This is it, this is the last full day we were spending together as a group, well except for Carol. The tour officially ends tomorrow, but in true form, she has booked her flight for tonight out of Kathmandu. We have a long and unpredictable ride ahead of us to get from Pokhara to Kathmandu, not to mention a little sight-seeing before we get to the hotel. She managed to annoy Aj allllll day about what time we were getting to the city. This man didn’t get a tip from all of us, he received “compensation” money for his sanity!!
It was another bus ride of winding mountain roads as we had to go back the way we came for a little bit then up to KTM. Today’s goal was to keep my eyes shut for the 6-8 hour drive to avoid motion sickness and medication. We did encounter a really long traffic jam, The kind where people get bored and get out of their vehicle for a walk and sticky beak further down the line. We did stop back at the same coffee shack where everyone demanded their money back last time for the delay and quality of their milkshakes. This time it was only cool drinks purchased. Stefan and I took the opportunity to do our own running commentary on a tour bus that pulled up with a bunch of “senior travellers”. We must have watched this lady take a picture of this tree from every conceivable angle for a good 10 minutes.
The green mountains gave way to more populated areas. We were travelling down a very bumpy unsealed dirt road that was a major artery into the city. There was dust everywhere. It looked like my idea of a war zone. People wore masks and dust-covered everything, everyone. The goods in shops were coated. Aj explained that since the earthquake, they have been trying to widen all the roads. The earthquake was back 2015, it is like living in the worlds longest renovation!
On the way to the hotel, we stopped of at the monkey temple. A beautiful white stupa on top of a hill with a lot of prey wheels. We got given a warning chat before we got off the bus to not carry any food, drinks or anything that may smell of food because the monkeys will take it! This was their hill. I let the group go on ahead as I made my way up slowly, taking photos and looking at the scenery. I had finally made it to Kathmandu.
On my way up I saw the group gathering around and taking photos. I thought “oh no what have they done?”. Tim had a bottle of coke that was swiped by an angry-looking fur ball. I joked with Amanda and asked if she made fun of his nipples (if you don’t get this joke, you haven’t read the whole blog!). The monkey managed to pierce the bottle with his teeth until the sugary contents spilled out where he lapped it up. We moved on.
At the top I got excited to take photos with the prey wheels. This is how I imagined Kathmandu, so to actually see it, felt like a tick off the bucket list. As we made our way around the temple, I always kept one eye out for the little buggers.
As we made our way back down, we found a bench to rest and chat on before we had to get back onto the bus. There was a monkey creeping up behind me and I just had an urge, I turned around and went “BLAAAHHH” and threw my arms out at it while I screamed. It stood it’s ground. It didn’t react. A few more immediately dropped down and started to sort of herd us into a circle. The group had our backs to the centre so we were facing out to assess what was going to happen next. Someone yelled at me “ Why did you do that?!” “ I don’t know!!” I replied. I really didn’t. It was like an auto pilot action, and my response, well that reminded me of my Dad when he did something annoying and dumb, so I giggled at myself. We survived the monkey gang by moving on.
We arrived at our last hotel on tour. In the lobby we met other travellers about to have their welcome meeting for the G Adventures trip which was a trek to base camp. I can’t believe that it had been 2 weeks since we started. To some it may not seem long, but it felt like a life time. These guys had become great friends whom we had faced a lot adversities together and seen some amazing sights of the world together. I know I will certainly see a few of them again.
We had a lovely farewell dinner, minus Carol. I know I have painted her poorly, she was actually a nice lady, just socially unaware. But a special thanks to her for giving us so much material to entertain ourselves with!!
My first farewell was at 6am to my roomie, Ria. She was off to go on a trekking tour for 5 nights before returning home. We all felt incredibly sorry for her as her tour started in Pokhara. She had to do that long annoying bus ride we did the day before, all again today!
A bunch of us grabbed a late breakfast at a cafe down the road from the hotel. It was set in a lovely garden courtyard and they served the best mountain coffee and I had eggs Benedict and it actually came out and tasted….like eggs Benedict!! My breakfast elation soon wore off as I now had to farewell Stefan. I was so sad to say goodbye as he was my buddy I could say absolutely anything to without having to filter my words. He was as sassy and devilish as me, plus his Carol impersonation was to die for! It was like one of those sad, emotional movie scenes were the car slowly pulls away and you don’t know when you will see each other again.
Myself, Ryno, Amanda and Tim had hired a driver for the day to see some other sites of KTM. We first went to Durbar square and then to Boudhanath. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what these sights were. I just tagged along because it was heaps easier to sight see with the guys than on my own and I wanted to spend as much time with them before they left tomorrow. The traffic was horrendous as usual. Amanda and I were trying not to get car sick. I loved Durbar square. It is old palace grounds that has markets, little cafes and bars as well as very old, old temples and monuments. We decided not to hire guide as we just wanted to walk around, take photos and soak it in. We had a brochure and map with some history printed on it and that was plenty. I purchased my Nepalese trinket for my travel cabinet, a small prey wheel. I had not seen them in the normal street markets, only at the temples. We found a little beer garden and enjoyed some expensive Belgium beers before setting off to Boudhanath.
We didn’t stay long at Boudhanath because there wasn’t much to really do. We did see a lot of monks, big pray wheels and more quaint cafes circling the giant Stupa.
On return to the hotel, it was time for me to check out as I was going be a thrifty backpacker now and check into a hostel. By sheer luck, my hostel was around the corner from the hotel. I had a few hours before meeting up with the guys for dinner. So I checked in and went to my dorm. I wasn’t impressed. There was no air con, there was no fan. But the upside was I was the only one in the room. I went to check out the shared bathroom. It was like a hot, sweaty wet box of 3 showers and a toilet. I then went to the roof top where I enjoyed a complimentary coke and used the internet until dinner.
