Kathmandu - First Impressions

Trip Start Sep 28, 2006
Trip End Oct 15, 2006

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Flag of Nepal  ,
Friday, September 29, 2006

Just arrived in Kathmandu - what an amazing place.

Flew in from London via Bahrain. It is Ramadan - so at Bahrain airport the coffee shops and snack bars were virtually deserted. I had been told that if you are travelling it is OK to eat and drink during the daytime in Ramadan - but apart from a few western passengers everyone else in the airport seemed to be abstaining.

Great flight from Bahrain to Kathmandu - I managed to get a window seat on the left hand side of the plane - so some fantastic views of Himalayan peaks poking up above the clouds.

The taxi ride from Kathmandu airport was quite an experience. Traffic seemed to be coming at us from every direction - cars, lorries, motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians - but our driver seemed completely unfazed by it all, happily overtaking other traffic even when a huge lorry was coming straight towards us. I notice that our driver has his headlights on full beam - I am not sure whether this is to intimidate other drivers, or just to dazzle them. (Or maybe it is because his headlights don't work except on full beam.)

Crossroads and other junctions are amazing - traffic approaches from all directions - and everyone just keeps going. There is plenty of tooting of horns, but somehow no one seems to crash into anyone else.

The only time our car actually comes to a complete stop is when a saddhu (holy man) steps out right in front of us. Our driver blasts his horn - but instead of jumping quickly out of the way, the saddhu just stops in the middle of the road, right in front of us. After peering in through the windscreen, he decides to continue crossing the road - and we start moving again.

The hotel is actually much better than I anticipated - although the lighting is something of a mystery. There is a panel of 6 light switches in my room - but only 2 of them seem to do anything. (I am sure it is a different pair each time!) Meanwhile, the bathroom has 3 lights - one turns on and off at the switch, one does not seem to come on at all, and one does not seem to turn off!
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