Thursday, 15 January 2015

First stop Muscat, Oman 31st December 2014

Muscat-Seeb Airport....

Dawn breaks over the misty hills of Iran with just a couple of hours left of this first leg of the Journey to Kathmandu. A magical, mystical image as the sun rises displaying an array of blues, deep orange upto pale yellow - yes, a new day has dawned and breakfast is served. A kind of hot vegetable wrap with nice coffee, not as tasty as the previous meal  but infinitely better than the Jet Airways (India) effort just a few months ago. 

Time to buckle in as another Midde Eatern metropolis appears on the horizon and the Airbus begins it's approach to the airport, located at the coastal town of Seeb. About 20 degrees c, partly cloudy as we all disembark to waiting buses. First thing to notice is how small this airport is. That's good because right now I don't relish a lot of walking, unlike Dubai where one can end up walking for seemingly several miles before collapsing at the gate due exhaustion! Security formalities here are swift consisting of a baggage scan and that's pretty much it and since this is the only intercontinental here the whole thing is over in 10 minutes. A few hours to kill so let's grab some coffee from the costa-lot-coffee shop conveniently located beside the windows looking across to the runway. 

Next and final stop for today is Kathmandu, about 3 1/2 hours as the Boeing sets course for Pakistani airspace, Indian airspace and on into Tribhuvan Airport. Lunch is served, it's fish with rice and vegetables, quite tasty - not had fish on a plane before! Pakistan slips away as the sun sets just below the wing. Nothing more to see for an hour until the lights of Kathmandu. 

Oman Air WY102 from London, 30th December 2014

Oman Air to Muscat....

 A trouble free journey down to the capital, A quick stop on the Tottenham Court Road for a camera battery, some aspirin and a sandwich - the most expensive sandwich anywhere in the world I should think at a whopping £4.05, $6.07 or a staggering 611.55 Nepalese rupee! Yes, I know I should have paid more attention but time is getting short and I didn't spot a Macdonald's anywhere around here. 

Terminal 3 check-in at Oman Air, another Middle Eastern airline capitalising on the huge European winter exodus market. Just a small queue at the On-line and baggage drop check in counter. After a short interrogation about my intentions between now and June I'm on my way to security check. Laptops and gadgets in a separate box to everything else and thankfully no issues to deal with. No passport issues either - well actually there isn't any passport control, surprising given the Islamic situation at the moment. 

Airborne, 40 minutes late since the plane needed de-icing. A cold, clear night as the Airbus makes a climbing left turn and settles on a course towards Dover. For only the second time ever I have a stunning panoramic view of our Capital City as the plane skirts around the M25 motorway. These nighttime visuals certainly give London a different perspective - I wonder if my new camera has the capability to capture this?

6 1/2 hours to Muscat routing over the Balkans,skirting across the top of Turkey and down the Western side of Iran before crossing Dubai and final approach to destination - all according to the flight map. So far so good, should be in Kathmandu tomorrow afternoon as planned. For now though, nothing to do but eat this meal, whatch a movie and try to grab a little sleep. Oh, and that meal, very tasty indeed - a definite  Middle Eastern flavour. Usually, the meals from London on overnight intercontinental flights are pretty normal, often bland but today, this has surpassed any expectations - well done Oman Air! As for leg room and seat pitch - well, it's just the same as any other economy cabin. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Don't forget the Insurance, December 30th 2014

Travel insurance....

Travel Insurance - I don't have any! That's the stark realisation with just a few hours before I leave the country. I need to fix that fast, the potential consequences of not having adequate insurance can be immeasurable, especially in a country like Nepal where a Western persons mis-fortune is possibly a Nepali persons good fortune! 

So, I need to find a travel agents, an insurance office or phone a rich friend! Time is short - about 45 minutes in Norwich or an hour in London to fix up an insurance policy that won't leave me stranded. 