Over dinner I told Amanda I felt sad and I didn’t think I liked my hostel. I put it down to separation anxiety. Over dinner we said goodbye to Tim and he left for the airport. I said good night to the other two. It wasn’t so bad as we still had breakfast and until midday tomorrow together. I went back to the hostel. I started to get my things ready for bed. There was a HUGE spider on the wall the size of my hand. I grabbed my sneaker to kill it but I missed and it scurried away behind a picture on the wall. I also noticed a few mosquitos. I sighed, I was texting Michael and I started to freak out saying I didn’t want to be here. I then noticed a second, smaller spider on the wall. THAT’S IT, IM OUTTA HERE!! It was around 9pm, so I secured my backpack with locks, and threw my pj’s and toothbrush in my day pack which had all my valuables and I locked the door behind me. I marched my way back to the hotel. The poor guys behind the desk looked so puzzled that I had returned. I checked myself back in for 2 nights. I would go back tomorrow for my things at the hostel. I got to my room and it was bigger than the one I had with Ria. It was actually Stefan and Tim’s room. I was happy, I had a tv and air con. But to top it off, the shower tap was broken. Water was only coming out of a tap that you would wash your feet not the shower head. I ended my night, on my knees trying to shower under the tap…..at least it was my own bathroom!
I spent the morning with Ryno and Amanda and then there were more water works as they left for the airport. I did feel considerably happier being back in the hotel. I spent the rest of the afternoon doing some preparation for Sri Lanka, watching movies and napping. I was so exhausted from the structure of an organised tour.
I was having breakfast at the hotel on the morning I was leaving. On the next table I was eavesdropping on a couples conversation. They had been on a trekking tour together. The guy was Australian. When he started dropping Aussie lingo like “Maccas” and a few other sayings I couldn’t help but smile. He was my first Aussie I had heard in 2 weeks. He was also from Perth. It was then I knew I wasn’t ready to go home yet and to forge on with my adventure.
Just getting out of Nepal was an adventure. I arrived at the airport. I like airports. I know what’s going on and what to do. Kathmandu airport was comical for me. They had tractors pulling their luggage carts. The oldest dirtiest buses shuttling people to the planes. The runway is quite hazardous and there were two incidents in the past month with aircraft coming off it, one was last week! I was catching Nepal Airlines to Delhi where I would spend the night and then on to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
We pulled up to the aircraft. I see my bag about to be loaded. That’s a good sign. I then look at the aircraft. I notice a cargo door over the business class section. I let out a “Hell no!”. I have never seen that on a commercial passenger plane. I shrug and board. My hell no turned into a “Fk no!”. Straight away I know this aircraft is from the 80’s. You can tell by the old school fat chunky call attendant button. It also had ashtrays. The seats are not high back and the upholstery smelt funny. There is a split in the white ceiling near the exit sign. I start thinking about an air crash investigation episode about stress fatigue on older planes. Airlines sell their older aircraft and smaller airlines purchase them like second-hand cars. I couldn’t help think, what if this is the flight that brings this one down? It also didn’t help that whilst reading about the runway overshoot, the article mentioned that Nepalese airlines had such a bad safety reputation, that they are banned from flying into the European Union! I carry rosary beads with me. I was a memento I picked up years ago and I have carried them on every long trip I have done. I was not ashamed to have these out and tightly wrapped around my hand. I was praying to Jesus, my new mate Buddha, Allah and the Jedi Yoda himself to keep this plane safe.
I landed in Delhi. Yay… back in India. I had organised through the hotel for a pick up. Of course no one was there when I exited the arrival hall. 3 phone calls later and he showed up. Guess who just lost his tip! I was staying close to the hotel as I had a midday flight and I had landed at 7pm. I ordered my last Indian meal. The garlic naan was amazing and I knew I was gunna stink the next day, it was going to be ok as I was on an Air India flight.
The advice of arriving at an airport 3 hours before departure, I always took as a suggestion. If I was going to be arriving early, in my books, it was 2 hours before hand. Clearly the 3 hour rule was made for Indian Airports! You had to queue up to even get inside the terminal!! Then there was one massive queue for all Air India International flights. I was pissed off I didn’t have a travel buddy to wait in line with the bags while I went to get some take away coffee for the queue. After an hour, I was 6 people from the front and they called last check in for my flight. I simply unhooked the barrier and stood at the closest desk. I did yell at an Indian woman to go away until I was finished as she kept coming back to the desk, harassing my check in guy, whom I wanted to pay attention to what he was doing with my check in.
Next I headed to security. That was an ordeal as well. X-ray screening was a few steps past the immigration desk. You show your passport and boarding card to immigration. Then again to the man at the security queue. You would think within 15 meters we would be done with the checks? I put my stuff away to be more efficient through the X-ray scanners. Time to get felt up again by a security lady with a personality like a pit bull. She has an angry look on her face, “BOARDING CARD!!” She barked. I casually said it was in my handbag and pointed to the scanner. I then had to try to retrieve my bag, in which they didn’t want me touching it until I had my manual mammogram by the scary security lady. I kept telling them, “ boarding pass, boarding pass.” I finally retrieve it and she barely glances at it. I make eye contact with I think a Canadian guy and say “ 60 more minutes and I can’t wait to be out of this country!!”.
I bee line to a sports bar for a sneaky scotch and coke. It tasted like freedom. It was time to board my flight to Colombo. Thanks India, don’t call me, I’ll call you……