From America to Nepal

To start at the very beginning, I took a 13-hour flight from Seattle to Hong Kong that kicked off this journey.

The flight wasn’t so bad, even though it started at 1am. My anxiety before jumping on the plane, that’s a whole different story.

Before lining up to have my ticket scanned and wait in queue to get on the plane, I was super scared. This plane was actually going to take me to the other side of the world, and once I walked through the doors on the plane, there wasn’t any going back. Was I sure this was what I wanted? And was I sure I wanted to do it alone?

I wasn’t sure of either of those things to be completely honest, and while everyone was lining up I actually went to find a bathroom to be alone and chill out. I was SCARED and needed a moment to myself, but I knew I couldn’t be long. I filled up my water bottle, and looked myself in the mirror and told myself out loud that it was going to be okay.

I’d gone too far to turn back now, so just like anything else I’m often scared of, I just went through to motions and got myself on the damn plane.

I nearly had the entire row to myself. AND I had a window seat. Talk about the universe aligning the stars for you when you’re anxious as fuck. But then at the very last second some dude moved up and sat in the aisle seat of the row I was sitting in. Immediately, I was annoyed. But to be honest he was probably in the back of the plane crammed in the middle seat, so I decided to be kind instead of mad at him for not allowing me my own row.

The plane ride was the same song and dance. Except this time they didn’t have cranberry juice. I settled for a soda water and eventually fell asleep. To my surprise, I didn’t watch any movies. I had the map of where we were geographically on the screen in front of me the entire time and I really enjoyed watching the time clock go down from 13-hours to touch down in China.

I’d say my next layover was the worst part of the entire travel experience. I had a nearly 14-hour layover in Hong Kong. I seriously debated going into the city, but there’s a lot of political unrest there and I decided to keep my parents sane and stay at the airport. I read a little, bought a journal and wrote a decent amount while trying to keep myself busy in a foreign airport for over half a day. I called the fam, ate some food and walked arooooound. Finally I fell asleep on some chairs for maybe a few hours?

There was more people on the flight to Nepal than I had imagined. I had a window seat again, and my only goal was to try to fall asleep on the plane. No movies this time either, but the map was up.

I got into Kathmandu around 10pm (which would be around 10:30am for you Oregonians reading this) and transferred from the plane to the terminal via bus.

This airport was so different than any one I’d ever been to (I’m a noob with international travel). It was very small, had a lingering smell of mildew and was basically one large room with a few not so spread out departments.

Inside the airport was a mix of travelers alike, and we were all trying to figure out the next steps for the visa and immigration process. As usual, I should’ve done my research before but I knew going into this trip I’d pretty much be winging it, and I’d previously looked up enough to know I could get my visa at the airport as long as I had the correct documents.

There were several white, semi-tall machines everyone seemed to be using after they filled out a small card with basic info q’s. I assumed the machines were for visas, so I nixed the little forms that seemed unnecessary and stood in line and waited my turn to use this foreign machine. Hey everyone else was doing it, right?

I met an Aussie who was traveling to Nepal to do some trekking as well. We chatted while we waited, bonding over the fact that she also pretty much had no idea what she was doing, and we both hoped we were in the right line. This gave me a bit of relief to the semi-frantic mood I was in.

Finally, I stepped up to this strange machine and input the answers to the questions it was asking me. Thing like name, address, passport number, address of where I’m staying in Nepal, etc.

The machine was moving at a snails pace, and it was then that it really dawned on me that I wasn’t in America anymore where the high speed internet is such a privilege. The machine continued to stall with every typed letter, and all the other machines next to me seemed to be working so much faster.

There was a thick line of people waiting behind me, and I began to become very anxious. Another traveler came up to the machine to help me, and she also noticed the lag, and said she would get someone to help. Eventually, while the machine attempted to take my photo, it stopped working all together. So there I was, standing in line in a foreign country, not having the best idea of what I was doing, with a line of people waiting on me to figure this out and I had no solution. When things like this happen I try really hard to remind myself that the universe already knew that this was going to happen, and I am right where I need to be. I just needed to hold on, and like everything else, this too would work itself out.

