In the previous post, you can see what happened to me in Morocco, France, Suriname and South Africa. Below, my experiences were. . . different. A rocky road, sex acts on a temple and an odyssey between two airports in Moscow make clear how travel to foreign countries inevitably delivers surprises.
On a trip to Nepal in the late 80s, two of us thought it would be a good idea to hire a car and driver to visit Pokhara, the country’s second largest city 125 miles from Kathmandu. After the Siddhartha Highway was completed in 1968, the city became a popular tourist destination.
According to Wikipedia, most of the tourists visiting Pokhara trek to the Annapurna Base Camp and Mustang. A longish walk far short of a trek sounded like fun, though my friend and I never found out because the daylong journey over an unrelentingly rutted road proved to be longer and bumpier than we were willing to withstand on a roundtrip.
Thus our first stop in Pokhara was the modest airstrip, where we were fortunate to obtain seats back to Kathmandu for the next day. I gave the driver his money and bid him farewell, choosing the emotional pain of a wasted fare over the literal pain of going back with him.
(The Delhi belly I endured after eating in the city was an unwelcome result of our brief time there.)
In India as part of that same vacation, we had booked a flight to Khajuraho, famous as a World Heritage UNESCO site because of the Hindu temples with explicit erotic carvings. Flying within India, at least then, usually required getting to airports before dawn. And so we arrived in darkness well before the hour of departure, It was to be a short flight. We waited and waited for the flight to be called, our stomachs calling out for sustenance. The small and somewhat neglected airport had nothing more than a snack bar with few selections and none that I dared to sample for reasons of hygiene.
No announcement was made for the several hours and the airline personnel offered no explanation. We finally left. As far as I know, the jet never arrived and we never did get to marvel at the sights in Khajuraho because of our self-imposed tight schedule.
As director of the long-gone Office of Public Education in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, I led several of us to Russia in the mid 90s as part of work related to the introduction of newly designed currency.
The mistake my colleagues and I made was leaving directions to me, having been there before, when we arrived at one of two (adjoining) airports in Moscow. One of them was for international flights and the other, for domestic flights; the domestic terminal is for transportation between Russia and parts of the former Soviet Union, despite the independence of those other countries. (We were headed to one of them.)
Thanks to my confusion about “one” and “two” in Russian, essential information for distinguishing between Sheremetyevo 1 and Sheremetyevo 2 airports, we ended up by taxi at the wrong facility. Walking to the other terminal seemed like a good idea.
Walking unwittingly into a restricted area turned out to be not such a good idea.
I vaguely recall crossing tarmac. To say that the stern police were alarmed upon coming upon us is an understatement. They seized our passports and penned us up for some hours as they tried to figure out what to do with us. Because I couldn’t imagine landing in prison, innocent as we were and perhaps as naive as I was, I remember thinking that the situation was kind of funny.
I’m not sure my colleagues were as amused as I was.
Next: Indonesia, Bhutan and other distant nations