IN THE SKY
American writer and filmmaker Michael Helfman takes on Nepal in the free spirit of Jack Kerouac. Photographed by Gabrielle Tan.
runway. Yet when you step off the plane you are stepping into a future – of sorts – because the Nepali calendar is in the year 2070. You then go to collect your checked-in luggage at a conveyor belt like none you’ve seen before, primarily because there isn’t one! No, you have to wait for the ground crew to drive over with a trailer full of bags and catch yours as it’s thrown to you. So you see, just as with the anomalous mountain in the sky, the future is actually the past and Nepal has a surprise for you at every corner.
We’d hooked up with a company called Himalayan Social Journey to handle all of the logistics and they were waiting for us once we received our bags with three other American tourists in tow – a mother with her young adult son and daughter. Within seconds, six random dishevelled-looking men ran towards our group, basically taking our bags out of our hands and putting them on the roof of our waiting minivan. They then requested USD20 for their service, which I politely smiled off and gave them the two dollars that I had previously separated from the bigger bills in my other pocket. Unfortunately, the American boy took out his wallet and one of the men took GBP20 straight from it and walked away. Welcome to the future.