Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine myself starting a day by staring at the beautiful view of the first light of the sunrise shimmering over the Annapurna mountains.
SubhanAllah, amazing view.
More of these breathtaking photos in my Part #3 of #NepalAkuDatang post. In the meantime, please allow me to share the 10-hour journey that took us from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Pokhara, Nepal — our first stop of the trip. You may also click here for the complete list of my Nepal trip stories.
Our #NepalAkuDatang adventure kicks off on the 8th of February as many Malaysians were getting ready for the long 4-day weekend due to the Chinese New Year holidays. Equipped with a bit of physical training prior to the trip (click here to read about our prep) along with our backpacks, flight tickets, passports and visas, my friend and I were all set for the 5-day trip.
The original plan was to fly in from KL to Kathmandu on Malaysia Airlines and transfer to a domestic flight on Buddha Air for a short hop from Kathmandu to Pokhara with a rather comfortable 4 hours transfer window.
Of course, Murphy ’s Law will always make a usual trip a bit more interesting. I received a text message few hours before the flight from MAS informing that the flight has been rescheduled to an-hour later due to fog in Kathmandu airport. From 08:55am to 09:55am departure.
I started to get even more nervous as we were still seated at the departure lounge at 10:00am. Eventually 15-minutes later boarding announcements were made and the Boeing 737-800 aircraft took off about 90 minutes behind schedule bringing down our transfer window to only 2.5 hours.
It was a full flight and for some reasons my friend and I were not assigned seats nearby. I will definitely spend more to reserve my favourite aisle seat in my future flights!
To make things worse, I was the ‘lucky’ passenger to have the only faulty in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen in the whole plane with no audio/sound coming from the system. The crew and I tried a few times but we just could not get it work.
A selection of ‘silent’ movies/tv series for the 4.5 hours flight. Absolutely no audio from the system.
The good thing is that the crew came to see me a few times throughout the flight and offered me a selection of magazines and newspapers. I finished reading all these materials cover to cover.
Kill some time by slowly enjoying my breakfast meal.
I spent some time reciting a few pages from the holy Quran available on the IFE.
Even after a 90-minutes delay, a faulty IFE and being stuck in between 2 strangers for 4-hours, nothing can spoil my good mood to start the adventure and the lovely MH crew were awesome in cheering me up.
Who needs IFE when you can have this view?
As the plane approaches Kathmandu, the lovely snow-capped mountains can be seen from far.
An interesting approach and landing into Kathmandu with mountains on both sides.
Kathmandu airport has a “no photography” policy and I was too scared to risk my cameras so photos of arrival are quite limited.
Knowing that we only have 2.5 hours, we rushed out of the plane, into the bus and power walk towards the immigration counters. It was very crowded as there were a couple of flights that arrived right before our flight.
Luck was finally on my side as a new counter was opened right in front of us and we got to skip the long queue as we had our visas prepared by the Royal Nepal Embassy in KL. Less than 30-minutes after arriving we were already waiting for our bags.
We waited for about an hour before our bags arrived. The best part during the long wait is when there was one time that while waiting for our bags we got a little ‘surprise’ as 2 coffins ‘arrived’ at the oversize baggage section just like any luggage. Talk about having ‘good aura’ for the trip.
A quick sprint to clear customs and we were greeted by our wonderful travel agent from Trekking Team Prvt Ltd. A quick welcome followed by a short hop on a van to the domestic terminal with 45-minutes to go before the flight.
Welcome to Kathmandu Airport Domestic Terminal.
Buddha Air check-in counters.
We were glad that we made it just-in-time within the allowable check-in time. Only to be informed that the Buddha Air flight has been retimed.
After about an-hour delay, boarding call (more like boarding shout of flight number and destination with no PA system) was made and we were transfered by bus to our plane.
9N-NAIM. My first experience on an ATR-42!
The ‘classic-look’ cabin.
Immediately after take-off, a bird’s eye view of Kathmandu.
A short 25-minutes hop — free water and sweets.
The highlight of the flight is of course the seemingly endless chain of snow-capped peaks parallel to the flight path.
Not as near as the special Everest flights, but definitely scenic enough for me!
Welcome to Pokhara Airport!
A small and simple airport.
Where bags are still being transferred manually.
Our airport transfer!
Multiple delays, bad luck, good luck. These are all variables when it comes to travelling. I am so glad that the risk we took in taking a same-day transit works well. For record, we had to fly to Pokhara as we had only 5 days for the whole trip and trekking takes up three full days. Flying allow us a bit more breathing space instead of the more common way of taxi/bus which takes 6-7 hours one way. After all getting there is half the fun..right? 🙂
In part 2, I will be sharing a bit more about pretty Pokhara, Phewa Lake and our equipment preparations for the Gandhruk trek adventure.