Due to the short planning period, I pretty much put our trip in the hands of a tour company, Vista Trek. During our visit to Townsville in August, our friend Marley told us about a friend of a friend who organizes trips in Nepal. This friend, Arjun, is a director of Vista Trek. I basically told him what we wanted to do, which was trekking (I picked the route…more on that later), a visit to Chitwan National Park, and a few days in Kathmandu. Arjun was really responsive to email (which is not always the case when contacting companies in non-Westernized countries) and helped us to tweak our itinerary given our short-ish trip.
Unfortunately, our trip actually started with a flight cancellation! I received an email at about 2pm from Expedia, who we had booked the flights through, that our midnight flight would now take place the next day at 2pm. Thank goodness for Expedia, as they are really good about notifications of flight changes. This also happened when we were in Africa, and the only way I knew about the flight change was Expedia. We were a bit annoyed because this meant that we now had to spend the night in Kuala Lumpur with a 12 hour overnight layover. I rang Malaysia Airlines straight away and they assured me we would receive complimentary accommodation and food in KL, so it seemed as they had everything sorted.
Our flight from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur was good. It was a relatively full flight, probably because it was two flights crammed into one. We were meant to be on an Airbus but ended up on an older 777 instead due to the flight change. The food was quite tasty and there were good movie options with our seat back entertainment. The flight crew was very friendly and they seemed to be enjoying their jobs, as I caught them taking selfies in the galley once when I went to get some water!
Things took a turn for the worse when we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. When had been told in Melbourne to visit the transfer desk upon arriving in KL to arrange accommodation for the night. The Malaysia Airlines employee at MEL could even tell me which hotel we would be staying in, but she said I needed to get the voucher in Malaysia. The transfer desk was chaos! The queue was about 30 people long and was not moving at all. We were 5th in line and waited 30 minutes just to talk to someone. Unfortunately, the guy "helping" us had no clue what he was doing. He shuffled papers around, made some phone calls, talked to some other employees, and after 15 minutes he gave us dinner vouchers for Burger King and told us to come back in 30 minutes!! We weren't real impressed with Malaysia Airlines customer service at that point and didn't understand why our voucher was not ready given the fact that even in Melbourne they could tell us where we were staying. Luckily, after our free Burger King dinner, the line was shorter and we got a different customer service rep who sorted us out with our accommodation.
|Two beds. This was a common theme during our Nepal trip and it started with the Concorde Inn.|
|Morning flights departing Kuala Lumpur|
|Himalayas in the distance beyond the wing, iPhone shot.|
|Zoom lens shot of Everest!|
|We've flown on quite a few prop planes in 2014!|
Our taxi ride to the city was another adventure. Traffic was actually INSANE. We have seen some crazy driving in Indonesia, Africa, and Thailand, and I have seen some ridiculous driving in China, but nothing compares to what we saw on the roads in Nepal. There was one lane of traffic and cars were 3 wide alongside bicyclist, motorbikes, and pedestrians, all trying to squeeze into one lane! It was quite an eventful (and long!) drive from the airport into Thamel, where our hotel was located.
|View from our window at Himalaya Traveler's Inn|
|Stuck at the bottom of a hill|
|The house and store that we spent several hours outside of while waiting for the car to be fixed.|
|This kid was playing with a toy car that was made out of a plastic bottle. We are always amazed by the creativity of non-Westernized cultures when it comes to toys and games.|