A threatened all out transport strike put paid to my gentle introduction to this incredible city. Knowing I was to land at 6:30 I thought I would have the whole day ahead of me to explore. How wrong I was!
Descending through the clouds and mist into Kathmandu airport really is like landing on a differe planet. It is certainly nothing like anywhere I had previously visited. The transit through arrivals was straightforward apart from the hour long wait for baggage! Collecting my backpack I followed the exit signs, the doors swung back slowly on their tired electric motors and there it was, Kathmandu. It is hard to avoid cliche when describing the sounds, sights and smells! I had mentally prepared for it, imagining it hundreds of times but it turns out my imagination is no where near vivid enough! I was immediately hustled for a taxi, offered help with luggage and literally swept out of the way by ladies brandishing switch brooms. I mentioned earlier about the change of plans, now rather than heading to my luxurious hotel in the Thamel district I was to head to Patan in the south of Kathmandu direct to Raleigh Fieldbase. It was an eventful journey, not least because my driver seemed to have less of an idea where he was going than I did! Without google maps and brandishing only a basic address it was a good job I had looked where we would be based before I left the UK. “Army barracks Patan” I kept repeating, “no” he would argue “you don’t want to go there” but I do I thought and kept pressing him. Eventually we arrived near to where I thought we should be and spying what vaguely looked like decent coffee shop I asked him to pull in. I hoped I could kill two birds with one stone; a much needed coffee and wifi access! Hasaman the taxi man joined me and sat patiently whilst I made contact with Penny at fieldbase. The text reply came through almost immediately “head down the road 50m and we are just on the left” I had nearly made it there under my own initiative but not quite!
I had the rest of the day to myself and explored the local streets including the ancient sight of Patan Durban. Then during a monsoon downpour I headed to the Thamel district to buy some jackets. Being a three month trip it would be taking us into December which can be cold. The programme proper was due to start the next day so it was an early night but in a shared dorm and suffering a little with jet lag I didn’t sleep well….
I have tried uploading pictures but