Saturday, September 17, 2011

Finally, Nepal, I’m here….!!!

Oh, I should start my writing with ‘Namaste’. It’s a word in Nepali for greeting people you meet or a simple ‘hi’ and ‘good bye’

nepal village

The trip to Nepal in order to conduct part of my Masters studies in the department of Participation, Power and Social Change at the Institute of Development Studies. I have to implement Work Based Learning or some sort of research on local organizations. I went with my husband who will also volunteer at other local organizations. We both did happen to both love to do volunteer work and traveling.

the Tribhuvan airport in Kathmandu

After a long tiring journey from Heathrow, London and transit in Bahrain, finally arrived at the Tribhuvan airport in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal. Local time show at 5 pm. A few minutes before landing, I enjoy the view of the Himalayan mountain range from above the plane. Seem distant peak covered with some snow. About a third of the Himalayas is indeed located in the territory of Nepal. This country claims to have the 10 highest peaks of the 14 highest peaks in the world. From the heights, the city of Kathmandu looks solid and lightly browned. I like looking at a small town in the desert (although I've never been to the desert, just imagine) with the wind blowing dust and the trees are not so much.

Kathmandu from above

Tribhuvan International Airport is not so broad, as long Hasanuddin airport in Makassar, before moving to current location. Since Nepal opened itself to outsiders about 50 years ago and post-conflict security situation People Movement of 2006 started to improve the state system characterized by the alternation of the monarchy to the Federal Democratic Republic more and more people from other countries visiting the mainland this closed.

Nepal government itself also provides a 'visa on arrival' for the tourists who come. Choice of tourist visas are available for 30 days, 60 days and 90 days. Maximum stay within one year period (January-December) was 150 days. Price depends on selection day visa we will take. Since already got a visa that is maintained in the Nepal embassy in London, so my husband and I just need to fill out the form prior to the arrival of the immigration checks. Visas will be valid as of the stamp our arrival at the airport. Since I arrived on February 24, then our visa will expire on 24 May (90 days visa). I had to take a tourist visa because Nepal does not provide special visas to study and I could not carry out the work or study visa because I did not come to Paid work or study in Nepal.

Also quite difficult to get trolleys for luggage which is pretty much it. Fortunately, there officers soon arrived to bring in some empty cart. Officials at the airport was friendly and speak good English so I easily communicate to find out where the 'pick-up point'. Apparently when he got out a lot of drivers, taxi drivers, pickup from the hotel and the porters who stood up and called out to everyone who came out of the arrivals hall to want to use their services.  

Previously we had reserved a room via the Internet in the guest house in Thamel and includes airport pickup service. Officers guest house said it would send its employees to pick up and will carry a placard with my name.

Read the confusion on our faces that is not also found a pickup with my name, the taxi driver began to swarm came to us and offered to drive to the destination. With gentle persuasion they said we might not be picked up and it was getting night it will be difficult to get a taxi to the Kathmandu.

Because sure will be picked up, I asked the husband to check the back of the pickup with a nameplate. I myself quite tired and looking for a place a little quieter than the taxi driver was waiting for my husband. Apparently we do not seem too pickup. I've got desperate. This was our first time to Nepal. We did not know about the streets in Nepal and how to get to where we will stay.   

We do not have a phone number in Nepal yet, Nepal has not had a currency and when I tried to find a pay phone to call the phone was none of that works (fortunately I have yet to change money at the airport, because of low exchange rate). After about 45 minutes of waiting, I briefly saw in the distance near the parking lot where the pickup waiting for someone dressed in white with the nameplate removed. Although previous husband had checked there, I asked him once again to ask the person who dressed in white. Ah, my conjecture is true. It is our pickup. My husband came with two people carrying signs bearing my name. They seem to think people will be picked-faced albino because it comes from England. So they just picked up a signboard that when people are passing western. It is true that came from England, but the original genuine Asia, hehehe. 

 Thamel city

From the airport to Thamel about 20 minutes. My first impression of Kathmandu direct view is similar to small villages in South Sulawesi. Approaching Thamel, starts to look crowded souvenir shops and traders and tourists passing by. Thamel is a tourist haven that will be trekking. So crowded with hotels, guesthouses and souvenir shops. Thankfully we were able to arrive safely at the guest house, clean up and rest.
The new plans tomorrow we will explore Thamel and surrounding areas.
What a day!

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