Kathmandu Travel Blog› entry 17 of 24 › view all entries
October 7th, 2007 – by: portia
It took perhaps 15-20 minutes for us to all go through immigration where they stamped our passports, and customs where they ran our hand luggage through some scanners. We met our drivers and the rest of our luggage and drove down to the border. This part of the road was sometime closed, and one was supposed to walk down to the border, while some porters would carry the luggage! Luckily in the car it was a relative short ride. What was amazing was we had to be facing some trucks which were backing up this narrow road, since there was no place to turn, and we had no idea why this truck had come way up maybe thinking he could go further? Anyway, Joel counted 280 parked trucks on the side of the road while this truck (which turned out to be 2 or 3 trucks) backing its way all the way til the end of the parked trucks!
At the border, we said goodbye to our Tibetan drivers who were going to have to spend the day in Zhangmu and wait til 1am before they could go back to Lhasa.
Our contact from Nepal came to meet us at the border and had several porters to carry our luggage. Because we had to now walk across the "friendship bridge" which was the real border, and go through Nepalese immigrations on the other side, before we would have any cars again. Well, I was sure these porters do this for a living and it's nothing to them, but one of the ports was what looked like a very old woman, who was carrying our big suitcase on her back (weighing about 45lbs at least), and it just felt really wierd.
Ah, now we had to change our watches, Nepal was 2 hours 15 minutes ealier than the time we had in China, (where on earth did they get the 15 minutes difference?) so as we stepped into Nepal, we stepped back in time, at a time before we went through immigration in Zham! Anyway, the drivers and guide had to come from Kathmandu very early, in the dark, and they had not had any breakfast! Although we were not hungry for lunch, we stopped about an hour later at a small village restaurant so they could get something to eat.
The road from Zham to Kathmandu was downhill, and still mostly along the river. But the vegetation was lush and green, and small Nepalese kids would be running naked. That would not have been possible in Tibet where it was much colder. The scenery was very beautiful and spectacular too, but in a different way from yesterday's drive. The sky was blue with some whilte clouds, the mountains were green, the river was rushing below. There would be many villages on the mountainside, and terraced fields for farming. The valley started out narrow with steep cliffs where there were several "resorts" advertising bungee jumping! One of them was named "Last Resort", cute name. We did not stop to bungee jump though. Then the valley would open up and the mountains would be less steep with terraced fields and farm villages.
We arrived in Kathmandu in the early afternoon. The traffic around and in Kathmandu was something to be seen to be believed. There were so many cars, trucks, tuk tuks and anything you can imagine on the road (not as many cows as in India though) And it was supposedly just a normal day with the congestion. And there were lots of people, there are probably more prople here in Kathmandu than all of Tibet!
We checked into the very nice Yak & Yeti Hotel, which was definitely a huge step up from the tent at base camp. It had a beautiful garden, pool, tennis courts. We had a delicous lunch buffet at the hotel restaurant (had to remember not to eat everything you saw),
relaxed a bit and went for a walk to the Thamel district of Kathmandu.
There were lots of stores in Thamel, the map stores and photos of the Himalayans were interesting to browse through. There were many stores selling thangkas, Tibetan lamp shades, Nepalese clothing, pashmina shawls or scarves (good bargin, but do remember to examine the merchandise in detail before buying, some appear to have slight imperfections, and could be rejects from exports), jewelry, and mountain climbing gear! It was very interesting to walk around and see the people and things around you, the traffic there was super busy too.
Our hotel had (free) happy hours from 5:30pm to 7pm at our floor, and there were lots of goodies to eat, since we had a late lunch, I decided to just snack at happy hour and skipped dinner.
Old blog entry while we were in Kathmandu: BTW, I called David and Eric on the cell phone from this viewpoint looking at sunrise over Mt Everest the other day. China is way past USA in terms of cell phone coverage! We had 5 bars on the cell phone most of the time driving through the vast Tibetan plateau! Even at the base camp where they had no electricity (other than solar) or running water, they had cell phone coverage!
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