Posts Tagged ‘Kathmandu


Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport among the 10 most hated airports

Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) — the only international airport in the country — featured in the CNN’s world’s 10 most hated airports.

“For a small airport in a pretty country, TIA has it all: the interminable weather delays of Boston Logan, the shoddy restroom maintenance of a Glasgow sports bar, the departure board sparsity of McMurdo Airfield and the chronic chaos of a kids’ soccer match,” it said, adding that some airport improvements have been underway for Nepal Tourism Year 2011 campaign.

However, it claimed that the most hated airports in the world are not the worst airports in the world.

But the most serious beefs with Nepal’s only international airport revolve around its primitive yet officious check-in procedure, starring a roulette wheel of underpaid security agents, according to the CNN. “Departure is an endless game of body searches and silly questions,” it quoted a passenger.

“Those who didn’t have their e-tickets printed out had to argue their way in,” another passenger has been quoted, who was checked seven times and scolded for not having a baggage tag on a carry-on before eventually boarding.

The two US international airports also feature in the list apart from Heathrow of London and Perth Airport of Australia

The CNN has rated the 10 most hated airports and it is no wonder that the Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) is among them! As stated above it is the worst International Airport I´ve ever been. Arrivals are quite annoying, the immigration is an old fashioned low tech procedure (the immigration desks are understaffed, while arriving a few planes at one time it is a pure chaos till the visa is issued, all is still handwritten, no computer in sight, unbelivable while hundreds of tourists queue up and waiting for immigration procedure). According to that the luggage will be uncontrolled downstairs as there are hardly controlls while leaving the arrival area and no need to mention the chaos outside where touts are looking for the unware weary tourists.
Same for departures, the check in is as worst as possible, the security check is ridicilous, once after checked in my luggage it was easy for me to stroll beetween in and outside the airport without any security check anymore, but later on further inspections seem to be paranoid ones (or the security staff is overbored). The duty free area is as primitive as a dark busstation barely providing resting areas. Luckily those never need to see the bathrooms. Before boarding it is neccesary to pay high attention because it is very easy to miss boarding (there are only two gates, if to name them) also sparse displayed when and where to go, the always absent helping staff will do the rest. Even the Manila (Philippines) or the Dhaka (Bagladesh) International Airports spread much more charme than this infirm brickstone piece of shit.
For most people the TIA is the first idea of Nepal, and why give them another hint than reality?

There is only the hope illusion that officials will improve this situation soon, tourists make a very important income of the national budget, and how they will be attracted with a non charming welcome like this?

This airport is a truly experience


The daily insanity or madhouse routine

Everybody spent time in countries like Nepal knows that urban management is not very famous and succesful, the buildings are built as space allowed, it doesn´t matter to block the neighbour window with a new house, some can be lucky if only a wall is blocking the view and not to face another window of a toilet or a kitchen, which will also change the view into a smell. It is not difficult to imagine that the sound scape is huge and this is not everybody cup of tea, but is enormous due to the echo caused to close buildings. One day I got woken up by a sound rarely heard in Nepal, a vacuum cleaner! Yes, I haven´t seen many of those here, and I think it is ok if those garments will be took place but WTF why the neighbours of our hotel need to clean their floor at 5.30 in the morning??? Also talking shouting as they are fighting (no worry they are not, only chatting). Thats how Kathmandu is like, especially Thamel, the notorious tourist quarter, narrow roads, packed with hustlers, taxis, beggars and stray dogs (I suppose they ´cleaned´ the roads from the streetkids and dogs, don´t know where they were send to…), rickshaws, cows and thousands of tourist (its peak season now) of all schemes. Here meet the holidaymakers wearing the latest trekking/ climbing gear (if finished their trek/ climb already dressed up with shirts displaying their achieves), that wannabe and neo hippies searching for the good old days which are long gone, the backpackers on their lifetime adventure in fisherman trouser their ticket home in the pocket and those longterm traveller think they´ve seen it all. All those types of tourist have one in common, they have to face the daily madness in the streets. Nobody is immune from all that vendors trying to sell anything and nothing, from Hashish to Tigerbalm, flutes (I´m missing that albino vendor selling his flutes always telling he remembers me), chess games, postcards, trekking tours and whatever (I won´t judge them, that’s how they make their living and simply try to survive and also need to commit it improved in the last years, nowadays it might be possible to walk 5 meters till the next whisper offering such goods).The biggest change I just recognized is the massive amount of policemen strolling around Thamel, but that´s not a reason to improve the traffic situation at all, it´s getting even worse. Those streets are simply not designed for motorized traffic, but nobody cares, all need to be pushed through with an omnipresent noise mixed with engines crying for the next inspection and the sound of the signal horns, shouting out who´s coming. At rush hours, which is most of the day the streets are so packed that even pedestrians switch to slalom racers trying not to be hit. Fortunately Nepal is an early to bed country with not a nightlife scene like other countries, so by around midnight the background sound decrease, there only the dogs are howling, police cars moving with sirene and sometimes become an ear-witness of the family fight next door. But all this is forgotten if someone got a new hi-fi system and using them all night long without knowing the volume button is for.

