Trip Home from Nepal

Sunday/Monday November 27/28, 2022

It was only a trip back home but I there were some interesting moments.

We got up at sunrise, packed our bags, had some breakfast and waited for the taxi to pick us up. He showed up at 8:30 instead of 8 am which was a little late, but he got us to the Pokhara terminal in plenty of time. The road was still bumpy but he drove a little faster than the taxi driver that brought us to our hotel.

Not all of the roads in Pokhara were rough. It was just the ones we needed to use because they were rebuilding them. I saw other roads that were smoother.

The small taxicab was packed so tight with our luggage that he had to tie one of the bags on top of the car.

We arrived around 9 am for our 9:45 flight, checked in, got our boarding passes and with a little delay, we were on the tarmac by 10 am.

By 10:30 we were in Kathmandu, where Prat & Bijaya had to pick up their checked luggage. We took the free shuttle to the international terminal obtained our boarding passes, cleared immigration and then sat in the airport lounge for a few hours thanks to Prat’s Priority Pass that he has with his Amex card.

We were able to relax and feast on a variety of foods and drinks while we waited for our plane to arrive.

At 12:45 pm, I said my goodbyes to Prat & Bijaya, cleared security and waited to board my plane. After a slight delay in departure, we were airborne and I had a good view of the mountain range below for the entire flight.

I arrived in Delhi at 3:45 pm and proceeded to “International Transfers” , where they told me I would have to wait until the Air France desk opened, which would probably be around midnight. My flight was scheduled to leave at 1:10 am in the morning ( Monday ), but I got an email shortly after I arrived that it had been delayed until 1:40 am, which was 10 hours after I had arrived in Delhi. I felt better about waiting when I found out that some of the passengers in the transfer area would have to wait 20 hrs.

Shortly after 10 pm, I checked with the desk to see if the Air France attendants had arrived yet. There was a new group of staff servicing all of the people who were transferring to other locations. One of the attendants asked me which airline I had been on. When I explained that I had bought return tickets from Toronto to Delhi, had travelled to Nepal with a tour group and then procured a flight back to Delhi in order to catch my return flight to Toronto, she finally understood. She told me that I should have gone to baggage check/exit, even though I didn’t have any checked luggage. I then should have re-entered the terminal in ‘ Arrivals ‘ and obtained my boarding pass from the Air France attendant, when they arrived. I would then have to go through, security, customs and immigration again. However, she told me that I couldn’t do that now because I had been there for 6 hours and my incoming flight had cleared baggage control, etc. The people I had spoken with when I reached the transfer location must have assumed that I was on a continuation of the flight from Kathmandu. Unfortunately, even if I had exited the airport, I would have had to wait at the airport entrance for an Air France representative, and they didn’t arrive until 11 pm.

The agent at the transfer counter eventually contacted an Air France representative around 11 pm. It took another hour, but I received my boarding pass, went through a security scan and I was at my gate in plenty of time to catch my 10 hr flight to Paris.

Our plane to Paris was delayed by 40 minutes, so we left Delhi at 2 am local time and arrived in Paris at 7:15 am local time, a little later than scheduled. From my Paris arrival gate in section M of terminal 2E, I had to walk to the transfer train and take it to section K of terminal 2E. When I arrived in section K, I had to get in line to go through a stringent security check, which took about 20 minutes, but I made it through by 8:30 am.

My flight for Toronto didn’t leave until 14:20 and the flight took 8.5 hours to get to Toronto.

I arrived at Terminal 3 in Toronto at 5 pm. It took a while to walk to the customs desk, however, clearing customs went quickly. I didn’t have any checked baggage, so I quickly took the shuttle to Terminal 1 and caught the GO Transit bus to Burlington at 6:10 pm.

When the bus arrived at the Burlington transfer station, I had a 30 minute wait for the St. Catharines bus to arrive. When I went into the bus shelter to wait for my next bus, I was disappointed to see that there was as much garbage in the shelter as I had seen in India. I made at least 3 trips to the nearby garbage can to dispose of leftover specialty coffees, food, food containers, soft drink cans, and a lot of paper ( mostly bus tickets and receipts ). After the bus picked me up, I checked other shelters and I noticed that several had similar garbage in them.

I arrived in St. Catharines at 8:45 pm, where my brother was waiting to take me home.

By the time I got home it was shortly after 9 pm, which would be 7:30 am Tuesday in Nepal, 47 hours after I had left. It was a very nice trip, but it was also good to be home again.

