Oh, the glorious life of the modern day first world traveler. Maybe it's just me, but I kind of long for the days of 1940's travel as seen in movies like Secondhand Lions and Indiana Jones. Maybe not domestically, I enjoy getting to my best friend in D.C. in 8 hours. But for international travel, I feel a lot is lost to being able to read my Kindle and veg out in front of the latest season of the Walking Dead, or re-watch the new Star Wars hoping it would impress me more this time around. The trip broke down into several stages.....
Phase one: Getting to the airport. I live in the suburbs of Portland, but Portland International (PDX) doesn't have flights to Nepal, Seattle-Tacome (Seatac) however does. Phase one involved me leaving at 03:30 to drive to Seatac. Driving 3 hours in the dark and alone is never a great idea. There was an accident on I-5, making a 2 hour drive take closer to 4. Good thing I left myself extra time. Then, because of spring break the TSA lines were crazy. Crazy to the point that news crews filmed me being bored and playing soccer with my duffle bag. Then, there is always the giant fear I have that TSA is going to take some or all of my expensive camera gear just because they can. They never do though, thank god. It's amazing how there's always more time than you think there is when you're standing in the lines. It always feels like it's the end of the world, and you're going to miss all your flights, but I never do.
Phase II: Seatac to Dubai (14 hours) air time. This route had some interesting points to it. We flew over the north pole, and Moscow. We get so used to seeing the world as a two dimensional map, and a warped one at that, that I think we tend to forget that we can go over the poles. I didn't see any penguins or Santa Claus from the plane though, so clearly this trip was a waste of time and money. Or, there is always hope for the return trip. I have to give Emirates a lot of credit. They kept me surprisingly not surly for 14 hours next to a man who didn't get the western "personal space" concept. I just had a good set-up going: Read (I'm trying to finish the Girl in the Spider's Web before I get home), nap, watch an episode of the Walking Dead, nap, repeat. Breaking occasionally to hit the bathroom, eat, or do standing bow pose in the aisle.
Phase III: Dubai to Kathmandu (5 hour flight). The Dubai airport is semi-interesting. It definitely reminds you that you aren't in America or even the west anymore. No one really wanted to offer help. I don't think this stems from a place of arrogance as much as it does just that things will solve themselves when they're ready. For example, we were waiting for a bus at one terminal and kept asking when the bus was coming. The airport staff would just say "it will be here when it gets here." This was annoying as a response until the bus finally arrived. I swear we drove in a giant loop around the airport, just to arrive right back where we started. At least I got to see the Spire, the giant famous building in Dubai.
Phase IV: Kathmandu and the Vajra Hotel. After a fair amount of time travel, I arrived in the future. 11 hours and 15 minutes ahead of the West Coast and 8 hours 15 minutes ahead of the East Coast. I won't complain about the 3 hour time difference between the East and West coasts again. The airport here is surprisingly small. Thankfully, Raj set us up well to handle the customs process. It isn't that hard, but help is always nice. You just stand in a line to fill out a form on a kiosk, take that print out to another line where you pay a man $25 US, he gives you a paper so you can stand in another line so a man can take that paper and give you a visa in your passport, so you can stand in the baggage line, then take your baggage to another line where they match up your baggage receipts with your baggage. I'm glad I'd run into a few people going on the trip. Travel buddies really helped here. After we got through the airport I was pushing the baggage cart and got my first experience with Nepalise natives. The guy driving us to the hotel helped me push the cart right out into oncoming traffic. It was a fun experience! I suspect there is going to be a lot of experiences on this trip that will give you a heart attack if you can't have faith in the people driving. I know they know what they're doing. It was a short ride back to the hotel, and it was time to check in and go to bed because it's too late to eat dinner. Everything is closed. The hotel is really nice though. This is going to be a good trip.