The other day we went for occasion to Bouddha the main Tibetan quarter in Kathmandu and later on we went by a micro to a relative house in the outskirts of Kathmandu. As we get used to the crazy public transport mostly using to get around town. The transportation system in Kathmandu is one of the worst I´ve ever seen, packed with dozen and dozen other people in small vehicles, called micro busses (mini vans designed for public transport), tuk tuks (looking like cans on wheels) and whatever no system or organisation is visible but somehow we always managed to get to our destination (simply I don´t know how). Inside those vehicles any foreigner is exposed to the driver skills, crimped inside with dozen of  other people sharing a seat created for two with four or more. But here someone will get a glimpse of the real Nepal most tourist simply never see.

But this is what Kathmandu feels like, like a huge mad house, but isn´t this a reason for coming back again and again. I think so! Because this is real, not a plastic society the law and order developed in western countries.


Kathmandu oh Kathmandu, I love you, I hate you

After a long flight I reached the notorious capital of Nepal early in the morning. After the Immigration necessity I got picked up from my empress TY and we went into town, direct into busy Thamel, the tourist quarter in Kathmandu. Happily that she chose a hotel a little bit outside of that mess, in a small alley away from that street-hustlers who want to sell almost everything a human mind can imagine. While my former visits the Swoyambhu Stupa was mostly the first sight I visited, so as this time too. This stupa is set in the western part on a small hill nearby the town center, actually it is an easy stroll, but we decided to take a ricksha because it is quite fun to get well shaken in that backseat. As I can imagine how strenuous the work as a rikshadriver is we jumped out half way and walked the last stretch uphill. We passed by the Bisnumati River and I could not remember that this place was so polluted. It seems that the town get rid off all waste and garbage here in this small river, maybe it was like before, but this time I came directly from sterile Europe and probably I recognized it more than before. On the foot of that hill a long and sweaty climb (231 steep steps) brought us to the entire place of that monastery hill. Sadly that the main stupa was hidden behind a scaffolding caused of construction work, fortunately I am not a first time visitor so I already enjoyed that in its full glance. We enjoyed the fresh breeze above the city and strolled around the extended area. I realy feel good to be back in a world where the senses are more claimed than at home. The smell of burned incense, the sound of rattling prayer wheels, the mantras sang by worshipers or the colorful wind-horses waved by the wind are a feast for the senses. Also aplenty of monkeys inhabit this hill, which gave this monastery the nickname ´monkey temple´ and are waiting for donations in form of any kind of food given by the many visitors. Later we strolled back into busy Thamel and enjoyed a dhaal bhat tarkhali dinner (rice, lentils and vegetables) with some Tibetan friends who were in Kathmandu too. Also on our schedule was a visit at Bodnath, called by the locals easily Boudha. We visited Sonam, a Tibetan salesman who has his shop nearby this holy 40m high stupa, and just enjoyed the peaceful but slightly crowded atmosphere there. Later on we also went to the Durbar Square, the old center of Kathmandu with its many ancient palaces, holy shrines and temples. But quiet the most fun of all activities for me is walking around the old town situated between New Road and Thamel. In these small alleys a typical bazaar offers things for every daily needs. Woman shove through the lanes in their colored sari, Tibetans in traditional dresses, youngsters showing the latest fashions and children in their school uniforms struggle the way through. One alley mainly offer household stuff, the other electronic goods while in another the shoe business is atop. There is always something else to explore, small hidden stupas and temples, one of the very few old style Newari houses which are rare in Kathmandu nowadays or simply the farmers selling their vegetables on every corner.
But after all, a few days are quiet enough, as it is good to come again it is good to leave after a few days too. The negative signs like every big city are present here of course too, even more because Kathmandu is quite small, compared to other Asian capitals. So then we headed directly to Pokhara, which I would call meanwhile my home away from home.

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January 2019
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