Day 1: Getting to Nepal and Durbar Square

So getting to KTM isn't horrible, but it was exhausting! I left at midnight from Tokyo, took the red eye to Bangkok where I had about a 6 hour layover before finishing the final leg of my trip on to KTM (another 2.5 hour flight). The last bit of the flight was technically 3.5 hours because when we reached KTM (at 15,000 feet) we then proceeded to do loops for an hour. What I didn't know is that KTM has only one runway at their airport, as you can imagine that causes some traffic on the ground with planes departing and in the air with planes attempting to land.

What I also didn't know is that a week ago (in what seemed like a serious case of pilot error due to leaked communications between the pilot and the air traffic control tower) a plane crashed coming in to KTM and the majority of the passengers died. I'm glad I didn't know this, because I would have needed a xanax, and some alcohol.

I'm told that usually when you fly in to KTM you can see beautiful views of the Himalayas. Sadly the weather was kind of shit, so way too overcast to see anything. I'm hoping to catch a peek before I leave!

If you are flying in to KTM, medicate. I didn't. I'm still feeling motion sick as I type this. The looping as we waited above the Himalayas was intense, lots of sudden dips and sharp turns. I've never felt sick on a plane but had we not landed when we did I probably had about 5 more minutes of that shenanigans in me before I would have puked. Lucky for me I get to do it again because in a couple of days I hop a plan to a more remote part of Nepal!

When you exit the airport in Nepal, have an arrange form of transportation, or else you will be bombarded with "taxi taxi taxi". It might be a little overwhelming especially when you're tired. TONS of people standing out there.

As for the Visa. I didn't get it before I left because it was a hassle with the Embassy in Tokyo. I had actually made two attempts but their office was closed both times so I just risked it and went with the Visa on Arrival method. It was simple. I imagine it's slow if many planes come in at once and get it backed up but honestly only one plane can land at a time so rush your happy ass off of your flight and get into that line! I suggest for that leg of the flight sitting as close to the front as possible. You will have to be bussed from the plane to the terminal door (like 20 feet) but then you can walk really fast into the Visa area. I brought my form all filled out and done, so I could skip the paper/kiosk step and go right into the line. You have to pay for your visa before you can get into line to get the visa. Once paid (they accept credit card and almost all foreign currency) you get into line with your papers and wait for a person at the counter who will stick it into your passport (and probably stare you down, or maybe I was just the lucky one!) Visa processing guy is also the guy who takes your immigration form. They didn't hand these out on my flight so be sure to grab them when you walk into the Visa area, they are in little wooden racks on the left side when you enter. You can either apply online or do the pdf (I didn't see the online option when I did mine so I just printed the PDF, it worked fine. I also brought a copy of my passport and had the picture done)
HERE is the link for online and PDF Nepal Visa (For US Citizens)

After you get your visa you then walk to bag claim. Before you can go into bag claim you have to go through a metal detector. So put your stuff into your carry on bag, send it through the belt, and walk through and you're there. There is only one small monitor that tells you which belt your luggage will be on. Bag claim is a cluster fuck and people are pushed up onto the belt everywhere, with the luggage carts, you may have to shove your way in to retrieve your bag!

After dropping bags at the hotel it was time to do some exploring. Durbar Square (royal square) is an area that was greatly impacted by the earthquake. The damage is all over and there are many temples and buildings being restored by various countries because Nepal doesn't have the funds to do it. There are 3 Durbar Squares in Nepal/KTM area, all three are UNESCO World Heritage sites. You can see a lot of historical buildings, and if you're lucky you might get a peek at the Kumari (living goddess). A concept I was amazed to learn about. A Kumari is picked when she is approximately 4 years old and reigns until puberty. She is visually "perfect", the selection process is very intense, and when chosen she goes to live in the Kumari Ghar (in the city center) not with her family, does not go to school (she is home schooled) and continues this job until puberty. I am told that many men who have married former Kumaris have died young, Nepalis believe because of her divine power. I unfortunately didn't get to see the Kumari while I was there.

Tips thus far: 
  • You have to be careful drinking the water, even bottled, as some is more trusted than others.
  • Be mindful that air pollution can be pretty bad, it was bad today because of wind and construction blowing a lot of dust around, many people wear masks
Here is a quick video collaboration of my pics from the day! More to come! I'll try to blog daily on my adventures in Nepal!


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My daith piercing experience (pain, after care, recommendations)

Climbing Mt Fuji (because you don't need a catchy title when you sleep on and summit a volcano)

Bali Itinerary: My Favorite Things