In Kathmandu

Kathmandu Travel Blog

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Kathmandu Street
A couple of days relaxation in Kathmandu made a nice break before the real fun started. Qatar Airways had made a perfectly OK job of getting me to Kathmandu, except for thoroughly spooking me out with the disturbing blandness of their cabin crew - give me a foul tempered BA stewardess with a bit of character any day over the stunning but servile automatons on my flight. Plus, I have a new winner for my "dullest airport in the world award" - step up Doha!

In stark contrast to both the US and the UK, immigration at KTM was a pleasure, with a HAPPY immigration officer giving me a fine welcome to his fine country. He was apologetic about charging me the 90 day visa fee as my trip only overran the 30 day visa by a couple of days and consulted with his colleagues to see if there was a way around it, to no avail.
Durbar Sq
Since this was a hefty $75 difference, the fact that he even tried to squeeze me through was appreciated - for the record, I'm not a big fan of visas. I'd love to take the moral high ground here because I don't like paying to get into countries. The only problem is, I'm British, which means for the past three or four hundred years we've been rampaging around the world invading countries and thieving their natural resources, so if yours is the one of the (many) nations we subjugated and generally mistreated then please accept my apologies and by all means fleece me for $50 on the way in - we deserve it. If not, then don't - I'll spend the cash in your country anyway - promise. Word to the wise - don't get me started on departure taxes...

It's a fairly short ride from the airport into Kathmandhu proper and it took little more than a quick turn of the head to get a perfect snapshot of Nepal's contradictions - on one side of the road a perfectly groomed golf course, then whip-pan a 180 and street kids sift through a trash pile on the side of the road.
Stupa
After a bland 20 hours or so in the sterile care of an international airline, the first hour or so in a new country always trips me out, and Nepal was to be no different as I adjusted to my home for the next month.

The Thamel district gets a lot of stick from "authentic travellers" for being a fake, western-orientated ghetto created for tourists which bears no relation to the real Kathmandu. It is all of these things, and did just fine for me, thank you - for the next three weeks or so, I'd be using a 9 inch deep hole in the ground as a toilet most days, so i'll happily take my last chance for a beer and a pizza. On the pizza front, the Fire and Ice restaurant is highly recommended, although I never quite got used to buddhist monks sitting down for a margherita at the next table.

More worrying was news of a crash at Lukla, the mountain airport we'd be flying into. Lukla is world famous as an airstrip Edmund Hillary built to help bring building materials into the Khumbu, It sits on a rugged plateau above the river, with a mountain behind. Almost uniquely for an airport, there's just one way in and one way out, with the bottom end of the runway 40 metres lower than the top. Landing at Lukla would still be a highlight of the trip, but the deaths of 18 trekkers and flight crew did take the edge off.
ezwriter says:
Great pictures!!
Posted on: Nov 05, 2009
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Kathmandu Street
Kathmandu Street
Durbar Sq
Durbar Sq
Stupa
Stupa
Kathmandu
photo by: sharonburgher