The epic journey to my final destination Pokhara, Nepal begins on Sunday evening the 10th April. We leave home for Brisbane airport before 8pm, arriving not long after 10pm after encountering countless roadworks along the way. A popular time for road construction it seems.
Paul and I say our fond farewells as I head to the Singapore Airlines check-in counter. This would be the longest time we’ve been apart since before we got married, I’ll miss him loads along with our kittie cats. I’m swiftly checked-in, the attendant at the counter not quite believing I had such a small carry-on bag for almost a month.
A pretty uneventful hour and a half while I waited to board my flight. I got plenty of exercise to counteract the long sit in the car as well as the upcoming flight by walking the length of the departure lounge and back numerous times. Once onboard, I was very happy with my seat that I had paid a bit extra for, plenty of leg room and only one ‘seat mate’. Not quite business class but it could have been worse.
I was pleasantly surprised when the captain informed us the original 8½ hour flight would now be only 7½ hours. We landed in Sinagpore, around 5am and I wandered around for a while a bit dazed from lack of sleep and made my way from terminal 3 to 2 on the Skytrain. I found my gate and although my wait was now about 3 hours due to the early arrival, I managed to find things to do including getting the wifi password and making contact with home, checking out the sunflower gardens on the rooftop, and almost getting a coffee. I really felt like one and even got in the queue but at the last minute went to Boost Juice instead and so glad I did. Why ruin 3 months of abstaining and the juice gave me the boost I was needing!
The next flight on Silk Air was on a considerably smaller plane that felt very cramped but I was lucky to have an empty seat next to me on a row of three and again the captain announced the 5½ flight would now be less than 5 hours. I was very pleased about this as my connection in Kathmandu to Pokhara was a bit tight.
We ended up arriving only about 20 minutes early then there was great confusion with buses which we had to take to the terminal. When we finally got on a bus to drop us at the terminal I zoomed off and got through customs very quickly and was very pleased I’d got my visa in advance as that queue was huge. The baggage area looked a nightmare too so I was super pleased I had carry on luggage only. There was a bit of a queue going through the security bag screening but once through that I was out of there.
I got outside to discover the directions I was given from the Brisbane Ayurvedic Centre were very totally wrong. I was told to keep walking straight ahead for about 10 minutes and the domestic terminal was in the same building. Well I got outside and there was no sign whatsoever of a domestic terminal nor any signs to indicate where it might be. I asked a policeman (who looked quite annoyed as well as confused whilst holding his gun closer) and he pointed in the general direction. I had to walk half on the road amongst cars as either the footpath disappeared, there were bars across it or it was full of people. I kept walking hoping to see a sign yet nothing so asked another policeman who said to keep going and pointed to a hill, so I went up this hill and into a big carpark where I had to dodge scooters, cars and vans and people. Finally saw a sign on a daggy old building, I had reached the Domestic terminal at last.
I waited about an hour to board my next flight and took in the very interesting surrounds, I’m not quite sure how to explain it but suffice to say it was more like a run down old bus terminal and quite a culture shock. Boarding was announced about 10 mins before take-off and we were ushered onto what could be described as a bus. This bus fit the whole flight and subsequently dropped us at a tiny propeller plane with steps so small I couldn’t even carry my hand luggage onto so it had to go in the hold.
The flight was very pleasant with beautiful views of the mountains. The guy sitting next to me struck up conversation after take-off and was very chatty. He was from Pokhara and lives and works in Lithuania as a sushi chef and was going home for vacation. He told me about the Himalayas that we could see from the right side of the plane, luckily I was on that side with a window seat, it was truly a beautiful site. He also told me the Pokhara flight used to take only 20 minutes but after some accidents they changed it to 25 minutes. I was pleased about this. Although it’s only 200km west of Kathmandu the large tourist buses take around 7 hours due to the many mountain roads, smaller buses however can take 3-4 hours.
So after a very short and pleasant flight, we arrived at Pokhara airport which was basically a tiny tin shed, how different could it be from Changi! At least it was clean and well maintained unlike Kathmandu.
I was met by Kamala from the Ayurveda Health Home and we were driven by a taxi driver just a short distance to my final destination – now the real adventure was about to begin.