Our flights had been booked and we were to download our tickets to our phones at the airport. A visa is needed for Nepal and we had filled the form out, had two passport photos each and the $25 visa fee. This allowed us to get our Visa once we’d landed. According to that font of all knowledge (the internet) you can only take US$ into Nepal.
Pete and I were all set for a meeting on Friday afternoon to go over the course layout and theory presentation. That would give us time to get to Heathrow and book into our hotel with a couple of hours to spare that evening then up for a leisurely morning before a long flight. A well needed rest
All was going well until Pete rang me. To download the e-tickets he had to enter the visa numbers, which we didn’t have. Potentially, no visa meant no flight. That could be a slight problem…
Back into panic mode, then. An early departure to Heathrow was called for to get to the airline help desk and try and sort everything out rather than leaving it until the next day. I’m sure many of you have flown with an impending issue and in general the airline staff are pretty good at helping you.
Not this one. There is a bridge, somewhere, missing its’ troll. What a woman! She had a level of tact and diplomacy that puts a particular western world leader to shame. In the end we walked off and approached the next available member of staff who couldn’t have been more helpful, got us checked in and everything was fixed in no time.
We had a brief stop-over in Doha which is an amazing airport. It is absolutely huge with stores from every major high street brands, even car showrooms. It seemed bigger than any out-of-town shopping centre I’ve ever been to.
When we arrived at Kathmandu we were met by a helpful guy called Pim. He is an ex-Gurkha, as most of the Trust are, and he guided us over to the automated visa machines that scanned the passports and printed everything off so you could join another queue and pay. In any currency.
Pim looked after us very well, almost to diplomatic levels, by getting us where we needed to be at the right time seemingly without queueing. When you leave the arrivals area you are subjected to another search which seems odd to us but I guess they have their reasons. It has a certain quaint elegance around the whole process, dipped into a healthy portion of madness
Outside the heat was already starting to stifle at about 9:00am. We had a taxi from the airport through Kathmandu to the Bagrati Welfare Centre. What was striking was that the chaos of the city stops as soon as you turn into a side road. We sat in the grounds drinking a cup of tea and couldn’t hear a note of the cacophony we had left just 100 yards behind. An amazing place that does absolutely defy description.
We are going out for a ride in the city traffic after lunch. Should be a hoot…