Nepal – Kathmandu to Bangkok on Nepal Airlines

Kathmandu, Nepal, April 2019: The much anticipated trip to China begins today with a mid-morning flight from Kathmandu to Bangkok for a transit stop. Then it’s off to Hong Kong, essentially another transit stop while obtaining my 30 day China tourist visa. So, here’s how the story unfolds…

IMG_20190401_144812173Flying Nepal Airlines: They don’t have a great reputation it has to be said, probably the reason then why they are the cheapest flight out of Kathmandu this April, especially since the demise of Air Asia’s service to Kuala Lumpur. I’m booked on the late morning flight to Bangkok serviced with an almost new aircraft – A European Airbus A320. Had they still been using their 37 year old Boeing 757, I probably wouldn’t have booked a ticket, even at half the price! £120 single to Bangkok booked in the UK via the Nepal Airlines website. Plain and simple with fare rules as flexible as was in the good old days of air travel when one could chop and change flights without penalty! No pick-a-seat facility or even ‘manage-my-booking’ options are available on-line so getting a window seat will be just pure luck.

Check-in at TIA (Tribhuvan International Airport) is old school style. Nepal still has some way to go before adopting the technological advances of developed nations where passengers can simply proceed through the formalities of checking in via smartphone or self-checking kiosk. Thankfully, the queues today are short – just 20 minutes to obtain ones boarding pass before stomping upstairs to the immigration desk and my stamp out of Nepal.

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Wonderfully Tasty Meal, Nepal Airlines

On board and on time to as the aircraft starts to move off the ramp at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu. Nepal Airlines is a full service carrier – adequately wide seating with good leg room and later food. No window seat unfortunately, luck of the draw wasn’t with me today, but having an isle seat comes with the advantage of a little more leg room. Its a pretty short flight to Bangkok, just under 3 hours so the cabin crew waste no time in getting out the drinks before serving up the lunch. A very tasty lunch it is too – chicken curry and served with a smile. Landing at Bangkok’s suvarnabhumi Airport is 40 minutes ahead of schedule, about 4PM local time.

The Verdict: A pretty good, comfortable flight with attentive crew – the girls dressed in traditional sari’s and the guys dressed resembling pilots. No in-flight entertainment on this Airbus A320, not an issue for me personally. Overall, a very satisfactory flight to international standards, no complaints from me.

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Nepal Airlines Airbus A320

 

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Nepal – Daily Snapshot, Saturday, Farewell Pokhara

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2019: So, as I prepare to leave Pokhara, here’s a photographic summary – a selection of my favourite images depicting life in and around Lakeside since January. Despite this being my 6th visit, there’s always something new to photograph! This visit has been exceptionally good in therms of weather. Even the locals admit this season has seen some of the best mountain views ever…

NEXT: A transit stop in Bangkok before heading up to Hong Kong to collect a visa for China! So, until we meet again Pokhara, Ciao.

Nepal – Daily Snapshot, Friday

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2019:  When a storm hits, it can be pretty harsh here in sub-tropical Pokhara (Video for Facebook users). As the warm tropical air from the south integrates with the cool Himalayan flow from the North then unsurprisingly there are frequent storms. Such a storm recently left us trapped for an hour in the little bamboo shack beside Fewa Lake. Rain and hail pelting the tin roof while strong winds swirled around the structure, the bamboo pillars creaking and tarpaulin sheets flapping violently. The good news is a storm like this will often clear the air for a couple of days giving one some great mountain viewing opportunities! The storm passed, the temperature dropped a few degrees and the next day was stunningly clear of that spring haze Pokhara gets this time of the year.

Annapurnas after a storm…

 

Nepal – Daily Snapshot, Thursday

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2019:  Its worth getting up early to experience the tranquil settings around Pokhara’s Fewa Lake – but not to early! Yes, its worth dragging oneself out of slumber and hike down to the lake front at around 6.45 before the crowds begin to descend upon the boat stations. As the sun rises higher so the mountain peaks come to life, the birds stir from roosts and then by about 7.30 the peace is shattered with natives queuing up for boat rides across to the Barahi Temple, situated on an Island in the middle of the lake.

Early morning Fewa Lake, Pokhara…

Travel Pokhara Nepal

Travel Pokhara Nepal

Nepal – Daily Snapshot, Tuesday

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2019: Pokhara’s  Fewa Lake is not only an oasis for humans, it’s a haven for natural history to. Birds, butterflies and insects happily cohabit along the lakefront. Urban meets nature here where one can observe several interesting species of bird and insect life while watching lizards scurry across the ground.

