I am the happiest and most at peace I’ve been since last time I was here.

I cannot believe I was ever considering not coming on this trip.

We landed and the exit was super swift: Craig’s visa application was rapid (me being me, I’d done mine back in NZ), the lines weren’t lengthy, the luggage was already on the conveyer. But there was a bit of a conundrum when Craig’s second bag didn’t make an appearance (as yet still hasn’t: we think it’s still in China so are trying to hunt it down) but we filled in the right paperwork and got on our way.

Tri haven International Airport in Kathmandu just makes my heart sing. Think of the most rudimentary airport you can, then times that by ten; it’s like a massive factory where people have chucked in a couple of conveyers, an exiting “customs” section and some screens where about once a year, they might half heartedly pat someone down. You go through the scanner and it bleeps out signalling metal, but they just wave you through without a thought.

But somehow, it works. And I love it.

When we booked and I told my friend Megh we were coming over, he insisted he retrieve us from the airport. What with language and missed cues over messenger part of me wondered if he would actually be there, but as we looked out at the sea of Nepali men with signs trying to spot him, a little male in a Hawaiian printed shirt darted across the crossing and wrapped his arms around me.

“Poppy!” It was Megh. “Haha! You bigger size!” And he applauded.

Thanks mate.

I didn’t take it to heart though – as he said it he squeezed my bicep, and I know my arms have gotten more gain and strength with all my yoga. It’s incredible to me that I don’t break down in a heap when that kind of thing happens anymore – I can detach from that emotional reaction and accept that it is what it is.

Megh draped us with the traditional orange-flowered garlands and then we loaded into the car.

We drove through the Kathmandu streets, the 29 degree humid heat hitting my hair and turning Craig’s arm hue into a peachy pink as it hung out the side of the wound down window. Merg kept up a commentary of trekking and Nepali and asking of our homes, then the driver dropped us off on the street out from Thamel’s centrality.

If you haven’t been to Thamel, I just cannot translate its enchantment in words nor photos. It’s like this lane-lined village of festivity and pureness (aside from all the hustlers that keep coming up and offering Craig hash). Colour and life and joy and sweetness, but all encased in sheer simplicity.

It genuinely feels like home.

And it’s even more amazing at the moment as being the off-season, there’s hardly any other tourists here. Instead of having to sidestep throughout the streets, you can roam freely in the middle

We went for iced tea, banana bread (Craig) and apple flans (Megh), then we said goodbye and Craig and I ambled around the array of avenues for a few hours. We discovered short cuts we never knew, little stores we’d never seen and revisited realms we really rated from last time.

I may have gone slightly over the top on baby puffer jackets and vests (lots of my friends have had kids, ok?). And key rings. And lots of other knick knacks and trinkets. But with 46kg of baggage to come home with, why the fuck not?

After Craig had smashed a falafel kebab (NZ$2 for a decent wrap mate) we meandered around a little bit more (another couple of keyrings may or may not have been purchased) and then headed home and to bed.

Mate, the deepest sleep I have ever experienced.

We awoke at 5am this morning, floated through some yoga on our rooftop balcony, had breakfast and now have the day to do as we want, when we feel, as we wish. Massages, gear shopping, a few more keyrings to collect: absolute utopia in my mind. Meeting up with our guide from Base Camp last year – Prem, the absolute man – to book our bus to Phaplu (update: have hired a Jeep to take us the 10-hour journey for a mere US$38) and flights back from Lukla. Then shopping for Craig (bag has not made an appearance).

Quick add in: how rad are my unicorn dream catchers? Best purchase of my life. (Craig couldn’t handle my despair at only choosing two and leaving the other four out – does no one else give inanimate objects feelings?).

And I’m embracing my floppy (ok, frizzy-ish) curls. It may be a case of having watched When Harry Met Sally on the plane and rating how Meg Ryan rocked it (just to clarify, mine look nothing like hers). But I think it’s more what happens to me when I head away to places like these – I just start to espouse my natural way, cheese-and-vegemite-ringlet-hair as I am.

Tomorrow we’re catching a ten-hour bus ride to Phaplu, trekking to Namche (about four days), having about five overnights there and then flying back from Lukla to Kathmandu.

And the only coverage I’ll be in is a shell jacket; as per, I’m out of communication and off all socials. Disconnecting to reconnect and having a full on fast from all that frenzy. I left my diary at home in NZ, all work on my desk in my bedroom. It’s going to be trekking, writing, yoga-ing and just being. Being and finding.

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