We made it to Nepal. We are in Kathmandu. For me, this is a dream come true. I can’t thank my wife enough. We got here three days early because the University gvae mary Ann an extra three days paid leave, because EID started earlier than they thought it would, because the moon did something earlier than it should have. I don’t know nor care. It cost about $2 to change our flight, so we went for it.
We flew here on Air Arabia, or as the pilot pronounced it Air AHHRABEEEEAHH. It is the official airline of Sharjah, in fact it is owned by the Sharjah Government, which means the Ruler. The Ruler pays Mary Ann’s Salary, so it all works out. Air Arabia is the first and largest “low cost” airline in the Middle East. How low? $350 R/T. Wonderful comfortable flight. The airport in Sharjah is brand new and quite efficient. Air Arabia is not the only airline flying in and out of it, but probably the only one I will ever fly. AA flies brand new Airbus 320’s. The other airlines like say, Air Kenya, are pretty sketchy. I went to a couple web sites of the other airlines and they touted their “fleet of six DC9’s”. They sound like a CNN breaking news story waiting to happen.
The Sharjah airport is also a big cargo terminal, bringing in all the toys the Emirates want to spend petrodollars on. Most of the cargo planes are of Russian origin and boy are they ugly.
Our flight arrived right on time. Only thing is, in Nepal time is 45 minutes late. If in the rest of this time zone it is 1:00, in Nepal it is 12:15. No one seems to know why, it just is what it is.
My first impressions? The politically correct people of the world have stopped using the term “3rd world country” in favor of “developing nation.” Sorry folks, this is a 3rd world country, I have not seen anything I would call developing.
Don’t get me wrong. I like it here after one day. It is exciting. Heavy vibes. If that statement is too hippy for you, it is because I think this is where the hippies found their gestalt. Mind you, I am still a hippie at heart, so I am qualified to say that. If a Hollywood costume designer ever wants to find clothes for a crowd scene at a Grateful Dead concert, or a 60’s love-in, just come to Kathmandu. In the tourist area we are staying in, called Themal, every store sells the hippest stuff, a lot of it with peace symbols embroidered on it and great colors. After dinner tonight we took a walk and I was offered Hashish three times. The Haight-Ashbury LIVES! Lonely planet calls Themal the “Hippies Disneyland”.
The other thing you can’t help but find is serious trekking clothes. People set out from here for 7 day hikes to the Mount Everest Base camp. That is 7 days each way. From what I have read and heard, the base camp is a zoo. Hundreds of people go there to actually attempt to summit Everest, but thousands go just to say they have been there. ME? Oh noooo. I am going to take a flight over Everest in a smallish plane in a couple of days, on Buddha Air. That is not a joke.
It is a perfect 25 degrees. The air is fresh. The food we have found so far, including a Yak Cheese pizza has been excellent.
We ate that at the Rum Doodle restaurant where beer is free for the rest of your life if you have stood on top of Everest. And oh yeah, the beer is wonderful!
This is another country where they drive on the wrong side of the road, but that really does not seem to matter because the roads are not so wide that it makes any difference.
Before we left we hooked up with a guide who has set up everything for us. He has worked his way up from being a porter on the treks to the base camp, to being a guide on the treks, and now has his own company catering to people like us. So far he has been a gem. His name is Shankar, and he does not mind me calling him Ravi. You can take the Hippie out of the sixties, but you can’t take the sixties away from the Hippie.
Muchmore to come including our flight over Everest this morning. We saw the top of the world, and it was amazing!