14.04.2012 - 14.04.2012 27 °C
Today was a terrible day! But I am now glad to have endured it and be resting nicely in a hotel in Kathmandu, safe and sound. The last time I wrote was only this morning since Amritsar airport, but much happened since then.
1) I got to Amritsar airport at 7.30, paranoid about missing my check in. Turns out the Jet Airways office doesn’t open until 8am and you can’t enter the airport itself until you have their printout, so I had to wait outside on the curb until 8am when some staff arrived.
2) I felt ridiculously crap the whole plane ride, as I’m still in recovery from yesterdays unexpected bout of illness. I was absolutely exhausted both plane rides, which kind of sucked for the whole day as I was hoping to be bright and bubbly to greet Nepal.
3) When I arrived at Delhi, my plane had been slightly late, but I thought I had plenty of time until I realised it was 12.20pm as I was going through security – my plane departed at 12.50 and boarding closes 25 minutes before departure, i.e. at 12.25! Stressed, some girls in the queue kindly let me pass them, and after being groped during the personal screening, the baggage security (who certainly aren’t very proactive) stopped to search my bag for nail clippers, but it through again, and then let me go.
4) No one was really keen to help me find where to go, and I walked into the wrong passenger lounge, but finally arrived at the correct port – thank god my flight was delayed!
5) When I got on the plane, my seat was in row 14, so I went four rows back from 10 – only to discover that the planes don’t actually have a row 13 and I was in the wrong seat!
6) As I flew down to Kathmandu over the amazing mountains, seeing them peeping through the clouds, all seemed well, until I arrived at the terminal and realised I had to get my visa on arrival. Turns out they only take cash in foreign currencies – which I didn’t have – and then the ATM wasn’t working, so I couldn’t get any cash out. An Aussie guy in the line offered to front me but I was very reluctant to take his kind offer – the security held my passport and let me go downstairs to another ATM, then come back upstairs, through security again, and change those Nepalese Rupees to USD.
7) I then had to pay $100 for the 90 day visa, instead of the $40 for the 30 day visa, as I am staying 33 days. Turns out the penalty for overstaying is $30 plus $3 /day, which would make mine $79 instead of $100, but the guy said that obviously he can’t willingly let me overstay my visa. Thus I paid the hundred – so annoying!
8) When I arrived, ridiculously late, I hunted out my baggage and went to look for the NVC representative. I couldn’t see my name anywhere, nor did I have a phone number, and there was no internet access in the airport. I contacted mum, Rachel and Susi to search my emails, but just as I messaged them I found my representative!
At once, I was at ease. I was greeted by Manoj, who told me a lot about Nepal and the NVC organisation on our way to the hotel. Turns out he was a journalist and teacher, but then decided to work in the field of aid. He is clearly so passionate about his cause and what he’s doing, and it makes him so happy – I love it.
He settled me into the hotel and we spoke for a while, but I was absolutely pooped and smelt like crap so I was happy to be left in isolation when he left. I’ll be seeing him again tomorrow for orientation though.
The hotel is in Thamel, the main tourist district of Kathmandu, which really isn’t all too nice. I went for a walk around and it’s just another tourist district with shops that sell the exact same tie dyed clothes and incense. I wasn’t too motivated to go very far, and eventually ended up in a decent-looking restaurant. The food seems a bit pricier here than in India but the restaurants seem to be of higher quality too.
At dinner a man asked to come sit and eat with me; his name was Amal and he was from Afghanistan. One of his first questions to me was ‘have you ever met someone from Afghanistan?’. Interestingly, I really don’t think I had, but I’m sure glad I have now. He was in Nepal on a trip with an education program he’d been selected for by Rotary in Bangkok, which sounded really interesting, as he works in peace and conflict resolution in Afghanistan – I imagine it to be a very interesting place to work in such a field. We spoke a lot about our cultural differences, and he was shocked when I mentioned Australia’s 50% divorce rate, and amazed when I tried to explain my family tree to him – when I mentioned ‘step-brother’ he asked if that meant he was my adopted brother, haha. He was lovely, but I’m pooped and was ready to go.
When I got to my hotel I could hear a guitarist and singer at the bar across the road, and 9 Crimes and Blowers Daughter came on – I kid you not I thought that my luck had turned around and Damien Rice was doing a show across the road, perhaps on holiday. I debated whether to put pants on and go, and ended up deciding affirmatively, but to my dismay it was actually just two young, skinny, long-haired Nepalese musicians. Well, not dismay – they were really great. Actually they are – they just started playing Fire by Jimi Hendrix! They’ve been doing some really great covers. I was listening for a while but decided to come back to bed because I can hear it just as loudly from here haha.
Anyway, I’m gonna listen some more until they stop and I can sleep