Even with something as mundane in flying from a to b there is always a story to tell.
After saying goodbye to ma & pa I encountered my first hurdle when my bag and I were pulled aside for inspection. I was fully aware of the signs forbidding me to carry a hover board (!?!) so I’m not really sure why it took an unimpressive 30 minutes to get through security at Heathrow’s Terminal 4.
My Air India flight to Kathmandu via Delhi was half an hour late boarding and a whopping two hours late taking off. Luckily I had packed plenty of snacks as I know all too well from experience “technical issues” like this often result in long delays. I could feel the tension rising in the cabin and by the second hour on the runway a young Indian lady stood up and demanded answers. Doing so she provoked a handful of other Indians to join forces and have quite an aggressive pop at the crew. Things got pretty rowdy and it’s safe to say, Indian’s dunt’ take no shit!
Never one for confrontation, I pretended I was asleep while World War three took place around me. Not only that, the crying toddler in the seat behind me took great comfort in playing the drums of his lap tray. Delightful.
Previously an advocate for budget airlines, I have to say, Air India were pretty horrendous. A rescheduled flight, two hour delay, a broken entertainment system, no drinks served until the last hour of the eight hour flight and what seemed to be just two members of cabin crew who spent the whole time trying to hide. Throughout the flight various characters appeared in front of me (I was sat in the first row of cattle class with none in front). They all had turbans, long white beards and stood completely still with their hands behind their back, staring into obliviation for hours. Very odd indeed.
For some bizarre reason I had to wait for the rest of the international transfer passengers to gather once landed even though my connecting flight was a another eight hours on from theirs. After a good 15 minutes wait we were lead at lightning speed to the transfer desk. I absolutely hate being ushered through like that, it makes me feel like I’m one one of those sightseeing tours with a red flag. I also wasn’t really in the mood for a mile long sprint at four in the morning after an eight hour flight involving two curries but my efforts to sneak off “for the loo” failed miserably and I was taken hostage.
The first thing I noticed about India is that there was an awful lot of men. My reaction was substantially less enthusiastic compared with the other many times I’ve been surrounded by guys. Instead of going through security like the men, I was taken into a separate closed-off room to be searched. The stares didn’t bother me at all.
I went in search of a good camping ground to get my head down for a couple of hours before sunrise but I gave up in the end and settled for a piece of carpet with some electrical cables hanging out. What I thought was my new nifty self-inflating mattress failed to inflate so I laid down my “back-up” yoga-style sleeping mat instead – see my over packing did come in handy! To be honest it still felt like I was laying on the floor of an airport but at least it may have protected me from the bare wires. Standard aircon Arctic conditions prevented any form of rest so I grabbed a coffee, accepted that I wasn’t going to find working wifi and began my eight hour wait in Delhi airport.
I had arrived in Kathmandu airport which was considerably more basic than Dehli and those in South East Asia. After a 90 minute wait for my bags it was early evening and I had been up for over 24 hours. I was excited to explore Kathmandu but I knew I needed to get some rest before heading to the volunteer base so I treated myself to a “flash” airport hotel.
Valium I salute you.
After a splendid nights sleep at Meridian Hotel I woke to a delicious Nepalese breakfast ignoring the western toast and cereals on offer.
Even though it was terribly noisy, staff and facilities at Meridian Hotel were top notch and well worth the splurge. I’m not sure if it’s standard nepalises culture but I even had my coffee stirred for me!
When daylight appearered I was overwhelmed by the view from my room. This is city is crazy and a world away from anything I’ve experienced in South East Asia. Already there’s clear signs of the destruction caused by the earthquake and extreme poverty (visit my donate page if you wish).
I’m so excited to explore Nepal and join All Hands Volunteers to help people affected most by the 2015 earthquake. Subscribe to my blog to see what it’s like in the Himalayas which is where I am off to today…. SO excited!