Aljosa Ristanovic , october 10

It was just another ordinary day at the bar when I received an unexpected phone call from my best friend and best man, urging me to embark on a journey to the Himalayas with him. He gave me just one day to decide, and without a second thought, I enthusiastically replied with a resounding "Yes."

The prospect of this adventure filled me with excitement, even though I had absolutely no prior experience with such treks. I lacked the necessary equipment, not even a pair of winter boots, and to make matters worse, I couldn't take any time off work before the trip began. With limited time to prepare and a reluctance to spend excessively, I resorted to purchasing only the essentials and relying on my physical fitness.

In the days leading up to the journey, I found myself battling moodiness and an overwhelming desire to simply unwind on my couch in front of the television. The allure of relaxation was tempting, but my best friend's words resonated in my mind: "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." I couldn't bear the thought of missing out.

The adventure began just as I had imagined, with an unexpected twist when our airport bus caught fire in Dubai. It served as an interesting icebreaker for the journey ahead.

Upon our arrival in Kathmandu, I was greeted by a bustling, crowded, and polluted city, which did little to pique my interest. I sought solace in the hotel, nursing a cold beer named "Everest," a pleasant surprise due to its generous 750 ml bottle and a potent 6.5% alcohol content. My brief moment of joy was short-lived when a motorcyclist collided with me right in front of the hotel. Fortunately, I escaped unscathed, but my phone suffered significant damage.

 It seemed like a typical episode in my life, a testament to my "good luck." However, the silver lining emerged as I found myself on the hotel's rooftop, gazing upon the picturesque panorama of Kathmandu. It was a breathtaking sight.

The following morning brought another surprise as we learned that our flight to Lukla was postponed due to adverse weather conditions. We set out on a bus to Mulkot, where we would wait for the skies to clear. Mulkot, though modest, was a beautiful oasis with a resort in the midst of nowhere. The sight of an outdoor swimming pool beckoned to me, and I wasted no time diving in to expel my pent-up energy.

The ensuing days were filled with good vibes, swimming, basking in the sun, engaging in lively conversations, and sharing a few drinks with fellow travelers at night. It was an unconventional but fitting preparation for the Himalayan challenge.

After three days of relaxation in Mulkot, the news finally arrived that Lukla Airport was open and ready to receive flights. Although apprehension loomed due to the airport's perilous reputation as the world's most treacherous for takeoff and landing, I reveled in the thrill of the impending adventure. I even secured a front-row seat and marveled at the Himalayas alongside the pilot himself. Since we had lost four days, our planned 18-day journey had to be compressed into a mere 14 days.

Landing in Lukla marked the commencement of our real journey. Despite my decent physical condition, I was unprepared for the unexpected physical demands. After arriving in Lukla, we took a moment to appreciate the breathtaking surroundings before proceeding to Namche Bazaar, where we would await further instructions.

Namche Bazaar, nestled at 3,500 meters above sea level, was one of the highest inhabited places on Earth. It captivated me with its lack of cars and roads and the abundance of yaks and stores. I felt an overwhelming connection to this place and contemplated the possibility of staying there forever. The lodge owner, a warm and friendly local, regaled me with stories of his two successful climbs to the peak of Mount Everest.

The following morning, we ventured further into the Himalayan wilderness. The path resembled a goat trail, meandering amidst stunning peaks. It was not as solitary as I had anticipated, as we encountered numerous Sherpas and yaks carrying heavy loads. The image of these diminutive individuals shouldering burdens twice their weight remained etched in my memory. This unique experience offered a sense of wonder, with each passing landscape entirely new to me. I deliberately avoided pre-reading about the region in our online guidebook to preserve the thrill of discovery.

I can still vividly recall Ama Dablam, her magnificent cliffs seeming almost within arm's reach, bathed in sunlight and glistening with pristine snow. We also beheld the impressive Tamserghi, Loboche east and west, Taboche, Pumori, Lingtren, and when we reached Tengboche Lodge, we were treated to a captivating sunset behind the world's highest peak. Our first unobstructed view of Mount Everest coincided with the resonant prayers emanating from a nearby Buddhist monastery.

Life in this place was wonderfully uncomplicated: days filled with exploration, evenings spent sharing stories around the lodge's warm stove, and nights snugly tucked into freezing sleeping bags. To ward off the cold, I indulged in a gulp of local brandy (raksy) obtained at a reasonable price from the locals. These moments were simple yet beautiful, and life had never felt more enchanting.

Street market in namche

Our ultimate goal, the ascent of Kalapatar, was just around the corner, promising an extraordinary view of the towering Himalayan giants. Despite a slight headache, a consequence of raksy and altitude, the sight of Everest left me awestruck. In that moment, I realized that this journey was worth more than all the riches in the world. As I took numerous photographs, I felt like the happiest person on Earth. The connection between humanity and nature became vividly apparent. On our way back to the lodge, I was rendered speechless. I had seen it all.

The remainder of our tour was dedicated to forging bonds with my Nepali companions in the group: two delightful young women and two affable, skilled men. I had ample time to immerse myself in the nuances of their culture and society, appreciating their music, particularly after an acoustic guitar party in one of the lodges. We unanimously agreed that even sober Nepalis sang better than their Balkan counterparts.

A rematch was scheduled in Namche, the capital of the Himalayas, where we all gathered for a memorable evening at the Hungry Yak. It evolved into a night of live music and hookah, a fitting farewell to my temporary family. The next day marked the final day of our tour, as we returned to Kathmandu, concluding our adventure where it had all begun - amidst the anthill of humanity. I found myself seated once more on the hotel's rooftop, gazing at the familiar panorama with different eyes, a mind clearer than ever.

I managed to collect a few mementos to forever remind me of this incredible journey: a bottle of glacier water from the top of the world, some pebbles from the Everest Base Camp, and a bottle of local raksy from the Himalayan slopes. A piece of the Himalayas will always remain with me, here in Serbia.

Comment / Rely From

You Might Also Like