Monday, April 16, 2018


Kathmandu is noisy, dusty and chaotic. Traffic rules do not exist but there appears to be a general acceptance of the chaos which, on the surface, appears to make the city functional.

** Warning Airport Rant **

I had read about and watched to many videos about the horrors of Tribhuvan International Airport. Yes you will be thrown back in time as nothing about the airport is modern. Yes you will land and deplane onto the tarmac and walk into the airport but this is common in so many airports around the world, including Shanghai. Yes, when you walk into the general area to apply for your visa it can be a disaster only because most people are unprepared, excited and nervous. For god sakes, bring a pen. Yes you will stand in line to apply for your visa and another line to get your visa. Yes the carousal to pick up your bag is old school but NO it is not the shit show you come to expect. People are not lifting and tossing your bag to check if it is theirs. Yes there are taxi's out front whose drivers are aggressive but a polite smile and "no thank you" gets a smile and "no problem/your welcome sir" in return. Finally, yes there are touts trying to get you to change to their hotel, exchange your money or sell tours like almost every airport in the world. If this annoys you to the point that you feel the need to complain about it you should stay home and have a look around your own city. That environment is alive and well there as well. A simple smile and " no thank you" usually suffices.

Now all that being said, from the time I landed, fill out my immigration card, applied, paid for and received my visa, walked to the baggage area and picked up my bag I met my airport pickup and was on the way to the hotel in about 40 minutes. Yes the airport was busy. My only recommendation is to do a bit of research and be prepared. Apply for your visa on line and by pass the kiosk lines and have your money ready. I wish I would have taken a photo of the list but there are many currency accepted. I have US dollars, plus Visa and MasterCard are also accepted. I watched on guy arguing with the visa payment guy that he did not have enough for his visa and still figured he should be able to get into the country because he was going to spend a lot of money trekking. Yes, he was "that guy". I did not stick around to see the results of that conversation.

The ride in from the airport was an eye opener. My young driver bobbed in, out and around anything on the road. Cars, trucks, motos, people, animals, potholes and sometimes nothing at all. He told me he was 21 years old but I would have to believe he was closer to 16. Regardless my sanity now rested in his hopefully capable hands.

The streets were busy and the normally 20 minute ride to the touristy Thamel district of Kathmandu took over an hour. No worries as I arrived at the Trekkers Home hotel in the heart of tourist town ready to go. I was in Kathmandu for gosh sakes and it was only 11 am.  I had a bit of time to wander and explore before Caitlyn arrived. As a bit of a ritual for me when I arrive in a new place. It was time for a beer, no matter what the time.

Hanging around Thamel district was as bizarre as it was expected. Trekking shops selling knock off brands, most North Face (North Fake), coffee shops, currency exchanges, restaurants, Tuk Tuks, Western trekkers with clothes and gear of every imaginable bright color. Old hippies who look like they arrived in 1968 and never left, rich Trustifarians with expensive phones and aggressive street touts selling cheap Chinese made souvenirs. However if you stopped and chatted with them the conversation immediately swung to hash, pot and massages that are "very nice and will make you very happy". I am in Kathmandu for less than 2 hours and already the possibility of getting into quite a bit of trouble quickly presents itself.

I stuck to the large bottle of Tuborg Gold I bought at the grocery store, sipping it while I walked the sad streets of Thamel.

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