Wednesday, December 1, 2010

22/09/2010 Wednesday Day 3 Singapore to Kathmandu

0500 start from the ‘Hangout’ carrying our bikes to the Little India Station for our transportation to Changi International Airport.  It only took 20 seconds outside for us to break into a mad sweat, something along the lines of a notorious Marc Ellis sweating joke.    McDs for breakfast at the airport and once again impressed by the efficient Singaporean airport check in service.   A quick walk around Terminal Two and another failed attempt of hunting down the elusive Ipod touch and then it was time to board our no thrills attached flight to Kathmandu. 

We flew with Singapore Airlines cheap subsidiary airline Silk Air. Whilst the in flight entertainment was near inexistent, the extra leg room of setting next to the emergency exit made up for it.  Ollie lucky found some good Singaporean news papers before we left which helped keep our sanity during the flight. 
Our bikes being loaded on top of the taxi van.

Arriving in Kathmandu was a hoot, such a contrast between the efficient metropolis of Singapore. Visas, simply fill out a form on arrival and pay the enter fee; no problems except my New Zealand Dollars had the equivalent value of monopoly money.    After making a deal with a trekking guide he kindly gave us 6000Ru to pay for our Visas. He then also organised us a ride and some sweet accommodation at the Blue Diamond Hotel in Thamel for $20US a night.  Then off to get our permits for the Annapurna circuit.  I found a place to exchange my NZD at a nasty exchange rate of 36.5Ru to 1NZD, somewhat lower than the official 54Ru to 1NZD.  Tip, take US dollars to Nepal and/or any other third world nation as NZD are not always excepted. We paid 16250Ru, for both Annapurna and TIF permits for the both of us.     
Blue Diamond Hotel 

We left the guides office to get some puffer jackets and eyewear for the trip. I bought a pair of Oakleys for 350Ru. After searching a dozen stores and some fierce bargaining by Ollie, who left the shop keeper at his mercy, we had ourselves some genuine Mammoth copy puffer jackets.

Once shorted out in our new Himalayan fashion we headed back through the maze of Thamel to build up our bikes at the Hotel. With bikes assembly, we gave them a quick shake down ride through crowded Thamel Streets. Sensory overload was quickly experienced due to the exotic colours, noises and smells from the hundreds of people, motor bikes, bikes and dogs we shared the streets with. We quickly worked out the road rules, particularly the give way rule, which is simply the vehicle with the loudest horn has right of way, which left me somewhat disadvantaged. However the low gears of the Rohloff left me with plenty of acceleration which allowed for fast get up and go.
The streets of Thamel

A cool down shower before bed proved difficult as the shower head sprayed water everywhere except down in front.   Well off to Besishaha tomorrow. 

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