This morning we actually got to sleep in, although still waking up at 7:30. Today we prepared for our flight to Kathmandu, and 5 days exploring the Kathmandu valley.
Our stay in Dehli has been quite an experience. A city truly representing all extremes in India. Our hotel was in a airport complex that provided security upon entry to the multi locked area. Our hotel was gated and required our driver to open both the hood and trunk of the car for a visual search before entry onto the grounds. Then once at the front entrance, we all walked through a security screening, with women going to a small curtained area for a “wand” search. Our bags were all X rayed and finally we could check in! All very very friendly, but certainly focused on their jobs. Needless to say we felt quite secure within this complex!
The air quality left a lot to be desired, and we learned that while it was extremely poor after the festivities of Diwali, it was actually better than 3 years ago, as the news article attests! No wonder my nose were lined with black and lungs were congested!
We left for the airport about 3 hours ahead of schedule. Good thing because even though I had checked us in the night before, the line ups at baggage check in and security left us at our gate only 10 minutes before boarding! You don’t want to be late for your flight as you’ll also need to zigzag through an immense duty free area before the long sprint to the international’s gates via a number of moving sidewalks. The terminal is a great facility, just immense!
We have left getting our Nepalese visas until we arrive at the airport. Unfortunately neither of us reviewed the requirements and we need a passport photo for our visa! We have an ecopy of a passport photo and the requisite cash, so hopefully we’ll be able to enter!!
Well, we finally made it to Nepal after an hour flight delay. Inside the Kathmandu AP we entered the immigration hall. To the right a sign said pay for Visa, straight ahead it said without Visa, to the far left ( unseen to us) was the counter with the landing cards, and almost behind us to the right was a Visa line. Dan and I headed to the line that indicated “without visa’s” and were promptly redirected to the machines that were to our right upon entry. 2 hours later, the line had dissipated and we got to do our visa application and have our photo taken!!!! No help or guidance apart from a couple of fleeting staff members wandering by. After that we needed to pay for our Visa, and then we got a receipt which we then took to the counter labelled without Visa. (Clear as mud to the traveller who had never been to Nepal!)
Finally after 2.5 hours, we had our Visa’s in hand and headed for the baggage claim. Only that wasn’t easy either! We ended up going down an escalator only to find a line up of people going through security and Xraying bags. We thought we had gone to the wrong location ( perhaps departures) so we walked back up the down moving escalator to the top to see if we had misread the instructions. No we hadn’t!!! We actually had to have our carryon bags Xrayed once again before being let into the baggage hall. Luckily, after almost 3 hours our bags were there waiting for us!
We headed outside to meet our guide ( very patient at this point) and got into our car for our 30 min transfer to our hotel. It was clear that the driver had little idea where out hotel was, and the guide with him had little knowledge of the location as well! Winding through back alley ways, backing up a one lane laneway with motorbikes passing us on either side, have a motorbike parade pass us by in one laneway (with 50 bikes honking rythymically in unison), the driver stopping to ask directions 6 times and doing multiple point turns to reverse direction…in a car with little left of the shocks, and some roads that were patchwork dirt at best…. all made for an exciting and very long ride to our hotel! ( oh, and should I mention bumpy??). All in all it was 1.5 hours!
As we got to our lovely, quaint historical Inn, we were met at the door by our guiding representative. She was absolutely lovely! We told her our of horror drive and requested to never see our driver again during our trip!
Once our briefing was done, we headed up to our room to do a quick freshen up before heading out for dinner. What a gorgeous room and Inn!
Once refreshed, we headed out to get some grub, as well as a drink after our day’s journey. We stopped at the cafe just outside the door of our Inn, and it was extraordinary! Who would have thought I’d be eating Norwegian Salmon in Nepal!
After dinner we headed back to the hotel for an early night! It had been a long day, and tomorrow is a walking tour of Patan ( although I think our driver took us on every back street in the town!). Dan will have challenges in this Inn as the door frames are a little shorter that what he’s used to. A bit like Hobbiton! The good news is that they have foam rubber lining the lintels to soften the inevitable blows to the head!
Well, it’s been a busy and tiring day. Time to shut down for the night and get ready for a new and exciting day! We’ll sleep peacefully knowing that a pleasant Buddha statue guards our room! Until tomorrow!