I’ve landed in Kathmandu, coming in from Abu Dhabi, and I’m admitting now I’ve forgotten what this is like.

13 hours from DC to the Emirates, and I stepped out into 29 degree heat and a work of fiction. Abu Dhabi’s streets run in straight lines through the desert, along manicured medians and palm forests – the sort where the trees are spaced evenly. My couch says that the places is 90% foreign – with 800,000 people, barely 80,000 are Emirati citizens – and I believe him. The consequences of these demographics are stunning: everything it orderly, but God help you if you step off the rails.

Kathmandu, seemingly, couldn’t be more different, but we’ll have to look under the cold light of day. Landing after dark, the runway sucker-punches the plane, with no tell-tale light pollution or glowing landmarks to hint that you’re close to being down. The infrastructure reminds me of Sofia in the late 1980s, but the uniforms all laugh – crisp white smiles peeking out from under huge mustaches. The border guard wanted to know where Bulgaria was (“Greece, then up.”) then stamped a greasy black square into my passport, yelled “90 days Nepal, namaste!” and pushed me through.

The bags were an hour late; nobody seriously cared. We were there.

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