Woke up from a fitful sleep about an hour before landing in Muscat. Breakfasted on a rather dubious choice of either spinach and potato wrap or chocolate wrap (I had the spinach one) but NO tea.
Coming into land was spectacular as we came over the desert then the coast before banking round to land in Oman. The heat hit as soon as I left the plane to be loaded onto a mercifully air conditioned bus. In the terminal I cleared security and found the transit route into the departure lounge. Had a quick freshen up in toilets where "clean" is a relative term and then a very swift look in the myriad of gift shops containing many camels and dates. I then spied a Costa Coffee and on the basis that it was probably hygienic and I knew what I was getting managed to buy an iced latte - bliss. I passed on the Ramadan special of caramel and date latte!
(Incidentally, on the plane last night the stewardesses started giving out food boxes before we had taken off. This mystery was solved just as we were taxiing to the runway when an announcement came over the tannoy that "the sun has now set and those who are observing Ramadan may break their fast. Cue opening of picnic boxes and happy munching).
I got to the gate for the plane to Kathmandu and went through boarding swiftly. Once aboard the plane I was delighted to find I was on my own in a seat of 3, by the window. the flight went smoothly and I had breakfast (vegetable curry) and a much awaited cup of tea. Then dozing, watching "Friends", taking photos of the clouds and the Himalayan Mountains.
We came in on time to Kathmandu and the approach was spectacular over lush green countryside and ringed with hills. We landed well (we didn't crash!!!) and taxied to the parking spot. There we were loaded onto a bus which drove us all of 200m to the door. Here my organisation was faultless as I had already got my visa so was the only one in the queue for "foreigners with visas". A quick stamp in the passport and finally officially in Nepal.
Here the fun and games started. I went down to the baggage reclaim hall which was showing belt 3 for Oman Air. However, belt 3 did not move and it turned out they were unloading everything onto belt 1. So over to belt 1. I waited, and waited and waited and no sign of my suitcase. I checked the rest of the baggage hall and belt 3 which was finally working with another flight but no joy. So, I finally had to admit defeat and file a lost luggage claim. This was done fairly quickly - I suspect it happens a lot - and I was less worried when I realised that all the other people who had come the same route as me from Heathrow had also lost their bags!! I was promised that it would arrive tomorrow and headed out to the arrivals chaos.
Kathmandu is many things but organised is not one of them! It is colourful, smelly, chaotic, messy, beautiful and stimulating. I met my taxi driver and got into the cab where there was another girl who is also staying at Cosy Nepal although not in my building. We got chatting and agreed to meet up to do some trips.
In 1996 when arriving in Kathmandu for the first time I suffered from severe culture shock. I remember writing, "nothing could have prepared me for the filth and the poverty". This time I was prepared and it felt a lot like coming home. What scared me previously was exciting and what bothered me before I understood and could cope.
On arrival at Cosy Nepal I was shown to my lovely apartment on the second floor. It is beautifully made in the Newar style and clean. There is also clean drinking water. I sat down and took a few minutes to take it all in.
After a shower I went out for dinner and ended up at Cafe Pagoda which looks out over Durbar Square. There I had a meal of vegetable Momos and lemon soda. It was relaxing and great for people watching! Then back to the apartment and an early night.
|Views from Cafe Pagoda - dinner!|