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Day 1&2 - Travel to Nepal

We departed West Palm Beach (PBI) at 6:20AM on JetBlue to New York (JFK). The 2.5 hour flight was the shortest leg of our trip. From JFK, we boarded an Emirates Airbus A380 jumbo jet for a 12.5 hour flight to Dubai (DXB), United Arab Emirates. The Airbus A380 is a luxurious double-decker jet and the flight was fantastic. Food kept coming -- salmon for lunch, eggs for breakfast, pizza and fruit for snacks, and, for entertainment, all the free movies, tv shows, music, and news you could ever watch, listen to, and read. Unfortunately, only first class gets to reserve and use the shower. Yes - the A380 has two full bathrooms with showers! We landed in Dubai at 7:50AM. It seemed like we had to go through security checks 3 times, which proved to be unlucky for Jeff because both of his tape measures were taken away. We had a bite to eat, took a long shuttle ride to Terminal 2 and finally, we were boarding a plane for the last leg of the trip -- FlyDubai bound for Kathmandu (KTM), Nepal. No shower on this flight. It was more like the Spirit airlines of the Middle East. We landed in Kathmandu at 6:25PM and it was already dark, so we didn’t get to see any incredible views of the Himalayas. We navigated Immigration, paid $25 each for a 15-day visa, and retrieved our luggage. As soon as we exited, the driver from the hotel was waiting with a van to take us to Hotel Kaze Darbar. The ride to the hotel was dark with only table lamps from street vendors lighting the roadsides. Kathmandu has trouble maintaining steady electrical service. Fortunately, our hotel has a generator so electricity doesn't seem to be an issue.

We were greeted at the front desk with a welcome of "Namaste" and a glass of lemongrass tea. The hotel itself was a sight to behold. It was formerly a residence of the Maharaja. There are 22 rooms on two floors, 2 courtyards, a restaurant, and a reading room. Our bags were taken to our rooms: Cordella and Rick in a single (Room 211), Jeff and Madhav in a double (Room 210). Both rooms have very pleasant Rana/British Colonial-style furniture custom ordered and handmade by artisans in the Bhaktapur region of Kathmandu, exposed beam ceilings, and modern Japanese Contemporary style private bathrooms with showers. It's everything you would hope for in such a setting - almost right out of a movie starring Harrison Ford. We expect to see Indiana Jones any moment. A team of Sherpas came in and were having conversations about their recent trek in the Himalayas. We sat at a table in the courtyard and ordered chicken mo:mo, aloo jeera, and beer. Madhav stuck to a traditional vegetarian meal. We reviewed the itinerary for the next two days and then retired to our rooms. We have a busy day planned for tomorrow: breakfast with the managing director of the hotel at 9AM, shopping for supplies, meeting with pipe suppliers, and then dinner with a professor from the University of Nepal who has heard about our work and taken an interest in our project. We may even meet with a local newspaper later in the day for an interview. If all goes well, we will make our first trip into the mountain village of Kabilash on Tuesday to take our first assessment of the project area. Rick was even able to use Skype to call his mom to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. While we are staying at the hotel, we will be able to post photos and stories. We'll post when we can. The adventure begins. Thank you to everyone who donated and made this project possible.


Food Notes:
1. JetBlue offers complimentary sweet/salty snacks, soda, and water. Small meals are available for purchase by debit/credit card.

2. Emirates offers complimentary wine, beer, spirits, juices, soda, coffee, tea, and water.

3. Emirates lunch consisted of an appetizer – Tomato Salad with Feta and Pesto, a main course choice of A) Chicken in Black Bean Sauce served with egg fried rice, steamed pak choi (a.k.a. bok choy) and red bell peppers, B) Pan-fried Salmon Fillet served with dill cream, saffron couscous, and steamed green peas, or C) Mushroom and Corn Masala served with panchmel dal (panch=5, therefore, a mix of 5 lentils are used) and butter rice topped with fried cashew nuts, and dessert – Raspberry Cheesecake with Raspberry Compote, and a small piece of chocolate.

4. Emirates served pizza (vegetarian pizza topped with tomatoes, melted cheese, and oregano) as a “light bite”, and fruit and snack bars were available upon request between meal services.

5. Emirates breakfast consisted of an appetizer – Fresh Seasonal Fruit, a main course choice of A) Classic Omelette with baked beans, sautéed mushrooms and spiced potato wedges, B) Scrambled eggs with chives served with grilled chicken sausage, baked beans and mashed potato wedges, or C) Green Pea Poha – flattened rice with sautéed onions and green peas, served with potato dumplings and tomato chutney, and bread – Croissant served with butter and preserve.

6. Cordella’s suggestion – as soon as your hot meal is served, place butter and bread on top of the unopened hot meal in order to warm the bread and soften the butter to become spreadable. Eat the appetizer while you’re waiting. To save valuable space and avoid wrappers from crackers, bread, utensils, etc. falling on the floor, place the wrappers on the aluminum foil hot meal cover and fold in half (twice).

7. FlyDubai – snacks, soda, water available for purchase with debit/credit card.

8. mo:mo = steamed dumplings served with spicy chutney; like Japanese gyoza/potstickers. Nepali mo:mo can be stuffed with meat (buffalo, chicken, pork, goat, lamb, yak), vegetables, paneer/cheese, mashed potato.

9. aloo jeera = potatoes seasoned with cumin and other spices; aloo=potato, jeera=cumin

10. beer – at Hotel Kaze Darbar, Rick, Cordella, and Jeff drank either Everest or Ghorka brand beer. Both Everest and Ghorka are pilsners.

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UPDATED: 2016-05-26