17th: More rain, heavier this time and it started gradually and slowly got worse. Slowly enough for me not to bother putting on my waterproof jacket until it was inevitably too late! So we got to Lukla and I was soaked. It was a lot more like walking through the Lake District than the Himalayas this morning.
Only one plane has landed and two have taken off from here so far today. It's still raining, visibility is terrible and people are backed up here waiting in a queue for the next flight, which given that the best weather is usually in the morning is likely to be tomorrow.
Speaking to some people, they have been waiting here for days trying to get out of Lukla. Some gave splashed out hundreds of dollars getting a helicopter, which is less susceptible to poor flying conditions. All flights today have now been cancelled, so people are doomed to another night here with no ATM and very little cash. The attractions here are Starbucks (yes, really) with its free wifi and a couple of bars including the Irish bar where we watched Seven Years In Tibet. We're heading back there later on.
18th: The pool table in the Irish bar is terrible but free. We went there with some other people "trapped" in our hostel, and stole Starbucks's free wifi to double check guideline price for tipping porters and guides. I summarised a useful range of 2 to 20 US dollars a day - it's that varied. We chose to give 6000 rupees to Prem and 9000 to Sonam, in case that helps anyone.
The morning started optimistically with the sound of helicopters, then planes! The restaurant area was filled with expectant breakfast eaters waiting for the phone call that meant their flight was on its way. We were scheduled to fly at around 11am, as the fifth flight in Tara Airlines' schedule.
But it never got that far. The clouds gradually descended until flights were stopped at 10 ish. Several people we recognised and knew returned glumly to the guesthouse from the airport - some already had boarding passes - once the news was announced. Another day of Starbucks! This time we watched Touching The Void. I forewent the evening's drinking to save money! Apparently the irish group were there, and asked about my nose. You see, famous...
PS. On the cancelled flight to Beijing I'd like to publicly thank my wonderful dad for taking the matter into his own hands and sorting my a new flight as STA were not so much help. Cheers Dad.