Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Arrival to Kathmandu - October 2012

The bus drops us off at the airport hall which is about 100 feet from where the plane unloaded us. I estimate that we could have walked the distance faster.

There is the typical airport buzz present here, casual conversations take place between travelers as they are waiting to go through customs. The line is not moving fast.

Around us is a room in a need of modernization. The only furniture is an old table on which custom forms are scattered and few metal chairs. The emptiness has a cold, nearly unfriendly feel. More of an interrogation room than an airport hall it reminds me, and that feeling gets even stronger once our turn comes up.

We face 4 immigration officers. They sit in a row on the same metal chairs the rest of the room is furnished with, their faces show no emotion.

The first officer takes our money. $40.00 each for a 30-day visa. We step towards the second one who scans our passport and hands it down the line. Now we are in front of the third officer. His job is to check our visa forms. Once he approves them, all our paperwork makes one last move. The last officer places a visa sticker to our passport and we are free to go.

Outside we find a beehive of people, each pushing their way through the crowds with a specific task in their mind. Hundreds of luggage helpers. Taxi drivers on their hunt for clients. On the other side of the street there is a very long line of reps from variety of travel agencies. After 28 hours of travelling I’m thankful for finding our rep in the beginning of that line. We receive our first friendly welcome and in the next five minutes we are leaving the chaos behind.

It’s completely dark, street lamps are non existing. Not much can be seen outside except for loosely lying bricks and piles of sand. It’s like driving through a never ending construction site which is a sight as we learn later common not only to this particular part of town but to the whole country. The road gets from bad to worse, the bumps feel bigger and they are more frequent the further we get from the airport but eventually this mostly primitive road drops us off in front hotel Shankar. During its prime it must had been a stunning structure. Now the siding is peeling and its white color has long been spoiled by mossy mildew but the architecture itself still impresses us.

The interior is preserved better, a large hall decorated with mandalas, plenty of light and has welcoming feel. Same goes for the room. Everything is clean, there is plenty of space, and soon after our arrival a basket full of fruit is delivered.

It’s about 2:00 a.m. now, time to get some rest before our Nepal adventure begins tomorrow.

No comments: