| Traditional Nepalese music]
We were already flying for 3 hours from Kuala Lumpur when the captain addressed the plane and said that we were approaching the Himalayan mountains which we could see from the right side of the plane. Yula and I were lucky to be seated on the right side after the flight attendant told us we could move seats.
After a while, he pointed to Mount Everest on the right. You could not have missed it from the air. It stood tall and proud, the object of many passenger's camera phones. You could feel the excitement building in the cabin. Everyone was excited to land in Nepal. Some of the passengers were first time flyers and the flight attendants were already getting pissed at them because they weren't following safety instructions. We were accompanied by other tourists who, I think, were going on to treks in the Annapurna and Everest areas.
We could not have arrived at a worst time in Nepal history. We arrived on election day when everything in the country stood at a standstill. No taxis, no open shops, no cafes. Most of the passengers were stuck in the airport since their transports were not allowed on the road. We learned earlier from our hotel that there was a transport ban put in place until 5pm that day. Our own airport pick up was only able to get us at 7pm that night.
We started talking about contingency plans in case we had to spend the night in central Kathmandu. A very nice man, from the only open travel shop in the airport, was kind enough to allow us to use his landline to call the hotel to verify the pick up time. The worst scenario we discussed was having to spend the night in Thamel at the height of the tourist season. Not good. Thamel was a good distance away from the airport and we had a ton of baggage with us. The only operating vehicles that day were from the 5-star hotels in the city.
I heard from some very gossipy Americans that Jimmy Carter was in the country to observe the elections.
While waiting, we were finally able to appreciate the cold temperatures of Nepal. Forget what you read in the weather forecasts. Temperatures here vary during the day and suddenly drops as the sun starts to set. The airport is nicely situated with a view of the ice-capped mountains so we were treated to a nice sunset.
We finally got to the hotel around 8 in the evening. We were so hungry at that point we asked for some food first before we checked in. Arun, the co-owner of the hotel, told us that we were lucky to have missed the bombs going off in the city.
Aimee, Bryan, Yula, and I were so tired that we immediately went to sleep, wrapped up in layers of clothes and blankets.