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  • Day2

    I don't even know which time zone to use... But we are currently 35,000 feet above sea level and are finally (almost) arriving in Kathmandu, Nepal.

    It is 08.58 UK time which means it's 11.58 Oman time (where we landed for our transfer) which means it's approx 14.00 pm Nepal time. All I know is our body clocks are so confused. We are just hoping that when we arrive, we don't have too much on today so can chill,and get used to the time difference.

    The food on the first plane was quite nice. Luckily they had vegetarian left so Hope and I had the pasta. However, the desert was pretty grim.
    The flight was 6 hours 15, then we stopped in Muscat, Oman for approx 80 minutes before flying again. At 7 am, the weather was 32 degrees - unbelievable! We were sweating just on the bus, but we didn't want to take any layers off because of how covered up everyone was. Luckily it wasn't long before we were boarding again. We are flying with Oman airways again, but a much smaller plane and the journey is only 4 hours. We have just begun the descent so we will be landing in no time. Hope and I have been asleep the whole journey - we barely slept on the first plane (it didn't help at I had a kid next to kicking me), so we really were shattered (Hope is still asleep now!).

    When we land, we need to get a visa for our stay in Nepal. Hopefully we can get just the 15 days one for $25. Then we need to look out for 'Akkal' who is coming to pick us up. Tonight, tomorrow and Sunday we are staying in a hotel and carrying out the induction, before moving in with our host family on Monday for 2 weeks. We're going to be finding out exactly what we will be doing for the next fortnight, learning basic Nepalese, paying the program fees of 380 Euros (approx £335), learning basic culture lessons, and doing some sightseeing. For our time in Nepal, we have to ensure that we are covered up at all times, so we have both packed clothes that cover our shoulders and legs.

    The captain has just announced that it is 28 degrees in Nepal, which sounds perfect (especially considering the weather app shows heavy rain for the next two weeks as it is of course monsoon season now!)

    It is now actually 18.17 on Sunday 16th and Hope and I are about to get showered to go out. However I will catch up with Friday night, and Saturday first!

    Okay so, the first few days have been a bit of a roller coaster ....amazing ... But also we have already had a couple of nightmares and its only day 3. So we landed in Kathmandu at approximately 15.00 (later than expected ), and sorted out our visa (£25 for 15 days), before heading through security. Whilst patiently waiting for our luggage on the conveyer belt.... We waited .... And waited .... And our luggage didn't arrive (everyone's worst nightmare!). Then we heard on the tanoy "Miss Wilkinson and Miss Fenton come to baggage reclaim" (never good news!) to then find out that our luggage was still in Muscat as it hadn't made the transfer!!! Feeling very (VERY) frustrated we gave them all our details, and they told us it would arrive on the next morning's flight along with 15 other pieces of baggage that had also missed it. (Of course we later realised this was a lie!)

    We then left the airport and a man ran up to us to ask if we were Lisa and Emma, and led us over to Akkal who is the driver. We didn't even have any luggage so the man didn't even carry anything for us ... Yet demanded money of us .... Apparently calling our names requires money? We felt pressured though, and seeing as we had no Nepalese money, we had to give English money so Hope gave a tenner (she panicked!). We were in a car with three other VIN volunteers, two Italian girls and one French boy, and we waited an hour for another girl to arrive (who is also Italian). There were 7 of us in a 5 seater car!!!! It was mad!!! The roads are so crazy in Nepal - it felt like there was absolutely no organisation so everyone was just driving wherever (it reminded us of the roundabout near the Arc de Triomph in Paris - but twenty times worse!) but it was a cool drive (though very unsafe - sorry if our parents are reading this ... We are safe we promise!). We checked in at the hotel, Hotel Premium, and went to exchange some money, and went for a drink at a small cafe/bar which was cute. Hope and I shared a pizza, and we just had soft drinks as we were so dead out. We bought some trousers and tops (turning hippy on day one) as we only had the clothes we came in, then went back to the room for an early night as we were absolutely shattered.

