Wednesday, 17 August 2011

ktm – pkr: stranded at the airport

after a good night’s sleep, i woke up at 6.30am coz my flight to pokhara was at 9am and i needed to be at the airport 1 hour before.

DSC_0077hotel breakfast…

oh, before i proceed, i wanna show you this:

DSC_0075 how impractical is this for a keychain? that’s why i always left it at the front desk when i go out.

DSC_0078the domestic airport’s check-in counters. check out the antique weighing machines!

DSC_0083water dispenser in the waiting room before boarding. see the 2 glasses there? most of the people will use those, instead of the white plastic disposables. they’ll just wash it, fill it with water, drink it and wash it before putting it back. a bit backward and icky, but so environmental friendly! anyway, they used bottled water to fill those tanks up, i saw it with my own eyes.

as mentioned, my flight was at 9am and was supposed to take 25 minutes… but 15 minutes into the flight, there was an announcement by the captain that the pokhara airport has closed due to bad weather and we were gonna turn back to kathmandu airport. i was stunned for a while… now what??? i had a hotel reservation in pokhara and my pokhara guide and driver would be waiting for me there! and what about my return flight from pkr – ktm the next day? would that be burnt too?

back at kathmandu airport, i asked the people at the counter. they said they’ll wait for the pokhara airport to open before announcing the next flight, but there’s no saying how long that’ll take. i tried calling my tour agent with my cellphone, but don’t know why, i can’t make any calls out. seems like digi was experiencing some issue with the roaming codes for some countries. then at the boarding hall, i saw a phone there with a sign that said, “free local calls”. imagine my relief!

so i called my agent and told him what happened. he asked me what i wanna do: to wait for the next flight or to cancel my plans to pokhara and they’ll arrange something else for me (like bring me to nargakot instead, where i can take a mountain flight to see the himalayas from the air). i said i’ll wait for an hour and if there’s any flight out, i’ll take it. if not, then i’ll go with plan b.

DSC_0086 i befriended a young nepali guy (actually he chatted me up first, coz i guess i kinda stood out from the crowd) who was also going to pokhara for a short getaway. i don’t remember his name, but he helped me take this photo with gil the globetrotter ami-inu.

at about 10.30am, we were called to board the plane again. i quickly used the free phone to inform my agent before passing thru the gate. but then we sat in the plane for quite sometime, without any movement. and again, the pilot’s voice came on, informing us that the pokhara airport has closed again and we had to get off the plane. wth!

again, i called the tour agent to inform him of the delay. and again, i said i’ll wait for another hour. this time, there were quite a few passengers who were pissed off and were making a fuss at the counter. don’t they understand that it’s for their own safety? they wanna risk their lives by having the plane flying and landing in bad weather, just because they don’t wanna be late getting there? *sigh*

DSC_0094 bored with all the waiting…

DSC_0096at about 11 something, close to 12pm, i saw a lot of people crowding around the airlines counter again, and they looked like the same crowd from my flight. then the young nepali guy, who was walking pass me from the counter, told me i can go collect my snack. at least they bothered to pacify us with some peanuts and coke, even though it wasn’t not their fault the weather was so bad. and because i was sticking out like a sore thumb, the guy at the counter served me first instead of the noisy locals there. i didn’t even have to jostle like the rest. talk about discrimination! :P

at about 12.15pm, we again got called to board the plane. i called my tour agent and told him that this will be my last try. if i’m still unable to get to pokhara, i’ll give up and opt for plan b. but fortunately this time, we were able to arrive at pokhara safely.

the airport at pokhara is even more run-down! the arrival room (i won’t even call it a hall) is like an abandoned building, with part of the wall crumbling off! sorry, didn’t take a photo of it coz i had to see to my luggage.

after checking in to the hotel spectacular view, i set out for some sightseeing with my guide and driver.

DSC_0098 first stop was the international mountaineering museum

then i was brought to a cave with a hindu temple in it and photography was not allowed. anyway, nothing really much to see there lar. i think our batu caves is more interesting.

DSC_0101 next was devis fall, a very rapid waterfall that got its name when a swiss woman named mrs. devis who died after being swept away while bathing there with her husband. you can see how rapid the waterfall is if you click on this link.

DSC_0112next, i’m brought to see this suspension bridge

DSC_0119 and the last place for the day was this seti river. the water is white in colour, because this river runs through a series of limestone caves before arriving here.

as you can see, there’s not much to see in pokhara. that’s why at every small attraction also we need to pay an entrance fee.

DSC_0121 back at the hotel in the evening. the room has a nice view of the fewa lake, the lake that made pokhara a popular getaway destination for tourists and locals alike.

as it was still early, i decided to venture out on my own, as well as to look for some food. other than the breakfast at the hotel, i’ve only had the packet of peanuts the whole day and i was starving! chatting with the young nepali guy at kathmandu airport earlier, i found out that the typical nepali meal is the thali. so i set out in search of this.

DSC_0128 i wandered into this 4 or 5 star hotel with a nice restaurant and ordered this, a chicken thali. and it’s not expensive at all, considering it’s a hotel restaurant. i think it’s only npr 280 (≈ rm 11.70), with an additional npr 50 (≈ rm 2) for a glass of lemon soda.

DSC_0133 walking along the fewa lake (some spelled it as “phewa”) on the way back to the hotel. as nepal has no sea, this lake is the main source of seafood for the people in pokhara.

pokhara is very different from kathmandu in the sense that it’s less congested, has less traffic, not so polluted and less noisy.

DSC_0134 as it was still early, i decided not to go back to my hotel yet and was taking a longer walk when i stumbled upon this concerto cafe. so i went in for some desserts… superb rum raisin gelato!! a few moments after i took this photo, the electric power went off and plunged the whole town into darkness. but it seems like the people here are used to this, as they quickly cranked up their generators and its business as usual. the power came back on quickly tho’, much to my relief, coz i was starting to worry about having to take my shower in the dark, with cold water!

back in my hotel room, the wi-fi signal sucked, so i turned in quiet early. might as well, coz i had a very early start the next day!


Biow said...

such adventure!
the young nepali guy handsome?
Nepal has lotsa indians? Hmm I always think nepali are more chinese than indian.

stargal said...

he's ok looking ar... educated kind, coz his english is quite ok. as for indians/oriental looks, i think that depends on the region. if nearer to tibet and the mountains, will look more oriental, but if nearer to india, will look more indian lor...

gina said...

Wah.. pretty daunting also the flight.. for me, surely give up dah. I think I better see Pokhara from your pictures lah. No need to visit. Hahaha!

stargal said...

actually can go by land one... just that it may take 6 hours, depending on the traffic condition.