Pull up a chair and grab a beer cause this is going to be a long one.
With my nerves being a bit on edge I had a hard time sleeping. It didn’t help that I hurt my back last night packing. I guess it was for the best because I spent the 3 hours before my taxi arrived running around the house like a headless chicken, constantly finding things I thought I had packed but that had magically materialised at the opposite end of the house.
The ride to the airport was the usual effort of trying to come up with new topics of conversation with a taxi driver that has heard it all before. I still admire them for taking small talk to whole new level. I gave them man a good tip and headed into Dublin terminal 1.
Dublin airport is not bad as airports go. You have your usual mix of slow packers, proud security guards and the ever present queue analysts. I find this last group the most annoying. You know the ones I’m talking about, they keep on complaining about the queue and try to get you to join in. They also have this nerve wracking ritual of analysing all the queues ahead of them whenever they get to a junction. As if the length of the queue had anything to do with the speed at which you passed security!
After my usual stop at Burger King to fuel up (20% discount if you fly with Turkish airlines!) I boarded my flight to Istanbul. I got a windows seat next to an Irish farmer which was joining an expedition of the Gideons to Uganda to give out bibles… I was afraid I was going to get my ear chewed off but he ended up being a very nice old gentleman and all he did was give me a rather nice edition of the new testament. I must say I high recommend Turkish airlines! Good food, nice staff and a great selection of movies. I watched Burt Wonderstone and a bit of the Godfather 2.
Istanbul airport is crazy! I almost forgot what a really busy and badly organised airport can be like. I miss the civility of the Irish and their love of queues. The place had a general feeling of one big melting pot and had an amazing food court. I ate at Popeye and a slice from sbarro, I think I am trying to get my fill of western food before I stuff myself with Nepali cuisine.
After a few hours of waiting I finally boarded the plain to Kathmandu! I must say this flight was not as pleasant as my previous one. The hostesses were rude we didn’t have our own screens and the flight was packed. I did get my no lactose meal and slept about 1 hour.
Remember when I said Istanbul airport was crazy? Kathmandu airport beats it by a mile! Hot, humid, over an hour queue to get the visa. The decor was very exotic to my eyes so at least I had something to look at. When I finally got out, the car that was supposed to pick me up never appeared so I got roped into taking a taxi to the hostel. The guide was nice though he tried to sell me everything from sim cards to trekking trips on the way.
The place I have booked is no palace but it’s clean and central. I spent 2 hours trying to post this update unsuccessfully and decided to leave it for the evening instead. I headed out into town, bought a simple card for Internet access and headed off towards Kathmandu’s Durbar square. I was really looking forward to getting there but I decided to look for a place to eat before I went as I was quite hungry. This Nepali guy offered to show me a nice place to eat and took me to a restaurant called the Yak. The food was not bad and he ended up sitting down to eat with me, with me paying the bill of course.
He also offered to take me to the Buddha stuppa, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was on my list of things to see anyway. We got to talking and he showed me the whole place and even took me to a cool monastery behind the stuppa. The more we talked the more he seemed like a really normal person so when he offered to show me where he lived and to meet his family I thought, why not? In hindsight it wasn’t my brightest moment.
The Nepali guy, who was called Suresh, introduced me to his wife and 2 kids in his one room hovel. The place consisted of a few bamboo sticks with a plastic tarpaulin over them. There were 2 elevated areas where we sat and I guess they slept. His wife made us tea and we were having a great time shooting the breeze, or so I thought.
I had read all about confidence scams and had a feeling I was getting myself into one but by this point I was pretty sure I was being unfair to poor Suresh. That’s when started telling me about how he is just a poor shoe shine and cannot afford a proper shoe shining box and if I could give him 200 euros he could get a proper box to shine shoes. I got a bit annoyed because I had asked him before if he was going to end up asking me for money and he swore he wasn’t. You’ll all be thinking that it wasn’t a big deal but I hate being emotionally manipulated and using his kids to try to force money out of me felt like a low blow. I didn’t give him the 200 euro though I did end up buying him a sack of 10kg of rice and 5l of oil (25 euros).
I got on a taxi and once again headed towards Durbar square. The taxi dropped me off close and I walked the rest of the way, swimming through a veritable horde of people, motorbikes and cars. Everyone here honks their horns all the time and there is no such thing as a sidewalk. I am also about 30 cms taller than everyone here and about twice as wide so I felt like one of the trolls in the siege of Minas Tirith.
By the time I got to Durbar square the sun was setting and I only had a very short time to see it. I got a decent tour from one of the guides and haggled it down to only cost me 5 euro from the initial 20. It was the last day of the Indra Jat festival and the priests were about to start giving out free holy alcohol so the crowd was rather rowdy. It was also the first time ever that omen were allowed to partake so I decided to be somewhere else. The fact that there were lots of police in riot gear also helped me make the decision.
I headed back to the hostel and stopped for dinner at the Ying Yang restaurant. My guide to Nepal highly recommended this restaurant and I was in the mood for Thai food so I gave it a go. I can only describe their food as amazing . The rice was perfectly cooked, sweet and fragrant, the Green chilly was just the right amount of spicy with a strong smell of coconut and a buttery taste that made you want to link the plate.
After that I headed back to my hostel where I met a nice French couple that are here meeting their foster kids. I am now sitting on the rooftop terrace, writing this under the moonlight at a perfect 22 degrees. Not bad for my first day!
See you all soon!