How can the weight of your combined hold luggage increase from 5kg below the airline weight allowance to 11kg above the weight allowance within a couple of hours? This exact question arose from a last minute weight check, and occupied me at 3.50 pm on the 27th January, exactly ten minutes before the waiting airport taxi was due to ferry us to Heathrow T4 for our flight to Doha. I could have had a good stab at the answer, but more importantly, what was the solution? Qatar airlines charge a hefty £50/kg for excess baggage. So, out flew the breadmaker, drawing board, outdoor ball game, and a few more items, and off we went to chance it on the Qatar airlines weigh in scales ……. (and, yes, we did get away with it). So many thanks to the amazing group of friends who had come to see us off, and witnessed the above last minute ‘fun’, and a special thanks to any participant of ‘project marigold’ who stayed on to clean the house after out departure. Friends indeed! We miss you already.
So fast-forward a night flight, stopover in Doha, and daytime flight, and we are descending into Kathmandu, with some peaks of the surrounding hills poking through the haze (and smog). Air quality in Kathmandu, we find out, is not the best.
We gladly receive the initial 90 day tourist visa stamps, collect our luggage from two helpful porters who had kindly collected all our items from the baggage carousel and are now looking at us in expectation, and find the person holding the Vokuhl sign at arrivals, leading us to a minibus, keen to get to meet up with our contact and rest in the flat they arranged for us. En route, one has to be impressed by the knowledge the driver has of the exact vehicle dimensions, at this point we cannot determine the ‘rules of the road’, but it involves driving very closely to any other traffic participants. here a short clip for a little flavour:
A few days in, we have been met by some lovely folks and have been shown around this part of Kathmandu, as well meeting future colleagues from INF, often over a plate of Momos or other local foods. We have also benefitted from the rest offered by the quiet flat provided ( well, quiet until we got there). We now have a couple of further days here in the capital before onwards travel via minibus to Pokhara. Maybe this will be time enough seek answers to a couple of the many questions that a new environment like this raises. For example: How do you cross the road when traffic lights are non existent and zebra crossings look pretty, but have no effect on the motorised traffic. Or: Who would want to be an electrician in this country given the arrangement of overhead power lines, see below? Much to ponder, much to learn. This is just the beginning.