Nepal Trip Day 1: Flying to Kathmandu

I didn’t get much sleep the night before thanks to some last minute packing, perhaps all of 20min before heading to the airport for a 7.40am flight on Thai Airlines to Bangkok (1 hour behind Singapore). Hung around the airport on arrival (after a 2 hour flight) and boarded a 10.35am flight to Kathmandu (2 hours and 15 min behind Bangkok) which technically should have taken 3 hours. However, at least 30-40min were spent circling Kathmandu waiting for an opprtune time to land.

Now, for Singaporeans used to the clean efficacy of one of the best airports in the world (Changi International Airport), Kathmandu might be a little bit of a shock. We obtained our visas on arrival (USD30) and headed out, only to be met by aggressive porters. Being somewhat shellshocked from the change in environment, we foolishly let them handle our bags… only for them to demand tips.

Tip: Say no to everybody at first instinct. If you want a taxi or something after all later on, it’s not too late. Say no firmly and make sure they don’t touch your bags. At the airport, do everything yourself because all non-official locals around are money-grubbing buggers.

Kathmandu Guest House had sent a van to pick up customers. Peering out through the foggy windows of the van, I really didn’t like Kathmandu much. It’s dull, brown and messy. The air is dusty and the blaring of horns filled the air.

Eventually, we reached Tramel, the tourist area of Kathmandu and checked into two double single-bed rooms (USD25 each, total cost with tax being USD62.15 and all change being given in Nepali rupees) before going out to change money, shop and get a bite to eat.

Tramel, Kathmandu

Tip: Hiking equipment can be bought in Tramel or later on in Pokhara, so don’t fret about bringing everything from Singapore. Waterproof jackets with fleece purportedly made from Gore-Tex (made in China) can be bought for Rs2000 or so, maybe less. The shops also open until around 9-10pm. All moneychangers give the same price, but for more currency changed, they might offer a better exchange rate (the Nepali rupee is fixed to the Indian rupee at 1.6:1)

Items we bought included polyester pants and a yellow waterproof jacket for K. Items we required on the trek would eventually be bought in Pokhara.

We ate an early dinner at Fire & Ice Pizzeria with 2 pizzas, a lasagne and an apple pie between the 4 of us for Rs1265 (including tax, no service charge).

Bus tickets from Grey Hound were obtained for USD7 a person for the 7.30am bus to Pokhara. A mistake, were would later learn, as Swiss Travel sells tickets at Rs400 per person (cheaper) and has more comfortable buses. All these buses leave from Kanti Path, however, so we scouted the area and planned our route for the next morning. Fairly straightforward, really.

Tip: Be prepared to wash with cold water. Remember, it can only get colder in the mountains.

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