Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Headed back home....

Leaving Kathmandu....

Departed Kathmandu for Bangkok at about 1pm. The airport at Kathmandu leaves a bit to be desired. It is pretty crowded and without many services. But, the plane left on time, so I guess I cannot complain too much.

The flight to Bangkok with without incident. I spent the night in Bangkok at the NovoTel near the airport. This hotel is a bit expensive. but, quite nice and very near the airport. No complaints.

The flight from Bangkok to Tokyo to Minneapolis to Indianapolis was long and long. And, it was teh same movies that I saw on the flight over....yikes. Again, not complaints.

One nice feature is that the Tokyo-Minneapolis flight is that this flight is the first (or nearly the first) international flight into MSP. So, when I walked into the passport control area there was many agents and few travelers. I was 2nd in line. It was a great experience.

I'll post pictures soon....glad to be home.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What time is it in Kathmandu??

A question with an interesting history....

Nepal is GMT + 5:45. It is the only country with a 45 (or 15) minute offset from GMT.

This is the story I have been told.....

When India and Pakistan were established, Pakistan was in two parts, current day Pakistan and current day Bangladesh. From a time perspective, India was between two GMT +6 areas and its relations with those areas were not friendly. So, India adopted GMT +5:30.

Now consider Nepal...between India, China and Bangladesh...

For the case of uniqueness I suppose....Nepal is GMT + 5:45 (not 6 like Bangladesh and not 5:30 like India).

This is the story I have been told....

That pesky cricket...again...

I read this sentence in the local paper....

"...as India struggled to 161-5 in their second innings at stumps. That means that India were just 14 runs ahead with five wickets in hand."

What in the world does that mean??

So...I determined to educate myself a bit more about cricket. I had dinner on Monday night with friends from Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan and they undertook to educate me a bit. I understand more about batters, bowlers, wickets and no-balls.

I can't quite interpret the above sentence...but, maybe after dinner tonight....

Touring Kathmandu

I need more time to carefully craft an entry about my wonderful tour of Kathmandu on Sunday. The tour (given by a most generous former researcher at Indiana University) was amazing.

Simply put, Kathmandu lives up to everything written about it in the tour books. We saw amazing temples of all kinds. I took many pictures and will find a good way to post them.

Also, in our travels, the infrastructure problems in Nepal (or Kathmandu at least) became apparent. The roads are very poor and the traffic very heavy. It was quite rainy. But, without that, I suspect the pollution would be a significant problem. You are warned not to drink the water.

Kathmandu is a city of contrasts The amazing history and temples contrasted are with the serious modern infrastructure problems. How the history can be maintained and preserved, while at the same time, the dramatic infrastructure problems are addressed?

Kathamndu airport visa

One interesting thing about Nepal is that you can acquire (purchase for $25) a temporary tourist visa at the airport. You need a visa to visit Nepal, but you can buy one when you get there...this is pretty unusual in my experience...usually if you need a visa you must have it BEFORE you leave the US.

Onward to getting my visa at the airport in Kathmandu...

When the flight landed in Kathmandu, a group of people began to run (or at least walk very quickly) off the plane toward the far end of the airport...hmmm....what is going on??

Well, it turns out that this is the location of the "Purchase Visa" activity. It is not very well staffed and involves a fair bit of paperwork and exchange of money (of various kinds). So, can be a bit of a delay, in fact, a huge delay measured in 1-2 hours if you are unfortunate to be at the back of the line.

I was fortunate to be in the relative front of the line (did not walk quite fast enough as I was unprepared) and it took me about 20 minutes to move 5 places forward in the line (which finally expanded into two lines to meet demand).

You do get your visa...eventually...but...

My advice...get your visa in the US. By the time you get to Kathmandu, you will be too tired to deal with this one final huge, gigantic hassle....

Tomorrow....touring in Kathmandu. Being a tourist in Nepal.

Airline travel to Kathmandu

What a great way to spend a day (or two), sitting in a cramped airline seat with lots of crying babies and generally grumpy people...oh, well...welcome to airline travel to Kathmandu...

The route (for me at least)...

Indianapolis -> Detroit 1 hour
Detroit -> Tokyo 12 hours (yikes...)
Tokyo -> Bangkok 6 hours (double yikes after the Tokyo leg)

Overnight in Bangkok (too tired to go on...even though I arrived at the Bangkok hotel a 1am and had to depart at 8am)

Bangkok -> Kathmandu 3 hours

So...you can get in shape for a trip to Kathmandu by sitting in a chair for 22 hours...what a treat.

A few interesting details about the Kathmandu airport in the next post....

Monday, August 4, 2008

Planned travel to Nepal

I will be leaving Thursday 7-August for a trip to Nepal. This will be my first trip to Nepal. I will be spending my time in Kathmandu and attending three meetings.

TEIN3 South Asia Feasibility Study (a European Commission project to extend research and education networking to South Asia)

SANOG12 (South Asia Network Operators Group meeting) See:http://www.sanog.org/sanog12/

Internet2 South Asia Special Interest Group (which I chair and will be hosting)

I will post my experiences (both professional and personal) here for peoples interest.