Kathmandu Travel Blog› entry 2 of 17 › view all entries
October 10th, 2008 – by: cja17
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.
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.
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.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!