Day 17 – Pokhara

Saturday, November 26, 2022 – Temperature 11-24 C ( 53-76 F )

I woke up at sunrise to a view of the dense vegetation with the mountains in the background.

I met Prat & Bijaya for a very nice breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then we went for a walk through the countryside which started along the stone path to the hotel past a farm where a woman was gathering the chaff from the rice that had been husked and men who were washing clothes in the small stream in the riverbed.

While we were walking, we passed 3 children who joined us for part of our walk. Prat & Bijaya talked to them in English and Hindi. When Bijaya asked why they weren’t in school, they reminded her that it was Saturday. With all of the travelling we had done, it was hard to remember what day it was.

Several of the homes were very nice and incorporated a lot of concrete and brickwork.

This is the fall time in Nepal, so there aren’t a lot of flowers in bloom, but there were a few that I was able to capture with my camera.

When we got back, Prat and I took a quick tour of the farm that supports the hotel. They have goats, banana trees and quite a few gardens for rice, potatoes, carrots, garlic, etc.

They also had a cow and some buffalo. We were privileged to see a buffalo calf get up for the first time, since it’s birth earlier in the morning.

These are some of the rural things I’ve been wanting to see.

We relaxed most of the afternoon and had dinner at the hotel at 7 pm.

We had an early morning flight booked back to Kathmandu, where we would part ways. I would start my journey back home, while Prat & Bijaya would fly to Kolkata for a couple of months before returning back to the US.

Day 16 – Kathmandu to Pokhara

Friday, November 25, 2022

Temperature in Kathmandu 9-24 C ( 48-74 F ) and sunny

Temperature in Pokhara 11-26 C ( 52-78 F ) and sunny

Maurice and Karen left at 5:30 in the morning to take the optional flight to see Everest Base Camp, which is southwest of Kathmandu. Prat, Bijaya and I opted to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast at 8 am, shortly before Maurice and Karen returned from their flight. Maurice, Karen and Shail joined us for breakfast and we said our goodbyes before getting ready to leave.

This ended our tour with Gate1. Shail did a fantastic job of taking care of us and I would highly recommend him as a tour guide for India. As well as working as a tour guide for Gate1 Travel, he freelances, so if someone wants to organize a tour I would suggest contacting him directly ( I have his contact information ) to give advice or organize the tour.

Our flight to Pokhara was scheduled to leave at 12:55 pm so we left the hotel shortly before 11 am and reached the airport before 11:30 am. On the way to the airport I got a quick picture of the golf course in Kathmandu. It was originally built in 1917 by General Kieran Shumsher after observing the sport in Scotland. It is near the airport and it has been renovated several times. The club has 9 challenging holes and it organizes 26 golf tournaments annually.

When we reached the airport we were searched prior to entering the terminal and then we proceeded to the Yeti counter to pick up our boarding passes.

We had originally planned on driving to Pokhara but the roads are all being repaired and a trip that would normally have taken approximately 4 hours would take a minimum of 6.5 hours of driving. So we opted to fly there which only took 30 minutes.

From the air in our small prop plane we could see the mountains and valleys below. As we neared Pokhara, I took a picture of the valley with its many farms and houses.

At the Pokhara airport we walked from the plane to the building where they brought the luggage and waited for Prat & Bijaya’s checked luggage before leaving the airport.

Prat got a taxi for us but the driver was a little reluctant to take us. We found out later why. While driving through the extremely bumpy roads, the driver told us that the construction workers had ripped up the road and taken the money to do it but they hadn’t finished the job. He said that contractors in Pokhara should be hanged.

The Pavillion Hotel was approximately 8 km ( 5 mi ) from the airport, but it was mostly rocky and rough roads to get there so it took us 20 minutes to get there. We were greeted at the entrance and were checked into our rooms. This is a unique hotel in the middle of a secluded area surrounded by lush vegetation.

The view of the mountains overlooking the swimming pool was beautiful and the cottages are very spacious and comfortable.

August, September and October is the high season for the hotel. There are 2 resorts, 1 with 8 cottages and the one where we are staying that has 14 cottages available for rent. Currently there is a 50% vacancy at our resort, where we are staying.

The Pavillions is an eco-sensitive luxury resort that gives back to the local community. It is set on and organic farm that powers the entire resort and its villas with renewable energy. They use solar energy, recycle their grey water and the organic farm is the source of their fresh produce.

After settling into our rooms, we went to the restaurant and sat by a nice fire while we ate our dinner. Prat and Bijaya had more traditional dinners while I had a superb fish dinner which was very tender and flavourful.

