I am finally underway and on a path that will hopefully lead me to Everest Base Camp.
However, my second of two trains to Kansai International Airport is delayed and I am forced to wait on the platform in the hail, acquiring a taste for the cold I will encounter at 18,000 ft / 5,000 m.
Amid the gusting winds I attempt to solicit conversation from the two Japanese men in front of me (aka I want to know how long we'll be waiting here). My body demands that I begin shivering, but I tell it no (stupid body). Must endure. Nepal will be colder.
My train finally arrives and soon I make it to the airport in (what I think is) time. Yet I am oblivious to the fact my flight has been rescheduled to depart thirty minutes earlier (is that even allowed? Maybe I am just an idiot and had the wrong time all along – this is more likely).
I hurry my walk as I hear an announcement informing the terminal that the reason I am now scrambling is because the final check in for my flight is being announced.
Giggling at my approach, the counter ladies turn out to be exceptionally friendly, but they tell me that my checked bag doesn't meet their standards (something to the tune of, “there's too much shit hanging off it”).
Yes, I know checking bags is a sin, but it's free and I need my poles. It looks like my pack will need to be wrapped.
Five minutes, ten dollars, and an absurd amount of plastic later, I am given my boarding pass. Boarding time is 21:30. “What time is it now?” I ask, still oblivious to the schedule change.
“It's nine thirty.”
You would think that my representative, being so incredibly kind, would do me the courtesy of making sure that I am aware of the urgency my situation calls for (but then again, maybe she was just too nice to insult my intelligence). Wait, is my bag even going to make it on? Oh well, my fault for checking it.
Luckily, security takes all of thirty seconds, but oh yes, then immigration. Another winner. No lines here either. I approach the immigration officer who asks me if I intend to return to Japan on my current visa. Affirmative. Wrong answer. He gives me a paper to fill out and then rejects my attempt to fill it out in front of him.
I backtrack to the counters and hastily scribble down my information. Turning back to the officers, after having my back turned for all of fifteen seconds, I am confronted with two queues at least thirty deep. What sorcery is this!?
Sliding in front of a group distracted with their children I impatiently tap my foot to the sound of my flight's boarding announcements as I make my way to the front – again. The minutes drag past and finally its my turn. Stamp, stamp, staple, and I am off.
A quick check of the departure screens and another brisk walk later, I find my empty departure lobby and walk right onto the plane. Just like I planned.
The flight's only about 80% full, giving me two seats to myself amidst the 2-5-2 configuration. My first thoughts on Qatar Airways? This is the nicest plane I have ever been on.
Everything looks new, the seats are quite nice, I have a toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, a pillow, a blanket…socks? I think I have a new favorite airline.
Getting comfortable I am treated to some candy and a moist towelette by a flight attendant. Then I notice a small white bag on the floor. Slippers!
Wanting to take full advantage, I force the single use slippers onto my oversized feet, tearing the “strap” of one in the process. I don't care as I have just discovered the library of almost 300 movies at my disposal (sadly, no porn).
We take off, I watch John McClane take down Hans Gruber, and then manage to smash myself horizontally into my seats and fall asleep. For six hours. Incredible (especially considering that when I wake up, I have somehow managed to acquire an incredible pain in my calf – I hope this goes away before the elevation gain begins).
Eating the most delicious (edible) meal I have ever been served on a plane, I notice the man in front of me frantically searching around his seat for something. Eventually he works up the courage to turn around and ask me about a small white bag with some slippers.
I knew they were too good to be true.
We descend into Doha and I discover that my suspected twelve-hour layover turns out to be only four. I also discover that getting Nepalese rupees outside of Nepal is probably impossible (but maybe in India somewhere? Tibet?).
I grab some pizza, some candy bars (because I irrationally/incorrectly fear they'll be more expensive in Nepal), some pictures of an absurdly large (and ugly) teddy bear, and I am once again airborne, en route to Kathmandu.
Another delicious meal, another re-watched movie (Mulan, but this time in Japanese), and more exceptionally kind flight attendants later and I'm landing in Nepal.
What happens next?