Kathmandu - DAY ONE
Weather: Cloudy with brief showers
Temperature: 24 C
|graffiti of Buddha on the streets of Kathmandu|
We arrived at Kathmandu Airport at 1115 hours (Nepal time). The flight from Malaysia to Nepal takes 4 1/2 hours whilst the difference in time zones being about 2 1/2 hours.
|traffic in Kathmandu|
It took quite a while for our luggage to arrive, plus the amount of people in the room with only fans. It was hot but the climate was a lot drier than Malaysia and so I sweat very little. For that, I did not complain. Coming out of the airport was a bit hectic with so many people and it being quite a small airport. Many cab drivers holding signs for their new customers and many flight passengers exiting the building, it was difficult to maneuver. We eventually found our cab, a driver holding the sign, Trekking Guide Team and we were welcomed with floral necklaces made from fresh flowers and straws. We followed him and a few guys will help to carry our luggage to our cab. Once we reached the cab and the luggage has been placed in the car, the people that help you will expect tips and wont be shy about it, they will offer their hand to receive money and they wouldn't mind foreign cash. Sometimes, if they think it's too little, they will say it aloud, expecting you to give more.
Traffic in Kathmandu is very bad. With a population of 27 million in Nepal, close to 3 million resides in Kathmandu alone. Drivers in Nepal loves the horn of a car, honking them constantly and without traffic lights (and very seldom; traffic cops) it's no wonder. There isn't much rules about driving there, I suppose. Just don't get into a collision. They don't even have those paint to divide the roads. Their roads there are very dusty as well and some of the people who walk or cycle along them wears masks to keep the dust out of their lungs. Exiting the airport took a while with the roads filled like water in a canal. Cars, motorcycles, tut-tuts......
|little deco around the hotel|
We were to reside in the International Guesthouse, it is a nice place with beautiful decorations, lovely bricked walls and wooden carvings and a beautiful garden. We met our organizer, Kabi, and had lunch together at the hotel's restaurant. My dad and I ordered chicken briyani and plain lassi while we were briefed of our itenery and upcoming plans and events. Their lassi was amazing, thick with a soury finish but the briyani was nice but nothing extraordinary. It wasn't really worth the price they were charging.
After checking in and having our lunch, we went for a walk into Thamel, it is a small place of stalls catered to the tourist shopping. The exchange rate differ from place to place. Luckily, we researched the exchange rate of Malaysian Ringgit to Nepali Rupees, it is about 30. In the airport, they were exchanging 1 MYR = 23 NPR. We later exchanged our money at the exit of the airport for 1 MYR = 29.30 NPR. However, in Thamel, they were exchanging 1 MYR = 29.67 NPR. Thamel offers many things from art/handicrafts to food to camping gear to baked goods.
|the garden in the middle of the dining area|
|exiting Delima Cafe|
|bees on pastry!|
We went further and found an interesting bakery. I checked for the name of the place and I saw a vertical sign on top which says Hotel Mandap & Restaurant. Not really sure if this was the one but it's a location you'll be able to find. What makes this place interesting is that you can see insects flying around and on the bread however they are not flies but bees! My theory could be one of two things; 1. it is very sweet or 2. they use natural honey. My thoughts were more on the latter and so we tried. I bought the cinnamon bun. I didn't have much space in my stomach and so I ate it the next day. It was not that sweet however it was very dry that made me desire for water quite so.
|all the scarfs and cloths the shop offered|
|the lady, one of the shopkeepers|
My dad bought a shirt for himself and a red scarf for me. The shopkeepers were very persuasive and friendly. The quality is very nice, smooth and soft and was very hard to decline. Later at 1830 hours, our organizer introduced us to our guide for the trek, Shiva who has been a porter since 1992 but became a guide six years later. He is such a humble man and ensured us that we shall have a good journey. After the introductions and confirmation of what time we shall leave tomorrow, my dad and I decided to have tea and coffee in the hotel restaurant. They lit up a candle light and we read books for a while and soon called it a night.
The rooms is simple with two single beds, a small dresser, 3 chairs 2 bed side lamps (but dim), two plug points and a tv. We didn't watch any tv that day. The room had neither fan nor air cond. At first, we opened the door and windows as it was stuffy but later closed the door as it was night. We left the windows open but the nettings closed to deter insects from coming in. That night, it was neither hot nor cold by my standards so there wasn't much use for blankets but with the windows open and it facing the front gate of the hotel, you can hear the sound of the car engines, barking of dogs and the closing of store shutters. It took a long while before you manage to fall asleep and if we did, we kept waking in the night.