Why Nepal?

It all started when I threw the ideas of cheap flight to Nepal to my friends. All of a sudden, most of us accepted such idea very well though only six of us agreed to go. Without any further due, we compared flight options to find the most favorable ones. The strongest competitors were Malaysian Airlines and AirAsia (we love budget airlines!). However, at the end we decided that Malaysian Airlines was a better option and only slightly more expensive than AirAsia. The funny thing was that the flight from Singapore was a lot cheaper than from Kuala Lumpur! As cheapskate as we were, we of course bought the one starting from Singapore. We even planned to go around Singapore for the sake of having lunch and shopping at Mustafa only. Then I booked Jakarta-Singapore-Jakarta flights by Lion Air. Hence, the itinerary was Jakarta – Singapore-Kuala Lumpur – Kathmandu – Kuala Lumpur-Singapore by Malaysia Airlines. “It would be such a long journey” I thought.

“Why Nepal” became a frequent question asked by everyone when I told that I had booked a return ticket to Kathmandu and would be going on January 2014. I just answered: “It is my dream to go to Nepal. Full stop.”

Purchasing flight tickets is always the most important part to start traveling. We easily determined our itinerary (that is actually a suggestion from a tour company that we contacted in Nepal yet at last we did not use their service because renting van is a lot cheaper). Our plan was Kathmandu-Pokhara-Chitwan-Nagarkot-Bhaktapur-Kathmandu. 🙂

After waiting for months, the day finally came! Even now, I can still feel the excitement and euphoria for realizing my Nepal trip. It was evening of 10 January 2014, and we were already at Soekarno Hatta Airport. Though our Jakarta – Singapore flight was delayed for about 2 hours; we were still full of energy as we knew that the journey awaited us. We arrived at 10 PM Singapore time and we stayed overnight at Changi Airport to wait our early morning flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Group photo selfie using monopod while waiting for our flight to KLIA.
Group photo selfie using monopod while waiting for our flight to KLIA.

Our flight to Kuala Lumpur was on time! We then waited for about two hours at KLIA. We thought the flight from KLIA would be on time but we were wrong! It was delayed for, maybe, half to one hour. We also had trouble finding the right gate to board the plane. The gate that we were informed happened to be changed. We asked people around but the only answer we got was “find the gate with the shortest line, it must be to Nepal”. We started laughing for thinking how weird people might think of us for going to Nepal.

....and another one! :))
….and another one! :))

Following a long search, we found the “right” gate yet we were unable to board! We were not even allowed to wait inside the gate waiting room. The airport staff insisted that passengers to Guangzhou had to board first. I then had initiative to “help” the staff to call the passengers to Guangzhou (so that we could board to the plane as fast as possible and flew to Kathmandu). Then, I also had initiative to make a new line for those going to Kathmandu (to later find out that it was INDEED a short line of people going there). 😀

It was a fine four-hour flight with a bit of turbulence. There was just enough leg space in where we sat. By enough I mean not too much space for our legs but only enough to fit them. However, looking at many empty seats, my friends chose their very own row and slept there. One of the memorable things during the flight was that we were able to see Himalayas from above! It was too beautiful!

Himalaya view from the plane. It was even above the clouds!
Himalaya view from the plane. It was even above the clouds!

Long story short, we safely arrived at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu. The cold weather at Kathmandu really surprised us; it was about 14’ C at noon. It was winter, and as a tropic-country citizen, we immediately wore our overcoat even still at noon (which not too cold for the locals). We directly went the immigration area to get the visa-on-arrival. Thanks to our friend, who already printed us the application letter and even bought glue to stick our photos, we could present all required documents (application, passport, the passport-size photo) to immigration staff together US$ 25 for the fee of visa-on-arrival application. Voila, the visa-on-arrival was affixed at our passport and we could finally say “WELCOME TO NEPAL!”

Our view during the landing. Look like lego houses!
Our view during the landing. Look like lego houses!

We were picked up by our Nepali’s driver and he drove us to our hotel. There was a minor incident when we were going into our van. There were some people who “helped” us bringing our luggage into the van. They suddenly asked for money, SGD10 to be exact, as a return. We did not even ask them to bring our luggage. We thought they were our driver’s assistant! Though we gave them SGD 2, we were still surprised by such scam!  So, you may need to be cautious of that if you decide to go to Nepal.

The next thing that shocked us was Kathmandu itself. Even though, we had browsed various information about Kathmandu (including its famous actors and economy full of ups-and-downs), but we were still surprised to see the real Kathmandu. It was really crowded, old-fashioned, quite messy, and very dusty at that time. We had to use the mask while we were in Kathmandu. Besides, drivers there tended to honk while driving. It was, I believe, a big contribution the noise pollution. Traffic signs were rare. We barely saw any traffic light there. However, the traffic is still less crazy compared to Jakarta’s traffic though both cities are equally chaotic.

Finally, after 40-minute driving, we arrived at Gaju Suite Hotel which is located at Thamel district, the Mecca of tourists who came from over the world. I could see all of the tourists’s entire mission was the same: to explore Nepal to the fullest! (fst/eff)

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