Tomorrow will be a day of relaxation and touring the countryside before heading home.

Day 15 – Kathmandu

Thurssday, November 24, 2022 – Temperature 9-21 C (47-69 F)

The temperature was cooler than India but it was comfortable.  After a nice breakfast at 8:30 am, Niraj and our driver picked us up at the hotel.

Niraj explained that Hydro power and agriculture are the largest industries in Kathmandu, with the tourist industry supplying only 7% of the income.  He stopped along the way to show us some of the many garden terraces used by farmers.

The tour started at the ‘ old village ‘.  When we reached the village, it was obvious that the residents took pride in their homes, because they kept their areas clean and several of the residences and shops had been repaired and painted. 

Niraj explained that generally several generations of a family would live in the multi-floor buildings which would allow the young adults to go to work while the grandparents watched their children.

As we toured the village I was able to get a picture of a woman grinding turmeric roots with a large round stone to make powder for spice or as a dye.

From the village we drove to a nice hotel with a view of the Himalayan mountains where we had High Tea on the terrace.

After our tea break, we went to the old town area to see its shops and temples.  Niraj explained that some of the buildings had already been rebuilt after an earthquake had destroyed them.  Others were in the process of restoration.  The temple in the middle picture below was one of the few buildings that was able to withstand the tremors without damage.

From the old town we drove to one of the oldest Hindu temples.

Then we drove a little further to see a large round Budapest temple and its surrounding shops.

We arrived back at the hotel at 4:30 pm. At 7:30 pm Maurice & Karen went with Shail to a traditional Nepalese meal with entertainment included, while Prat, Bijaya and I had a simple dinner at the hotel.

Day 14 – Mumbai to Kathmandu

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Mumbai 22-29 C ( 71 – 84 F ) – Air Index in Mumbai 300+ ( Poor )

Kathmandu – 8-21 C ( 46-69 C )

We had a leisurely breakfast and then Prat, Bijaya and I went for a walk along the waterfront.

Only Prat, Bijaya, Maurice Karen and I were travelling to Nepal so at 10:30 we all met Shail in the lobby headed to the Mumbai airport. On the way to the airport, he showed us Mumbai’s billion dollar home, named Antilia. This is not just the priciest home to have ever been inhabited by someone in Mumbai, but is also among the most expensive residences in the whole world. It belongs to Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India, and the sixth richest man in the world. We were told that it employs approximately 600 people. It is the large unusually shaped structure in the background of the picture below.

When we arrived at the airport, we made it through security relatively easy. The flight was delayed and instead of leaving at 3 pm, we ended up leaving closer to 4:30 pm.

We arrived in Kathmandu around 6:30 pm and we had to show our vaccination status before getting our visas at airport immigration. For the visa we had to pay $30 US ( or the equivalent ), fill out a form ( which some of us had done online), have our picture taken and our thumb prints documented. The process was relatively simple and smooth.

Upon leaving the terminal, we met our local guide, Niraj, who took us to the Radisson Hotel, approximately a 30 minutes drive from the airport. After checking into the hotel, I wasn’t feeling hungry, so I didn’t join the others for dinner. Instead I took a much needed shower, did a little laundry and relaxed.

Day 13 – Udaipur to Mumbai

Tuesday, November 22, 2022 – Temperature 20-29 C ( 68 – 84 F ) – Air Index in Mumbai 300+ ( Poor )

We had a very early start to the day. We received our wake-up calls at 4:30 am and left the hotel at 5:30 am for our 8:15 am flight to Mumbai. Our flight was delayed until 9:30 am and we arrived in Mumbai around 11 am.

Prat’s younger brother was waiting for him and Bijaya at the airport and they went to his house for the afternoon.

Our local guide informed us that Mumbai, formerly called Bombay, is the second most populous city in India with a population over 23 million people and it is the financial and entertainment capital of India. It consists of 7 islands and a large shipping harbour.

As we drove from the airport, we stopped at a local laundry. Men do all of the washing in the laundry because it is very physical hard work. Women help mostly with hanging and sorting the laundry.

From there we went to the Mahatma Ghandi Museum which is in a home donated to the museum and it features his room, a library, photos, films & other displays. It is a simple museum, just the way he would have wanted it. Below are some of the many plaques of his sayings that are displayed in the museum.

From there we went to a Krishna temple where some of the group joined in with the chanting of a ceremony that was in progress.

We stopped for lunch at a very nice restaurant and on our way to the Trident Hotel, we drove by the Gateway of India, which is an arch monument built during the 20th century in Mumbai. The monument was erected to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder on their visit to India in 1911.

