Thursday, April 21, 2011

Annapurna Trek - part 2 - Kathmandu at last

19th March

About 5:30am it was time to fill up again on the free food & drink, seeing as we were supposed to  leave the Oryx Lounge at 6am.  Once fed and watered it was back into the normal waiting areas with the rest of the cattle.  So for the next couple of hours until our gate opened we walked around Duty Free (again), watched some planes take off and land, then just sit and watch the world go by.  Also laughing at the people who would run to the gate as soon as it was opened (seeing as you still wait for at least 20 minutes before they may lead you to the plane it is a bit daft and your seat number is already booked), then you get the ones that turn up just as the gate is about to close and they don’t look embaressed or apologies.

Once finally on the plane I was out for the count, only awaking for the food then had another snooze.   Awaking 30 minutes before landing in Kathmandu and like most on board the plane started looking out the window for signs of the mountains only to find clouds and more clouds.  Touch down with a bump and roar of the engines as they strained to slow us down and we had arrived.

Kathmandu Airport, hmmm lets just say it ain’t a Manchester or Gatwick type of Airport, but it does the job.  After queuing with the rest of the cattle so you could be stamped in by immigration, it was then on to play luggage belt roulette with a couple of hundred other people, 2 conveyer belts and no sign to say which one yours will be on.  As the cases and packages went past the only thing I didn’t spot was a cuddly toy, as time goes on you start to wonder did your luggage follow you from Doha Airport or is it now enjoying a holiday somewhere else, please to say every thing did make it and still intact.

It was then out side to fight your way through the guys wanting to carry your bags till we found the manager of the Trekking Company we were using, thankfully there he was with a big smile and his car.  For the next 20 minutes we make our way through the busy roads and streets of Kathmandu, seeing things that make you think “hey I  don’t have too bad a life!”.   The closer we got to Thamal (the district the hotel is in) the streets got thinner and thinner but the amount of little white cars, motorbikes and those pedal rickshaw things seemed to increase.  I think one rule of thumb for what ever vehicle you have is to make sure you have a loud horn, hooter or bell.

Finally we arrived at our Hotel the Nirvana Gardens, once inside we were given a drink and the Trekking Manager placed Pray Scarves around our necks as a greeting and good luck.  After that it was up to  check out our room, nice comfy beds, running water, a real toilet, the only down side is the city’s power supply can go off at times, the hotel keeps basic lighting going via a generator during these times.

Once refreshed it was out into the streets for a little bit to explore.  As most of the hotels used by trekkers are in Thamal you find a lot of outdoor clothing and equipment shops, selling top brands but a little cheaper than you’d find at home (in theory you could arrive with no gear and get it all in Kathmandu for your trekking trip, though it is a good idea to already have your boots as you needed to have walked them in).  So after a walk around looking at this and that, plus avoiding people trying to sell you one thing or another, we made our way back to the hotel, only getting a little lost once..

Back at the hotel it was chill time in the garden with a cold drink and try and decide what to have from the menu.  We ended choosing things from the Nepali set menu with a little help from the waiter trying to explain what each dish was, which we completely forgot what we had picked when we sat down to eat..

The first dishes arrived, a steaming hot soup (still no idea what it was) tasted nice though, I suspect there was a some chili peppers in it, also came some cold pieces of potatoes mixed with something.  We each bite into the potatoes and thought

“That’s nice, can’t quite put my finger on what the flavor is”

then it was

“oh my God !  My tongue is on fire!!!!”, with our eyes streaming with tears.

Even though this was setting light to our mouths all we could do is laugh our heads off, use the soup to ease the heat, then stupidly eat more potato (gave the waiters some entertainment that I know).  Thankfully our mouths survived the onslaught and all the next dishes were nice but lacking in the super kick of the first dishes..

As it had been a long journey just to get this far, it was back to our room to do a quick unpack, dad briefly laid on his bed and 2 seconds later all I can hear is huge snoring, it is then while unpacking I discovered my earplugs where missing..

“Noooooooooo !!!”  (found them on the floor at my Dads when we got home)

Thankfully after an hour he woke up and went to bed properly and didn’t really snore.  As quick as a flash I got undressed and into bed so I could get to sleep before he started snoring again……..

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