Saturday 15 September 2012

Namaste from Nepal

I've finally arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, home to about 1 million people and me. Unfortunately it's raining as its the end of the monsoon season, but that's not going to stop me enjoying myself.

My journey here was pretty uneventful, trains were on time, flights were smooth, I even managed to grab a couple of hours sleep. I cleared customs and immigration in minutes, with no hassle, as I already gotten my visa from the Embassy of Nepal in London.

TIP #1: Arrange your visa before you leave the UK, it saves quite a bit of hassle and time on arrival.

Next I was off to baggage reclaim. I had heard stories that this could be like a rugby scrum, but none of this was true for me. I duly waited at the carousel allocated to my flight, unfortunately my bag didn't arrive, along with most of the bags from my flight.... It turned out that the Nepalese baggage handlers were being super efficient and decided to use 2 carousels to speed the process up! My bag was on the other belt, typical.

Bags now in hand I headed outside the airport. On leaving the airport you are greeted to a barrage of taxi drivers and people holding up name boards all shouting and wanting your business, its quite an impact on your senses. I quickly found my transfer and I was on my way to my hotel. Yadu had arranged for me to stop at the luxurious 5* Yak & Yeti Hotel, this is a grand building in the heart of the city with some lovely gardens.

After freshening up, calling home and unpacking, I decided to brave it and venture into town to exchange some currency and have something to eat. It was still pouring down with rain and by this time (7pm) it was dark, very dark. This is mainly due to the fact that there are no street lights in Kathmandu and at times there are power cuts (load shedding) plunging everything into complete darkness. I have already experienced a few of these, which didn't last too long.

For food, I chose to go for a safe option and went to "Fire & Ice" a well known pizzeria in Thamel. I had a rough idea where I was going, but soon realised that to get to the restaurant, I had to cross two of the busiest roads in the city, in the dark and pouring rain. The roads were clogged with all types of vehicles belching out exhaust fumes and constantly beeping their horns, mopeds being the main source of danger. I also learnt quickly that no one stops at pedestrian crossings....very different to the UK.

I eventually arrived at the restaurant, soaked though, still in 1 piece and ready for some food and drink.

TIP #2: During monsoon season, take an umbrella out with you! These can be picked up quite cheaply.

I had a great pizza and my first "Everest" beer, then back to the hotel for an early night, as jet lag was catching up with me and I was meeting Yadu at 9:30 in the morning, to finalise some logistics, then off for a day of sightseeing.

It's been a interesting first experience of Kathmandu and Nepal, everyone seems really friendly. I cannot wait to see more.


PS I was writing this at 4am, bloody jet lag.


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