Come September, things were starting to quieten down on Harris and I was turning my attention to the colder months. As much as I love the Outer Hebrides, I was looking forward to a well-earned winter break, so I booked flights to Kathmandu and planned a trek to the highest mountain in the world: Everest.
On landing in Nepal and finding my way into the city centre, I wasted no time in locating a bus for the long journey into the mountains. After a number of false leads, I eventually found the bus station, a chaotic and dusty square in the middle of town. The air was heavy with diesel fumes and shouting, and I was told to return early the next morning to catch the bus to Jiri. I acquired some last bits of gear for the walk and retired to a restaurant in the tourist district of Thamel for an enormous plate of rice and spicy tofu.
I was back and forth to the bathroom a number of times that night. It wasn’t even 24 hours before my stomach had started objecting, and I couldn’t wait to get out of the noisy city. I was bundled onto a bus soon after 5 a.m. and sat there with my bag on my knees wondering where on earth I was going to end up. To save myself a potentially embarrassing toilet-related situation, I had nothing more to eat than a modest quantity of sesame crackers and a few sips of water over the 9 hour journey, and after an eternity of bouncing up and down steep hillsides and negotiating tight switchbacks, the bus finally rolled into Jiri, the starting point for my 3 week trek.