I saw an ad in one of my travel ticker emails, I thought it was worth checking out.
I never knew people could go to just base camp. I thought it was something where you went to Nepal, paid major bucks to summit Everest, and hoped you weren’t one of those people who died up there. So when I found out that you could go to Everest Base Camp for a very reasonable amount of money, have a porter carry a lot of your gear, and the risk of dying was dramatically lower, I was totally in.
So here’s what I’ve gotten myself into. It’s a 16-day trek with a reputable company called Ace the Himalaya. It’s a small group tour where all of my accommodation, food, guide, porter, and permits are all taken care of. They’ll pick me up from the airport, be with me the entire time, help get me to base camp and back, and drop me off at the airport at the end of the adventure. So rest assured I’m not as crazy as you might think to just go solo to Nepal.
Based on my experiences preparing for this trip, I have a feeling that there will be two themes to this trip. My predictions of what I’ll learn:
  1. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
  2. Hard doesn’t mean impossible
Hopefully, the wifi gods will smile upon me, and I will post pictures and highlights all along the way.
My current adventure is surviving the 14 1/2 hour flight to China. Good thing I love flying.
Double Decker Plane to Nepal
Double Decker Plane to Nepal from China

Day 1 – Arriving in Kathmandu

September 27, 2014

I made it to Kathmandu 36 hours and three planes later! We crossed over the International Dateline, so I lost Friday, but I get two Sundays in one day when I come back, so it all works out. Just a little bit of time traveling going on here. 

So far so good. Because I’m “travel-sized,” I do well on planes, and this trip wasn’t much different. 😃 The 15-hour flight from LAX to Guangzhou China was my longest flight yet. We were on this massive Airbus that had two levels. I’ve been on one before, and they’re pretty nice. Thankfully, I slept most of the time so the flight flew by. 😉 
Flying into Kathmandu, we could see the tops of several Himalayan peaks. It was a little surreal to see several snow-covered peaks above the clouds and realize that one of them was Mount Everest. Seeing the majestic peaks above the clouds like that was pretty amazing. I’m starting to grasp how very high these mountains are. 
Peaks above the clouds in Nepal
Chaotic Traffic in Kathmandu
Chaotic Traffic in Kathmandu
The adventure started when we landed in Kathmandu, and it was time to meet up with the guy who was picking me up from Ace the Himalaya. He wasn’t there when I first came out, so there was a bit of waiting, but a short wait later and we connected. The guy who met me at the airport is named Raj. He’ll be the guide on the trek, so it was good to meet him and talk to him more about what to expect. 
The adventure continued when were driving to the hotel 20 minutes from the airport. The guidebook describes Kathmandu like this: “Kathmandu is an exhilarating, fascinating, and maddening city of colour and chaos.” All of that has proven to be true so far, and I have only seen a glimpse of it. I’m sure after touring the sights tomorrow I’ll have much more to say. 
Let me share what they say about traffic because that has been one of the most exciting things I’ve ever lived through. “Traffic on the streets of Kathmandu is an anarchic, at times near-apocalyptic, riot of two, three, and four-wheel vehicles squeezing through impossible narrow streets. Traffic and touts can make a stroll through Thamel (where I’m staying) a deeply stressful experience.” I have never seen anything quite like it. There are no traffic lights. There is no order. It’s a free-for-all for everyone and not just for cars. People are walking into traffic dodging cars, motorbikes, and bicycles like a real-life game of Frogger.
I will say this though…I’ve never seen better drivers in my life. I guess it’s one of those, “survival of the fittest” type things. I was going to take video, but I was fighting off a bit of car-sickness and thought that might do me in. 
Today is a rest day to adjust to the time difference and get settled. Two other people are joining the group tomorrow, so it won’t only be me, Raj, and a porter. 🙂 Tomorrow we see the sites of Kathmandu and prepare to fly out to Lukla on Monday to start the trek. I really can’t believe I’m here. It’s still a little surreal.
Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu
Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu with an eye on all directions

Day 2 – Sightseeing around Kathmandu

September 28, 2014

After a hearty breakfast, I met up with six other people and our guide to sightsee around Kathmandu. I was thrilled that there were other people joining us. 5 of them are Australians who will be joining me on the part of the trek to Everest Base Camp. The other is a women name, Rosie, from England, who is doing the Annapurna trek. Rosie and I became fast friends, and I’m a little sad she’s not coming with us.
Today was a full day driving to and walking around Buddhist and Hindu temples. We saw a lot of inner city Kathmandu and some of the other parts of the city. We learned that Kathmandu is actually several cities that are all in one large valley, which explains why it’s so populated. Just in Kathmandu, there are 1.4 million people. In the Kathmandu Valley, there are 6 million people.
Traffic again was beyond crazy, but we’re starting to get used to it. They’re not aggressive drivers; otherwise, this whole crazy, chaotic system that is somehow working, wouldn’t work. One of the traffic highlights today was seeing cows cross the road and meander through traffic. Cows are sacred animals here, and people just let them be and got out of their way. 
One of the many temples in Bhaktapur Durbar Square
One of the many temples in Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Potter's Square in Bhaktapur in Nepal
Potter's Square in Bhaktapur in Kathmandu
Swayambhunath aka Monkey Temple in Kathmandu
Monekys at Swayambhunath aka Monkey Temple in Kathmandu
One of the sites we visited was called Bhaktapur. It was huge and had many different monuments and temples. Inside we learned about different Hindi gods, their reincarnations, and where Buddha came from. I’ve learned that that with 27 million people in the country, with 102 various tribes of people, each with their different language, they have found a way to co-exist with each other. Nepal is so diverse with different religions, languages, and cultures. Very impressive that it’s a goal for all of them to live in harmony with each other.
After touring the city, we met with our guide and got the information needed before leaving for the trek tomorrow. I’ve got my bags packed, had my last hot shower for probably 10ish days, and am getting ready to head to bed early.
I’m pretty sure I’ll have internet the first few days, but not sure what it will be like the further we go up. I’ll send updates when I can.
I’ve learned how thankful I am for hot showers, seat belts, water I don’t have to sanitize, people who speak English because I lack in the language department, and working wifi.
**Side note – I was here 6 months before the 2015 earthquake that damaged many of the historic buildings in One of the many temples Kathmandu.
Everest Base Camp Trek Day by Day Index

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