Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kathmandu: First Impressions

Turbulent Flight
Bridget, as we may have mentioned here before, cannot handle turbulence. Whenever the airplane ride gets bumpy, and especially if sudden it features 10-foot drops, Bridget gets a look on her face like she's already dead. The flight into Kathmandu was scary because a bunch of it was spent inside clouds, and it was very easy to imagine a Himalayan cliff face looming miscalculatedly out of the mist and turning us into gory atomized debris. So we did our in-seat dance to mask the exterior motion (which still worked, but if you're jitterbugging for 5 straight minutes you get a little self-conscious about whether the other passengers think you're a pair of chorea sufferers) and we repeat mental mantras ("safer than being in a car, safer than being in a car") or try to think how rarely you hear about giant airliners on well-traveled routes accidentally veering into the earth.

But we were considering going to Lukla at some point to start a trek. That would mean flying into Lukla airport. Here are two pictures of the runway:
 Picture #1

Picture #2
The numbers I put after the pictures refer to the excretory function you would involuntarily experience while viewing the subjects of those images from within a moving plane.

As she treasures her continence, Bridget does not want to go to Lukla if that is the only way to get there.

Hazy; Crazy
The clouds never really went away. Kathmandu is covered with a fine, aromatic layer of smoggy pollution. A disconcertingly large number of people wear face masks, which makes me reflexively clutch my cheap Indian handkerchief over my breathing parts.

Also, this neighborhood (Thamel) is really crowded with tourists and the shops that try to sell them stuff. Of course, we are above all that. WE are not tourists. WE are different somehow. Stop trying to sell us shit, merchants! Can't you see we're different?

White Dreds and Hammer Pants
In Goa, Mysore, and now especially in Kathmandu, we are seeing a lot more of these visual abominations. We will attempt to collect some visual images, but it's harder to sneak a good pic of terrible fashion choices than of temples. Check this space.

 Not the best image. Keep Checking.

1 comment:

  1. I landed on...I think it was Phuket, Thailand, on a runway kind of like that. It was on the ocean, but there was a cliff at the end of the runway. The plane was a 12 seater, and you could see out the front, to see the cliff coming towards you. It was not the most comforting thing, but it was perfectly safe.

    I also flew into the old Hong Kong airport a couple of months before they opened the new one, and that was truly harrowing. It basically flies through downtown. I remember looking out my window and into people's apartments as i flew by. It was an extremely rough trip, and that's why a world-class city decided to build a different, less potentially fatal, airport.