SIN to KTM

Approaching Singapore by means of air transport is quite a sight. Coming in over the sea, one looks down on an endless amount of cargo ships and, if sitting on the right side of the plane, the CBD. Looks especially pretty at night.

All that is nothing compared to the approach on Kathmandu though. Descending into the mountains, close-by peaks on eye-level and finally arriving in pretty much the middle of the city was the most breathtaking landing I’ve ever witnessed.

But all in due time. I left the “fine city” of Singapore in the late morning.

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The exit row on the plane was empty, giving me three seats and a good opportunity for some shut-eye. Definitely one of the most comfortable flights I ever had.

About 3.5 – 4 hours into the journey, the Himalayas started to appear on the horizon.

IMG_9481The mountains got closer and closer and I hardly got my finger of the shutter button. Sadly pictures don’t quite get it across. I’ll upload a video if I come across fast internet.

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Once my heart-rate had recovered from the jaw-dropping landing, I dived into the little adventure that is Kathmandu International Airport. I filled out the arrival form, filled out the visa application, paid the visa fee (AUD 60 for 30 days), lined up for immigration, waited to get my carry-on bag x-rayed (???), collected my bag and went to get some cash from the ATM.

The ATM had run out of money but I found a cabbi who was willing to take me into town with a detour to an ATM. In the end it took three attempts to find one that worked. Changing money is probably easier around here, but as my credit card allows free overseas withdrawals, I’m not keen on using that option.

The guest house I’m staying at is located near the touristy district but the actual neighbourhood seems local. I went with my standard operating procedure and secured water, food and a local SIM card. Had to show my passport and have my photo and fingerprints (sic!) taken.

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Weather is a bit chilly around here. Need to buy a proper jacket tomorrow. And maybe a beanie. Even gloves are not out of the question, those 5°C feel mighty cold after months and months in 30+°C countries.

Revised Verdict

It was a couple of years ago that my verdict about Singapore was “boring and expensive” (or something along those lines).

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And in part, that still holds true. It is an oasis of peace compared to the utter madness that is down-town Manila, Bangkok or Saigon. But with the colourfully lit CBD and the hawker centres (food), it does have something to offer.

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Might only justify a stay of 1-2 nights, but still. And looking at the cost then yes, it’s the most expensive country in Southeast Asia, but it’s still affordable at roughly 50-60% of what one would have to spend on food and the likes in Europe.

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Today is a day for contrasts and if everything goes as planned, I’ll trade the shining and sterile Singaporean CBD for the underdeveloped and earthquake-ridden streets of Kathmandu.

Going to Nepal was a decision that took a while to ripen but I think in the end it makes sense. One major reason is that Canada, my next bigger adventure, is still way too cold. But Nepal is also a hot spot for volunteering and all kinds of NGOs, which makes me hope to get in touch with a few people and learn something about the field. So far all is looking good and I can’t remember the last time that I travelled to a country while having so many leads and potential contacts on file.

Last but not least, the country offers world-class trekking and if I get really bored, I can drop by the next temple and give meditation another go…

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Singapore 2016

Another “re-visit” years later. Singapore Airlines brought me into town after a 7.5h trip from Brisbane. Most of that time was spent flying over Oz. Crazy how big that country is.

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Just as in Brisbane, a train connects airport and city. Although the $2.50 they charge here are more attractive than the $33 return you have to shell out down under…

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Got to the hostel, dropped my bags and asked the guy at reception to point me towards the next good eatery. Fifteen minutes later I sit in front of a bowl of chicken curry noodles and smile like a kid on christmas.

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Maybe one day I need to talk to a doctor about my obsession with food. Although with a body mass index of 22 that’s not exactly a pressing matter.