We arrived at Nepal at about 8:30am, Jetairways. We had slept 3 hours after an annoyingly overpriced stay in a falsely advertised hotel, and after a nice dinner and night out with J (now out of the hospital, and into her new digs, which are completely awesome).
The visa process was easy. We didn't even have to pay because we were only staying 3 nights (4 days). However, now that we love it so much, we're trying to figure out how to change our visa so we can stay longer, if we can change our flights, and cancel our train tickets.
Part of our instantaneous love of Nepal may have been comparing the airports of Delhi and Kathmandu. Examples:
India: get in line to check in. They tell you to get in the longer line to check in your luggage. Then you bring your scanned luggage back to the first line, and they check you in, after long, bitchy stares. They give Alex a check in form, but not you or Sarah. You don't notice this until you get to the front of the next line and the person tells you you need that departure form. So you go all the way back to row 7. You get two more bitchy stares, and two forms, grudgingly, which you fill out for five minutes, and wait in line, and take it to the man again. Who tells you it's an older, unusable form. Go to British Airways, where they apparently don't hate you, and get two of the correct forms. Fill them all out again. Go through security, where the man is supremely annoyed with you, as if it was your fault. Wait in line, get your passport checked and stamped. Wait in line, get your carryon stuff scanned and stamped. Find your gate. Start boarding the airplane. Realize that Alex did not get the proper stamp on his carryon, so he has to go through that whole process again. Freak out for five minutes wondering if you're going to miss the flight. Alex comes back. Get on a bus. Sit on the bus and extra five minutes because the plane wasn't ACTUALLY ready. Walk through the rain to the plane. Breathe sigh of relief.
Nepal: Walk into empty airport, Himalayas all around you, morning-gray, fog-moist. Fill out a few small, readily available forms. Get in a line of one person, and then they send you to the even shorter line, for a free visa. When we got ours stamped, Sarah said incredulously, as we were released into the wilderness of the city "That's it??" and the friendly visa-preparer smiled and said "You want more? We can do more if you want."
Anyway, first things, after we kind of argued with our prepaid taxi about where we were going to stay, he finally did talk us into a hotel not in our Lonely Planet, and for once trusting someone didn't turn out to be a mistake. The hotel was wonderful, and a great location, and a good price. In fact, we called him back this evening to thank him, and to ask him to drive us to our trekking adventure tomorrow.
The room is on the fourth floor, and has a balcony overlooking the city and the mountains in the distance. Something is wonderfully pleasant about the city. It's content, and happy, even though the crowding and the dirt and pollution are comparable to India, to which we so favorably compare it.
After naps (I was the only person with a successful one apparently), we walked down the road to the shopping district, which is pretty fantastic. I feel silly, but I mostly got DVDs and a CD (Michael Jackson's number ones. I might also get some Brittney Spears--popstars I like to listen to, but could never bring myself to support their career. Perfect for pirated discs). We walked and walked, and had a huge lunch of two pizzas, after which we resolved to spend less money on food (we had paid about $5 each for two giant pizzas, three coffees, two sodas, a milk shake, and an espresso; we are getting spoilt, but then again we're here all summer). I also got some tigereye earrings.
There are still the "touts" (great LonelyPlanet word for something that needs a word), and the hard sells, but there's something so much less cloying and clinging about everyone here. We had such a nice experience with the first clerk at the DVD store, that again set a nice tone for the rest of the day.
Long day made short, we came home with snacks, with a plan to go on a long walk tomorrow. We'll see a speck on the horizon at the end of it, and that speck will be Mount Everest.
Top of the world to you.