The misadventure began with my second flight being delayed by an hour. That meant a 1.30am departure from Auckland. I had paid extra to choose seats across the isle from Kay but somehow stuffed that up and ended up a few rows behind but still with an isle seat. Isle seats are imperative for me as I need to get up and move, and I have frequent flyer status for the toilets on airplanes.
As we were on Air Malaysia we were surrounded by Malaysians, women in saris, men in turbans, and some gorgeous kids and babies. Babies cry the same no matter what their first language is, and all toddlers understand a game of peek- a-boo.
Luckily the plane was not full, so Kay and I both had empty seats to spread across. The man in my row stayed upright in his own seat, so I had 3 to spread across but Kay’s row companion tried to hog all the spair seats.
I had shouted myself a travel bean bag neck pillow, but the tag was annoying me, so I tried to rip it off.
The next thing there was small beans flying all over the place. Being a well prepared traveler, I had a needle and thread in my pack, so I was able to sew the hole up before the mess got too bad.
We just had enough time to board our 4.5-hour flight to Kathmandu, Nepal. The plane was full with lots of families which meant a fair bit of shuffling of seats so parents could sit with their kids. Back in the day, we spread our kids out so they wouldn’t pinch and poke each other and annoy us. The kids had enough manners and shyness to sit quietly doing their coloring when sat next to strangers.
Arriving at the new airport, we were struck with the heat and smog. Kathmandu is in a very dusty valley and has about 1.5 million people and twice as many motor bikes, run-down cars and buses to add to the pollution. It is ranked the most polluted city in the world, hence the “Kathmandu Cough”
The airport was replaced after the 2015 earthquake (7.8 that killed 9,000 people and wounded over 22,000.) So it was definitely better than when I was here in 2006.
So we got visas, cash and a Nepal sim card for my phone fairly easily. We went out to find the pre-ordered taxi waiting for us.
That was a fun taxi ride in an beat up car. We tried to put on the seat belts but were told “no broken” so what can we do? First of all it appeared he was refusing to pay the parking fee so they wouldn’t lift the barrier arm to let us out. The supervisor was brought over but that just escalated the argument. We offered to pay but the driver wasn’t giving in. I am not sure who the winner was but eventually, we were on our way.
This driver was not one to drive patiently and wait his turn in the chaotic traffic, so he was underpassing and zooming across uncontrolled intersections, risking our un- seat belted lives at every turn.
We got pulled over by a policeman at one stage and quite rightfully so. But after some discussion, the driver was back in the car saying he paid him off. So beep, beeeeep we were off again.
But that is the fun of being in a third-world country.
Our hotel is called the Flying Yak and it costs us $13 NZD a night each. We had coffee served on arrival and chatted with a couple of young French guys before heading up to see our room.
We were pleasantly surprised at the soft beds and lovely ensuite bathroom and tea and coffee facilities. All nice and clean and tidy for $13 each. Oh yes and air conditioning and a TV. (Not worked them out yet)
As it was only 2.30pm we went off exploring the Thamal area all the time watching for pot holes, deep gutters, hanging power lines, a thousand motor bikes and cars beeping at us and people trying to sell us “very cheap necklace for you. Just look please”. I still have one I bought in 2006 that I have never worn. I am not a jewelry woman!! All this makes it very hard to look around and take in the sites.
I bought some gloves and a few other bits and pieces I needed before we had had enough of the hussle and bustle. So we found The Kathmandu Guest House as I remembered it had a lovely garden that was a quiet haven away from the busy streets. Rooms there are about $70 a night so out of our price range.
However they do let us sit, eat, and drink there. We had an Everest beer and a chat with a girl who had just finished the Annapurna Circuit before heading home. It had been a very long day, so we opted for some street food before going back for a shower and bed.
So here I am writing this at 4am because my time clock is all out of sync. I can hear the city waking up.