Friday, February 27, 2015

[KATHMANDU] Good Morning, Mount Everest


The guy next to me won't stop looking at the window. I suppose he was looking at the window because if it was me he was looking at then that would be plain freaky, right? And so I offered to switch seats because it seemed to me that it was his first time on a plane and was excited about it. I totally forgot that we would be flying over the Himalayas. When the snow-capped mountains began to appear by the window, I felt like stabbing someone for the wrong choices I make in life.

Do not blame me, okay? My Paro - Kathmandu flight was supposed to leave at 10:30 AM, but Drukair sent an email saying we got moved to an earlier flight at 7:30 AM. I don't know, maybe only three people showed up for the morning flight and they would not reach their quota or something. And then the flight got delayed. And then it got delayed again until we finally took off at 10 AM. Damn it, Drukair. I could have slept a few more hours.

But then I remembered what Dorji told me about Buddhism and how you can control your anger instead of it controlling you. Fine then, let's leave Bhutan with that basic tenet of anger management. I felt like I annoyed the guy too much because I just won't stop waving my camera in front of his face. I decided to have some small talk with him so he would not think that I was rude whatsoever. I asked him if it was his first time on this flight. "No," he replied, "It is actually my fifth time for this route."


I lost Buddha right then and there. FUUUUU, dude! I slapped him hard on the face, strangled him with my shoelaces, and then dumped his body in the toilet. He would not flush because the hole is too small. You know airline toilets. That lucky bastard. Nah, he was okay. He seemed to be all too eager to start a conversation but I was either too sleepy or too excited about Everest to care.


Anyway, good morning Mt. Everest! No, I am not climbing you in this lifetime. You high? You actually are! Highest, in fact! I decided to enjoy the view because I know I'd never reach that summit, but seeing it with your own two eyes from above is not that bad. They look like ordinary snow-capped mountains at first, but then you realize that you are currently on cruising altitude. Ain't no mountain high enough, eh?


After the highs of Mt. Everest, we have now reached the exciting lows of bureaucracy. Nepal is visa-on-arrival for Philippine passport holders. They charge USD25 for 15 days of stay, single entry. They accept a plethora of European and Asian currencies, BUT NOT the currencies of their neighbors in the SAARC. Coming from Bhutan, I was thinking Ngultrum would be accepted. Sorry, no! What about Bangladeshi Taka? Sorry, no!


Those were the only currencies I had, and the air-side ATM next to the immigration counter was not working. The money changer did not want Ngultrum or Taka either. I was about to resort to pickpocketing when I saw a Visa logo hanging above the immigration counter. They accept MasterCard as well. Hooray! I guess someone got lucky today after all. Swiping your plastic entails a surchage of USD1, which is no big deal. By the way, you have to fill out a short arrival card and the longer visa-on-arrival application form.


I survived, but there was another challenge left after customs: getting to the city without cash. I do not bring money; I use my express teller card. I mean, that’s what the ATM is for, right? Well, not in cities like this. I had to get out of the airport to find an ATM that accepts Cirrus cards. There was one right across the street, which got me asking: Isn’t it possible to drag that machine into the airport for everyone’s convenience, huh? And then I rode a taxi to Thamel. Next challenge: find accommodation.

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