Arriving in Kathmandu: city lights, tall people and potholes

My apologies that there are no photos on my Nepal posts yet! Internet speeds are pretty slow and I haven’t yet been able to upload any photos. As soon as I can, I will! In the meantime, I have tried to be as descriptive as possible in my posts so you can imagine the sights, hear the sounds and go into sensory overload like I have! Happy reading! M
As I flew into Kathmandu late at night, all I could see was sparkling lights marking out the city. In a way, it looked the same as any other large city in the world with orange and white pinpricks of light tracing road lines and marking homes. But there were subtle differences… 
The landscape wasn’t completely covered in lights. Patches of darkness were dotted about everywhere. I imagined them to be small hills or valleys where it was impossible to build. Or perhaps there were homes in the darkness, but without power. The lights dimmed and flickered often, whether it was power surges or trees moving in the breeze blocking the lights from my view, I’m not sure. And some lights were much higher than others. It gave me the distinct impression the landscape had some pretty steep hills in places. I could only imagine how steep the mountains in the black background were and was curious to see how close to reality my imagination really is!
The airport arrival procedures were so simple. Hand over your passport, arrival documents, photo and cash for your visa and you’re in. It took me all of 5 minutes and made me wonder why I even considered trying to get a visa before I left NZ!
As soon as I stepped out of the airport, I was greeted by several men asking me if I wanted a taxi, a hotel or help with my bags. Unlike some countries where I’ve found this practice to be intimidating and a little scary, I didn’t feel unsafe or hassled here at all. As soon as I told them someone was waiting for me, the guys kindly pointed me in the direction of the waiting drivers and turned back to the arrivals gates to hunt out the next passenger. 
I feel really tall again! It’s such a novelty for me to be able to see over most people’s heads (when I stand 163cm at full stretch!) The biggest problem my height caused me this time was fitting into the tiny Suzuki vanette taxi that took me to my hotel. My head was just skimming the roof of the van and I hit the roof on numerous occasions as we flew around corners and over potholes.
The ride to my hotel was another experience in itself. While you drive on the left here, this seems to be just an indication. If a driver wants to overtake a slower vehicle, go around a corner or drive through an intersection, they just do it! The first vehicle at an intersection seems to have right-of-way. Motorbikes overtake on the inside. Pedestrians walk across the street, seemingly oblivious to the vehicles bearing down on them. I sometimes wondered if the drivers have a sixth sense to know where other vehicles and pedestrians are going! 
There are a few main roads that are reasonably straight and even, but most roads are narrow, windy and full of potholes. My driver seemed intent on driving down as many empty side streets as fast as possible and only braking when a particularly large pothole (or open drain) appeared. I spent the 15 minute journey bouncing around on the back seat, trying not to knock my head too much and wondering if I would ever be able to find my way around the myriad of tiny streets in the city.
I was greeted warmly at the Katmandu Peace Guest House by Raj and shown to my room. It’s a bit of a change from my room (suite!) at the Maldivian resort the last few nights, but it’s warm, clean and comfortable and I feel quite safe. 
I’m so looking forward to morning, to see what the city is like in daylight and beginning the next part of my amazing adventure!
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s