Monday, May 20, 2013

Arriving in Nepal and Mt Everest Flight - Sunday, May 19, 2013

We had asked our Rotarian hosts to book tickets for a flight around Mt Everest – weather providing.  Sunday morning we were up at 4:45.  After a cup of coffee the group was in 2 taxis going to the Domestic Airport to catch the Mountain Flight. At 6:00 there is very little traffic on the streets, thank goodness as one of the members of our group forgot their tickets at the hotel and needed to return for them.  Cal & I were in the other taxis and continued to the airport.  After minimal security, and paying a departure tax, we were in an airport terminal with minimal amenities.  In other words, they do not use the departure tax to improve their airport. 

The Mountain Flight – Several companies provide Mountain Flights.  Our hosts booked us on Buddha Air.  We were bussed to the waiting airplane which had a capacity of 20 persons - each person having a window.  There were low clouds, but they said it was clear once you were through them, and it was.  The snow covered mountain range was beautiful as the sun was just beginning to shine on them.  We flew parallel to the range until we got to Mt Everest, where we turned around and returned to the Kathmandu airport.  This was an experience we never expected to have.  The mountains are so high, each having a different shape and characteristic.  The rising sun case different shadows than would have been later in the day, however later the clouds rise and you often cannot see the mountains, thus the reason for the early morning rise and flight. 
Back at the hotel we had a buffet breakfast, after which I was ready for a mid morning nap.  Cal, Brock and Doug needed to find cash to pay for both sets of flight tickets.  Thank goodness we had 2 debit cards, plus knowing that the debit card 24 hr reset, is at midnight of your home local time.  Doug also needed a new camera as his stopped working on the Mountain Flight – what a frustration! 
Kathmandu Domestic Airport

Buddha Air

Mt Everest

Rugged Himalayas

At 1:00 we left for the Domestic Airport again, this time with our luggage - paying another departure tax!  We were flying to Bharatpur – a city which is a half hour flight, but would take 4 – 5 hours to drive.  We were met my Rotarians who took us to the Royal Century hotel.

Before I go farther regarding our schedule, I want to talk about Kathmandu, Nepal. It was definitely a culture shock from Doha, Qatar. Nepal is what we call ‘Adventure traveling’, whereas Qatar is ‘luxury travel’.   

Kathmandu is very Indian like in home styles, dress and food, except there are not the masses of people.  The driving is just as crazy, traffic going everywhere, but somehow they have their own set of driving rules!  There is a lot of trash, but we did see people sweeping it into piles, which is better than India. The utilities are unpredictable as well.  You hope the AC can keep you room cool!! 

Regarding the weather in Kathmandu – It is HOT and Humid.  It was HOT in Qatar (104), but not as humid, plus in Qatar you knew every building was kept very cool, so that you could cool down before another attempt at being out of doors.  In Nepal, you have no guarantee of the AC working!!  In fact the AC in your room usually does not come on until between 6-7:00 pm.  Thank goodness they do have lots of fans, so that we could nap with circulating air.

We landed in Bharatpur but drove to Narayangarh, a city across the river. 
Bharatpur Airport

Rotary Welcome

Hotel Welcome

The Rotary Club of Narayangarh Mid-Town is the Club with whom the 17 southern Iowa Rotary Clubs sponsored this Matching Grant water project.  After relaxing in the hotel we attended a Rotary meeting that lasted 2 hours!  Thank goodness we had taken naps or we could not have possibly stayed awake through much of the meeting you could not understand.  Most speeches were done in local language.  After the formal meeting of which we were honored guests, receiving flowers and gifts, there was a cultural dance performance for entertainment.  During this time snacks were served followed by a meal which began at 9:30pm.  This evenings meeting was an expression of gratitude from the local Rotarians to us for walking besides them in making a dream come true for purified drinking water for a village.
RC of Narayani Mid Town

Receiving Flowers

Talking at the Club Assembly

Receiving Gifts

Rachel with Dancers

Women at the Meeting

Group Photo

Celebration Banners

We have seen them through the process of piping water from the source, storing it in a large storage tank, purifying it before it was distributed to the village through another piping system.  The Club has a dream of a 2nd & 3rd phase where piping will continue farther into the community.   

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