And home bound. Where have the last almost-six-months gone?

It honestly feels like a mere month since I first flew off. The time has absolutely catapaulted by, and I cannot believe in three hours and 22 minutes (according to the flight info display) I will searching out the Fear Fall as we descend as I always do on reaching AKL.

The last few days in Thamel were fab, spent recuperating, buying up on North Face gear and getting many massages. The numbers of our group slowly dwindled as members made their way home, so by day four and final it was just Craig, Jacko and myself left. Day one we sorted all our stuff and showered (mate, how good is a wash after nigh on two weeks), day two there was a lot of shopping done (honestly, so tempted to bring a container over and buy up both my wardrobe and interior design for my not-yet-existing abode), time spent at the Pumpernickel Bakery (on the adjacent main street of the Thamel centre; honestly, so worth a visit – or three a day, as our group did), as well as a couple of tattoos inked in (Craig got a rad sketch of the Himalayan range around his ankle and I got a couple of little quirkys myself). Sarah and Marv flew to Delhi on the afternoon of day three (fittingly on the same flight which worked well), and Craig, Jacko and I went out for dinner and what not that night.

On departure day we were all off at different times; though all flying to NZ, the three of us were all on separate flights at different times. After breakfast and a wander, Craig headed off at 11.30. Jacko and I roamed around, got the BEST massage in the world (sharing a room, wearing paper undies as both you and your pal get pummelled brings on a lot of laughs) and did some last minute purchases (myself a wondrous blue cashmere pom-pom shawl thing I feel Mummy Deb may or may not share my delight in; Jacko some more trekking pants and an abundance of water purifiers). Then at 5.15pm, I set off to the airport.

I love airports. I love Nepal. So you’d think Kathmandu Airport would be right up there as a convergence of two of my favourite places in the world. Mate, not the case. Kathmandu Airport is an absolute fuckfest – it’s like someone decided to convert a big empty warehouse into a flying space, chucking in a few security scanners (that I seriously doubt actually do anything) and about twenty rows of chairs for 364,456,872,218 milling people. With no signs announcing where check in counters are, you have to chance your luck on information given by the “officials” around the place (I queued for more than an hour at the front of a line on the advice of one man, only to find out Silk Air was actually operating on the other side of the floor space). And when you pass through “screening”? (I say this in the very loosest sense of the word; my big bag was taken aside as showing up something potentially wary and the man simply asked me if there were books in my bag. “You don’t look like a terrorist,” he deduced, and waved me through without checking). It’s a pure nightmare of confusion over which gate to go to (one single board displays which number at the exact time of boarding, rather than earlier so you can head to your assigned and settle up earlier on) with hundreds upon hundreds of people obnoxiously bandying each other about.

To make matters far, far worse, it appears I struck up a bit of gut gurgling the other night that has followed me through going on three days. 2am Thursday was fab – I was in the bathroom deciding which end to have over the bowl for a good hour. Departure day it decided to amp up even more so, and I found myself hauled up in an airport toilet cubicle for forty minutes (20 or so of which I’m pretty sure I was passed out for). With my plane delayed two hours, I was determined to rid myself of all I had so as not to be plane trotting the entire trip to Singapore and then onto Auckland.

Amazingly, Kathmandu Airport does offer wifi; not so surprisingly, it’s extremely shit. It took an hour to connect to try and locate Jacko (his flight was 11.15pm so ours ended up being about the same time) but a fleeting moment of full four bars gave me the necessary knowledge to look to the very back of the third room where I spotted him in all his golden crowned glory. We got in a ten minute yarn and a goodbye, then Silk Air to Singapore was finally, finally called.

Already severely sleep deprived, my three hours of slumber didn’t aid in making me any less zombie-like on reaching Changi Airport. My usual version of Disneyland, I simply walked from newly erected T4 to T2 and onto T3, with only a little inkling of joy at discovering I’m back in the world of being able to flush away toilet paper.

I located my gate for my onward flight, having some cold sweats before boarding as my tummy decided to speak up again. The lovely flight attendants (how good is it to be around so many Kiwis again?!) saw I wasn’t in an overly healthy state and let me board along with Star Alliance Gold, so I was seated up, swaddled in blankets and asleep before the rows around me were even filled. (And then my lovely German-Kiwi air hostess friend asked if I wanted to move from my seat right next to a three-month-old baby – very cute, but not ideal on a nine-hour-flight where sleep is utmost – to the random one at the very front of economy class that sort of stands out on its own, giving much ample leg room).

Is it bad I’m not actually that excited about going home? That sounds awful. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hanging out to see nephew Hendrik, pumped to see The Pedaller, pleased I’ll soon be seeing the parents. But that thrill of anticipation that usually grips me heading home after being abroad is absent this time.

I’ve been thinking about it and I think I may have mellowed a bit. Always one to go to extremes in the realms of over-excitement and despair, I think I’m simply just accepting that it’s time to go home, and not putting much emotion into it. It’s not that I feel empty or bland or anything; it’s more a sort of peaceful sensation, like it’s just what is and I’m chilled with that.

(What has happened to Anneke P R Whatman-Wortman?!).

But I must admit, I bet when I do see that telltale tower by the Rainbow’s End sign my heart will fly as high as the plane at the realisation that I’m home (or maybe not; I do get in at 11.45pm, so it might be a little dark to seek it out).

Significant Solo Sojourn number three done and dusted. And I already have the next being created in my mind (as well as my new handcrafted Nepalese notebook).

Namaste, Nepal. Time to head to NZ and home.

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