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When Opportunity Fails to Meet Preparation

Chaos in the Kathmandu Airport (Candace)

We packed up our stuff and headed to the airport, ready to turn the page from our Nepal adventures and move east. We had made plans to fly to Vietnam, spend a few days in the lap of luxury, thanks to a hotel suggestion from our French friends, Melanie and Thomas, and then venture on to Laos and Cambodia over the next three weeks.

We were excited for the new adventure and eager to get on the plane. So, like the good little tourists we are, we arrived at the airport two hours early, and waited in line at the AirAsia ticket counter, only to learn that…we didn’t have the visa we needed to enter Vietnam.


Since it was Sunday evening, the ticket agent told us we would likely have to wait another day (and buy another plane ticket) to get the pre-approval letter we needed, but our friend Kumar had given us both a bright orange silk good luck scarf (which we wore proudly around our necks), so we had faith. Both of us jumped on our phones. I called our Vietnam hotel to see if they could send us a pre-approval letter and Andrew started Googling “emergency visa,” and found that, for the low low price (cough) of $414, we could get our pre-approval letter in 30 minutes.


Or maybe not. We received an email saying that our request was being processed, and that our letter would arrive in five minutes, when the entire airport went black. Electricity is famous for going in and out in Nepal, and these things were commonplace. Within a few seconds, the emergency generators kicked on, so the agents could continue to check people in, but there was no wifi.


We now had 30 minutes before our flight took off, but still had no pre-approval letter. Not phased by the ticking clock, Andrew jumped over the ticket counter and used the ticket agent’s computer to log into his email and show them the letter. The agent was then kind enough to run to an office outside of the airport to print the letters for us, and we made it on the plane with less than five minutes to share.

Only in Nepal would we have an agent kind enough to help us like ours did. But only in Nepal would we have no electricity in the airport.

Either way, Andrew saved the day, with a little help from our Nepalese friends, and we are now safely in Vietnam. Whew!