This is the first short blog of many short blogs that we will be writing about our recent trip to Nepal and our adventures on the Annapurna Circuit. Subscribe to get updates when we post more!
We begin our story in the Chinese airport. Because all great stories start in Chinese airports at 5am. Off the plane, reunited after spending 16 hours apart, Thomas, Haley, Andy and I did the only thing that made sense: ate ramen noodle soup.
After Haley fake-lost her airplane ticket for some reason, we jumped onto another plane and were on our way to our final destination: Kathmandu, Nepal.
Sidenote: Thomas was sitting next to a guy on the plane who turned out to be a total badass. Scott Simper. He climbed Mt. Everest multiple times, won an Emmy for his photography, and has cool hair. I’m jealous that Thomas talked to him and Haley shook his hand.
Finally leaving the airports/planes that held us hostage for the last 30+ hours, we entered a new and terrifying phase of travel: taxis in a developing country.
We decided we shouldn’t overpay for a taxi but found it hard to fight the swarm of taxi drivers and likely kidnappers trying to hustle us into their respective cars.
We chose a taxi driver that:
1) agreed to our price
2) looked like we could beat him up if he tried to kidnap us
3) had a big enough van to fit all of us
However. When he led us to the van, our bags were basically grabbed off our backs and thrown onto the roof rack, and those grabby hands demanded tips “in American money, yes, you pay”. When we refused to tip, our driver told us that he was going to drive us in a car to our destination while our bags met us at the destination. Or something like that…bottom line, he wanted to separate us from our bags. Needless to say, we did not accept this offer. We grabbed our bags and started down the road leading towards the city, deciding that we could walk the 6km to the tourism bureau. We almost immediately failed…
The road out of the airport is short and windy, passing through a police checkpoint and spilling into a hilariously busy, dusty, urban intersection. We had a 6km walk, but, in this city, it may as well have been through a meat-grinder of a bustling, third-world market and lawless traffic.
So we said yes (after negotiating) to the first taxi driver that approached us, we crossed the road at the non-existent crosswalk during a non-existent red light, and the four of us -and our bags- piled into a car roughly larger than a watermelon.
But hey, that watermelon got us to the tourism bureau! But I’ll skip the boring stuff about getting permits and being mad at an ATM. We will write a boring, informational blog about permits and the like. But for now, another adventure, as we explored more Kathmandu traffic, bought bus tickets, and found our hotel for the night.
We left the tourism bureau and offered a taxi driver, who spoke no English, 1000 rupees to drive us to the Gongabu bus station then to the Kathmandu Guest House. The traffic was hilariously bad, but he finally got us to….the Kathmandu Guest House! But he was supposed to take us to the bus station first, so yeah, that was awkward. He finally got us to the bus station, though, and we walked around just saying the name of the town we wanted to random people and following the direction they were pointing…over to a side ticket window in the middle of the bustling crowd. To demonstrate just a little bit of the craziness of that bus station, watch a few seconds of this video of the station. On fire. Or this video of the station NOT on fire (boring, but informative). Tickets were so cheap it was suspicious: $3.60 per person to travel 7 hours by bus. That’s about half the price of a train ticket to Chicago from the suburbs.
But we took our super cheap tickets with instructions to return the next day at 6am to catch the bus, then we got back in our taxi and drove to the Kathmandu Guest House, a 17$ paradise of a hostel/hotel where we relaxed, prepared for the next day, and ate some amazing curry and pita.
And finally. A bed.
Oh. Kathmandu tastes terrible. If you ever go there, try not to breathe. More on that in our next blog (also more pictures, I promise…this was a whirlwind and we took nearly zero pictures).