Archive for the ‘Kathmandu / カトマンズ’ Category

The Final Lap

Posted: November 30, 2011 in Kathmandu / カトマンズ

This afternoon we fly from Kathmandu to Seoul. Arriving at midnight we then have to hang around the airport until 8:30 to catch the morning flight to Shizuoka where our freshly washed (!) car will be waiting to take us back to Fuji. Hopefully…

for Suzumi et al

Posted: November 27, 2011 in Kathmandu / カトマンズ

A slice of Kathmandu night life!

I need a dentist! Today we had a 7 hour bus ride to Pokhara on a fairly comfortable coach. Our day started at 5:30 with a quick breakfast and then a taxi ride to a busy road where about a dozen coaches were waiting to leave. We eventually found ours which was run by Baba Tours. I’m not sure if this refers to Ali-Baba, Chris Barber, the Barber of Seville or the Japanese word Baba which means Granny but amazingly it left at exactly 7 o’clock and then headed off into the Kathmandu rush hour. It was scary! The driver was hitting the horn constantly, weaving in and out of the traffic and displaying more moves and tricks than Michael Schumacher. We climbed higher and higher out of the Kathmandu Valley but the morning was cloudy and the view over the top wasn’t very good. The main road to Pokhara (Nepal’s second city) was barely two coaches wide and frequently potholed. Our driver continued his racing driver moves in the Tata coach; his main technique was to drive right up to the vehicle in front, sound the horn and then buzz around the back until the vehicle yielded. Oh what fun! We rattled our way onward passing through countless small villages which all had tiny shops selling drinks, snacks and other necessities. We stopped at about 10 for a small snack stop during which one of the wheels was changed! I expect the tyres, brakes and suspension take a real hammering here. Lunch (which was included in the price) took place at 12 in a nice roadside restaurant. It was curry and rice. Nepalese curry. It was hot. Julian and I drank a litre of water between us during the 20 minute meal. If things carry on this way we’re gonna be a lot thinner by the end of the holiday. The coach rattled on for another 2 hours by which time Julian and I weren’t feeling ill but just thinking that we never need to go on a roller coaster ever again. And so we arrived in a coach park and were immediately surrounded by the usual pack of taxi drivers and in the distance a group of men holding signs for hotels. While I was retrieving our luggage the man from our hotel approached us and showed me a piece of paper with my name on it. That’s more like it! I realised later that he must have recognised me because I was the only person off the bus with a 9 year old boy behind him. This must be what the parents of famous children feel like. There were two other people going to the same lodge and we all squeezed into the smallest taxi imaginable for the 5 minute ride to the hotel. The good news is that we got upgraded to a deluxe room. The bad news is that we have to move to a standard room tomorrow. It does mean that we have a bath tonight and we have already made use of it. That was a good idea. A very good idea.
And so now we are in Pokhara and just off to look for a porter, some food, some more trekking gear and a cool drink. I’ll leave you to work out what order we’re going to look for that little list.




Julian and I are now in our hotel in Kathmandu. The flight from Seoul was about six and a half hours and despite avoiding all alcohol, tea and coffee, I got a pretty bad headache halfway through. The aeroplane was only about a third full and there was no turbulence but for me it wasn’t a good flight.

Things didn’t improve when we reach Kathmandu airport. Slow off the plane we joined a long queue at immigration everyone clutching their passport, visa form and a fistful of dollars. There were only two people processing the visas even though there were other airport staff sitting around chatting. I read a sign which said that children under 10 don’t have to pay. Hurray; that’s $40 we could save. Sure enough when we got to the front the chap said that Julian was free but we would have to join another queue to process the free visa! Another man who was stamping the free visas didn’t seem to know what he was doing and almost gave Julian a 15 day visa; half of what we needed. It almost wasn’t worth saving the $40 for all the extra hassle. We were last into the baggage claim area and I was pleasantly surprised to see our two rucksacks waiting against a wall. Son, 2 rucksacks and headache in tow we staggered out of the airport and were immediately met by a dozen taxi drivers offering to take us to a hotel. But I had arranged a hotel pickup and was now scanning the men on the other side of the road who were holding up name cards of people to be collected. After a minute or two I began to think that the pick up hadn’t come and that we would have to start negotiations with the taxi drivers who were pressing round us like hyenas. Suddenly I saw my name on a card. I don’t know why I hadn’t seen it the first time; maybe it was something to do with the fact that the guy was holding it upside-down. We made eye-contact and he lead us to a battered Nissan and the driver who would take us to the hotel. The man spoke good English but I was too tired for conversation and instead we looked out of the window. I think Julian was a bit shellshocked in that 25 minute ride. Well, he’s never seen a cow eating from a rubbish pile at the side of the road. Then there were the mangy stray dogs, monkeys jumping from roof to roof, more motorcycles then you could imagine and dust and smoke from trucks. In Japan, people use their car horns to say thank you for giving way. In Nepal, they just use them. Every 5 seconds! But then they have to use them as there seem to be very few rules of the road and every car we saw had a dent in it. Not surprisingly, almost all the motor cycle riders were wearing helmets. Yes, that was a very exciting 25 minute ride for us.

The hotel can best be described as grotty. There wasn’t much choice when I tried to book on the Internet and we are only here for a night so I’m not going to bother learning the names of the cockroaches in the bathroom (only joking, Kayo!). We’re going out into the street in a minute to find something edible, then buy a bus ticket to Pokhara and then an early night. It’s been quite a day…