When we reached the hotel, we met Prat, Bijaya and Prat’s brother in the lobby. We checked in and took a little time to rest before our final dinner together.

And then it happened. I had prepared for it but it happened so fast, I was caught off-guard. Fortunately I was able to correct the situation relatively quickly and it would hopefully not impede the rest of the trip. I joined the others at 8 pm for dinner but I only had some coffee and a little desert before heading back to my room.

Maurice, Karen, Prat, Bijaya, Shail and myself are the only ones flying to Nepal the following afternoon, while the rest of the group are scheduled to fly back home later.

Day 12 – Udaipur

Monday, November 21, 2022 – Temperature 11-28 C ( 52-82 F )

We had a late start to the day. Breakfast started at 7 am and we left the Trident Hotel at 8:30 am to go see the City Palace. On the way to the palace we stopped at the Garden of the Maids which was created for the handmaidens of the Maharaja’s harem. At the entrance we encountered this family that was clothed in traditional garb.

In the gardens, I took a picture of the largest Bougainvillea I’ve ever seen, draped over a couple of mango trees.

As with the other city palaces that we have seen, the one in Odaipur was large, had many rooms and segregated areas. The steps and hallways to the various areas of the palace were very narrow and short so that if an enemy breached the walls and tried to access the various rooms, they could only do it one person at a time and would put them at a disadvantage.

After we left the palace, some of us went for a walk in “ old town “. There were a lot of shops and they were quite clean. We also saw a man who was painting a T-shirt of the Beatles, a man who was pumping water and a man who was grinding some food with a idling motorcycle tied to a shaft and slowly turning a grinding wheel

We found a nice rooftop restaurant above a hotel and had some traditional Indian meals for lunch.

Before dinner we went for an evening cruise on a man-add lake around the “ floating palace “.

After the cruise, a few of us had dinner on a rooftop restaurant near our hotel.

Across from the restaurant there was a large outdoor wedding celebration on the rooftop of a hotel, with loud music and flashing lights

It was our final night in Odaipur before travelling to Mumbai ( aka Bombay ),

Day 11 – Jodhpur to Udaipur

Sunday, November 20, 2022 – Temperature 13-30 C ( 55-86 C )

The hotel we stayed at was a royal hunting lodge called Bal Samand. It is nestled in a valley with a dam that was built to create a lake that could be used for the lodge. The small palace on the property was once a summer residence of Maharajas of Jodhpur and is now a hotel. There are stables with horses that can be used for riding by the visitors who stay there. Some of the stables have been converted into hotel rooms, which is where we stayed.

I woke up at 5 am, took a shower and at 6:30 I went for a walk around the grounds. It is an amazing property.

It is a long drive to Udaipur and we had lunch along the way at a nice restaurant.

Group picture in front of our bus

We stopped at the largest Jain temple in India and toured the building. Jainism is a sect of Hindus that undertakes 5 vows; 1) Ahimsa “ non-violence or non-injury “, 2) Satya “truth “ always speak the truth, 3) Asteya “ not stealing “ not take anything that is not willingly given, 4) Brahmacharya “ celibacy “ Abstinence from sex nd sensual pleasures, 5) Aparigraha “ non-possessiveness “ non-attachment to material and psychological possessions, avoiding craving and greed. The temple was exquisitely carved out of marble.

After leaving the temple, we continued our drive to Udaipur and along the way we spotted a man with an oxen-powered waterwheel.

With the rest stops and some site seeing along the way, it was 18:30 when we arrived at other Trident Hotel Udaipur. We checked in to the hotel and since we were on our own for dinner, some of the group ate dinner at the hotel while some went out to eat.

Day 10 – Jaipur to Jodhpur

Saturday, November 19, 2022 – Temperature 12-30 C ( 54-86 F) and sunny

We received our wake-up calls at 5:30 am, put our bags outside our hotel rooms at 6 am, had breakfast at 7 am and we were on the road to Jodhpur by 7:30 am.

During the trip I had noticed that many vehicles are decorated. Many transport trucks had decorations painted on them and frequently had tassels hanging from various spots on the truck.

At 11:30 we stopped at a restaurant in Pali and had a traditional Indian lunch. The tomato soup had a few extra spices in it, which gave it a unique flavour. Most people will recognize the rice, but I can’t remember the names of most of the foods, but I thought that they were all good.

The temperature was 30 C ( 86 F ), which was quite warm, however, Shail informed us that this is one of the hottest places in India and has an average temperature of 40 C ( 104 F ) in May.

