We have finally arrived in Nepal! We have been dreaming of this trip for months and can not believe we are here. We left the United States on Wednesday and flew overnight to Qatar. Qatar is a tiny, but rich little county located in the Middle East. Since we had a really long layover in the capital city of Doha, we took a tour of the city, stopping at some of the most famous areas in the city.
My favorite part was wandering the the Souq Waqif, which is a giant bazaar and market. Hundreds of little market stalls are crammed down little alleys and passageways. A strong scent of the mixture of saffron, sweets, and tobacco wafts through the air. Old men in traditional Arab garb smoke out of giant hookahs. Young children ran around dragging colorful balloons behind them. Families sat together sharing a meal outside in the hot desert night. I haggled for a beautifully woven headscarf and bought some pastries that were a mystery to us. It was really interesting and eye-opening to see one part of the Middle East with my own eyes.
After the tour of Doha, we went back to the airport to await our next flight. While waiting, we had a delicious meal of hummus and tabouleh. We arrived at our gate and I apparently didn’t get the memo that it was a men-only flight. Not really, but I was 1 of 5 women on a 200-person flight. Luckily we were upgraded to business class and it was fantastic. Not being cramped in a tiny economy seat and being served full course meals with ceramic place settings was great.
We arrived in Nepal at the tiniest international terminal ever. We quickly got our tourist visas and walked downstairs to the chaos in the luggage area. Men swarmed the baggage claim and jammed their rusty luggage carts into our legs to be the closest to the baggage conveyor belt. Many men were grabbing large tvs that they had made their checked baggage and putting them onto their carts.
After a great deal of pushing and shoving, we finally got our backpacks and headed out. To get to the place we were staying, we took a taxi, ie. a rusty super old van with no seat belts and beads hanging from the rear view mirror. Since our hotel was in the tourist area of Thamel and no cars are allowed, we were dropped off several blocks away from our hotel. The streets are lined with signs and it was very difficult to find our place.
At the time, all of the sounds, sights, and people were overwhelming. With the help of a German girl and some kind Nepalese people, we finally found our hotel. The hotel was very nice and we really enjoyed our stay there. Being jet lagged, we slept a lot of the first day, but also met people from our trekking company and worked out some details about the trek. There are many good restaurants in the area in which we stayed that we tried for the few days we stayed in Kathmandu. After a few days, we headed out of the city to begin our trek! Since our first chaotic interpretation of Nepal, I have fell in love with the country, the culture, and the people and I’m excited to share it all with you over the next few weeks!