How I almost ended up in a Nepalese Prison

Categories:Adventures, Kathmandu, Nepal
Vagabond Tim
On January 31st I left New Zealand with the most ridiculous travel plans ever created by man. I flew to Sydney where I had a twelve hour layover, this was only the beginning of the madness however.

Upon arriving in Sydney I took a train into the city, forgetting that perhaps carrying my 13kg backpack was not an overly wise choice. After walking around for a few hours I finally found a train station that had a luggage storage area and dropped off my backpack, only much later realizing I had left my camera inside, specifically when I arrived at the Sydney opera house and was unable to take any pictures of it.

So I decided to walk back to the train station only to find myself in possession of a gps enabled phone with a dead battery and next to no idea where in the hell I was going. Through a long and confusing trek I found a train station that would take me back to where my bag was stored and then eventually to the airport. So with only six hours until my flight I returned to the airport and sat waiting and bored. I was going to hit the bank machine in preparation for buying things along the way but decided it was a hassle dealing with currency exchange people and would just get small amounts of local currency from the machines along the way.

Finally able to check in I was told that although LAN airlines had allowed my bag to be considered carry on, Air Asia would not. 90$ later I checked my bag in and boarded a flight for Kuala Lumpur, again forgetting my damn camera and phone charger within.

Arriving in Kuala Lumpur at three in the morning unable to take photos I decided to find a bank machine, of which there were a total of zero. My flight did not board until eight hours later so I sat in the absolute boringest airport in the world. Every business relied entirely on cash, of which I had none.

Figuring that they would most likely feed me on the plane I was not overly concerned, until I was on the plane and informed that no, I was not being given food and had the options of fucking off and dying or at least shutting up about it.

Finally after thirty two hours in transit and an uncountable number of coffees of questionable provenance I arrived at Tribhuvan International airport in Kathmandu.

Upon leaving the plane I was escorted by a man with a fairly impressive rifle and less than impressive English skills to a bus that brought to mind many movies about prisoner transfer in world war two.
This bus, packed to three or four times capacity moved quite slowly and made a godawful noise as it crossed the nearly twenty feet of tarmac that for some reason we were not allowed to cross on foot.
The same guard, having ambled leisurely along beside the bus then directed us into a long and dimly lit corridor completely devoid of any recognizable directions or signage until we arrived en masse in a large room full of tables and forms to apply for a visa. Luckily I had in my backpack a fair quantity of passport sized photos, sadly my luggage was in the next area of the airport beyond several ropes, customs, guys with guns, and all sorts of other barriers.

There was a fellow who would take a passport photo for you, at a fee, in cash. As previously mentioned I did not in fact have any cash on hand, so I approached the bank machine fairly determined to simply solve my problem the American way, by throwing cash at it until it buggered off. The bank machine of course would not work.

I stood for a moment realizing some things, first I could not get a photo, second I had to pay for my visa in cash, third I had no cash, and fourth that I am Tim goddamnit so this was not going to be a problem.

Charm and bullshit at the ready I told the guard I needed to use the bank machine downstairs to pay for my visa, then I went downstairs, grabbed my bag and walked toward the numerous armed guards at the exit who were frisking people and looking intimidating. Upon nearing the line, still being Tim and deciding to see exactly how good I was at this whole not giving a damn about rules thing I did not join the line, rather I walked past the metal detector, smiled and waved at the guard and went outside and hopped into a cab which my friend Tom was waiting in to pick me up.

A few moments later, having explained to him that I did not in fact have a visa, or an entry stamp, was technically an illegal immigrant, and perhaps was going to be shot when my luck finally ran out we had a good laugh about the whole thing and went out for a slice and a walkabout, eventually finding a functioning bank machine.

We returned to our hotel and I had a long sleep, in the morning deciding that I would return to the airport, sans baggage, and see if I could convince a large group of armed guards and bureaucrats that it was in fact their mistake and that they should stamp my passport, give me a visa, and not detain me on all sorts of unnamed charges in a hole so deep I would forget what the sky looked like.

I walked around the metal detector, again waving at the guards as though they should know me and went up several flights of stairs to walk backwards through the one way only customs gates. The only complication on my way in was a fellow who inquired what I was up to, he spoke English fairly well so I figured rather than have someone actually understand the situation I would ask where the bathroom was. He pointed and I took a few steps in that direction until he went about his business, then promptly resumed my illicit ingress.

Arriving at the visa counter with cash, a photo, my passport, and all the needed paperwork already filled out I got quickly processed and told to be on my way, which I did.

The important fact for my readers to note is that I do not in any way recommend doing any of this as it relies on a very specific skill set most people do not possess.
When entering Kathmandu, BRING MONEY, US DOLLARS OR POUNDS!!!
And for the love of all things holy do not try this.


This is my hotel, absolutely gorgeous place with wonderfully friendly staff


Just outside the balcony is a very very blue building, it is awesome how damn colourful some of the buildings are


On the other side is a school for tiny munchkins or something, the streets are lousy with them during the day


and finally my bathroom, which has a shower of sorts that most often has hot water… It is weird but hey you get used to it



  1. Sandra
    February 11, 2014 at 11:35

    This is exactly why I’ll pretend not to know you the next time we travel together … Tim luck seems to apply only to Tims, good thing Tom was already safely in the country 🙂

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