Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Travelling in Nepal








I lived in a small town in British Columbia for 15 years and though it was beautiful, I didn't shed a tear when I left for good, but after being in Nepal for only 15 days my eyes welled up when I boarded my flight back to Oman. Nepal and its people will do that to you. It's a breath-taking country.

There is no need to make expensive tour plans before you leave home.  Reserve your hotel in Kathmandu and then book a tour once you're there because there are many tours to choose from.  I was traveling from Oman to Nepal and the travel agency here in Oman was going to charge me $2,000 for one week in Nepal.  I thought it was a bit pricy so I decided to arrange things once I got to Kathmandu.  I'm so glad I did because I took a 3-day tour to Chitwan for $175/American (including transportation, hotel, meals and park tours) when I booked from my hotel in Kathmandu.  Hotels in Kathmandu arrange the tour for you and it's waaaaaay the hell cheaper than paying for it from home.  Make sure to bargain though, because there are many tours available!  

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Remember to bring $25 American for your visa and one passport-sized photo or you will be sorry when you try to get through customs at the Kathmandu airport.

I felt like I was in a Russian bread line the queue was so long. And slow! I forgot my photo and I didn't have any spare change for a snapshot at the photo kiosk, so I had to dash out on the street (yes, they let me go through customs for that) and find an ATM. The first one was out of order, so I ran to another which I didn't know how to operate. Luckily, I happened to meet a time-worn American who'd been living in Kathmandu for years who was going to get money, but when we got back to the ATM dude was withdrawing so much money I yelled, 'Hey, save some for me. I've still got to go through customs!'

His Nepali friend showed me how to operate the ATM and I withdrew ample to get everything done at customs. Standing behind me as I left the ATM cubbyhole was a young American woman who told me she'd been in the airport for a whole day. I pulled on the Nepali's sleeve as he was turning to go. 'Please help her get some money out of that thing,' and I ran off.

The line-up at customs had barely moved and standing there watching how slow they were I thought I would be there for a day, too. Three men, who were only stamping the passports of women with children, were sitting at a table off to one side, but they weren't busy.

I limped up, handed one of them my passport and sat down, rubbing my thigh and hoping that none of them had seen me tearing around the airport like a beheaded chicken a half hour earlier.
'Do you think you could stamp mine, please?'
'This is for women with children.' He looked at my passport, handed it back and shook his head. 'Get back in line.'
'Yes, I know,' I said, rubbing my leg, 'but I just broke my leg recently and then I had an operation, so I can't stand up for a long time. I can't wait that long. Would you mind stamping this?' I handed them my passport again.
They hummed and hawed then motioned for an old-timer at the custom desk to come over and collect my passport and get it done up. They told me to wait outside through customs.

I sat there on the bench rubbing my leg watching gleefully as they stamped my passport and then old dude came out and handed it to me. I was so glad to get out of there. It really pays to innovate.