Kathmandu

This is now just becoming a bit of a joke. 5.10am we were up and by 5.20am being picked up to head to the airport. There are a couple of ways to see Mount Everest. Either walking to it (and even then, the views aren’t great as its hidden behind other mountains) and you can’t see it from Everest base camp. Or you can take a scenic mountain flight for 1 hour to look at the mountains.

I had been in two minds about this. And wish I had just done it on the day I arrived in Nepal. I was on the booking page last month, before changing my mind. But given the entire rest of the group were now going, I joined too! It only took 20 minutes to get to the airport – no traffic!

The domestic terminal was a bit of a joke, it was a building site!!! Literally! Bamboo scaffolding up, electricity cables hanging down, concrete piles on the floor. We had to go through a security check. Despite walking through a metal detector, they pat everyone down anyway. Then queue to get our boarding passes, all very quick.

Next up, another (?!) bag and person scan and pat down. Literally within the space of about 50 paces. And then we were in the large waiting room. There are three companies that do mountain flights, each with a schedule of about 8 flights. We were on the “first” flight of the day at 6.30am. But there was another 6.30am flight too, with the same company.

We had been told to get the first flight of the day because if they cancel (apparently frequently) then you are just put on the next one. Today wasn’t looking hopeful, the weather was foggy. At 6.30am the real first flight of the day departed. Wow, maybe looking up.

7am and still nothing. Then we were called! We were loaded onto a bus with a few others, about 20 of us in total. And then waited until 7.30am. There were reports coming in from other planes, some had reported good views and others not so good views. The planes will only go if it’s a good view.

Shortly later, we were asked to return to the terminal building. Then shortly after that, it was announced that all mountain flights were cancelled. How disappointing.

The flight costs $201, but you are refunded if the flight is cancelled. Luckily I hadn’t paid yet, so didn’t need to go through the refund palava!!

We sat outside waiting for the others, eating some biscuits. There were monkeys around, wandering about the airport. Suddenly one of them launched itself at me and grabbed my side. I hate monkeys, so screamed and ran away. Luckily it let go. All the nearby locals found it hilarious. I didn’t.

And back to town….! What a waste of an early morning. But nothing to be done about it! So no point being disappointed. Just a shame I don’t have another day to try.

We got back to town about 8.30am and rather than head to the hotel, a few of us took the opportunity to go to a nearby temple – swayambhutanath, or more commonly known as the monkey temple. This is the one I’ve been meaning to go to since arriving! So I’m pleased I ended up with time to see it!

The temple was so close to the hotel. And completely full of locals coming to worship – particularly given its the new year today. There are 365 steps leading up to the stupa. Luckily my legs are now recovered and these steps weren’t too difficult!! Along the way, there were stupas, prayer wheels (some were huge!!), painted rocks and statues – it was so pretty.

Monkeys were swinging around, dogs sitting around on the steps and lots of beggars. We finally reached the top. A cheaper entrance fee here – $2. This stupa is similar to the Boudha stupa I visited last week, except much smaller and so much busier and more authentic feeling.

Prayer flags were draped from the stupa down to the ground. There were so many people around, lighting oil candles, sprinkling rice, flowers and tika around, praying, walking around spinning prayer wheels and hanging out. It was so cool – I love it! Both Hindus and Buddhists come here to worship.

The views out to the city would have been nice, but it was a bit foggy. We stayed for about an hour, wandering around and enjoying the atmosphere, before descending back down the steep stone steps.

We got back to the hotel at 10.30am and realised that we had been up since 5am and not eaten. So after a final pack up, we headed for some brunch. I still wasn’t too hungry, so just ordered a starter of pakora (£1.70). They took so long to arrive and only arrived at 11.45am. We were leaving at 12pm!! Every single restaurant is always like this!! So ridiculous.

We had been saying goodbyes to the group all morning, I really enjoyed this group, so it was a bit sad. But time to head back to the airport. I went with a few other girls and luckily the traffic wasn’t too bad, we arrived at 12.30pm and cost £1.85 each, so not too bad!

Check in was quick! And then we found the shops! I ended up paying more than I would have done in Thamel, but was so pleased to pick up a final few souvenirs. I spent a total of £12 on loads of bits, they really weren’t too ridiculously expensive. Through immigration and to more shops! We waited here for a while, until 2.30pm before passing through another scanner and pat down.

Our flight didn’t appear to yet have a gate. So we wandered around for a bit, then suddenly saw everyone boarding!! We were the last on. Whoops!!

I have loved Nepal! My visit feels so short and I sort of wish I had longer. Although really not sure what i would do if I did have more days, I have already done so much! It’s a bit like India, but so much easier, friendlier and more compact. There is so much in such a small area – mountains, villages, national parks, temples.

Back to Malaysia!!!! I am beyond excited. It’s 2 years to the day since I was last there (total accident!). I was worried that I’ve forgotten a lot of the Malay that I could speak, but I can still understand the announcements and spoke a little. Hopefully not too much lost! Shortly after getting on, they announced that we were leaving 30 minutes early! Wow. But then we just sat there. And ended up leaving 30 minutes late. Oh well.

We had great views over Kathmandu city and circled around whilst ascending. The sky had cleared from this morning and was now clear. Asian plane food really puts Europe to shame. I had ginger fried rice with tofu. Wow. It was so delicious!!!

The 5 hour flight gave me a chance to catch up on photos and diary writing! It was so nice that the flight was fairly empty, so I had no one next to, nor behind me. So many empty rows. We ended up landing a bit late.

2015 country number 7 – Malaysia

I love Malaysia. I haven’t been here since they’ve opened the new klia2 terminal, so it was all a bit different to how I remembered! It’s so modern and fancy!! Although you now have to walk miles. No queue at inmigration! Wow. I’ve waited here for up to an hour quite regularly.

My bag arrived really quickly – I had accidentally paid for speedy luggage arrival. And out into the airport shopping centre. Literally. So many shops and cafes. Wow!! This is now far, far better than the main terminal (which used to be a treat when I lived here!). I don’t have time to head into the city this time around, will be there on Sunday. And I’m too exhausted to stay awake and spend a night in the airport (I’m so glad I decided not to do that again!!) so I have a room in the airport Tune hotel. Except there were no directions. So I had to ask the information desk (in Malay!). It didn’t end up being far, just a short walk from the new terminal, the new hotel. Novel – it’s all different! I had great fun in 7-11 remembering all the snacks I used to love! I bought a few and then at midnight managed to get to bed.

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