About 15 minutes of awkward standing later, a Nepalese airport employee came up and reset the machine. From there, it was a damn breeze. I had my 90-day visa slip in my hand in under two minutes. Whew. Now, I just had to pay for it.

So I stood in another line that looked like it was right, handed over some cash and voila. Just one more line to go through and I was basically home free.

My last stop was the actual immigration counter. The gentleman was very nice and said “namaste” to me, where I replied with “hola”. WOW I’ve never felt like more of an idiot in my life. But focus on the present, not the past. Right? Tbh I was pretty stoked to get my Nepal stamp on my passport, and I was good to go.

Once I got out of the airport, a man from my hostel was waiting for me with my name on a sign, I had arranged this prior to my arrival through my hostel (look guys I actually organized something ahead of time!!).

He was kind, and we drove down the streets on Nepal for the first time in my life. Although it was dark, I wasn’t scared yet. I trusted this hostel worker and that we’d get to where we were going safely. The last turn into the hostel was barricaded in between two walls, and that shook me a bit. We backed up for what felt like an entire mile, and finally he said we were here.

I checked in, and was incredibly exhausted after 36-hours of travel. I tossed and turned a little bit, but finally fell asleep around 2am.

The next day came, and I realized that the sun rises much earlier in Nepal than America, around 5am. It was bright and I couldn’t sleep anymore, so I rolled over and began journaling.

I tried to sleep longer, but it just wasn’t happening. Around 7am I got up and went to the rooftop of the hostel. One of my favorite things about Nepal is the creative rooftops. So many awesome and colorful hangout spots!

This was my first real view of the city and I was amazed! A feeling of elation finally came over me, and I felt like I was where I needed to be for the first time. Man had I been waiting for that.

The rooftop was beaming with bright colors, and had prayer flags dancing all around. There were many green plants with big, palm-like leaves, and the view overlooked the city of Kathmandu. The structures here are alive with vibrant colors; reds, oranges, teals, soft pinks and yellows.

I enjoyed a breakfast of fresh fruit, watermelon juice, potatoes, toast with jam and butter, beans and some kind of white cheese. It was just enough, and I truly felt nourished once I was finished.

Later that day I spoke with the hotel manager who gave me a map and some information on the city. He pointed out where the temples were, and other happenings around the city. He also exchanged my currency, and provided some trekking information. I was super grateful for him, and he was my first introduction to the kindness of the Nepalese people.

I was pretty scared to go out and about alone, and still rather exhausted, so I spent most of my first day hanging around the hostel, sleeping and adjusting to the time change.

Fun facts:

⁃ Similar to countries other than America, Nepal has the steering wheel for their cars on the left side instead of the right. They also drive on the left side of the road, or really anywhere that’s convenient. They also honk their horns constantly? At first I thought it was just because they wanted you to get out of their way, but I’ve learned that even when no one is in the way it’s still pretty common.

⁃ Cows are sacred here. On my way into town from the airport I saw two cows chillin on the side of the road, asked my driver about this and that’s what he told me.

⁃ I still haven’t completely figured out the shower situation, as I’ve had one shower in four days. But I’ve learned it’s pretty common to use a bucket and pitcher for your shower water, and it’s also common to have a cold shower. Also the soap here doesn’t lather nearly like the soap in America, but that isn’t a knock because s/o to you Nepal hostels for not using sodium laureth sulfate.

⁃ Music is usually always playing somewhere. Whether it is someone playing an instrument, or a stereo bumping songs, if you’re outside there is always a melody to jam to.

⁃ I’m not the biggest fan of foreign food, so I was a little worried about that. But so far I have been the upmost impressed with Nepalese food! It’s seriously amazing, and it’s pretty easy to at least eat vegetarian here, which I try to do whenever I can!

⁃ There are so many stray dogs and it literally breaks my heart.

More later. Thanks for following along ♥️

Published by alexandriacremer

Hi. My name is Alexandria, trail name Soushine. I hiked over 1,750 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017. I'm the one on trail who brings far too much first aide gear, eats produce almost every day yet ALWAYS has bags of sugar-y candy. Being out in the wilderness for over five months changed my life in the most positive ways, and I'm yearning to find ways to bring that positivity into society. Let's connect!

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