Updated: Jan 30
See my YouTube of this trip here
For my flights from Albury to Kathmandu, I'd specifically booked Qantas/Cathay Dragon as I definitely wasn't going to risk crossing the ocean in an Air Asia or Malaysian Air flight......to be never seen again!
My early morning flight from Albury to Sydney barely gets up to cruising altitude before it's making it's descent! Taking just an hour, and no real problems were experienced, except the check-in assistant wanted my Nepal visa number, and I didn't have one because I was getting a visa on arrival in Kathmandu. She was saying I would have to get my baggage and check-in again in Sydney. Eventually she skipped the input box for the visa number and I got my tickets for the whole journey there and then, which means there's no collecting baggage until the final destination, which I love!
There was a ginormous lady on the flight, with a bum at least twice as big as the seat. The seats are tiny on these little turbo prop planes. Strangely, they'd seated her next to an over-weight man, luckily a slim lady offered her a seat swap. But why sit them together in the first place?? One of the mysteries of life I guess! Even if the random seat allocations can't tell the size of people, surely the air stewards can see! Why not have to enter your weight when booking a flight, so the seat allocation or selection algorithm can take it into account?
Arriving at Sydney airport around 0730hrs, I had three hours to kill, so messed around in the shops and was a general nuisance really! I did take time, for the first time ever, to go and get a tax refund on purchases made in Australia. The rules are a bit strange, you have to have spent a minimum amount of $300, at the same retailer, in the last sixty days to qualify for a refund. The only item I could claim for was this laptop, the queue was huge, but getting a $90 refund was rather nice! Definitely worth the half hour queuing! Unfortunately, even though I'd bought a GoPro, a mobile phone and a camera in Australia, they didn't qualify for a refund humph! Next time, I'd do it on the refund app, which was a much shorter queue.
My flight to Hong Kong wasn't due for boarding until 1050hrs, unfortunately the plane was still being cleaned at this time and we didn't board for another hour. The flight was to be around 8-9 hours to Hong Kong.
On all my long-haul flights this trip; London to Sydney, Sydney to Honolulu, Honolulu to Sydney, I've had at least three seats to myself, with flights not being busy, in fact coming back from Honolulu I think everyone on the flight had a few seats to themselves! Unfortunately on the flight to Hong Kong, normal service was resumed, but luckily I was on the window seat of a row of three, sitting next to an elderly couple who were visiting HK to visit their daughter.
I hate it when I sit next to someone who, because they don't want to be pestered the whole journey, aren't friendly at all, to send out that message. You know what....I don't want to chat either but a hello and some pleasantries would be nice! And that's how the flight was with this couple, they were very considerate, waking me for food etc and having a brief chat.
I was getting worried on the flight as I realised that although the pilot had made up time, we was going to land at a 1745hrs and boarding for my Kathmandu flight was at 1820hrs. We landed, and by the time we were off the plane it was just around 1800hrs. So a twenty minute dash to catch my Cathay Dragon flight to Kathmandu.
It was a nightmare, a huge airport, having to pass through security, a kind man let me cut-in the very long queue. Once my bag had gone through the xray machine, they told me to remove my power supplies, so I did, then the bag took forever to go back through, when it did they were still deliberating, and asked me to take more things out, and dicked about a while, all this time was eating up my twenty minutes and I was getting just a bit pissed with them!
I ran through the airport, onto a train, off the train, up escalators, down escalators, on travellators arrrrgghhhh, when I arrived at the gate, boarding had been delayed ten minutes so luckily I made it! Phew I was so glad I did, I certainly didn't want the hassle of sorting out a hotel for the night and booking another flight, even if it was courtesy of Qantas!
The Cathay Dragon flight was just over 5 hours, all very pleasant. I'd been travelling for around 22 hours by now and had 'done' my jet lag on the flights, keeping awake for the last leg, so I was nice and tired on arrival at Kathmandu at 2200hrs. Which wasn't helpful, as I'm a grumpy traveller when I'm tired, the airport was hectic and the queue for paying for a visa was huge, it took around half an hour, which to be fair to the clerks, was better than I thought it would be. They should really consider, for certain flights, having more Visa processing clerks, there was only three, and havng less customs clerks, there was around eight of them sitting in their booth with little to do as they were waiting to check visas and passports!
I was quite late getting to the baggage carousel and immediately spotted my bags, which were quite near each other on the carousel, I pulled off my suitcase, then pulled off my bag, which felt strangely light. My first thoughts were that some of my things had been stolen, then I noticed a padlock on the bag, checked the ticket and realised it wasn't mine. It was in the surname of Newton.
I waited until all the baggage had been off-loaded, and my bag identical, as what turned out to be Sam Newton's bag, never turned up. So I went to the baggage administration department, and was pleasantly surprised by their professionalism. We soon realised that Sam Newton must have taken my bag, as he never claimed his. I filled in the forms etc, and would have to wait for a call the next day.
By now it was getting on for midnight, and I was upset and tired. The missing bag contained all my new trekking gear, and everything I needed in Nepal. The bag I did have was just my mountain bike gear and stuff I didn't need in Nepal!! Dang!
Anyway, I met the Himalayan Experience representative, it was all a bit of a kerfuffle, there seemed to be three people, the meeter/greeter, another bloke and the driver. One wheeled my suitcase literally 100 metres then wanted a tip, which I was a bit annoyed about, as I didn't have any Nepali currency, not realising that I could have given him US$. But still, it was all a bit unnecessary, and I was too tired to be messing around.
Arriving at the hotel, getting checked-in and into a nice bed was marvellous though, and I had a really good sleep. I was excited to wake the next morning to see what delights Kathmandu held!