Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Rookie Mistake

Yesterday we really put ourselves into a pickle.  We knew that we would need $40 per person for entry visas on arrival in Nepal.  But did we show up at the airport with $80?  Nope.

We planned to take out Indian rupees at the Udaipur airport and convert to U.S. dollars at a foreign exchange counter.  But we didn't account for the fact that we had an early morning flight and were arriving at the airport at 6 a.m.  Of course the foreign exchange counters weren't open.  No worries, we can just get cash in Delhi during our layover.  Oops.  The Delhi international terminal doesn't have ATMs or foreign exchange facilities.  So, we just crossed our fingers and boarded our flight to Nepal with a handful of Indian rupees and about 20 bucks cash.

On arrival in Kathmandu we quickly made our way to the visa on arrival counters while most of the other passengers were filling out their arrival cards.  Would you believe that the immigration officer just let us drop off our passports with him and waltz through the rest of customs, all the way outside the airport, to visit the ATM?  That's exactly what happened.  We just mentioned what we were doing to every immigration officer and guy carrying an automatic rifle that we passed.  No big deal.  We got the rupees and then simply walked backwards through security, customs and immigration.  Only one guy pointed a gun at us and made us stop and explain ourselves.  Unbelievable.

Nepalese customs doesn't accept Nepalese rupees.  Seriously.  We needed dollars and we were told that there is an FX counter inside customs that we could use.  Sure enough, when we got back upstairs we found the counter right next to the visa on arrival desk.  Guess what was next to the FX counter?  An ATM!  We had just passed through countless layers of security all the way outside the airport (not to mention making our way back) all for naught!  We are still at a loss why the immigration officer didn't just point at the ATM and tell us to use it.  We hope to learn from our rookie mistake and keep a few U.S. dollars handy from now on.


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