From the Delhi Hustle to Relaxed Nepal

Trip Start May 18, 2008
Trip End Jul 20, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hotel Encounter Nepal

Flag of Nepal  ,
Monday, June 16, 2008

Woke up at 3:30AM to catch a  6:30AM flight to Nepal. The  Delhi airport was hectic, and we really doubted we were going to catch our plane with all the crap that we had to go through to get checked in and through security. As a funny side note, the characteristic of Indian drivers to act like they know where you want to go and then drive around and ask directions was not absent at the airport. The shuttle that took us to our plane stopped and asked which plane was going to Nepal to some people on the runway. The flight was only 2 hours and the Nepal airport left a great first impression on us. It was really laid back,  uniquely decorated,  and easy  for us to get through customs and get our luggage. We got a free visa because we were only staying three nights, and the customs officers were genuinely patient and friendly.  The  first unsmiling face was the man at the money-exchange who stood behind a sign that said "We Value Your Smile." Note: Don't  get money changed at the airport because they take commission and give a bad rate. Second  note: 500 and 1000 Indian rupee bills are "illegal" in Nepal, so don't do what we did and  bring these expecting to exchange them. Our cab driver hooked us up with a Hotel we really liked  (despite our distrust that he only cared about commission), and we got a double with a balcony overlooking the city. There is a school right outside our window where we can see about 5 floors of classes being  held, hear kids singing, and distract some of them from  paying attention. Other sounds of the city also pleasantly make it to our balcony including birds and mystical eastern music. We spent the first day wandering around the main market for tourists, where one can find any kind of Tibetan art, religious tools, fabrics, musical instruments, and outdoor sporting equipment. Kathmandu has a really neat feel that is much less industrial and filthy than most cities we've seen in India. The shopping area is much more  oriented for foot-traffic, and there are endless small shops, restaurants and hotels. In most Indian cities, there's a Café Coffee Day on every corner, as well as McDonald's, Sony, Adidas, and all kinds of chain stores. The pizza we had for lunch was also the closest to American-style food we have had for a month, and it tasted GOOD! We're now in the process of seeing if there's a way to extend our trip in Nepal..
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