Trekking, Day 10, Jomsom, Nepal – Woke up this morning at 6 and climbed up the ladder out back up onto the roof to have a look at the runaway. An inch of new snow everywhere. Went back inside and climbed to back into bed, woke up about an hour later and sat outside our lodge in the sun. For the first day in a while it was really clear and the sun was blazing down. This only made the snow covered mountains that much more impressive, so Ram and I took yet more photos.
We put the camera away and decided to take a walk down to the runaway to have a look at it and when we got there, we found a fair amount of people just hanging around the airport shack, in case a plane could make it up here. The sun had melted the snow and now the runaway was just a massive wet gravel in weeds rather like a deteriorating parking lodge.
We were standing there talking to this other American guy when all of a sudden this air raid siren went off signifying that a plane was arriving. No way, no one was prepared for it and Ram and I went running out of the airport and back to the lodge to grab our packs. Back to the airport, checked our bags and walked out to the runway to wait. The twin-engined propeller plane landed and all 15 of us flying boarded completely filling the small plane.
I sat by a window on one side and Ram sat across from me by the other window ready to try this flying thing out. When he first saw the plane, Ram said it was big. I then told him there are airplanes that hold up to 400 people. He just could not believe that one. Our bags were loaded, the door closed, and the engine started. While we were still sitting on the runway with the engines idling, the stewardess crawled up the isle offering each passenger one sweet and two cotton balls to plug your ears during the flight. Once every one had their cotton in place, the plane moved out to the end of the runway, really started those engines up and started our take off.
The plane took off and pulled the tightest circle, not very far from the mountains themselves over the valley. Then we were off towards Pokhara. Ram handled the take off well and was content just looking out the window during our flight. We flew below the tops of the Himalayas so I was able to look straight across at them, amazing. I took a few photos out of the plane as well. Our plane landed in Pokhara and we deplaned into the 70-degree weather, still clad in our down jackets and 10 layers of clothing. After a short walk back to my hotel, I said good bye to Ram. Gave him my T-shirt and my gloves and told him I would meet him over at lakeside later.
During the trek, I had actually broken my record for days not showering, which previously had been 8 days set in Africa. The record now stood at 10 days in Nepal. I cleaned up, rented a bike, and headed over to the lake where I met Som and Ram hanging out at Jomsom trekking. We chatted for a while and then Som, Ram, and I went to look at this hotel I was going to stay in.
As we were heading over to the hotel, I heard this voice yell, “How is it going?” When I looked up, it was Cameron, this kiwi dude we had flown from Cairo to Nairobi with. I could not believe it. That was five months ago, and I remembered they were headed the same direction, but I thought they were miles ahead of us. Cam said, he and Tracy had gotten struck in Africa, specifically Malawi in Zimbabwe. About the same time, Rich and I got stuck in India. I arranged to meet them for dinner, then I went to this hotel to stay in.
After looking at the room and leaving a deposit, Som, Ram, and I left to go have a beer, but my bike was gone. We did not notice anyone in the hotel grounds, but the bike definitely was not there. Som said that one of the boys of the hotel proprietor sometimes borrow the bikes left around and that is probably what happened. We went out on the street looking for the bike and after a cursory search, Som assured me the boy would bring my bike back a little later.
On that note, we headed to this restaurant to have some beers to celebrate the end of my trek. Ram, Som, and I had two beers each and Som because he is smaller was getting pretty looped. Ram was not far behind and I was a little less than Ram. It was strong beer. We had a great time chatting and after I had paid our 360-rupee bill, $7 and 20 cents, we went looking for the bike again. Ram said he was going to the trekking shop and that he would see me at about 8 or 9 the next morning. Som and I went looking for the bike and I began describing it to him. As an example, I took him over to this bike parked on the side of the road and said, okay this aspect of the bike just like this bike here is the same. I described the bike more and more each time pointing to this bike on the street saying just like this one. It even had a lock and chain wrapped under the seat like the one we were looking at on the street. I guess the beer had really dulled my senses because after my describing the stolen bike and pointing out the similarities with this bike parked on the street, Som finally asked me if this bike was my stolen bike. I pulled out my keys, tried the lock and pop it opened. We had found the bike just parked outside the shop on the side of the road, too lucky.
I took my newly acquired bike, said good-bye to Ram, and told him I would see him in the morning before heading back to my hotel to change clothes and meet Tracy and Cameron for dinner. Out to dinner with them and we caught up during the last five months while they were in Africa. They told us the situation in Zaire has gotten worse since we were there and that the overland trucks are not going into the country anymore. They said one of the trucks sort of went missing. Cam also said the situation in Nairobi did not get any better. Everyday at Ma Roches someone had a new horror story. I still have no reservations about leaving Kenya or the Kumuka Safari early.
We left the restaurant and as we walked by a local’s place, Ram called out teak-cha to me and I called back “topai kek teak-cha?” “malai teak-cha” was his response.