Arriving in Kathmandu

by Annalise on October 7, 2009

Wow… I’m glad we spent a transition day in Bangkok before arriving in Nepal.  Bangkok is a major , international metropolis of course with a huge airport but on the ground it is close and hot and well, foreign to our senses.  Having said that, the 22 hours we had in Bangkok were fantastic.  We stayed near the airport given the brevity of our stay but even there we were able to get out for a great Thai meal, have a very good night at the hotel and then walk about the following morning into a market area.  A very remarkable thing, aside from the heat and humidity, was the traffic and manuevering within it.  This provided a good gateway for especially Robin and I to come to Kathmandu; David has done more asian travel and so chose this approach based on those experiences.

And then Kathmandu…  we arrived at the international airport at about 4:30 in the afternoon. For aviatioin buffs like the two I travel with, the approach to this landing strip is a particular thrill – but that’s a topic for another day.   Entering the terminal was similar to arriving at an airport in, well… Iqaluit or Yellowknife but just a bit bigger and sparce without the amenities such as the restaurants, information services or even vending machines.  Our flight disembarked at the same time as a full flight from Quatar and so the terminal was instantly filled with travellers entering Nepal.  About half apeared to be travelers / trekkers visiting Nepal and the other half Nepalese returning home from travels; we’re in the middle of their festival season (similar to Christmas in North America in the social perspecive).

Clearing customs and acquiring our travel visas for Nepal involved completing no less than 5 sheets of information each, much of it repetative and some of it with confused, obviously translated phrasing.  Once these were completed however, the process was quite straight forward and even friendly but given the terminal was filled to capacity, it was slow!   We all shuffled slowly forward as airport officials milled among us in our lines, one stappling the photos we’d been advised we’d need for the entry visa applications to the forms and another ensuring we had all of the forms necessary to enter.  On the entry declaration form, we’d left one part blank because we couldn’t for the life of us make out how best to respond; we intended to inquire when our turn came but in the end we forgot and they didn’t seem to notice.  We immerged from the customs area much later to pick up our three huge duffle bags (in addition to our carry-on including the bagpipes and the ‘grade 8 / technology’ bag).  Here we were greeted by Tatwa Timsina and another gentleman from ICA Associates where Dave will be volunteering for the coming four months.   Tatwa and Silack settled with the taxi drivers as well as the porter that had instantly stuck themselves to our duffle bags and we were on our way.

The drive, now at dusk, from the Airport to Patan City (a separate municipality from Kathmandu City connected by bridge accross the Bagmati river) was a dusty, noisy and overwhelming blur.  Buses, cars, motorbikes, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians all making their way in a fluid, intimate stream of metal, car horns, exhaust fumes and nerve; none exceeding 30 km/h for more than a few fleeting moments to bolt forward freely.

We arrived at the appartment rented for us in the community of Kopundol and happily unloaded all of our bags.  Our accommodation is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath flat on the top floor of  this newly constructed house and like most homes in this area, it has a full open roof-top deck providing gorgeous clear views of the neighborhook, the Kathmandu Valley and on a clear day, the neighboring Himilayan Range…. as well as a place to hang clothing to dry.

This roof-top deck has become one of my favorite spots.  In the early morning, after the nightly rain we have had, it is a private expanse to observe the area, settle the senses and enjoy my early morning yoga.  We all find, somewhat to our own amazement, how quickly we’ve begun to feel familiar and somewhat at home in this extraordinary bustle.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

LeeAnne October 13, 2009 at 8:05 am

Your place sounds perfect for you.

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