And So It Begins: Kathmandu


Just got off a six hour flight from London to Doha. Strung out on caffeine and dehydration. It’s 1am in Qatar but my body should feel like it’s a few hours earlier. It doesn’t. I’m unaccountably tired. Too many recent late nights have caught up with me, and travelling with kids ain’t always a breeze. The kids though, are fine. Quite peppy in fact, running up and down ladders and slides in the airport playgrounds. So much energy, it’s really quite astonishing. I wash my face, try to stick some moisture back into it. I wander up and down airport hallways. Three hours pass and it’s time to get onto our next flight. It’s the middle of the night and no one’s had any sleep. We board our four hour flight to Kathmandu, hoping to get what little shut-eye we can.

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Ben melts-down into sleep before take-off. The rest of us stay awake for the 4am breakfast and then fall into fit-full slumbers. I wake, looking across the aisle and out the window. Before my eyes can adjust to the brightness, the distant white-topped peaks look like jagged clouds floating above all the others. Then I realise what I’m seeing. The Himalayas. They are so far away but still they tower. I’m speechless. We hold, circling for half an hour waiting for the visibility in Kathmandu to reach the “minimum acceptable safety levels”. I wonder, is the poor visibility from weather or smog? I hope it’s the former, I fear it’s the latter.

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I step off the plane, down the metal stairs. It feels good to stretch my legs. The weather is mild and sunny. A comfortable change from both Southeast Asia and Scotland. The kids are tired. Melt-downs and screams. Long waits for visas and luggage. I worry our pick-up will have left, but he’s there holding my name aloft. His name is Sam. He takes us to a taxi. Six of us and our large rucksacks cram into a small hatchback. Chloe sits on Alex’s lap in the front, Ben falls asleep on my lap in the back. Sam’s lap is full of our carry on bags. We arrive at Nirvana Peace Home. Bags are dropped on floors, beds climbed into. We sleep.

The terrace in front of our room, Chloe climbing down from the roof.

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View from our rooftop

I wake at dusk, the sky darkening and the air cooling. We should get out before dark, get a feel for our surroundings.  I wake the others and we take our first proper steps into Kathmandu. The streets bustle with activity as people squeeze past each other and cars squeeze past them. Night has fallen and the air is hazy with wood-smoke from the fires being lit anywhere and everywhere. On rooftops, in restaurant courtyards, open fires by the side of the roads. Small groups of people encircling each one, warming their hands, their faces, their feet. By the roadside whole fish are piled high on a table, chopped meat bleeds onto cutting boards, illuminated by single bare bulbs overhead.  Horns honk, dogs bark, helpful strangers greet us with “Namaste ” and point us towards Thamel district.


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Alex is in a sleep-deprived daze. I feel overwhelmed, but not in a bad way. It has been a long time since I’ve been anywhere that felt so new to me. I’ve never been anywhere like this. It is not like Southeast Asia. Alex says it’s like India, but I’ve never been there. I choose a restaurant advertising curry. We sit on a rooftop terrace, a fire-filled barrel warming us. The food is delicious, the tea is warming. I think it’s going to be all right.



6 thoughts on “And So It Begins: Kathmandu

  1. Love this so much. You have created a world for me to enter through your words. Wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to share this experience, one I may never know for myself. xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a trip Leigh! Reading your blog is like looking through a colourful storybook, and you paint the smells, sights and feelings so vividly. Thanks for letting us come on this adventure with you and your sweet family. Can’t wait to read more! Love to all of you xo

    Liked by 1 person

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