© 2009 mcullen

Nepal Part 1 – Getting There

Getting to Nepal takes a long time. In our case, two airlines, three flights, two layovers, and a total of nearly 30 hours of travel time. More like 35 hours if you start from the time we left our place and end when we arrived at Franz and Melissa’s home in Kathmandu. No matter how you calculate it, you smell pretty bad by the time you get there. This is just as well, because you’re going to smell pretty much until you’re back at home.

Our itinerary went something like this:

- As advised for international flights, arrive at airport three hours early.
- Check bags, go through security and arrive at gate two hours and fifty minutes before flight leaves.
- Wait a really long time.
- Have an expensive beer at the Airport Chophouse.
- Wait a while longer.
- Take Frontier flight to Houston.
- Run as quickly as possible through the Houston airport (awful airport) in order to re-check bags for a flight that is supposed to leave in less than an hour.
- Arrive at gate and discover that flight has been delayed two hours.
- Board the plane, ignoring the ridiculous anti-swine flu masks that are being handed out.
- Watch movies on plane – there were 200 to choose from.
- Attempt to wipe spilled red wine from pants.
- Try to push sleeping, snoring, overweight guy back into his seat.
- Repeat for fifteen hours.
- Spend four mind numbing hours in Doha airport.
- Eat excellent lamb curry on flight from Doha to Kathmandu and finally sleep for six hours.
- For the first time in years heard cheers and clapping when the plane touched down in Kathmandu.

In Kathmandu (and Doha) there aren’t jetways, so they run one of those portable sets of stairs up to the plane and you de-board on those. I can see the advantages of climate controlled jetways, but I like the visceral experience that stairs provide. I also happen to like planes, and you get a much better view of them from the stairs than you do from the windows at the gate. I had heard before that the air quality in Kathmandu was roughly equivalent to wrapping your lips around an an automobile exhaust pipe as it is started, however, leaving the plane we walked out into pleasantly warm, and very sweet smelling air.

James said that when he arrived at the airport in Kathmandu it was like a war zone. That’s fairly accurate, though I’d classify it as more of a riot. Because of the at the time thought to be impending swine flu epidemic we were instructed to check in at the health desk upon arrival in Kathmandu. The sign was falling off and there was no one around so we bypassed that step. Baggage claim was a mess with the bags from our plane scattered across three different conveyors that were randomly stopping and starting. From there we made our way through customs, actually we were just waved through and into the throng outside arrivals where we were met by Franz and Melissa.