We luckily managed to evade capture (and rabies) thanks to our running shoes and the fact that Third World hounds don’t have much stamina
After a fun filled 5 weeks in India the time came to board Air India Flight AI215 from to Kathmandu (Nepal) from Delhi (after an intial leg from Kochi)
Karen used that short stopover in Delhi to get some last minute supplies and have a final Masala Dosa as it would Momos from here on out.
The flight was only 90 minutes as we flew across Utter Pradesh and the National Parks of south Nepal. Our descent into Kathmandu provided us with our first glimpses of the Himalayan Mountains and as we set foot on the tarmac we took our first breaths of Nepalese air.
You would think that with almost 15 years of combined banking knowledge and Karen having a maths background we could have easily worked out that the 12th to the 27th of February was enough for the 15 days required for the cheap visa. It was not. Our stay would be 16 days, 1 day more and we were faced with a fine on departure and possible blacklisting or pay for the 30 day visa, which of course is what we did.
Tribhuvan International Airport has a tabletop runway – meaning it is on a plateau or hill and makes it quite tricky to land there. Similar to Wellington or Sedona Airport in the United States. It is the main airport in the country and is the gateway for people wishing to climb Mount Everest. Aviation is only a recent development for Nepal – It only hosted its maiden flight in 1949 and up until 1977 it’s air traffic control was managed by Indian technicians.
Nepal is a pretty unique country – it has 8 of the Top 10 Mountains in the world ; was the birth place of Buddha himself ; was never colonised – it instead acted as a buffer between British India and Imperial China and it’s flag is the only non-rectangle flag in the world.
We managed to pick up a lift from the queue of the ATM machine but there was a bit of a scramble and without leaving the car park we had been sat in 3 different taxis as we were fought over by all the drivers.We luckily managed to get the the taxi driver who was having a telephone domestic with the missus. Oh well, some more new curse words to add to our dictionary!
Our digs for the next few days was located in the heart of Thamel, Kathmandu’s heaving tourist quarter. We were greeted with a hot smile and warm tea (or is that the other way round?). Add in a free upgrade to SUPER DELUXE room and we were laughing. Karen’s eyes lit up with the prospects of a hot shower and real duvet.
We spent the first evening doing some exploring along what felt like the Khao San Road and dinner was partaken in a nice restaurant called Utse, where we got to grips with MoMos (Tibetan dumplings).
As the Kathmandu natives greeted the new day they were treated with the sight of John dropping half of his dirty laundry in the street. Travelling around meant that we had 14kg of laundry to get done. We managed to get the whole lot taken off our hands for £4 in the back of a little shop.
Would we see those clothes again?
At this moment in time Karen un holstered the camera and John put on his best “describing” voice and a 3 hour walking tour of the city began. We only got lost twice I must add!
Stop 1 was the Garden of Dreams where we interrupted a very sweet proposal to take some panoramic shots. We didn’t stick around to find out the answer however. This neo-classical garden was built in 1920 and stands across the road from the former Royal Palace. It stood derelict between the 1960s and early 2000s when the Austrian Development Fund stood in to try and bring it back to its former glory.
After that we saw nearly 20 Temples of various faiths, ducked under tiny tunnels and met friendly people along the way. Kathmandu’s culture and art is spread everywhere so you have to go exploring.
A few hours later we reached the Durbar Square in the centre of town and our bellies started to rumble. So we consulted the Lonely Planet for recommendations. John believed one of the cafés was down some small alleyway. What greeted us were 3 dogs that barked and gave chase as soon as they registered us. Karen felt like she was back in Portugal.
We luckily managed to evade capture (and rabies) thanks to our running shoes and the fact that Third World hounds don’t have much energy!
We found a rooftop restaurant and had some food while the suns harsh rays poured onto us. Karen put on an act of western tourist and managed to secure us an umbrella. Poor Waiter!
After lunch we had a look around Durbar Square and as evening approached we headed back to Thamel and booked our flights to Pokhara for a few days time. The guy in the travel agents couldn’t get his head around our international union.
“Scottish and Irish and together. Crazy!”
He had obviously never been to Parkhead on match day!
With so much places to choose for dinner we went with two of Johnny Doucherty recommendations, pre-dinner smoothie in Himalayan Java followed by pizza and risotto in Fire and Ice.
Do you remember that huge bag of laundry?
The shop was still there and open and all our clothes greeted us washed and pressed. We scurried back to our room to count the items against our earlier created list.
The next day we would be departing for Bhaktapur but we will be coming back just before we leave Nepal in a few weeks.
Will the dynamic duo have enough days on their visa or will the fiendish Nepalese punish them?
Find out next time. Same bat time, same bat place!!
P.S Electricity is chronic in Nepal so Wifi is scarce!