Monday 27th April 2015
And so finally we land. It was with a bump but that is not unusual in Kathmandu. This didn’t mean I took it well. I admit to becoming deeply religious during the last few minutes of the flight and then possibly ruining it with swear words as we touched down!
Landing did not mean the end of the journey however. It was possibly an hour and a half after we landed that we finally received our luggage on the stop/start carousel.
The plan was then to meet our driver and head to the hotel. If only! As we moved through the airport the first evidence of the earthquake became apparent – cracked and raised floors plus large queues of people waiting for relatives, news or transport.
As we came out of arrivals the area was dark and crowded and it soon became apparent that our driver was not there. This bought about many more attempts at phone calls from Colin followed by a resignation that we would be bedding down for the night at the airport.
Just as I tried to get comfy – using my large bag as a bed and hand luggage as a pillow – Colin managed to excel himself. Three hotel rooms booked plus two tiny taxis procured to get us there (we were told to move fast as Ralph was ferociously guarding the taxis from other travellers). With very little room in the taxis my luggage was slung on to the roof rack unsecured. There followed a Benny Hill style, two taxi, chase through the dark streets of Kathmandu’s with me attempting to cling onto my bag with my hand out of the window.
Our hotel is lovely and not very damaged. Many people were choosing to sleep in the gardens due to the violent aftershocks which had been occurring. After 29 hours of travel we decided that the comfort of hotel rooms was worth the risk – making sure to have essentials handy to grab in case of a nighttime evacuation.
This morning we woke to bright sunshine and the familiar shouting and car horns of Kathmandu’s. Surprisingly bright eyed we all had a good breakfast before heading out to the few tourist attractions still safe and in tact enough to visit. We took in Boudanath Stupa and Swayambunath temple (the monkey temple) although we could only access parts of the latter due to damage.
There was a notable lack of tourists around and 80-90% of all shops and businesses were closed. It really started to hit home; the hardship that some locals were living in – large open areas are covered in makeshifts tents. Many people have lost their homes and many more are to afraid of aftershocks to sleep indoors.
Kathmandu is an odd place at the moment with rescue teams and television crews from all over the world constantly evident. Sitting in the hotel lobby I hear conversations about where to debrief traumatised climbers and the logistics of repatriating bodies. We are here as tourists and move on to Tibet tomorrow. We are lucky and cosseted from the worst. All I can do before we leave is tell you all how much the Nepalese need help and funds right now and ask that you reach out if you can.
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