Greetings from Kathmandu! I arrived here this morning and I’m safe and sound as well as all my gear. Woohoo. The journey here could have been better though.
Yesterday afternoon I launched myself forward with a first-time-experience with Turkish Airlines. The Helsinki-Istanbul leg went pretty smoothly and I had good company from two elderly ladies who were on their way to Goa for the winter, like they have done for many years now. The second leg, Istanbul-Delhi, did not start that great: at the airport I was greeted with a two hour delay notice on the board. No prob. I had 4,5 hours between flights in New Delhi so this should not matter much. I never really heard why our plane was that much late, but the captain said (at least this is what I could make of it) that they had to wait for some plane. Some other plane or the one we flew with, I don’t know. Eventually I got on the flight and the arrival time was, as expected, at 5:10 instead of 3:10. Most of the flights were late, though, as there was pretty bad weather storming over Istanbul which caused a lot of delays. Waiting for the flight I also almost managed to lose my jacket as I had left it to café where I spent time with the same two ladies until their flight started to board. Luckily it was still there over an hour later and my pocket camera was still in the pocket as it was supposed to.
Then we came to New Delhi. Right at the end of the tube you deboard, there was a guy with sign saying “International Transfer Passengers”. OK, that sounded like me and I stepped into the crowd. After waiting for a bit the personnel asked some of us about which flight we were going for. They didn’t get to me until someone told us to go and follow this one fellow. We ended at this counter which said: “International Transfers”. Sounds kosher, right? Then after waiting in the mysterious line for a quarter of an hour they started to check people’s luggage codes, you know the ones they put behind your boarding pass and the other piece to you luggage. Sounds promising, maybe they get the luggage to the connecting flight directly. Then when it is my turn, this fellow checks the passport and the code and the visa and says: “You can get your luggage from downstairs by yourself”. Thanks for letting me stand in the queue for nothing.
OK, I go downstairs and there await the immigration lines. I have now 50 minutes to check-in for the Kathmandu flight and that feels plenty. When the line did not seem to move at the pace it should have I asked from this one personnel woman if I will be able to make the flight like this? She asked the immigration officer and then they said it should be OK. Well… when I got through the immigration the time was 6:34 and the check-in was supposed to be done at latest by 6:40. Pretty tight. I ran following the transit signs and finally got into this one room where there was an elevator which could only take like two trolleys at the same time. And naturally there was some queue there…
When I got to the next floor the time was 6:43 and I asked someone about where SpiceJet is. Then I ran back and forth a few times until I received instructions which lead me to the right desks. The ladies behind the counter seemed quite stressed as there where still about 10 people there and the flight was already boarding. Eventually I got a boarding pass and a few extra kilos didn’t seem to matter much. Rush before rules.
So I got on the flight and it was quite uneventful except for me dosing for a while. At the immigration I forgot to fill the Visa application on top of the Immigration form and had to hop off the queue to fill it out. Getting the visa was no hassle, but I had to pay 80e for the 90 day multientry visa as I’ll be in Nepal for a total of 36 days. Outside there was supposed to be someone to meet me, but I couldn’t find him. Some helpful guy already phoned the office for me and asked what’s wrong. Miraculously the SummitClimb guy came right then and after a few minutes’ wait I was put into a taxi towards my hotel. I think another member of our group was also supposed to come with the same taxi, but I don’t know for sure.
Next I was driven to the office where I met Arnold Costner, the expedition leader. I filled out some forms and then Arnold came to show me my hotel and help me check in and to check the gear that I had brought. They were OK except for the missing ones I had already planned to buy only here. Then we left together to change some money and to grab something to eat as we both had plans for those. He showed me some places where to look for the gear and we went together to check out the boots I would need. At the Millet store I tried on a few sizes of Millet Everest GTX and I decided to buy a pair for myself. Why not buy them now as I would have to do so at some point anyway.
That’s about everything I have done so far. Now I think it’s time to head back to the hotel to get some rest before we’ll head to dinner together with fellow SummitClimbers tonight.
One more thing. Istanbul looks amazing from above at night. Try it.