31 January 2017 (Tuesday)
Our flight was due to leave at 6pm but instead of arriving at the airport three hours before, Mabel suggested that we add an extra two hours so we’d have time to do some vlogging.
The Uber trip from Ampang to KLIA cost us RM100 which we shared equally between us. By 1pm, we were both dragging our luggage through KLIA, looking for nice bright places to take videos.
Finally we settled for this space next to Eden Restaurant as the whole area was lit by warm, natural light with gorgeous trees just outside the glass panels.
KLIA may be under-utilised, but despite having travelled to many countries in the world, KLIA is the most beautiful airport I’ve ever been in.
On video logging
I quickly learned that recording a good video is a completely separate thing from recording audio. If you are thinking of vlogging, make sure you have a good microphone with good noise cancellation. As is, I only had my battered Samsung Note 3 to work with. I told myself that I needed some experience first before investing money in new gadgets.
It took me more than fifteen tries to record my first vlog. I stuttered and stammered and said all the wrong things. I spoke too quickly. I forgot my lines. I bit my tongue. I was conscious as several curious passersby decided it would be fun to stand around and watch me pretend they weren’t there. If I had insecticide, I’d spray them with it.
By the end of it, Mabel had to hold the camera for me as my tripod had to be checked-in. You know how airlines are jittery about longish things that can potentially be used as a weapon. Honestly I think they should be more worried about whether passengers wear deodorant or not. Some of them are positively radioactive.
Meeting the rest of the crew
At about 3pm, we met up with the rest of the group and made our introductions. I was so intimidated as all of them carried super sophisticated (expensive) cameras. Usually when I travel, I would use my hand-me-down NIKON D40 DSLR. It’s so cheap and so old it could be a fossil. My dad let me borrow it once upon a long time ago that it’s technically mine.
But seeing that I paid extra to go on a sort-of photography course, I brought my dad’s more expensive NIKON D90 instead. (I literally just asked him, “Can I borrow your D90 when I go to Nepal?” right after I finished fighting with him.)
Reaching Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu
Apart from an overly friendly man sitting next me on the plane, it was quite uneventful. I actually suffered from food poisoning and I blame either the Nasi Lemak from Old Town or the Brekkie to Go Go from Boost Juice.
After landing, the moment I left the airplane, I was hit by a comfortable cool wind in my face. It was 9pm but it wasn’t too cold. I could have survived with just a layer of knitwear. I might be alone in this as several people in my group mentioned it was cold.
There weren’t many other incoming airplanes at that time, so the arrival hall was not as crowded as I had expected. We quickly went through immigration, got our bags and took a shuttle van provided by the hotel to our accommodation. I was told the trip took 30 minutes, but it felt more like 20 minutes.
Just to mention, when we left the airport, we were inundated by people asking if we wanted a taxi (which is quite normal) and several more aggressive fellows trying to carry our bags for us (less normal). Unless you feel like tipping them for carrying your bag for a total distance of two meters, I suggest you keep your things close and decline their offer firmly and politely.
Samsara Resort Hotel in Thamel
Thamel is a central area for tourists within Kathmandu. The area is busy but to get to the resort, there is this small narrow road that leads deeper into a private compound owned by the hotel. This is a good thing as the twenty or so meters of distance between the hotel and the main street gives the hotel its much needed peace and privacy.
This is a card I got from their reception, if you want to email or call them for further details.
Unlike my usual self-organised trips, this one was handled by a travel agency in Nepal so I can’t exactly state how much the room cost me per night. Their website (www.samsararesort.com.np) is not working no matter how times I try but they seem pretty active on TripAdvisor with a rating of four stars. In fact they seem to care very much about the reviews, from the way they responded to every bad comment. A random search for a stay around April cost about RM100 per night.
What I think of the hotel
My honest thoughts? The staff were extremely friendly, helpful and accommodating. The room looked plenty clean, although I’m not a big fan of the parquet tiles in the room. The lights were really dim when we first entered but that’s only because they use those energy savings bulbs. Just give it a few minutes and it’ll be bright as day.
The bathroom was acceptable, but to get hot water, you’ll have to run the tap continuously for five minutes. I don’t like wasting water, but no one wants a cold shower in the middle of winter.
There was no kettle in our room, but there was a flask. So I had to go downstairs to the kitchen and ask the staff to fill it for me.
My biggest gripe about the hotel was when I felt like having instant noodle past midnight. I went to the lobby to fill the flask with hot water, but there was no one around. So I let myself into the kitchen to rinse the flask a bit and that was when I saw several roaches scurrying about around the sink area.
I’m guessing this hotel is not special in having these unwanted tenants, so if you’re ever in Nepal, I suggest hot food and hot drinks. Anything hot will kill off all germs and minimise the possibility of you ingesting anything that will make you ill.
Would I recommend the hotel? No matter how fond I am of the staff, I think I would shop around for other places to stay next time I find myself in Thamel area.
Some pictures of the hotel for your benefit…
I shared my bedroom with Mabel. I also wore flip flops in the room as it was quite dusty, like most places in Nepal.
A little bit narrow and a little old looking, but decent enough bathroom.
The eating space. This was taken at night which is why the place looks quite dark. Nothing fancy. It serves the purpose. In the morning, they serve a mini buffet of boiled potatoes, vegetables, sausages or meatballs (non-halal), yoghurt, juice, toast and the usual accompaniments. You may order other things as well, like omelette or masala tea, but those will incur extra cost.
The place is really beautiful on the outside, and very peaceful.
They have a nice spacious garden for you to sit and just enjoy the flowers. Or if you want to smoke, since you’re not allowed to smoke inside the hotel.
They really take good care of the garden. On my last day in Nepal, I actually fell asleep on the chairs in this garden. There was a nice, lovely breeze, blue sky and a gentle, warm sun.
I made a little montage of the trip from KL to Kathmandu with little snippets of everything. Hope you enjoy the video!
If you have any questions about the hotel, or the van ride or anything at all, please don’t hesitate to comment or drop me an email. I’d be happy to assist!