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OK I made it

OK if you’re wondering, I made it.

On the final leg to Nepal from Hong Kong I sat next to a friendly dentist from Bangladesh. For hours he answered my questions about his life – from his work to his family to his religion – and afterwards gave me a pen he bought in Japan and said: “Please write good things about my country – we have too much bad news.”

He got off at Dhaka and for the final hour-long leg I stretched over the two seats and slept.

The arrival situation was low-key, which was great, because I was beyond tired. When I couldn’t produce the receipt or sticker or something that was required at immigration, the guy just waved me through with a smile.

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Uncovering Asia, the Second Asian Investigative Journalism Conference, in Kathmandu

I had to fight to carry my own bags because I didn’t yet have any local cash to tip. I ended up giving out some Hong Kong dollars. As we drove through the dark to the hotel I couldn’t tell which buildings were earthquake ruins and which were just dilapidated.

The hotel is flash. Like, really flash. At first I conserved my bottled water but soon realised there’s no lack of it – right now I’m in a room where at every table of three seats there are two 1-litre bottles.

I keep forgetting to use bottled water to clean my teeth.

After six hours’ sleep I woke early and headed to the conference opening. I sat at a table of people who reported from Afghanistan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkmenistan.

 

I couldn’t tell you the number of times people have asked what I even do as a journalist in New Zealand considering there’s no major corruption or conflict.

Name any country and I’m pretty sure there’s a representative here. Even if I don’t learn anything about reporting I’ll come back with a better knowledge of geography.

Over three days there are more than 60 panel discussions, workshops, and demonstrations. There are top investigative reporters, data journalists, media law and security experts.

On the first day I achieved my goal of speaking to Sheila Coronel. On the first evening I achieved my other goal of seeing Durbar Square.

But right now I’m heading to lunch.

 

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