The Cost of Visiting the Poorest Country in the World

So, we have just spent 4 whole days in Kathmandu to get our India Visas.  We have struggled through a complex bureaucratic process, all while negotiating the Nepali equivalent of Christmas.

Specifically: non-standard sized photographs that needed to be taken; photocopies of various documents that had to be made; an online form that had to be filled in by a man who could only use the ‘search and peck’ method of typing (x 5 forms – this was painful, how I wanted to snatch the keyboard from him… arghhh!); and all the associated queues that needed to be waited in to obtain this precious list of compulsory items.

We arrived at the Embassy an hour before opening time, joined the already long queue, received a chitty with our number on (handwritten – the machine was broken), waited our turn, got to the front of the queue (number called out by a security guard – the display was broken), had the forms checked (all correct – yes!) and were asked for payment.

Ah.

When researching the trip in the UK, the price was £30 each.  And there was a discount for children.  However, things have changed, and the price is now almost £100 each with no discount for children.  So we needed almost £500, an amount that with local ATM daily limits being very low would take us 3 days to withdraw, and that we simply didn’t have on us.

So, still trying to smile and answer the kids questions (What’s going on Mummy?  Are we still going to India?), we retired to a café to weigh up our options.

Given that we were only planning to spend 3 weeks or so in India, and the main activity was travelling from North to South by train, it turns out it’s cheaper for us to cancel our flight from the South of India to Sri Lanka and buy a new one from Kathmandu to Sri Lanka than it is to pay for the Visas.

So, we think, this is the new plan.  The challenge now is cancelling the flights.  We have spoken to the call centre, cancelling them is no problem, but we have to pick up the cash refund at a desk in… you guessed it… India!  Still working on getting the refund back onto the card we paid on.   We may be some time…

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