Monday, October 4, 2010

Beautiful Kathmandu

Wow - now that was a flight itinerary. 40-some-odd hours of traveling, but that wasn't the interesting part...

Got to the Seattle airport at 5:30am (appropriately early) but hadn't written down my flight specifics. Darn! Stood in line at the wrong airline (as per the departures board), got to the right one, waited for someone to come check my visa, then for someone to sort my luggage out, and got to security 6 minutes before my flight closed. Never going to happen. Fortunately the priority line TSA person had mercy and I got on the plane with 1 minute to spare. Whew!

But then... Hung out at LAX by the earlier Asiana flight to Seoul only to discover that the next one left from a different terminal. Ran to the shuttle, waited, then ran through the terminal like in the movies, desperately trying to make the flight - missing it would have been a 2-day stay in LA or worse. Got to security and, thankfully, the flight had been delayed 20 minutes, just enough time to make it through. 13 hours on a plane...

Straight to the connecting flight in Seoul, another 7-hour ride, then 12 hours in the Delhi airport. (Which is unrecognizable from 4 years ago when I first went to India. Then, the lack of bathrooms and ceiling tiles and order made for your average developing-nation experience; now, it's almost like a modern terminal, food courts and everything! Though they still confuse automated with accurate...) The new airport is a lot bigger, so I almost missed my flight again. Ha!

But I finally made it to Kathmandu, and have spent the last day in the concrete capital of southern Asia. It's not that there's more concrete, necessarily, than in other places, but it has been let grow willy-nilly, so that the roads are more like slot canyons than roads. Add to this the smog, continuing political unrest and lack of functional government or any green space, and you've got a place that doesn't hold much for me. I've been to my share of chaotic markets and temples, and there's only so much culture you can absorb from itinerant backpackers.

I did find the potted garden on the roof of the hotel this afternoon, and it offers a view to the north of the city that gives hope of the wide-open spaces we'll be in a few days from now. Children's kites danced in the breeze above the rooftops and big puffy clouds formed over the foothills, and before too long we'll be headed over those hills to the mountains beyond. I'm looking forward to a little walking.

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