October 6, 2006:
Kathmandu to Lukla (2,850 m) to Phakding (2,640 m)
Woke up around 7 am and got ready for the trip. Had a quick breakfast at the hotel which serves a
pretty good breakfast buffett. I checked out and stored my suitcase at the hotel. Bharat picked me
up at 8:45 am. He was always on time during my entire trip. Lima drove us to the Domestic Airport
Terminal. Bharat's step sister was one of the security guards and managed to get us on an earlier
flight than the one we were booked on. Gotta have connections! We flew Yeti Airlines. The flight
announcement at the terminal is quite unique. You have to listen very carefully to hear the
announcement of your flight. I am sure many people not too capable in the Nepali language have
missed their flight here. One of the little things  where having a guide with you really can make a
difference.
We went back down to Phakding and had a good Everest
Beer. Bharat says that only tonight and the following night,
which was our first of two nights in Namche Bazaar, was I
allowed to drink alcohol because of the altitude. This guys is
worse than my wife!!! We had a nice dinner in the dining
room. Garlic soup, fried noodles and a very delicious fried
apple pie with custard on top was my dinner. I visited some
more with Papa and his gang who turned outto be the kids
of the Hilltop Lodge Owner in Khumjung, the place he
always stays at when he visits Khumbu. They picked him up
at the airport in Lukla. As Khumjung was on my list as an
overnight stop anyway, we decided to stay at their lodge and
meet again in three days. Went to bed at 8:30 pm.
During the flight, I sat in the last row
next to the female flight attendant,
who was quite cute! As she was sitting
on the left side of the plane where
there were great views of the
mountain, I gave her my small digital
pocket camera and she took picture
after picture after picture. Well, let
me just say, she certainly was a better
flight attendant than
photographer...I had to delete most
of the pictures she took. That flight
could have been a little longer than
the 35 minutes it took us to get to
Lukla. Lukla's airport is quite
interesting, to say the least. It is like
flying into a mountain. The landing
strip is uphill, as the runway is so
short. There is not much wiggle room
for the pilot and flights to Lukla are
only occuring when the weather is
decent as it is by sight only.
We got our bags and stepped out of
the terminal. What a beautiful
scenery!!! We stopped at a lodge in
Lukla, had some tea and got some
water. Also, Bharat left our return
tickets there. I briefly chatted with an
American couple who was on the way
back to Kathmandu and had a
wonderful time hiking.
Finally, we started our trek to Phakding. It took us 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to Phakding from
Lukla, including a tea stop. It was a beautiful hike, mostly slightly downhill, but as it followed the
river for the most part, there were also some short, steep climbs. We had lunch at our lodge in
Phakding, the Khumbu Lodge, where we stayed for the night. I ate tomato soup and fried noodles.
There I met Papa (Manfred is his real name), a white-haired elderly German from Ibenau in
Thueringen. Papa visits the Khumbu twice a year. He looks like my Dad, and talks as much BS as
he. A great guy!! I got my room which was roomier than I thought. Shared bathroom, the Western
style.
After lunch, Bharat and I went to a nearby monastery, the Pema Choling Monastery. On the way to
the monastery, just past the Star Lodge at the northern end of Phakding, we ran into the Maoists.
They wanted to collect their fee, but Bharat told them that we would pay tomorrow as we were only
going up to the Monastery. The same guy with his Maoist cap we saw later that night while he
walked through Phakding checking out everything. The climb up to the Monastery was quite steep.
24 Buddhist Monks live there full time. One monk opened the inner sanctuary. In there was a statue
of the Guru Rinpoche, similar to the Thangka I bought the day before. There were also 3 smaller
statues, including one of Buddha. During their big festival in July, about 2000 monks, pilgrims and
visitors attend their big celebration in this monastery.
Phakding from the Pema Choling
Monastery