Here pictured is a Birdwing Butterfly, Swallow, Jumping Spider, Drongo Bird and of course the venerable Lizard…

 

 

Nepal – The Quick Low Down for Non-Trekkers

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2019: Compared to Kathmandu, Pokhara is an Oasis. Significantly less people thronging the streets, and pollution is just a fraction of the dangerous levels seen in the nations capital.   Here’s 4 good reasons then why Pokhara’s Lakeside suburb is the ideal hangout for visitors who are not into long distance trekking!

Easy to reach: With around 10 flights daily Pokhara is reached within 25 minutes. Tickets cost $115 and are completely flexible with time and travel dates, without  penalty. Alternatively, 15 tourist coaches leave Thamel everyday at 0730. Tickets are $10 and the journey time varies between 7 to 10 hours with breakfast (10.00) and lunch (12.30) stops. Local Toyota hi-Ace mini-vans run between the cities constantly, cheaper but risky with speeding drivers and questionable vehicle maintenance.

Abundance of Accommodation: The place is jam packed with accommodation. As a rule of thumb, the more one can see of the mountains from ones room, the more expensive the rate will be (1500 NPR and up). The further into Lakeside, the cheaper rooms become, typically 600 – 1000 NPR with views somewhat limited to a couple of mountain peaks. At the very end of Lakeside, no mountain views and prices can be as low as 400 – 500 NRP per night, very rustic and popular with long term travellers.

Loads of Cheap Food and Good Coffee: Local food is cheap and while western derived menus are pricier the offerings are still cheaper than in ones home country, especially if your from New Zealand, Australia or Central and Northern Europe. Most expensive food is Chinese and Korean, roughly the same price as in England. Personally, I’ll stick with local food. I’ll seek out a family run small cafe and eat the same food they cook for themselves often at the same time of day – always fresh and less chance of being poisoned (yes, it happens)! Nepal has an up and coming coffee culture to, so coffee lovers need not miss out their daily fix, and its organic (mostly)!

Proximity to the Mountains and day hikes: On a crisp clear day one can reach out and almost touch the mountains! yes, they feel very close indeed. The views are nothing short of spectacular. Plenty of vantage points from around town and in the nearby hills. No need to trek for weeks on end. If one does get itchy feet however there are loads of short hikes – from a couple of hours to all day, the hills offer a stunning insight into Himalayan life!

Travel Pokhara Nepal

Travel Pokhara Nepal

Travel Pokhara Nepal

Travel Pokhara Nepal

So, there you have it, an oasis right in the middle of Himalayan county! When your done with Kathmandu, head over to Pokhara and enjoy a great time without choking on fumes and denting ones bank account too much!

I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have, just drop down to the comments section, thanks for reading.

Nepal – Daily Snapshot, Sunday

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2019: Lakeside Pokhara, densely packed with hotels, guesthouses restaurants, cafes and shops, but not tourists. The hotel owner here on Street 17 admits its been a slow spring season, due in-part to the Chinese economic downturn. Another theory is that tourists are just not up for the long an uncomfortable bus ride to Pokhara anymore and so stay in Kathmandu. Not helping matters is tourist effect inflation – milking tourists to the maximum. Trekking prices are high, airport passengers taxes are high and internal flight prices are double for foreigners. Higher prices and over supply of just about everything one finds in a tourist town – but the resilience of business owners keeps them going, somehow! Food discounting is beginning to appear and one can usually negotiate reductions on the price of a hotel room. I would say just about anything can be negotiated down around here right now! I’m staying in Central Lakeside in a double room en-suite with TV, negotiated down to 700 NPR (£4.77) per night.

Here’s a top tip for anyone contemplating coming to Pokhara – no need to pre-book your accommodation, there’s 50% under occupation as it is, and with more rooms under construction – just turn up, negotiate, relax! Its a great place for budget travellers to hangout.

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Nepal – Daily Snapshot, Thursday

Pokhara, Nepal, March 2019: Holi colours, yes its the day Nepalis come together and create one giant party across the Pokhara Lakeside. Holi festival of colours marks the beginning of spring in accordance with the traditional Hindu calendar and is celebrated across the Indian subcontinent, its origins dating back to, well, lets just say ‘ ancient civilisations’.

Here in Lakeside festivities begin from around 10.30 in the morning as competing venues ramp up the boom boom boom! A cacophony of the latest Hindi dance tunes morph into a deafening mixture of mush as vendors compete for business – Yes, the party’s in full swing! Kids throwing paint bombs and water on anyone and everyone, even the local pooches, while teenage boys are delighted to have an excuse to touch up girls in places normally off limits!

Happy Holi 2019….

Travel Nepal Pokhara Holi

Travel Nepal Pokhara Holi