Friday, December 24, 2010

Nepal 1: Airplanes, Cab Rides, and Tibetan Monks

Steve reading at the airport.
Notice the classy trekking shoes.
Woke up this morning at 5:30. Steve and I caught a taxi to the Dubai International Airport. We found our gate and waited. Our flight was delayed about 15 minutes. This was slightly worrisome because we only had a 30 minute layover in Doha, Qatar before our long flight from Doha, Qatar to Kathmandu, Nepal. 
Qatar just recently won the bid for the 2020 World Cup so they are completely revamping their airport. They had quite the temporary system in place. Color coded tickets for "quick transfer" directed us to a certain bus. We were dropped at the airport, sent through passport control and then spit out on the other side of the building to wait for another bus to bring us to the next plane. Surprisingly we actually made it to our next flight.

Qatar airways was pretty nice. The service was great, the food wasn't bad, and the flight wasn't too full. So here's something i noticed about Qatar Airways, the flight attendants have THREE DIFFERENT OUTFITS for the flight!! For boarding and take off they wear these rediculous looking maroon hats with maroon jackets and skirts. For the plane ride they lose the hats (thank goodness) and wear just a white blouse with their maroon skirts. THEN they have some other vest thing for the food services. Then for landing they put their maroon sport coats and rediculous hats back on. It's like a whirlwind of airplane outfits all for one flight. Craziness.

We even got food on the short one hour flight!

We landed in Nepal safe and sound. We walked right off the plane into the airport. The "airport" terminal looked like a large abandonned warehouse that someone had sort of decorated and then put some passport desks in the middle. We had to get our photos taken to apply for our visas. It's a good thing that photo didn't go in my passport because I looked awful after the flight, basically still asleep. We exchanged some money and it made us feel super rich because it's about 74 Nepal rupees to every 1 US dollar. We were MILLIONAIRES!! (but not really)

View from the plane over Doha, Qatar. Very deserty looking place. 
        Small back story: Steve's mom's friend from work lived in Nepal for a while and talked to us about some stuff before the trip. She said it would be a good idea for her friend Thupten to meet us at the airport and get us to our hotel. Thupten is a Buddhist Monk from Tibet.

        On that note, Steve and I get our visas and walk out of the terminal really having no idea how we're going to find this Thupten character. Turns out it wasn't that hard. He was standing at the window of the waiting area. His bald head and maroon and yellow robes separated him from the crowd. I kind of whispered to Steve, "Well do you think that's him?" As if there's 20 other monks just chilling in the airport. When we saw the half piece of paper with "stephen" written on it in really small letters we were sure that yes, this was the monk we were looking for. 

        Thupten and his friend Sonan shook our hands and walked us out of the airport. Immediately there were about 50 taxi drivers who were all shouting prices and destinations and names of hotels we should stay at. It was actually pretty overwhelming. Thupten was very calm and walked through the crowd of them. He spoke Nepalese and I got the impression he was bargaining with one of them. Then Thupten pointed to a little tiny car and gestured for us to get in. Thupten climbed in front next to the driver. Steve, Sonan and I squeezed in the back seat. 

These are the taxis in Nepal. And yes, they're as small as they look. Like a clown car.

        The drive into Kathmandu was INSANE. First of all cars drive on the left side of the road, so it's disconcerting already. On top of that, there are people on motorcycles EVERYWHERE. Cars would just kind of go into intersections and assume no one would hit them. There was a ton of beeping and brakes and close calls but our taxi driver didn't seem worried one bit. Steve and I were in the back seat with these looks on our faces that basically said something along the lines of "We're dead! We're dead! We survived but we're deaaaaaad!!" Saw a ton of things on the ride in but the funniest was when Steve hit me in the arm and said, "Monkey! Monkey!" Sure enough there was a monkey just hopping along the side of the road. Apparently this is normal in Nepal because no one really seemed to care but us haha

Hotel Ganesh Himal courtyard at night.

        We made it to the Hotel Ganesh Himal in one piece. When we got there I mentally kissed the ground and swore to never get in a Nepal taxi again. (<--That promise was broken the next day.) Thupten and Sonan hung around while we checked in and waited for our room. 
        Thupten is a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Sonan is studying at the same place where Thupten is and they are roommates. Sonan speaks pretty good english so he kind of interpretted things for Thupten. Both of them were so nice and so helpful. We got their phone numbers and planned to call them the next day.
Steve chillin in the room after a long day of crazy traveling.

Steve and I moved into the room and went to explore the city a little bit. All the hustle and bustle in the streets was a little overwhelming, especially in the dark but it was great to start to get a feel for the culture of Kathmandu. We had dinner at the hotel. Food pictures below:

My dinner: the Nepali set meal or something.
It was awesome

On the left, momos and on the right, Steve's pizza.
The Hotel Ganesh Himel had some great food.

The bathroom at the hotel. The shower just sprayed water onto the floor and there was a drain in the corner. It was strange to get used to because it basically feels like your just showering in the middle of the bathroom. My only complaint about this awesome hotel: no hot water for my shower that night. Its not even really the lack of hot water that I was upset about, it was really just the fact that Steve took a shower in the morning and DID have hot water. NOT FAIR!!

1 comment:

  1. haha Looks like you had a great trip in Nepal. Very funny about that taxi. :D . I am from Nepal and very happy that you liked our food.