It was night when I landed in Kathmandu, in mid-May this year.
It had been a long eighteen hours from Sydney via Guangzhou with the cheap, cheerful and overheated China Southern airlines. The weeks before the flight had been even longer. I’d wanted to be somewhere far, far away, and the Himalayas fit the bill. The trip to Nepal was about as last minute as you can get, planned and booked ten days before my departure.
You miss the views, of course, during a night time descent into the Kathmandu valley. But emerging onto the tarmac, into the sticky almost-wet season heat, breathing in that heady mix of smog and spice and incense and moisture, I knew that the mountains were there.
Although it was approaching midnight and the rest of the city was closed down behind heavy roller shutters, the usual airport arrivals crush was there. Taxi touts chased me across the street. I knew this place. I’d done this before.
In the car on the way to Thamel, we dodged potholes, stray dogs and sleeping rickshaw drivers. The power was out, the room in my guesthouse lit by one lonely, weak bulb. In a few days, I’d be walking in the Annapurna region, high above sea-level, high above home, approaching the Thorung-La, which lay under deep, unseasonable snow.
I didn’t know that yet. I just knew that it had taken me too long to return to Nepal.