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Nepal Newbies

Got the Flu in Kathmandu

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When we left Gorakhpur for our final destination of Kathmandu at about 6am and we both expected to be facing a long day of traveling, however it just turned out to be our most frustrating day so far.

The first bus we took was a local service running to the India/Nepal border, approximately two and half hours away. It was full when we got on and we were faced with the thought of having to stand up for the journey, but then the man who had initially waved us over evicted two men from their seats and instructed us to sit down. We both felt seriously guilty about it but it was too awkward a situation to argue and at that time in the morning I wasn't functioning well enough to. This part of the journey was easy, the time seemed to fly by, although Adam did have to contend with a sack full of pots and pans being shoved in his face by a man standing in the aisle.

Getting over the border was also simple, we had to deal with Indian immigration, then change some money from Indian to Nepali and then walk over the border and get our visas for Nepal.
It was now about 9am and we were hoping we could find a bus to Kathmandu and although it was likely to be a long and fairly uncomfortable ride there were meant to be great views, so I was looking forward to it. Unfortunately this is not how things worked out. Once over the border we were informed that there was only one bus to Kathmandu and it would be leaving at 8pm, a whole 11 hours later. The road was closed due to political problems (not really a new thing, the Nepalese guy who sorted out our visas said “This is the Republic of Nepal, always problems”) and would only be open this evening. So we bought our ticket and were then directed to a roof top restaurant, we were also informed that there was a curfew between midday and 7pm, so we had to stay inside.

I have never been so bored in my entire life. We sat and had some food, sat in the sun till we got too hot, sat inside on a hard wooden bench till our bums were numb, realised that people were wandering around outside despite the supposed “curfew” (or ploy to get you to spend money in their restaurant) so went out and bought cokes from the little hut style cafés. What made it all worse was the thought that after all the waiting you still had a 10 hour bus ride ahead of you. Finally at about 7pm we were called down to get on a bus and we managed to nab the front seats, so we could put our feet up a bit, looking back though I'm not sure it was the best idea. The bus didn't go anywhere for over an hour, but when we were finally moving it was a big relief to just be on our way.

I didn't sleep much, just dosed off now and again, it was too uncomfortable and in the end cold as my window kept opening on its own and the driver had his open the whole way. Poor Adam's nose started running as soon as the key turned in the ignition and didn't stop the whole way. Of course it was pitch black outside so all those beautiful views were lost in the darkness, suffice to say it was the worst journey of our trip so far.

We arrived at about 7am and allowed ourselves to be jumbled into a taxi and driven to a hotel. It was relatively clean and we fell asleep for a few hours after having a hot shower, the first really hot one of our trip. After that we went out to explore Thamel which is the touristy area of Kathmandu. The first thing you notice is that it is much cleaner than India, and also much more Western. What you begin to realise over time though is that most of this is for the benefit of the tourists and although it was a welcome change it isn't really why we've come away. We have been scoffing chocolate doughnuts and apple danish's for breakfast, and in a way you feel a bit like a cheat. All the streets are lined with shops selling supposed native, handmade nik naks and jewelery, felt bags, t-shirts with pictures of Everest on them and as I said in the beginning it feels good to be somewhere which makes a little more sense to your Western brain but after a while it's too much.

The next day we moved hotels because the first one was too expensive and too cold, after a bit of a mix up at one place we found ourselves at the Kathmandu View Hotel, a little bit away from the centre of Thamel and quieter for it. After we were settled we took a taxi to Patan, which was once the capital of Kathmandu and had a look round the Durbar Square. This is where the Royal Palace is (although no longer occupied) and several temples.
The Nepalese architecture is very intricate and the wood carvings are especially impressive.
You get far less hassle in Nepal than India, and the people are very welcoming, the only slightly annoying thing is the hidden tax which they add to everything. This really bumped up the price of my lime soda and Adam's large coffee (or bathtub) at the palace museum cafe.
We didn't visit the museum despite being told “you can't allow yourself to miss this museum, it is the best in Asia,” we were just feeling too stingy and distrusting.

By this point Adam's cold was really starting to take hold and we headed back to the hotel, which is pretty much where we stayed for the next day. I also began to feel a little bit off colour and just made short trips to stock up on rations and frequent the internet shops.

Having just got to grips with traveling in India we were now faced with wanting to leave Kathmandu. We have avoided all the touts who have offered us the opportunity to do some trekking, which does not appeal to either of us, but we do want to get up higher and see the Himalayan vista. Trying to do this ourselves has proved fruitless, we visited two bus parks and got no where, much to our disappointment because we'd rather take local buses than join some organised tour. So tomorrow we are going to try standing on the street, hailing a taxi and see if they will take us 2-3 hours up into the mountains to a place called Daman which is meant to offer wonderful views and some much needed tranquility.

I'll let you know how we get on!

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 07:28 Archived in Nepal Tagged round_the_world

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