Since there was no way I was going to even try to climb up Mount Everest, or even Base Camp, I decided to take the easy way out. Several airlines offer mountain flights that take you over Everest and other mountains in the Himalayas. In one and a half hours, you get up close to the highest peaks in the world and the cost is only $100.
The one problem is flights in Nepal are extremely dangerous. Every year, there has been at least one major plane crash in which all passengers died. With unpredictable weather, fog and mountainous terrain, airline pilots have to be very well trained when flying in Nepal. Now, the authorities take more precautions and cancel flights if there is any chance of a mishap.
My Mountain Flight was scheduled for 6:45am. I got up very early and reached Kathmandu domestic airport, checked in, cleared security and reached my gate. Actually, the entire terminal is one large room with a few doors serving as gates. The airport seemed quite dead but a number of flights were scheduled as stated on the monitor. The announcement said “Due to bad weather, Kathmandu airport is closed. There are no flight flying in or out at this time. Mountain flight is now scheduled to depart at 7am.” This wasn’t bad, only a few minutes delay.
At 7am, the same announcement repeated stating a new time of 7:30, then 8:00, then 8:30, and so on. Meanwhile, more and more passengers started gathering inside the waiting hall. There were flights scheduled to Lukla (starting point for trekkers to Base Camp), Pokhra (a beautiful lakeside city), mountain and several other places. In a few hours, the entire place was packed with people with very little standing room left. Needless to say, all the seats were taken and the bathrooms were filthy. There is one book/ gift kiosk, a tea stall and an internet café at the airport. All of those were doing good business.
Suddenly a mob gathered and broke out into music and songs. Someone played the guitar while people from various nationalities sang Jingle Bells, It’s a wonderful world and other lyrics that were known to all. I could make out some of the singers were from China, Europe and Middle East. It was quite amazing to see how they had a common denominator of music and American pop culture.
Here is a video of the instant mob at Kathmandu airport looking to kill time by singing anything and everything!
As I would find out after a few mornings at the airport, Kathmandu airport typically does not operate before 10am. So even if you have a booking early in the morning, you will be spending at least a few hours waiting at the airport. My recommendation take a good book, learn a few songs, carry your laptop (they have WiFi for a fee) or best, don’t book a flight before 10am.