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Nepal April-May 2006

Nepal in the News!

Abu Dhabi Fri 21st April 2006

Liz is working today and I have all day to pack. Although I've done ninety nine percent, it's always the last one percent that takes the most time! There's no dog hanging around my feet and vomiting at the sight of me packing my bags. He get's very anxious when he sees suitcases or duffel bags being packed. He's learned what it means, and vomiting all over the show is his reaction to it. Fortunately Chirri went to the kennels yesterday morning. He was so excited getting into the car, because he thought we were going camping. Little did he know!

The news on the TV and radio is not good. The political situation and the riots seem to be getting worse. The King's concession to allow the formation of a government looks like being rejected by the people. They just seem to want rid of him whatever it takes. They've come so far now, that it'll take something quite extraordinary to appease them.

We've thought long and hard about whether we should be visiting Nepal at this time or not, not only from the point of view of our own safety, but also how our presence might affect the Nepalese people during this difficult period. We're both familiar enough with Kathmandu, and the nature of the Nepalese, to be unafraid for our safety. Unafraid maybe, but more than a little excited; I have to admit!

It has been nearly eight years since we last visited, and once we made our decision to go, it would take a lot to change our minds. We are well aware that the money we'll spend in Nepal will make the lives of a few people that bit better. Many people in Nepal rely on the tourist industry, not just for money, but as a source of hope for the future. We feel that by visiting, despite the current troubles; will demonstrate that there might be a brighter future in store for the tourist industry. One of the many strengths of the Nepalese people is making the best of things under adverse conditions. God knows they've had plenty of practice! Their spirit is amazingly strong. I feel we'll be showing a bit of faith in a people and country that has given us so much over the years.

Having said all that, and having made the decision to travel, we are still not totally convinced that we will actually be able to. We hear that the international flights are still running, although there has been disruption to the domestic flights. I've read that during the curfew, transport in special tourist buses, enables visitors to get from the airport to their hotel. Once there you just have to stay put until the curfew is over. We know that despite all this, everything could change at the drop of a hat, because as we watch the news, the whole country seems to be heading for chaos; even anarchy! Add to that the possibility of getting stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the airport; because Robbie Williams is doing a gig in Dubai, then you'll understand that we'll only believe that this trip is real, when we reach the hotel in Kathmandu.

Liz gets home after a busy day working at the hospital and launches into her last minute packing. This has taken me all day. She has barely two hours! I'm scoffing a curry as she arrives home, and manage to stop myself from eating it all, so I can leave her some scrapings. The hospital driver arrives a little late, but there is no need to panic, because Liz has insisted on an early start in case we get stuck in traffic.

We make good time going right through the centre of Dubai with no traffic jams at all. We quickly make our way to the check-in desks but have to wait for 45 minutes before the flight opens for check-in. We eventually get our boarding cards with minimum fuss, and get allocated to seats 1a and 1b; right behind the driver. We've had to book business class seats, because the flight was nearly full. We have a short discussion about whether the 1a and 1b seats are on the port side with the mountain views or not. I reckon that at this time of year it'll be too cloudy to see anything, making what side we are seated academic.

Off we go through passport control via the fast track. The security check is thorough, and I even have to remove my belt, although my shoes stay on. I wonder if belt-bombers are on the loose at the moment!

Then it's through to the shopping madness that can only be Dubai Duty-Free. People seem to be shopping as if there is about to be a world shortage of just about everything. I think out about how the people in Kathmandu will be coping with their very real shortages. I suspect that they'll be coping better than Dubai Duty-Free shoppers.

We are pleased to be able to buy spare batteries for our cameras, because they were unavailable in Abu Dhabi. We also grab snacks and some bottled water for what could be a long wait at Kathmandu airport.

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