December 24th-25th, 2015 … continued
Although it was nearly midnight on Christmas Eve back at home, it was officially Christmas morning when we arrived in the United Arab Emirates. We managed to navigate through Dubai’s airport just fine, however Trevor nagged at me since I left the pass given to me by the flight attendant to bypass security. Fortunately for us, security seemed a lot less strict than TSA back at home.
To get to the correct terminal, we had to hop on a bus and take it to the other side of the airport. I was starting to worry we were on the wrong bus, since it took forever to get there. That airport is huge! We were bitch-slapped in the face with the overpowering musk of colognes and perfumes on display once we got to the terminal. It gave me a noxious migraine the remainder of our wait. I was hoping to kill some time wandering around the shops, but the terminal we were at was completely sequestered from the larger, more exciting ones. Aside from watches and body spray, there was little else to look at. I was missing fresh air.
We had hours to kill and Trevor decided to take a nap on the floor while I read. This visibly made security uncomfortable, but they never confronted him. Trevor woke up during the call to prayer and almost went in the prayer room by accident while heading to the bathroom. We did some people watching and created back stories for all the people waiting around for their flights. One of the people we watched had a “man bun” whom I poked fun over during our discussion. I would feel bad about this later.
When it was time to approach the plane, all of us, including “man bun,” squeezed on a bus to go on another fun road trip around the airport to get to our plane, which turned out to be a really outdated one. We were thrilled to find out that we went from ‘surprise business class’ to ‘toilet class.’ The transition from the overwhelming cologne odor, to the-farts-of-a-dozen-passengers wasn’t helping my migraine situation. Of course everyone and their mother suddenly had to poop right before take off, but we laughed it off. At least this was a much shorter flight.
One of the flight attendants was getting annoyed since she was trying to get everyone seated, and they all decided they were going to bum rushing the toilets instead. We wanted to enjoy the views, but the old windows were hazy and hard to see through. We were at least able to see the moon, which was supposed to be the brightest full moon since 1977. I tried to nap through the flight, which was impossible to do through the two screaming toddlers, and the drunk and disorderly guy in the orange hat who refused to listen to the irritated flight attendant’s pleas to calm down and stay seated. Before landing, the flight attendant air freshened the demons away from the rest rooms, and then we had to hop on another bus to deliver us to the tiny, Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. We finally arrived at our destination!
The “visa upon arrival” seemed simple enough, however we were redirected to several different counters and a kiosk before we were able to exchange money and get our visas approved. Then we went through a very crowded security check point and slid passed customs before strapping our rain covers to our bags to keep our pockets sealed from sticky hands. After we grabbed a map, we were bombarded by scammers and taxi drivers before we even got out the door. We weren’t exactly certain how to decipher between the two, which had us on edge. There was a strange odor in the air outside as we tried to get a feel for what to do next.
Trevor suggested we watch “man bun” who was out front with his lady friend. We chatted with “man bun” for a second to see what he was doing. They were from Venice, Italy, and he had been to Nepal ten times. This was her third. His friend wasn’t able to pick them up since we were on “Nepal time” as he called it. In other words, punctuality isn’t exactly valued like it is in most Western cultures, according to “man bun.” He offered to split a taxi van with us and we got in with him, checking out the sights of Kathmandu at night.
Some observations: They drive on the opposite side of the road and on the opposite side of the vehicle than they do in the States. Traffic was chaotic. Not in the sense that there were a lot of vehicles on the road, but because they seemed to travel randomly in every which direction at will only warning other drivers with a tap of the horn. There were cars, buses, vans, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, rickshaws, foot traffic and even dog traffic. I saw many people gathered around the sides of buildings and next to trash fires to keep warm. Most people, especially those traveling by motor bike, had their faces covered to help with the air pollution. There were some signs of this year’s earthquake damage visible through the darkness, but there were also the occasional Christmas lights to be enjoyed.
We stopped at the hotel where the Italians were staying first. I wish I could recall their names. They were kind enough to cover our fare and I felt pretty bad about all the “man bun” jokes I made earlier in Dubai.
The cab driver took us to “Hotel Tibet”, where we would be staying the next two nights. The place looked gorgeous, especially with all the Christmas light strung up around it. We got checked into room 408, and were happy to finally be able to relax. We had been going nonstop for 24 hours and finally were able to settle.
After getting some Christmas photos out front, we FaceTimed our families to wish them a “Merry Christmas” and to let them know we arrived safely, then we crashed out. From our room, I could hear a concert nearby playing American tunes, barking dogs, and the constant honking of horns. I was a little congested from the cologne paradise found at Dubai’s airport, and it was a noisy night, but I was just grateful to finally be in Nepal on Christmas.
Jump Back to Part 1: Don’t Forget to Pack Your Anxiety
Jump Ahead to Part 3: Frogger, Thamel & Momos