    Not an ideal beginning, but we are trying to be as positive as possible!!!
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  • Day36

    The first time in an arabic country.. Very different, but very enjoyable!
    This people pay a lot of attention to their culture, which is a good thing. Well - akward was that these folks have as many tailors for female clothing than we have hairsaloons in Europe!

    By the way.. The local market is georgeous - and huge! Got almost lost.. But I'm done with most christmas presents! :-)

  • Day13

    Although Oman wasn't initially in our travel plans we added it in to make a pitstop to visit our friend Mohamed who lives there. Mohamed and Rupal met in Poland when Rupal was living there and have kept in touch over the last four years.

    Mohamed welcomed us openly to visit his hometown of Muscat and had many activities planned for us. Our favorite was visiting Wadi Shab a valley within the mountainous terrain about 2 hours outside of Muscat. The scenery there was beautiful and the water cave we walked for an hour to was well worth it! We had fun swimming and cliff jumping in the cave where the reflecting light made the water so clear and blue. We didn't realize Oman had such natural beauty and can't wait to go back to explore more!

    We also enjoyed the hospitality of Mohamed and his friends who made us feel at home while we were there. We had a fun BBQ on the beach where we drank beers and grilled meat and fish to eat with pita and hummus; it was delicious!

    Although our time was short, we also managed to visit the The Royal Opera House of Oman which is a beautiful made building with precise detail carved in wood and marble, got to stroll the marina where we walked through the old souk and saw the king's 2 massive yachts and even enjoyed a pretty sunset on the beach.

    Just like many people we didn't know much about Oman but thanks to Mohamed we were introduced to a gem of a country that we know we'll visit again in the future!
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  • Day5

    Yesterday after breakfast, Maz and Sue's eldest daughter, Reima picked us up from the port to take us on a tour of Muscat.
    We had to slum it in a brand new 550CL Mercedes-Benz, but such is life LOL.
    We started with a Starbucks on the Corniche, which had a fabulous sea view.
    Then off we went for a tour of the city.
    One of the interesting things was to see the private residences of the royal family and the top government officials, only from the outside of course, lol.
    Then we had a ride to Reimas house where we met her four adorable children, who we'd seen many pictures of on Facebook but never in the flesh.
    Then we called in to see Hussam, Reimas husband, at his car detailing garage, car detailing for the uninitiated is sort of very expensive and expert car valeting.
    It includes special processes on the car body, to bring the paintwork back to, better than showroom quality.
    The average price is about £500, so you can imagine the type of cars his staff get to work on, when we went in there were a couple of Range Rovers, a huge Jeep thing, a couple of BMWs, an Audi, all top of the range, also one beautiful Ferrari, which I sat in for a photo, and then struggled to get out of. So I've decided not to buy one lol.
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  • Day12

    As promised, Peter took a group of us out for afternoon tea at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel.
    This place is the only 6 star hotel in Oman, it was originally built for Sultan Qaboos as a palace, but he had it converted into an hotel.
    I suppose he had enough palaces already, lol.
    The hotel is located right on its own beach, and has an infinity pool, that when in the pool it looks like it flows directly into the sea.
    It really is a beautiful place.
    The afternoon high tea was great and a lovely experience, with dainty smoked salmon sandwiches along with caviar and things.
    They served us English scones, with jam and cream, and some really cool chocolate cakes decorated with real gold leaf.
    It was a brilliant afternoon, and a treat not only for the ten passengers Peter had invited, but also the three staff Monet, Adriana and Stokely who were invited also.
    It gave them a chance to get out of uniform and kick back and relax with the passengers.
    As I've said before Peters management style is different and it works perfectly, as his staff all love him, and consequently give their best, and us as passengers reap the rewards.
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  • Day2

