Doha Travel Blog› entry 1 of 7 › view all entries
While on this trip, I kept a journal log on my phone (yes, it is a full qwerty keyboard) and most of the entries are taken nearly verbatim from what I wrote with the exception of the spelling mistakes.
Somewhere in the early part of February I decided to use my one week break in early May to get out and explore somewhere. Being quite frugal (or maybe that is cheap) I started looking around to figure out what was going to be one of the cheapest flights but would bring me somewhere interesting. It turns out that Kathmandu was a bargain at around $300 on AirArabia.
I contacted Sipi, a friend of mine who was from Kathmandu now living in the US, asking about what things I should go see to fill my time. She suggested that 2 days would be enough for Kathmandu and that I should head off to Pokhara for the remaining time. She also requested that I stay with her parents to enjoy some Nepalese hospitality and food. I was first reluctant to do this (I think many Canadians would agree that you don't like to impose yourself even on family members, let alone family members of friends). I recalled however a visit to Mysore, India a few years before where we stopped at a friend's parents house and they were thrilled to have us.
The day started off pretty bad, my phone completely locked up and I needed to do a hard reset in order to get it to even boot! Luckily the contacts are stored on the laptop and I was able to restore at least that much.
My driver Shahad picked me up at 7am (although his sms the night before said he would be there at 7pm). I gave him a lot of money for this airport drop off but I figure he is sort of loosing a bit of money with me being gone this week.
In the check-in line I started to talk to a guy from Egypt and he asked me if I could carry one of his bags seeing that he was clearly over weight...right, I am not suppose to do this am I? So I agreed to do this for check in only. We both got checked in and he was pretty upset however when I refused to carry his bag through security. But he never made it to passport control with me because one of his items was a blanket and apparently blankets are really bad and they made him go back and check it. I did meet up with him both at the gate and in Sharjah.
Looks like maybe 20 minutes and we will hit boarding time and we are off for a short flight to Sharjah.
These are two statements that I always hear on board an aircraft but not quite in this way. "If oxygen masks should drop from the ceiling, please observe the no smoking signs". Now I am wondering, do people really think this way? If you were sitting on a plane and the oxygen masks dropped would your first reaction to be to light up a cigarette?
The Sharjah airport doesn't seem to be very much. I am sitting at CostaCoffee by myself with nobody else nearby. It also looks like it is the only place to eat post security. Turns out by the way that I was just in some old section of the airport, on the way back the condition was a lot better.
I heard some rather unique on this flight. Before push back we did a quick prayer to Allah. How odd that this is perfectly acceptable in an Islamic country on a flight that is primarily full of Hindus. Try praying to god in North America before heading out on a flight and you are likely to spark some sort of human rights issue for forcing religion.
I made it to Kathmandu but it took an awful long time to deal with the customs thing. I think in the future it is probably easier to get a tourist visa in advance. I think the amount of time it requires depends on how many tourists arrive at the same time..and I did see a Qatar Airways flight sitting on the tarmac.
I learned from this trip that the Nepalese are really quite outgoing and friendly. I was offered large amounts of fruit along the journey. I ended up between two girls who didn't know each other but they quickly formed a friendship and talked quite a bit for the first fifteen minutes or so. Shortly after take off I dozed off...not really unlike me over the past few years. Woke up to discover that the girl sitting to my right had decided to use my shoulder as a pillow. She was woken up by her friends around her a few times but eventually just ended up in the same spot. About 20 minutes before the end she asked if I was American. I said that I was from Canada..at which point the girl sitting right behind repeats this several times for the group sitting behind her...it seems that they had been speculating my origin during the flight. I don't know how many non Nepalese there were on the flight; I suspect that I was in the minority.
Managed to get out to the prepaid taxis. They were not very impressed that I already had a place to stay. Manage to make our way through some really narrow streets of Kathmandu to the petrol pump. In North America (and I suspect most of Europe) addresses are usually given by street names and numbers. This is often not the case in Asia...even here in Doha nobody knows my address...the fast food delivery people know it as the Canadian building in Mansoura, taxi drivers use the directions "down the road by Hot Bread Bakery, past the Napoli building, straight through the round-about then right. At the petrol pump we were suppose to go up the street and use the 3rd door on the right...luckily Sipi's dad happened to be down at the main road at that point and came over the taxi.
Supper was at 9pm, but I think that is the usual time. Sipi's parents were quite insistent that I could use silverware but I quite insisted that I eat like them with my hand (right hand of course...a challenge for a left handed individual). I can eat food with my hands given bread but I really suck at eating rice based dishes this way!
It is now quite late and I have crashed. Although the bed would be considered quite bad by North American standards, it beats the crap out of what I sleep on in Doha.