forty eight hours later, and lots of those logged in at airports or waiting or both, i'm in kathmandu.
there are two ways of looking at the process of getting here. for a while, i used to quip that someTHING or FORCE was preventing me from getting to nepal...that is, though i'd intended to be here last october or even november, something compelled me to be in, and stay in, ubud. and when those plans were relaunched last march, the political uprising and uncertainty here stepped up to protest against me and my plans too. finally this past summer i re-decided, re-committed and revived those plans to travel to nepal, and wow haven't the last two days been a process....
our dear balinese friend Landung who brought me to the airport suggested a reinterpretation of my theory, that the cosmos was preventing me from getting to nepal, suggesting instead perhaps some forces, specifically the balinese gods, were trying to keep me in bali. i much prefer this version, and its endearing nature...
Tuesday, i was dealt a very mecury retrograde feel of a day..from the erratic cell phone connection with my parents in the US, to the water shutting off at the gym midshower (mandi with a cup of water from the sink. classy), to waiting at the wrong bank to pay a bill, to waiting in the wrong line, to having wrong funds at the end of said line, to finding two broken ATM machines, to finding out that labor day DELAYED my funds transfer (thanks again daniel), to the printer that broke while printing my flight itinerary, to the network connection that shutdown at the next place i tried to print it.....
anyways i finally made it to the airport and to kuala lumpur by midnight where (sorry mom, dad, i opted to leave this part of my itinerary out) i joined at least sixty other malaysians in the low cost carrier terminal waiting area to (rest? sleep?) wait for my eight am flight. i (lucked out?) and got a three-plastic-chair bench, negotiated my body around the protuding plastic edges and willed a few hours of (sleep?). along with sixty others. at five am, the bathroom shifts started and all of us (refreshed?) went off to check in for flights.
quick note about international check-ins so far: they all took five minutes tops. which means tuesday afternoon, and wednesday morning both, left me with a generous two hours of waiting to board. this just means, along with a bagful of cacao, i plowed through zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance (thanks julian).
three hours later i'm in bangkok and learn that royal nepal airlines (notorious for their debatable interpretation of travel service) has completely cancelled my flight for absolutely no reason except for something they call operation nepal. no mind that thai air and lufthanasa both left successfully earlier that morning. so instead of flying towards the mountains, i wait two hours (of course) for the group tour bus that hauls us across bangkok to some peculiar hotel in the middle of the city, through all its traffic and neon signs and traffic and glossy travel agencies and imitation fashion shopping and traffic. it had a very package-tour-style feel, complete with complimentary hotel room and meals at their trying-to-be-ritzy-restaurant. which, by the way, after sleeping on a plastic bench, i was completely and totally thankful for. last night i dined on the all glass walled restaurant on the 43rd floor, with incredible views of the city, which i finally found somewhat beautiful. that is, viewed from a candlelit table and not inside a tour bus.
this morning i was up at 530am, met the tour bus (completed with bright pink fringy curtains decorating the window tops...who needs those, by the way??) and arrived by 7am for my 1030am flight to (you guessed it) wait to board.
all that said...the flight into kathmandu was absolutely magnificent. never have i been at close to maximum altitude flying and seen mountain tops edge up through cloud cover. incredible.
to my complete and utter delight (again, sorry mom and dad) it is much much much MUCH less westernized than i'd anticipated. my trip to bangkok (and jakarta. and singapore) had me braced for a modern asian city and its imitation trendy shops and mcdonalds and high heels and such. asian city it is, perhaps modern from the kathmandu twenty years ago, but it's beautifully bizarrely unlike any place i have ever been. and i absolutely love it.
...walking out of my guesthouse, down the winding gravelly unpaved streets flanked by precariously towering buildings, past all the signs written in a script i can barely distinguish from curlicues, with stands of fried-something-delicious and beautiful women in gorgeous saris and horses and cows and dirt roads and motorcycles and crisp blue skies and surrounding mountains it is absolutely impossible, no matter how hard i try, to suppress a smile...its unreal and surreal and inspiring and beautiful...and i love it.....
more sometime soon,