August 13, 2007: Zhangmu to Kathmandu
Our driver stopped the car and we looked for our Nepali travel agent. We found him very quickly.
His name is Samir. We said good-bye to Tsering and our driver, Mr. Gan. Two kids and an old lady
shouldered our bags and then we proceeded to the Friendship Bridge, crossed it and went into the
Nepali Immigration Offices. Samir grabbed our passports which already had the visas in them and
after a few minutes, we entered Nepal. Another 200 meters or so walking and then we were at our car.
We paid off our "porters", bought a couple of drinks and snacks and then started our drive to
Kathmandu. It was great to be back in Nepal!!!!!
We got up around 8:30 am and were very happy to leave our stinking room. At 9, we went to the
border post. We waited in the rain together with about one hundred or so other people for the
border post to open. Finally, at around 9:45 am, the Chinese opened it. Another 30 minutes or so
waiting in line and then it was finally our turn to get those precious departure stamps into our
passports and then exited the Chinese Border Post. We got back into our car which our driver had
driven to the other side of the Border post and then we descended on a horrible road to the Nepali
border in Kodari.
Our drive followed the same river we have been following since before Nyalam in Tibet. However, the
valley here was very lush, fertile and green. It was a completely different visual experience driving
through the Nepali villages then it was up on the Tibetan plateau. We stopped briefly at the hanging
bridge of the Last Resort. This bridge is famous for the bungee jumping. Apparantly it is the second
highest bungee jumping bridge in the world (160 meters). Highest, lowest or whatever, I wouldn't do
it. But the views from the middle of the bridge of the valley were superb.
Once we hit the outskirts of Kathmandu, the traffic became bad. Apparantly there were some bandhs
in the area which blocked a couple of roads. It took us forever from the airport area to Thamel. We
were staying at the L'Annapurna Hotel where I also stayed last October. We checked in and then had
lunch at the coffee shop, which is now outside the main hotel building and brandnew. The lunch
there was excellent, but, of course, not really Nepali-style cooking.
After lunch, Marc and I explored Thamel a bit. Marc took an instant liking to Nepal and its people.
Later that afternoon, we met with Bimal from Explore Himalaya to discuss our plans in Kathmandu
and also some of the issues we encountered with his Tibetan agent. We also discussed trying to
change our flights to Bangkok. As we arrived 2 - 3 days earlier than expected in Kathmandu, we were
trying to get out of Kathmandu 1 - 2 days earlier than planned. I told Bharat, my guide from a year
ago that I was going to be in Kathmandu around August 15th, but as we were a couple of days earlier
and I did not have his phone number with me, I visited a shop of his friend to tell him to contact me
as I was already there.
Marc and I had dinner at the Italian Restaurant next to the Explore Himalaya office. It is called
Marco Polo something. Very very good Pizza!!!!!!!!!! Thats what we both had and a couple of beers.
We went back to the hotel and sure enough, Bharat had called already and left a message that he
would meet us the next morning at 9 am in the lobby.
Marc and Samir at the Last Resort