We finally reached Jodhpur, the blue city, at 2 pm and immediately started touring the area. The first site we visited was  Jaswant Thada, a cenotaph that was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh in 1899 in memory of his father, Maharaja Jayant Singh II, and serves as the cremation ground for the royal Rajput family of Marwar.

From the cenotaph we went to Mehrangarh Fort. Jodhpur is a strategic military location and still has a strong military presence. The complex covers an area of 1,200 acres and is located on a hilltop around 122 metres above the surrounding plain. It was constructed circa 1459 by Rajput ruler Rao Jodha, though most of the existing structure is from the 17th century. Inside its boundaries there are several palaces known for their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards, as well as a museum housing various relics.

During our tour, Malcolm was shown how the local Sikhs tie their turbans. The Sikhs in each area tie their turbans a little differently.

When we left the fort, we took tuk-tuks to the spice market.

We toured the spice markets and looked at the various spices that were available for sale.

From the spice market we rode the tuk-tuks to a textile factory where several of the group bought several throws of silk, cashmere, and Yak wool.

It was approximately 8 pm when we got to our hotel. We had a late dinner and got back to our rooms at 10 pm.

Day 9 – Jaipur

Friday, November 18, 2022 – Temperature 10-26 C ( 59 -79 F ) and sunny

We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant before leaving to go to the palace. On the way we stopped at a palace called Hawa Mahal, which was built from red and pink sandstone. It is mostly a facade and there isn’t a building behind the upper section but there is an area where people could look through windows to see special events below.

We drove to the royal palace and near it is the Jal Mahal (meaning “Water Palace”) which is a palace originally constructed in 1699 and is located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake.

From there we went to the royal palace where the reigning maharaja of Jaipur lives. At the entrance there was a snake charmer and Malcolm volunteered to try his hand at snake charming. The cobra moved back and form with the sound of the charmer’s flute and although the charmer said that the snake wasn’t poisonous it made Malcolm a little nervous.

We continued to the royal palace which is part of a large fort and is so extensive that I couldn’t show its entirety with just a few pictures.

We spent a few hours seeing most of the palace, but we couldn’t get in the section where the maharaja and his family live.

At noon we went to a store where they make and sell carpets, clothes and woodwork. They showed us how the patterns on clothing are dyed, as well as how they make carpets by stitching the carpet, separating the fibres, cutting the excess and then burning the bottom to seal the threads.

A few people bought carpets and had them shipped to their homes. I looked at a few carpets, but I didn’t buy one.

At 1 pm, we had a quick lunch and then we went to the city palace and toured through it. The City Palace is located in central Jaipur.  It was established at the same time with the city by Maharaja Sakai Jai Singh II, who moved his court to Jaipur from Amber in 1727. Jaipur is the present-day capital of the state of Rajasthan, and until 1949 the City Palace was the ceremonial and administrative seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur. The Palace was also the location of religious and cultural events, as well as a patron of arts, commerce, and industry. It now houses the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, and continues to be the home of the Jaipur royal family. 

From the city palace, we went to Jantar Mantar, which is a collection of 19 astronomical instruments built by the Rajput king Sakai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur. The monument was completed in 1734. It features the world’s largest stone sundial, and is aUNESCO World Heritage site. The first ones we saw were accurate to ~ 20 seconds. The wall at the center casts a shadow on the curved structure beneath it, which has the hours of the day from 6 am to 6 pm etched in 30 second intervals. In our case the shadow fell on 2:48 pm. You then take the declination of the sun on that day, which was posted at the sundial as 11 minutes and add it to the shadow time, which made it 2:59 pm. When we looked at our iPhones, the time was also 2:59 pm. The circular sun dial that Shail is pointing to in the picture at the center right, also showed 2:48 pm.

The observatory was very interesting and showed us what can be accomplished without the use of computers. By the time we left the observatory, it was about 4:30 pm and we had a little time of rest at the hotel before going out for supper at a beautiful hotel that had been renovated in traditional Indian architecture.

We arrived at the hotel, shortly after 7 pm where we had a tour of the hotel, took some pictures and then had a traditional dinner. During dinner, we had some entertainment by a group of musicians and a couple of dancers. After a few dances, one of the dancers tried to coerce one of us to join her and eventually I volunteered.


Later several of the people in our group joined the dancers as she led them in a traditional dance.

It had been a busy day and by the time we returned to the hotel, it was close to 9 pm and it was time for some rest. According to the schedule, we would be leaving Jaipur early the next morning.