There is one resource at my fingertips however and thats the internet, on my phone. Yes, if I can get an internet connection then hopefully problem solved. Pumpkin cafe at Norwich train station to the rescue, good fast wifi and 20 minutes later a policy number issued to my phone, pricey this time but at least I've got those medical bliss covered. 

Just 10 minutes to grab a coffee and jump on the 1330 London bound train and according to the information board all is on schedule with no expected delays - one small step closer to Pokhara.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

It's a Long Way to Pokhara, December 30th 2014

On the road....

Tuesday, 1130am and the journey to Pokhara starts now. A journey by train, plane and bus over several thousand miles across three days - a journey of epic proportions but something I'm quite used to!

A crisp winters day, blue sky for a change as I head off through the County Hall car park, down the famous Carrow Road and on to my first stop - Morrisons supermarket and a good, old fashioned roast chicken nosh up. Also it's the time for a final run through before the point of no return, that time when realisation of what is about to begin finally hits. 

And then it hits me, like a bolt of lightening from the heavens. I have that stomach wrenching feeling and I need to fix it - quickly!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Letter from an 11 year old Nepali girl, Pokhara, Nepal, June 2014

As a white tourist in Nepal there is always a constant pressure to part with cash. Of course its a shame that in a developing country a big swathe of its population are impoverished but giving away money to every stranger with cupped hands would soon leave my bank account depleted. not that I'm adverse to giving away money but there has to be a better and more useful way of giving up my hard earned cash - and this is what I came up with!

A writing contest  for 10/11 year olds from a local school in Pokhara, in English with letters aimed at similar aged kids in England. A few things to keep in mind when reading the letter below. Play stations, laptops and tablets are few and far between around here. Access to technology, including the internet is difficult at best for most of these kids. They have few possessions but a big appetite for education and are fluent in English and Hindi languages. So for a few lucky winners, they had to earn their money!

I promised all the winners that their letters will be published on the Internet in England and here is one such entry retyped word for word with original grammar placements - infact its the winning entry for which Smriti received a 1000 NRP prize.

18th June 2014, Rambazar, Pokhara-10

Name: Smiriti Pun         Class: 5        Roll number: 4

Dear Friend,
                   How are you? I am all good with my health and hope so you are. I am writing this to tell you about my daily routine and activities along with my hobbies and aims. Hope you will enjoy reading about my daily activities hobbies and aim.
                   Everyday in the morning I wake up at six. Then I go to bathroom, brush my teeth, wash my face and finish all my morning rituals. Then I take my breakfast at 6.30. After my breakfast I revise all the things taught in my school. Then I iron my school uniform and clean my school shoes. I take my morning meal at 8.30 and get ready for my school. I wait for my school bus. the school bus arrives at 9.15. I reach my school at 9. 45. The morning assembly starts at 10 and my classes starts at 10:5. I study till 4 at my school. After then I return my home. I usually get back to my home at 4:30 then I change my uniform and take some food. I do my homework from 5-6 and study for about an hour. Then I take rest for a while. At 7 I take my dinner and watch television for sometime and at 9, I go to my bed. This is all about my daily activities and routine. Now, I would like to tell you about my hobbies and aim. My hobbies are reading storybooks, writing story, jokes and poems, dancing, singing, playing with my friends, collecting beautiful flowers, playing guitar, eating chocolate and watching Tom and Jerry cartoons. When I grow up My aim is to be a doctor. To be a doctor it requires a lot of hard work and I have to study good. so, I am working hard to achieve success and reach my aim.
                   That's pretty much all about my daily routins, hobbies and aims. I hope you loved and enjoyed reading my letter with best compliments to all your family members. I would like to stop here.

                                                                                                                         Your loving friend
                                                                                                                          Smriti Pun

Please do feel free to leave a comment for Smriti and encourage her to work hard to achieve her aim to become a doctor. I shall print these and deliver on my next visit to Pokhara in 2015.