2015-11-04 - 9:01 a.m.
Nov. 1-3, 2015
It was the first trip where I actually got a pair of pajamas and transport to a hotel room included in my ticket. But there's a but. I got the pajamas on the plane and didn't bring a carry-on so that I could take them off... so I didn't actually wear the PJs in the hotel. I wore them on the plane though. What do you expect from a 14 hour flight?
It all started something like this. Got up early. Got message I couldn't check in online. Uh oh. However, when I got to the airport, there was no obvious reason for a problem, and I got checked in at the business class desk in about 30 seconds. Nobody in the security line. No club. Found an empty spot at the computer table with the outlets and got caught up on my emails. Made sure my devices were all charged up.
MSY to MIA. Started the trip off right with a Bailey's on the rocks. Inspired the folks across the aisle to order the same. Ha. No food. Just snack basket. Had one bag of chips & some club sodas. Don't judge me. It was going to be a long day.
In MIA no one knew why I didn't have a boarding pass yet. Dude gave me two drink tickets in the club. Used them for two pomegranate martinis. Had the free lunch which was mostly hummus and random yellow & red tomatoes. Some olives. Took a shower. Washed my hair. Asked again if I really had to go outside security to get my boarding pass. This time I got a different answer. No, I just had to wait for the Qatar Airline ladies to show up & they'd issue the boarding passes. Got that done. The lady also changed my checked bag tag so it would show up in KTM instead of forcing me to pick it up in Doha. So that was cool. Went to the club near the airline's gate. Horrible, horrible club. More people than chairs. I don't know if they still sell club passes and memberships but if they did, and I bought one, it would be a chargeback on my credit card. But somehow I find a place to sit and read my book.
Finally it was time. I had 3B for MIA to Doha. (Sorry I don't know the shorthand for Dohoa Airport.) Only very young, beautiful flight attendants seem to work for this airline. Fine by me, as long as they remember to keep the champagne coming. Which they did! I started with a regular French champagne. After we got off the ground, I tried their fancy pink Rose champagne with my dinner, which was a salmon appetizer salad and some sort of stuffed chicken. I skipped dessert but they brought chocolate anyway. Then the lady made the bed, and I got some sleep.
Oh, and besides the PJs, they actually had toothbrushes & toothpaste in the lav. Instead of pounding on the door if you're in there too long brushing your teeth, they actually encourage you to brush your teeth. Imagine that! Delta needs to catch a clue train from these people.
There was also body lotion and perfume – Si by Giorgio Armani – in the amenities kit. Qatar Airways is very concerned that their customers smell good after their flight.
I had more salmon for breakfast. Coffee. Some kind of fancy “energizer” drink with carrot & I don't know what all juices in it.
In Doha, I walked past the truly terrifying scrum of people into the hushed and mostly empty immigration area set aside for business/first class passenger. Got my voucher for my free hotel. Went out the door and found the right place to get the shuttle. Actually, the shuttle never showed up but the guy from the hotel got a cab for us. Unfortunately, there were four of us, and I was stuck in the back seat between two gabbing ladies who were there for some boring sounding conference. Why didn't they sit together if they were there to yap the whole time? They called it “networking,” not once but several times, but it's still yapping if you're getting it in stereo. No, I don't care if Michele Obama is speaking at your conference. I'm sure she speaks at any conference where you pay her enough. Rich people! Of course I suppose they thought I was one of them & wanted to hear this yikyak. Who knows.... First world problems, right?
The hotel room was very nice and some distance away from the airport downtown so that we could see the lights of the skyscrapers on the water. A free buffet dinner & breakfast were also included. There was a piano bar if I was in the mood to drink in a piano bar, which I wasn't. I picked at the dinner buffet & tried to get some rest. But I hardly slept a wink. It was now night their time but probably the middle of the afternoon my time so I tossed and turned. Good thing I got so much sleep on the plane.
Downstairs for the breakfast buffet and the coffee. I had some random salad in case it wasn't a good idea to eat the salad in Nepal. The shuttle eventually arrived. As the sun rose over the city, I went back to the airport. The other guy in the shuttle knew to ask for the business class drop off, which I never would have thought of. So... no lines, we scooted right through. However, they weren't particularly good at maintaining crowd control at the gate. A number of economy passengers crashed the business class line. I thought the man charged with maintaining order and removing them to the back was going to cry. They simply overwhelmed him...
So eventually I'm on the plane. Pink champagne and more salmon. I think the salmon was a good choice. Despite the three days of travel, my feet didn't ever swell. Put my seat flat for about an hour and got some more sleep but no pajamas this time, since Doha to KTM is less than a four hour flight.
The airport in KTM was a third world airport. The first class tags were not respected. The bags came out when they came out, and meanwhile everybody was pushing and shoving. I guess only the strong survive air travel in India, and the attitude of push ahead or you'll be trampled has carried over to Nepal. I will not try to explain why the time appears to be something like 11 hours and 45 minutes different from New Orleans. Or maybe it's 11 hours & 15 minutes. Whatever it is, it isn't a round number.
Once I had my bag, every laid-off cab driver in Kathmandu wanted me to ride with them. Sorry, guys, I'm waiting for somebody. What part of GTFO do you not understand? I was wearing my dark glasses, and even the guys in Turkey respect the power of the dark glasses. But I did spot my first bird of Nepal during all the shoving and shouting. Black Kite.
(The only bird of Qatar was the Feral Pigeon/Rock Dove although I may have seen something in the thrush/robin category silhouetted against the sun when I was on the shuttle back to the airport.)
Soon S. arrived & we headed for our white palace. Evidently we're getting the good rate because it has earthquake damage and they're taking advantage of the opportunity to do renovations. But I haven't heard any equipment going while I'm trying to sleep, so it's all good. There's a strangeness about this place. The ground floor is the fourth floor. The floor I'm staying on, is in fact the fourth floor, but it's called the seventh floor. And there are carved wooden eyes all over the hallways. There's a clear lemon soap in the bath. Smells delightful.
Dinner was something called momo. It's chicken and spices or vegetables & spices in little dumplings. Quite tasty but too much food. I went up to bed & meant to study my birds a little but instead I collapsed and went to sleep. Of course I woke at around two in the morning. Studied my birds a little then. Went back to sleep. Finally got up (still quite early) to get caught up on the thrilling report.
It's an oddity of this place that I can't get online with my tablet although I can with my phone. So I can only leave a quick note & an Insta or two for the time being. The thrilling report will have to wait until later.
We are all here early because we were afraid of delays etc. caused by the fuel crisis. Now I think we are a bit at loose ends but I'm sure we'll find something to do. I brought S. his new iPhone 6 but the quirky sellers of KTM have thus far refused to sell him a sim card, stating that they need a visa photo & his passport to sell him such a thing. I can't think why...
It's mid-morning now on November 4. I have already studied the Rose-ringed Parakeet (which first appeared on my list in Amsterdam) & Jungle Myna (a life bird). A few House Crows have checked to see if I have any food. A lady who ordered Eggs Benedict at the same time I ordered my omelet somehow created enough confusion that there was a fireball coming off her frying pan. I screamed & jumped back. Hey, I don't think it's the time and place to demonstrate a steady nerve when a blast of flame is coming off the stove. Fortunately, she didn't catch fire, and the rest of breakfast went by peacefully.
I got a second set of log in credentials. Every device needs its own. Ho-kay. I still don't quite see why but whatev. Now S. has gone in search of the elusive SIM card, and I think I will poke around for a few more garden birds.
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