Travel with the Wicks

Joined July 2017Living in: Calgary, Canada
  • Day23

    On our way to Thimpu

    Yesterday in Bhutan ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Our driver, Puba and guide Dandin met us and we started the 1.5 hour drive to Thimphu; the capital of Bhutan.
    The scenery was mountainous and stunning. The road twisty, turny! The pace is slower here than we have seen anywhere else. No honking horns and not the volume of traffic we see in Nepal or India. The locals all seem to be dressed in a similar fashion and our guide is an optimistic fellow. I expected that considering this is the happiest place on earth.Read more

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  • Day23

    Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan

    Yesterday in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    It has been an easier travel day as we upgraded ourselves to business class for the Druk Air flights and had the use of the lounge before our departure. Also Royal Bhutanese Airlines (Druk Air) was on time. That makes things way easier.

    We boarded an Airbus A319, like the kind I used to fly and the same kind Robert my son currently operates. Paro, our destination airport is considered one of the most difficult airports in the world to operate in and out of, so I introduced myself to the Captain, to see if I thought she had what it takes to do such a thing. She built my confidence immediately when I learned she had 12 years experience flying for Druk Air. She asked where I was sitting and said it might be possible to sit in the flight deck for landing. I told her not to break any rules, but I would appreciate the opportunity.

    It was a very pleasant flight with a view of the Himalayan mountains. The top of Everest was capped in cloud, but other high peaks were visible. On descent I went to the washroom and when I came out, the cockpit door was open. The captain invited me in. I sat down in the jump seat, put on my harness and a headset and adjusted the volume for ATC. Paro airport is 7400 feet in elevation and has a single runway that is oriented 15/33. It is 6000 feet long. Paro is located in a valley with steep mountains surrounding it. When I sat down we were descending through 18000 feet. The pilots were using the FMS for a cloud breaking procedure, but visibility was unlimited. The minimums for the cloud breaking procedure are 13500. After we descended through 13500 the GPWS was turned off and the visual part of the approach was flown still using auto pilot. We approached Paro airport from the south and could clearly see the runway. Wind was favouring runway 15 so when we were directly over head tower gave us clearance to land and we proceeded outbound from the airport and continue to descend. All of this was done with flaps 2 and gear down selected over the airport. Autopilot was turned off, flaps 3 selected as we now are turning 180 degrees in the valley. As we turn back to the airport, you can no longer see it because it is hidden by a hill on the approach end. Landing flap selected and heading 180 we clear the hill by about 200 feet. Once by the hill, the runway is now in sight again but a final turn of 30 degrees is needed to line up for runway 15. This happens about 500 feet AGL. The missed approach altitude is 18000 feet and would be visually flown if required. Touch down is firm and we clear at the end. Night time approaches are prohibited. Day VFR only. This is Druk Airs main hub. They fly to Singapore from here, which is their longest flight.
    I thanked the Captain for her professional courtesy and got my stuff joining Dianne and our friends. Customs clearance was the easiest yet for this trip and we were soon on our way to Thimphu in a van.

    Ps, Tom forgot to mention I enjoyed the flight as well from the back. I didn’t get the view he had but at least I took some pictures!
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  • Day22

    Pokhara back to Kathmandu

    November 12 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Disappointing morning as we had no driver to to the mountain. We did get some photos from the hotel roof, but not as good as we like. Now we are waiting at Pokhara airport for Buddha Air flight to Kathmandu. This airport is a throwback to earlier time when you could walk outside of the airport restaurant to an observation deck and see the coming and goings of the aircraft. We have a direct view of the single runway. The largest aircraft we have seen is an ATR 72, and some smaller. All the baggage is hand loaded and all the baggage carts are pulled by by manpower.

    So far we are delayed by 2 hours, and there is no sign of our inbound aircraft. We’ll see how this goes.

    It goes like this. I order fries for us because we are getting hungry. It takes a while, as there is only one cook for a lot of waiting passengers. They call our flight to head through security, and we gather our precious possessions. Our fries arrive as we are walking out. The waiter looks more disappointed than any of us and I for one am disappointed.
    Security is a bonding experience. After your carry on bags are X-rayed you step into a curtained area where a one on one frisking takes place. It is like a massage of your whole body. I would have preferred a female masseuse, but that is not done here.
    We had a bet as to when Takeoff thrust would be applied. Liz won as she guessed within a minute. It was 15:44 local, three and a half hours late. Abit, our guide for Kathmandu was at the airport to greet us. We were too late for our planned evening dinner and cultural presentation so that was rescheduled.
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  • Day21

    Boat ride on Phewa Lake

    November 11 in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    It is 330 pm and our guide Sasha has met us to go down to the lake. Here we find small boats with their captains ready to row us across the lake. Water is like glass, the ride smooth and pleasant. Liz and Al are in a boat that travels close to us and the guide is with us. She identifies a few points of interest but I am just enjoying the gentle rocking of the boat and the scenery.

    We arrive at an island in the centre of the lake. There is a temple, many holy pigeons, lots of people and a bit of shopping. Sasha explains a bit about the temple and surrounding area. We take photos, shop and board our boat for return trip.
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  • Day21

    Pokhara - early riser

    November 11 in Nepal ⋅ 🌙 12 °C

    This was a bit disappointing considering the hour we had to rise. Up at 4:30 to see a sunrise that was obscured by cloud. The subsequent pictures of the mountains are less than inspirational. We are hoping that tomorrow might be better. We had a little pool time later in the day. Dianne got some shopping done and I got a haircut. Tomorrow we fly back to Kathmandu. It is within driving distance, but I’ve got to say I’m glad we are not driving.Read more

  • Day20

    Travel to Pokhara

    November 10 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    We say goodbye to the Barahi Jungle Lodge and hello to a five hour drive to Pokhara Nepal. The drive is very scenic. Think kicking horse pass times 10. Distance is only about 160 km. but some rough roads to contend with. I don’t recall ever being car sick, but today I felt like hurling for around 30 minutes after looking at the iPad for a while when driving.
    We met our guide and checked into the hotel, the Temple Tree. In the afternoon we went to the Tibetan Refugee Center. I could go on about that, and will when we meet again in person.

    When the clouds clear, you can see some high peaks close by. There is 7 thousand meter one Machhapuchchhre (who can pronounce that) about 28 km. away. We also see the Devi Garden Waterfall and a Temple.
    In the evening we are left by ourselves so we walk the streets aimlessly and find a nice place to eat with a view of the lake.
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