We touched down at Kathmandu International Airport at 10.30pm on the last inbound flight for the day. We strolled through the quite out dated arrival lounge towards immigration. Here we stopped to fill out our visa forms, only taking a few minutes and then head over to the immigration desk. So far so good.
Approaching the desk with our passports and forms, the two of us were ready to head straight through and find our hotel. However this didn't go quite as smoothly as we had liked…. Knowing that we had pay USD to pay for our visa and knowing that we didn't have any USD, everything should have been fine because we did our research and knew that you could pay via card or use the ATM to withdraw cash. So we said to the gentleman behind the desk, "we would like to pay by card please", we handed him our cards and watched him punch in the details. My first card didn't work, so I tried the second. My second card didn't work, so we tried Hannah's, that didn't work so we tried her second card…. That didn't work! Know we knew something wasn't right because all 4 accounts had money in them, which had been used recently.
The immigration man said to us that our cards were not working, so I had a look at the machine only to find out that it was a fault there end and that their dialing system on the card machine didn't work! I walked over to the ATM to try and withdraw some money, that didn't work either, it had been switched off and the staff member responsible for the machine, slung his bag over his shoulder and walked off, waving goodbye to the fellow airport staff!
So what now? Rich and Hannah are stuck in the airport while nearly everyone else had cleared customs and were collecting their bags, staff members were packing up and getting ready to leave while the two of us, had no money and no way to pay for visa….
The immigration man suggested that we leave our passports with him and collect them tomorrow, however the idea of entering a foreign country with no passport or visa seemed more than a bad idea. With our patience getting a little bit thinner, we declined the offer and requested to use the ATM outside of the airport. This meant leaving Hannah upstairs with both of our passports while I run through immigration, baggage collection, declaration and airport security all with only a driver's license and a few bank cards to show who I am… As I ran through I spoke to as many staff members as I could to explain the situation and ensure that I could get back into the airport and up to immigration.
Eventually I made it to the first ATM only find out that it wouldn't let me withdraw any money, (which I found out a few days later that the reason was due to all the constant power cuts which causes technical difficulties.), I then ran further away from the airport to the next nearest ATM while being approached by loads of taxi drivers all offering me a ride. I punched in my pin code and clicked withdraw, I gave a massive sign of relief as I saw the money pop out.
I quickly grabbed the money and dashed back towards the airport, entering through the airport backwards with signs everywhere saying "no entry", waving at the armed officers and eventually running back up the stairs to see Hannah and the two remaining airport staff. By this time my running for an ATM became pointless as the money exchange staff member had gone home, Hannah had handed in our passports to the immigration staff and was waiting patiently for me come backwith a receipt in her us to come back and collect our passports tomorrow…
So let's go! Rich and Hannah entering Nepal illegally, collecting our bags from the ghost town of baggage collection and heading to the pre paid taxi stand.
Jumping into a taxi and driving through the dark streets of Kathmandu until we finally reached "Hotel Hana", no this was not a coincidence, Hannah chose this hotel because she liked the name of it!
The Taxi pulled up outside, Hannah jumped out and went to check in however the doorway was blocked by a giant steel gate with a massive padlock to ensure that no one can enter. Hannah shouted "HELLOOO" a few times until finally a staff member awoke and came to let us in. What a relief! We checked into the hotel and head upstairs, dumped our bags on the floor and pretty much fell straight asleep… What an eventful little evening we had. Landing at 10.30pm and finally getting to bed around 1am.
The next day we got up early and head back to the airport to collect our passports, everything went smoothly and before we knew it we were wandering around the streets of touristy streets of Thamel, beginning our 4 day shopping spree for the massive trip ahead to 'Mount Everest Base Camp'!