Traveled: April 2014
Traveling to Nepal is my first ever solo travel abroad. Well, technically not the first because I’ve traveled alone to other countries in the past, but these were mostly for work, when I’ll be in the company or “professional loving care” of whoever my host in that country is once I get to my destination. Nepal, then, is my first solo travel abroad, which is purely for personal exploration. I once doubted if I would enjoy traveling alone in a place unknown. There are a lot of questions, “What if I get lost?”, “Will it be safe?”, “What is someone take advantage of me?”. So, what made me do it? A friend told me something that changed my fear into faith…then into excitement. This is what she said, “Believe that there is good in everyone.” The next thing I know, I’ve got a confirmed ticket to Nepal! And why Nepal? That’s another story.
Enough of the introduction, I finally set foot in Kathmandu via the Manila-Kuala Lumpur-Kathmandu route (there are no direct flights from Manila to Kathmandu). I have read in one blog that to see the Mt. Everest mountain ranges from the KL-KTM flight, one has to be on the right side of the plane. Even if I’m on the correct side of the plane, I did not have the chance to see the mountain ranges from above because my arrival time was at night.
Getting through the Nepal Immigration in Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport was easy. To get a visa on arrival, all I needed was my passport, a photocopy of my passport, a pen, USD 25 (for 15 days or less stay, $100 for 90 days), one 2x2 ID picture and a filled out Visa on Arrival Application Form.
After getting stamped and claiming my bag, I exchanged an amount of US dollars that would last an entire day stay in Kathmandu. I walked to the exit while avoiding offers from porters to carry my bag. Outside, there were plenty of taxi drivers running up to exiting passengers. Prior to this trip, I had a few e-mail exchanges with Sarita of Sanu House, where I pre-booked my stay in Kathmandu. I asked for advice on how much the taxi fare is from the airport to their place and she told me it might take around Rs. 750 for a travel time of 15 minutes, which is a little more expensive than the normal day rates. I tried to haggle at Rs. 600 to 700, but every taxi driver I talked to blurted Rs. 800 and refused to give at a fare less than that. As it was already past 12 midnight and I’ve been wanting to have a rest after the long journey, I agreed after I made sure he knows exactly where the address I’ve shown him is.
While on the road, the taxi driver asked me from where I came from. After I told him I’m from the Philippines, he said that I look like a Nepali…a statement I would not once hear for the next couple of days of my stay in Nepal. Arriving at Sanu House, a homestay run by a family, I did not expect that they’d still be awake at past 12 midnight. The taxi driver was kind enough to call out the owners and wait for them to receive me at the door before he left me, which I really appreciate especially that it’s a bit chilly outside. And then I recalled my friend say, “…there is good in everyone.” At that time, I began to anticipate that my first solo travel is going to be a great one.
The strong earthquake that shook and caused grief and damage in Kathmandu happened a year after I traveled to Nepal. Hence, this and my other upcoming posts about Nepal are pre-2015 earthquake time. Let us continue praying for Nepal's recovery.