Kathmandu. One of those mysterious maybe made up places like Timbuktu or Casablanca or Bora Bora that we know about but no one you know has been.
Capital of Nepal, The gateway to the Himalaya, the home of Mount Everest (Sagamarta – Mother of Universe to give it its Nepali name), key stopping point on the original hippy trail. A places of spices and hashish and Sherpas and bakeries and Buddhists and stupas and prayer flags and power cuts and street kids and trekking and after 16hours or so on the go – is to be the first real place on our trip.
The first stop of our journey was Abu Dhabi, Capital of UAE, to change planes, then delayed and diverted to India to refuel as no places to land at Kathmandu, although a faceless plastic airport at Abu Dhabi (Camden food Co. ?! CNN cafe ?! ) -it left me tired and uninspired –
However after leaving Manchester and having a Costa and charging my phone and not feeling like a traveller or that I was in Asia or anything and then, suddenly, in the waiting area for the gate for the flight to Kathmandu, do we get the first rumblings of real Asia
Different languages. The people look different, – i’m the tallest here which is a first for me – we’re in a minority now. Happy though. There are groups of men travelling together with black classic nose broom moustaches and small day bag purses across their chests , women with dark eyes and long throws and shawls and dazzling smiles and I am giddy dizzy excited because…
I’ve always been fascinated with Nepal and not sure why. Maybe my nan buying me Kendal Mint Cake and me reading the wrapper about Hilary and Tenzing and their famous summit. Maybe the ‘beat’ books that talk about travel and the trail, maybe the yeti stories, the Buddhist idea, the Sherpa tradition, but maybe most of all just that exotic crazy far flung name – Kathmandu.
So approaching the KTH valley now the plane food is amazing; paneer curry and pea chilli salad. The landscape out of the window begins to change. I see the Himalaya mountains in the distance (zoom in) and I burst into tears
I asked for a Nepal lonely planet for Christmas 10 years ago despite having a fear of flying and never visited Asia and no immediate plans to go – yet here I am now am. We land. Collect the bags. I walk out the airport doors.