    I spoke to Gisleni the concierge, and told her how disappointed I was at not getting the upgrade, especially as the couple I mentioned to you in the last blog post did get an upgrade, not only did they get the upgrade but they went from an inside cabin on deck 3 to a junior suite on deck 8.
    That's a 4 step upgrade, when you are only supposed to get a one step upgrade.
    Anyway when I told Gisleni about being disappointed especially as I had offered to pay, and she tells me she had recommended that we get the upgrade as we were willing to pay, but she was overruled by the hotel director.
    She also tells me that she has the same opinion as me concerning this particular couple, as they had been rude to her, and even after getting the upgrade they where at guest services complaining about something else and being rude there also.
    The upshot is Gisleni says she will see what she can do and while I was there at her desk made a couple of phone calls and fired off three emails to different people, then tells me to come back later on in the morning.
    To cut a long story a bit shorter, she not only got me an upgrade to a Grand Suite, but got it for free!
    Needless to say Sheila is now a very happy bunny.
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  • Day4

    This cruise as opposed to the last, our evening company only contains one couple that we've met before, that is Colin and Julie.
    The rest are a mix of Brits, that's Peter and Chris, from Wolverhampton, Terry and Jill from Ascot, and mother and daughter, Monica and Phoebe from Grimsby, who are a really fun couple and remind me of the Ab Fab characters Patsy and Saffi.
    Monica the mother is Patsy always up for a laugh and a good time, and Phoebe is Saffi, quiet and reserved and always trying to reign Monica in, and mostly failing miserably LOL.
    An American lady called Barbara, a Norwegian couple, Morten and Ida, and finally a German guy called Reinhold who happens to be the only pinnacle on board.
    So luckily enough it's another good lounge, not quite as noisy as last cruise, but still great fun.
    Oh yes this afternoon we did the VIP galley tour and brunch which was very interesting, one of the unusual things about it was that for each course you went into the galley and got it yourself.
    The starters and the desserts were laid out in the galley buffet style, but with the main course you went in to the galley ordered your main meal from the executive chef who then did a Gordon Ramsey thing and shouted your order to the sous chefs, who prepared your meal in front of you, which was quite cool.
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  • Day6

    It all started the night before.
    We'd all had another great night in the concierge lounge, and about 9 o'clock there were five of us left just finishing off our drinks and chatting.
    Sheila and I, along with Colin and Julie, and the only pinnacle in the village Reinhold.
    Well Reinhold had a magnum of Moet & Chandon that he'd been given for being the highest cruiser.
    So he says let's get some ice and some glasses and we'll finish the night in style.
    We where about 3/4 finished with the champers when Colin disappears and 10 minutes later returns with another magnum of M&C.
    Well it seemed like a good idea at the time, so we finished this bottle as well.
    Cut a long story short, the next day I have the mother of all hangovers.
    After spending most of the day alternating between drinking water and sleeping.
    About lunch time, I'm planning a quick bite to eat and then a very early night.
    When under the cabin door is pushed an envelope containing an invitation to dinner with the Staff Captain that evening!
    Anyway we had a beautiful meal and great company, but captains table as usual is served the best wine on the ship, and I managed half a bloody glass.!
    Will I ever learn? Probably not. Lol
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  • Day107

    Now in Oman, probably the last country I visit before going home and completing the round the world trip. Not sure how long I'm going to stay yet.

    The people are very friendly here though, as in most of the Arabic countries I've visited.

    Spent today walking along the seafront, visited a very good museum, the souq, a few towers, and the Sultans palace. Quite warm for walking though. Tomorrow is 37C. But at least it's drier heat than when I was in Asia.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Sultanate of Oman, Oman, ኦማን, Omán, عمان, ܥܘܡܐܢ, Аман, Оман, Omaŋ, ওমান, ཨོ་མན།, Oman nutome, Ομάν, Omano, Omaan, Óman, ઓમાન, אומן, ओमान, Omàn, Օման, オマーン国, ომანი, Omani, អូម៉ង់, ಓಮನ್, 오만, عومان, Omaani, Ománɛ, ໂອມານ, Omanas, Omane, Omāna, ഒമാൻ, အိုမန်, ओमन, ଓମାନ୍, Omã, Uman, Omâni, ඕමානය, Cumaan, ஓமான், ఒమాన్, โอมาน, ʻOmani, Umman, ئومان, Ummon, Ô-man, Lomän, Orílẹ́ède Ọọma, 阿曼, i-Oman

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