Nisha and I were already in Delhi for some work. I had planned to fly to Kathmandu from Delhi. This helped us in combining our combined Delhi business and my own Nepal business. Mumbai to Delhi leg of my journey perhaps was the most uneventful. Too mundane. It was so boring that I remembered someone who had said if you pay intense attention to boredom then it will turn out to be interesting. Well, in my case, while paying intense attention I just fell asleep.
So as per plan Nisha came to the Airport, Terminal 3, from where I would take the International flight. She would then make a cut on her thumb and apply the obligatory tilak on my forehead and say “Vijayi Bhava” (May you be victorious!) and give me some sugar and curds to eat. 🙂 🙂 … Well none of that happened. Instead we settled for a nice cuppa and complained to the vendor that it was not hot enough. That set the right mood to conquer EBC 🙂 because next few days I would neither have the inclination nor the energy to complain even if I wanted to.
After a paying a quick obeisance to Buddha in T3 at Delhi Airport, I proceeded towards my designated boarding gate.
I had decided to take Nepal Airlines, the same which we had flown on our last trip to Nepal. You may be thinking this would be for sentimental reasons or to establish the right atmosphere! Got you there! This was the cheapest available flight from Delhi! The flight was quite good, food was great and so were the drinks. I, who normally doze off before the flight attains its final altitude, was fully awake and enjoying the window seat.
It was a bit hazy but offered a some view of the terrain. By the time we landed, it had cleared a bit and one could view the buildings right next to the Kathmandu Airport. It was almost like Mumbai.
Tribhuvan International Airport was a two storey functional structure and quite neat and clean. The Immigration hall while being crowded with only few of the counter operating, was still a breeze, for me with an Indian Passport. Separate counters and no questions asked. One of the very few places on earth where Indian Passport works to our advantage! Of course one has to fill up a disembarkation card, like all passengers, but being an Indian and having filled up millions of forms all my life, this is never a challenge.
In all this excitement I had left my backpack at the writing table and had already crossed the immigration checkpoint when I realized that I was a bit light. I approached a security guard and told him of my predicament. He said “Indian? No problems just go and get it no one will stop you”! And true to his words, even the immigration officer did not stop me both ways. Perhaps he had remembered my unique face or maybe the guard had signalled to him, I shall never know.
The luggage hall was chaotic at its best, bags took forever to arrive, no one had any clue to what was happening. I could see people hopping from one official to another, from one belt to another when the display system came on with belt number. In due course it did and I passed the green channel with no further delay. I did not pick up a sim card from NCELL or Nepal Telecom having been tipped by my trekking agency that I should get it from the city since these guys try to sell you the most expensive data packs. The most expensive would cost around USD 10 (1USD ~= 100 NPR). By the way INR to NPR never changes and is always 1 INR =1.6 NPR.
Should you exchange at the airport? Yes of course, you need some local currency to pay for taxi etc, although city shops would give you better rates. If you have INR, most people in Kathmandu accept it as is. I did not exchange as my trek company had arranged for airport pick up and suggested I should do it at the hotel only if required as he accepts INR too. The hotel was just a couple of kilometers from the airport and right opposite the famed Pashupatinath Temple.
I was met by the local trek coordinator and we discussed the plans for the morrow when I would be taking a local flight to Lukla. He helped me buy a Ncell Sim cards and dropped me in Thamel area later on his bike. I will, however write about Thamel in greater detail later.
You may want to read the previous article as how the journey started.
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