Arrived in Kathmandu
Kathmandu Travel Blog› entry 4 of 9 › view all entries
I arrived this afternoon into Kathmandu, Nepal and had to wait several hours to get my entry visa. Clearing customs was a joke, there is no security, merely just an exercise to obtain money from foreigners. I was really surprised how dilapidated the airport was, but understandably considering how poor the country is. My smiling guide Kapil was waiting outside the airport for me and took me to the hotel. Driving though the city, it was exactly how I expect India to be, crowded with people and cars and dust everywhere. I guess in my mind I was thinking it was going to be more village like and less city like; boy was I wrong. The human and vehicle traffic is atrocious with no clear road rules and people driving on both sides of the road.
The Hotel Shankar is an oasis of serenity in the otherwise chaotic city, and is only a 10 min walk from the busy tourist area of Thamel. The building was once a colonial manor and retains much of the historic architecture. There is also a large walled garden with a swimming pool. After a refreshing shower, Kapil took me to the offices of Himalayan Glacier for the business end of things, then on a waking tour of the Thamel area where I picked up some last minute trek gear (at a hugely inflated price). The streets are packed with shops selling everything from mountaineering gear to spices to colorful Nepalese clothing, but you have to aggressively bargain to get a fair shake.
Later this evening we went to a traditional Nepalese restaurant for our welcome dinner where I met the other trekkers Mandy and Rob, a couple from Australia. We had a delicious meal of Dal Baht (curried potatoes, veggies, lentile soup and rice) while enjoying the singing and dancing. We all got along great; Rob it seems is a great practical joker, so I’ll have to keep an eye out, and our guide Kapil is always laughing, about what I don’t know but it is contagious. Tomorrow we will go on a guided tour of the city, then have a final trip briefing.