All great journeys start with the first step, the first ones on this trip was to get to the airport. So we headed off to the airport a few hours early for our flight. The sun was up and the air was cool, a perfect start to the trip if I might say so myself.
After breezing through check in and security (we were travelling lightly) a quick lunch and a bit of wait at the airport, we were on a 5 hour Qatar Airways flight from London to Qatar. It was then 4 hours from Qatar to Kathmandu, but before that there was an 8 hour layover. Luckily we arrived in Qatar around midnight local time and the math indicated that if we slept the time off jet lag would be minimized once we get to Nepal. We tried to get into either a complimentary hotel or lounge access (given the 8 hour layover) but the customer service for Qatar Airways leaves a lot to be desired, probably due to the fact that their airport was under construction.
We tried to find a good spot to get some Zs but ended up in a corner somewhere on the airport floor. I had a decent night’s sleep despite the cold hard floor.
Another uneventful flight and we are finally in Nepal! We made the classic tourist mistake of letting some dude get our luggage, put it in a trolley bring it outside paying him 1 USD (luckily we had that smallest of change). This airport is pretty bad. It’s old, chaotic and a lot of these types of folks. Kind of reminds me of Philippine travel when I was younger. I should have known better coming from another third world country, but it’s cool. We managed to find our name on a sign in the sea of people and met Harka (aka Henry) from International Adventures Trek & Expeditions and we were whisked through the crowded streets of Kathmandu and on to our hotel in the Thamel district.
After some small talk, we got down to business and paid off our balance with Harka and went on to get some local rupees. I was a bit shocked that we were short changed by 2 rupees by the hotel staff, but this all made sense later that evening. We went out to explore Thamel, get some dinner and supplies for the trek. Thamel is quite a busy place and colorful too. Think D’ Mall in Boracay in a larger more urban/city scale, replace the sand with dust and smoke though. We had dinner at a local restaurant and our bill amounted to 1300 rupees! No wonder they didn’t give us the 2 rupees in coins, you don’t need them in Nepal!
We then went on a shopping spree and brought a few more snacks, water and a few other essentials for the trek. One of the essentials I’ve always wanted to get was one of them Nepali/Sherpa woolen hats with the ear flaps, it took us some time to find a good pair but we eventually did with a few haggling (definitely a part of Nepali culture). It was a tad more expensive that the others but we were happy with the quality and design that it was worth the price.
It was off to bed early as the next few days was going to be epic.