On the 29 March 2013 I caught a flight from London Heathrow to Mumbai with Jet Airways. They were late setting off but I wasn't worried because I only had a 10 hour stop over waiting for me.
When we tried to enter the transit area of the airport we where told we couldn't enter because of blar, blar, blar so we sat on the floor waiting for something to happen. I was there for about an hour but it gave me a chance to vet the other passengers and find out who else was going to Kathmandu.
I formed a little support group of other Kathmandu'ers. Although 10 hours sounds a lot you'd be surprise how quickly it goes when you are trying to get to know 3 new people. Rachel a student doctor on an elective. Jen, who had helped out at the Olympics was visiting some friends. She was a strange new age young woman who lived in a van. Also visiting friends was an accountant.
Mumbai airport was okay for shopping, although we did think that $20 (US) for 4 cups of tea was a bit steep. It was also full of mosquitoes which made it feel dirty. I don't think I'll transit through Mumbai again.
On arriving at Kathmandu Airport I had to go through immigration. I sorted out my Nepalese visa when I was in England so I joined the queue with 3 people in it, instead of the queue with 300!
The Angel Holiday notes said that I'd be attacked by taxi drivers the moment I stepped outside. So I used an old tourist trick. I hovered inside the entrance and waited for a patsy. An arguing couple came along and so I let them go ahead of me. The herd of taxi drivers took the bait. I skirted around the outside and exited to the cacophony of cars and people.
While I was distracted by the myriad of signs being flashed at me, a stooped man tried to take my bag. When I turned to look what was going on he said, "I carry your bags". I'd just caught sight of the Angel Holiday's sign, so thanked him and hastily headed over to it. The crazed porter followed me saying "I carry, I carry". The funniest part was when I got to the taxi, he wanted a tip, for doing nothing!!
Pabi was a delightful young woman whose calm demeanour put me at ease. One thing I immediately noticed was that there wasn't a single car that didn't have a considerable amount of damage. Pabi sat in the front and I tried to sort out the seat belt in the back, it's safety first with me! It was hidden behind the seat so the taxi driver disassembled the car and dug it out. The clicker didn't click anyway so it was useless!
The drive was amazing, frightening, extremely dusty and bumpy. Did I say bumpy? Really, really bumpy, there was no road for some of the journey. The smell fluctuated between in car air freshener, dust, more dust, sewage, more sewage, I'm gagging in the smell sewage to cooking.
Pabi pointed out various sights as we weaved through the traffic. The hotel was about 30 minutes so I listened to her giving the tourist spiel and enjoyed the spectacle of Kathmandu.
The hotel was lovely and seemed very separate from the world outside. It felt nice and safe. Pabi had put Jon and I together for room sharing. He was coming tomorrow so I picked the bed by the window. After unpacking, despatching an enormous cockroach in the bathroom and showering I headed back to the reception to see if I could find any of other Angel Holidayers.
Steve, the operator of the tour, was sitting in the garden doing his emails. Spent most of the afternoon chatting to him. He was a Welsh documentary broadcaster for the Beeb and was very well travelled with plenty of funny observations.
Towards the end of the afternoon Clare, Lisa and Simon came back from town. Clare and Lisa were fellow City Socialisers from Reading and Simon was a tall Mancunian, a few years younger than me who loved flowery shirts, music and spiritualness.
Steve had been going on all afternoon about the steak that the restaurant in the hotel cooks. I was staying in for the first night as I'd been watching films on the journey over instead of sleeping.
We all sat in the terrace bar overlooking Kathmandu for the evening and headed to the restaurant when the sun went down. I took Steve's advice and I have to say it was pretty bad, not what I had been lead to believe. All my friends had said don't eat the meat, just go vegetarian for your trip, so I was just happy to be able to ignore the advice.
Back to the terrace bar to play who can stay awake the longest. Several beers later and Rob and I are trying to explain to the girls how time travel is possible, according to the theory of relativity, don't ask me how that came up.
Photos on my FaceBook page.