sábado, 21 de septiembre de 2013

Arrival to Kathmandu - Visiting Nepal's Capital

Kathmandu

In able for us to get to Nepal, we had to fly from Amman to Dubai , and from Dubai to Kathmandu (again with FlyDubai). The bad thing was that the transfer time was 10 hours, and that it was 2AM when we arrived in Dubai. We decided to just stay at the airport, it didn't really make sense to spend the night in a hotel. It takes time to clear customs and get to a hotel and then you need to leave again 3 hours before your flight leaves. But it wasn't fun either because Terminal 2 in Dubai is very small and there is pretty much nothing to see, it's crowded, the chairs are very uncomfortable to sleep in, so it felt like an eternity before we could take the next flight...


We finally arrived in Kathmandu around 6pm (local time), Kathmandu airport is very small and old. We needed to get our visa, it's quite easy to do, it just takes some time. You need to fill out your arrival card, give one passport size picture, your passport and pay 25 dollars (You need to have dollars with you to pay for visas, other currencies are not accepted). This is for a 15 Day visa, if you want to stay 30 days, it's 40 dollars I think. Because of the visa it took some time before we got to the belt to collect our backpacks. The bags changed planes in Dubai, we didn't have to pick them up there, so we didn't see our bags since... Amman. We started to look and we saw Julen's bag but mine was missing.. I could feel I was starting to panic but Julen said not to worry and to look for it in different directions. The place wasn't very big so I started to look absolutely everywhere. Suddenly I see a man next to a belt with 2 bags of which one looked like mine. I approached him and saw it was definitely my bag and felt relieved. I initially thought that my bag fell off the belt and he found it somehow, silly me of course, because when I asked him, he didn't seem to understand English. The only thing he said was something about money... Then I got upset and asked him: MONEY FOR WHAT??? He immediately turned away and left. I looked at my bag and saw it had been opened, I picked it up and went to find Julen and he could tell by my face that I wasn't happy although he could see I had the bag. I know exactly what I have in my bag and where everything is, I checked and nothing was missing. So we still wonder who opened the bag and why, maybe it was customs in Amman, or in Dubai, or maybe the man at the airport to see if there was anything valuable in it. We will never know, but any valuables go in the hand luggage anyway, the stuff in the bag is more personal than anything else. It was annoying to arrive in Nepal this way, especially because it took so long to get there and we were really tired. But it's all part of the trip I guess? Worse things can happen!


Luckily we asked the owner of our hostel to pick us up at the airport so we didn't have to take a taxi when we got out because they all come to you at the same time and it's stressful. But even the owner of the hostel brought a "helper" to take our bags to the car, so they could ask for money as well, which we didn't give, the fee to pick us up at the airport was 5 dollars and that was all we agreed to. On our way to the hostel we could see it was already dark, although it was only 7pm. Once we got to the city, we couldn't believe how caotic Kathmandu was, there were no lights, no proper roads, but a lot of people passing by in cars or scooters, honking all the time, and a lot of dust and garbage everywhere. And oh yes, cows passing through as well! Wauw, welcome to Kathmandu is what we thought!!!


We checked-in in our hostel, which was quite basic, but still ok. We were told by the owner that in Nepal there were electricity cuts every day, it could go from 8 to 18 hours, that's an unexpected surprise! How lucky are we to have electricity all the time back home?! There is not enough electricity for the whole country, so it needs to be cut and go from one area to the other. One light in the room would always work we were told, luckily, but you can forget about charging your phone and camara whenever you want and going to the toilet in the dark is also new...We were going to spend 2 weeks in Nepal, so the best thing to do is to accept things as they are quickly, you have no choice and you don't spend much time in your room anyway. When we saw the electricity cables outside, we were shocked, a picture says more than a 1000 words, so you can see for yourself!


Thanks to a good friend from Julen from Spain, who co-manages the NGO Nepal Sonrie (a charity that helps orphans and abandoned children), we contacted Udai who works with them and sometimes works as a guide in Kathmandu as well. The next day he showed us around chaotic Kathmandu and the good thing as well was that if the locals see you with somebody local, they will not try to sell you anything and you are pretty much left alone. He took us to the famous Durbar Square (the entrance costs 750 rupies for tourists) and to the Monkey temple that is located up the hill. It takes about an hour on foot or you can just take a taxi. We liked the Monkey temple, in my case very much, it transmits peace and I loved the atmosphere and Buddhist music. It has one of the biggest stupas in Nepal. You need to be careful with the monkeys, but as long as you don't have food on you and you leave them alone, they normally won't do anything, they are used to having people around. From the temple you have a nice view of Kathmandu. Most people in Nepal are either Buddist or Hindu. Udai told us a little about Hindu religion, it's quite complicated, but he tried to keep it simple.  Basically there are 3 main gods, Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer (only destroys bad things). There are so many gods in Hinduism because many are reincarnations of one of the 3 main gods. We love to learn these things from local people. Thank you Udai, it was a pleasure to meet you.

Udai and I at The Monkey Temple


View of Kathmandu from Monkey Temple

Photos: Julen Esnal