We’re just finishing up Day 2 in Kathmandu Nepal.
While making our descent to land, we could see some Himalaya Mountains peaking above the clouds. I’m not going to lie – it brought a tear to my eye. I have always been moved and impressed my great mountains. And tomorrow, we’re taking a tour to hopefully – weather permitting - see some of the mountain ranges and do a short trek.
But, more about our arrival here and first impressions. The customs and immigration process at the airport went much better than expected. It was the baggage collection that was disorganized chaos. But before you can do that you once again have to go through security, metal detectors and have any carry on luggage X-rayed. To be fair I think it can simply be attributed to the airport being too small for the number of people traveling to Nepal. There are only three baggage carrousels in very close proximity of one another, serving a multitude of flights. Hundreds of people are jockeying for position to collect their bags. It’s mayhem! But my trusty friend and travel companion volunteered to elbow her way in to grab our two bags and that she did. On we went to find the car we had arranged to transport us to our accommodations – The Kathmandu Guest House.
We quickly found our driver, and off we went through the city center and navigated our way to the guesthouse. Upon arrival we were greeted with many smiles and a cool drink. Check in was done quickly and were soon escorted to our cozy little room. It has wall-to-wall windows over looking the charming courtyard and serene gardens. It’s bright, clean, simple and everything we need.
We had a bite to eat in the garden and headed out to explore. We soon learned that at every turn there is someone looking to swindle you in one way or another. We agreed to a ½ hour cycle rickshaw ride to orient ourselves around the city, which ended up being over two hours and 4 times the originally agreed upon price. And all the while, we were approached by vendors selling everything imaginable at jacked up prices.
But please don’t take this to mean all the Nepalese are ill-intended. Quite the opposite in fact. Life is hard here, with a corrupt government and extreme poverty. Everyone is simply trying to get by. The shop owners are kind, humble and gracious, as are everyone working at our guest house.
I met the Guest Relations Manager here this morning. A woman named Candy originally from Ohio who moved here after losing here job in the U.S. She was here during the 2015 earthquake and had lots of stories to share. As do many of the other locals.
This morning we had a walking tour of the city with a wonderful guide. There’s so much history here that he shared. Nepal actually has a living goddess named Kumari who is chosen and lives in a palace. On occasion she shows herself from the 3rd floor window of her palace and we were lucky enough to be there when this happened. I’ll let you read more about her here and reserve judgment for yourself;
Emmanuela – my travel companion and I – have devised a brilliant system for deterring the peddlers on the street. We both find it hard to say no to them and have learned that even doing that loops us into an endless pursuit to buy something. So when we sense them approaching we pretend to be in a heated discussion and they always back away. It works every single time! And no ones feelings get hurt.
So – our afternoon shopping was mostly uninterrupted.
Tomorrow we’re off to see the mountains and do a small trek. We’re hoping for good weather as fog and clouds can impede to view.
Namaste for now. More to come.