Passport Woes in Kathmandu

The stupa at Bodnath

The stupa at Bodnath

Day 66 – Location: Kathmandu; Nepal.

07/11/12 

Because I didn’t take many photos during this entry, I’ve added some photos from earlier days that didn’t make it into the previous posts.

Camille and her sister didn’t seem to be up so I grabbed breakfast alone and took a taxi to the immigration office, about twenty minutes drive from Freak St. There were lots of tourists queuing up and I wondered if I’d have to wait for hours to speak to someone. Thankfully a Nepali man asked me why I was here, and I explained I needed to talk to someone. “I work here, what do you need?”. Great. I explained the situation and asked how I could extend my visa. “If you don’t have a passport, how can I give you a visa and stamp it?”. Fair enough. “You need to get a temporary passport first and then come here and we can extend the visa.”. Well that was surprisingly straightforward!

A Tibetan woman spins the prayer wheels at Bodnath stupa

A Tibetan woman spins the prayer wheels at Bodnath stupa

I caught another taxi to the British consular. To my dismay, the lady informed me that they couldn’t issue a temporary passport to stay in Nepal. The emergency passport is just to get out of the country. “So what am I supposed to do?” I asked. “Apply for the full replacement passport, confirm it with us and we’ll write a letter for the visa office asking if they can help you.”

So off I headed on a quest to apply for the full passport. This was a mind numbing combination of trawling through internet sites finding out the correct documents to print and forms to fill out, phoning my parents for their personal details, photocopying documents and so on. Even after doing it all I still wasn’t sure if I had all the things they needed, as the websites all have differing information with no clear outline about what you have to give them if it’s been stolen. I took a late lunch at a nice little restaurant called Kumari’s on Freak St which I’d been to before. It’s frequented by locals and travelers, with good, cheap food and a homely atmosphere. I sat outside filling out forms and a local guy sat down on my long table and started chatting to me. He was formerly a pilot and had visited the UK to learn to fly small aircraft. He was starting a business in Nepal with two water tankers who would provide people with water when they have water shortages in Kathmandu, under contract. A friend was going to work for him and send him the money – so he planned to move to Thailand to set up a business. A real entrepreneur this guy! He also moaned about the lack of available Nepali girls and wanted to get a Thai girl instead. He bought me a drink and insisted I try some of his meat balls (more innocent than it sounds!). Another example of the friendliness of the Nepalese!

A "rest station" at Pashupanitath

A “rest station” at Pashupanitath

In the evening I had finally finished getting everything together for the application and walked up into Thamel in the hopes of finding a courier office that was open. Thankfully the area stays open later than the rest of the city and I found a few couriers open. I bundled all the forms into an envelope with a cover letter explaining the situation, asking them to contact me straight away if there were any problems and prayed I had enclosed everything I needed. It should arrive in Hong Kong in a few days and from then the new passport would arrive within 4 weeks in Nepal. The next problem for me would be getting Nepali immigration to allow me to stay without any passport. Exhausted, I headed to the hotel and worked on the diary for the rest of the evening. There was no sign of Camille and her sister but she’d left me a note saying they’d missed me and we’d catch up tomorrow.

Even the bridges have stalls

Even the bridges have stalls

Day 67

08/11/12

I slept pretty well despite the cold. It’s getting a lot colder here at nights, winter is coming in a few weeks. I found Camille and her sister downstairs in the restaurant, about to head out. They were off to Bhaktapur for a big day of sightseeing. I wished them well, I had another day of visa joy to look forward to.

The dirty river in Kathmandu, with birds of prey circling overhead

The dirty river in Kathmandu, with birds of prey circling overhead

I took a taxi to the British consular and told the lady there I’d applied for a full passport. She wrote me an official letter explaining the limitations of the temporary passport and asking the visa people to help me out. I thanked her and caught a taxi to the immigration office. It was chaos there again. I asked a random guy for help who turned out to work there. You wouldn’t know it, none of them have uniforms.

 

I had to go through the same explanations and was again told without a passport how can I extend the visa? But I said without a passport what can I do? Finally he conceded and said I could stay in the country until my full passport arrived, then I should come back there with all of the supporting documents and I’d have to pay a fine and other visa fees. That was fine with me, I figured it would still be cheaper than buying a temporary passport and getting out of Nepal at the last minute. He scribbled down his contact details so I could contact him if I had any trouble. A big weight was off my shoulders – now I could stay in Nepal until the new passport arrived (fingers crossed the application was ok).

Tikka dye vendor at the Durbar Square

Tikka dye vendor at the Durbar Square

Feeling good I phoned the Consular to let them know, and got a taxi back to Freak St. I spent the rest of the day catching up on the diary, which was still a week behind. I got a snack at Kumaris and again a random local guy chatted to me, curious about my Kindle. It’s a great place to meet the locals.

Durbar Square, this statue  gets a lot of offerings

Durbar Square, this statue gets a lot of offerings

I spent the evening in the hotel restaurant. I’ve got to know the waiter here a bit, a young Nepali guy who speaks English but is often unintelligible. When he reads my diary on the screen you can’t understand a word of it. He inserts S sounds into everything, and can’t pronounce some of our basic sounds like “th”. It makes communication interesting for sure!

Durbar Square, Kathmandu

Durbar Square, Kathmandu

Durbar Square, Kathmandu

Durbar Square, Kathmandu

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