Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Day 1 – The Aeroplane, Doha and Kathmandu

Right, it’s twice now that my name has been spelt wrongly. On my passport it’s Jamie. Not James. Who on Earth does the checking for these things? On the insurance forms I note that someone, Woodsy, has put me down as a James. FFS. I hate the name James. It’s not on my passport. Am I being a bit moody?

It’s the lack of sleep I suspect. We’re in Doha reading the Tenzing Bible, a bit of fun dreamt up by Goonit and Toovey. We’re all slightly tired by the flight over even though I slept straight after the chicken rendang (mmm yes, a Malaysian recipe… might be a good omen to the rest of the trip, and they didn’t do it half bad either, even though, really, rendang is strictly beef.) It does feel like I’m on my way to Malaysia…. (Can’t we go there instead?) I certainly don’t feel like I’m a trip to Mt Everest.

I should perhaps mention the farce of the transfer lounge. Getting off the plane into a bus which seemed to drive us the length of Doha to the airport, we get shuffled to the transfer gates where we have to show passports, go through X-ray again and metal detectors. We’re all hot and sticky and people keep shoving and trying to take the velvet rope barriers down and create chaos out of this disorder.

Back on the plane now headed to Nepal, drifting in and out of sleep, all I can remember is people’s advice to me: ‘Climb, Bitch! Keep breathing’

I get waken up by the aeroplane coming into land at KTM airport. Passport control – signing those pieces of paper with ‘where we’re staying’ info on it, making sure we tell the police our whereabouts (do people do this? I’ve never done this on holiday. Ever.) People seem to think that I know where we’re staying so I tell them. Kathmandu Guest House. Okay, so I do know where we are staying, did no one else find this out before we left?

We’re greeted by friendly Nepali asking us to take our bags etc, offering to push our cart etc. Kirt warned us about this a few weeks ago. Don’t let them. We’ll be met at the airport by the people who are meant to meet us and they will help us load the vehicle. Whatever that vehicle that may be. We weren’t told. We’re then met by a different set of Nepali, wearing caps with our logo on it. Lei were handed out and given to the new honoured guests of…. Hang on a sec…

Ok. So why is EVERYONE given a lei and not me? What’s going on here? Is it because I is semi-Asian? It's a little joke that I have with myself throughout the trip. It doesn't end here.

Yes the different set of Nepali who are smiling and knowing what we’re about seem to be our hosts. They seem very helpful and showing us to two mini-buses. Oh, there’s a big banner with our (my) logo on it. They must know what we’re about.

Well, it’s the first night and we’ve landed in Kathmandu on time. The streets towards the hotel remind me of Kuala Lumpur that I remember as a kid. Much like the 70’s KL with lots of motorbikes and cyclists and trucks and cars all vying for space and speed and the accompanying discordant jazz orchestra. It's hot, dusty and the sun is a burnt orange in a lavender washed sky. I'm back in Asia. It feels great.

It would seem that the buses don’t take us to the Kathmandu Guest House but instead some other hotel with villa complexes set in a parkland. I get off the bus and immediately I get greeted by a Nepali who apologises profusely and presents me with probably the blingest lei ever with silver tassels and large extended flowers. I have to get a picture of it. We’ve been put into this other guest house (which really I quite luxury and has a pool) as the KGH has double booked us – (how do you forget that you’ve booked 55 people on a group booking?)

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