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Mountains? What Mountains?

Not big enough to out do some cloud!

View Around We Go on LauHot10's travel map.

Kalanki Bus Station is situated on a busy cross road on the outskirts of Kathmandu, there doesn't really seem to be a great deal of organisation to it and as a foreigner it's very difficult to make sense of what is going on. None of the buses have destinations on them or numbers, and there is no central ticket office. So when we arrived on Saturday morning we were just hoping that the usual would happen, i.e. we would stick out like sore thumbs and someone looking for some easy money would target us. Then instead of being dumb foreigners we would be stubborn and try and get the best price.

We were still sort of hoping to get a bus because it would be cheaper and I suppose more authentic. However after a bit of back and forth it became apparent that there was no direct bus to Daman and the information we could glean was just to vague to trust. So we tried for the taxi and again the circus starts, a few pull up and then while we're trying to negotiate another driver comes over and talks in Nepalese and the price doesn't come down very much. Finally we managed to get one alone for a couple of minutes and he just agreed to what we wanted to pay (a lot less than anyone else had quoted us) and slightly surprised, we got in and were off into the mountains.

The winding drive offered up a feast for the eyes. It was pretty much the perfect antidote to dusty, busy, Kathmandu. The hill sides are full of staggered farming land, and small clusters of houses. We were watched with curious eyes as we passed by and you wonder how often, in these remoter parts of the country, a Western face is seen.
Daman is certainly remote, Adam asked the taxi driver how long the drive would take, and he said about an hour and a half. Three hours later, after the little taxi had taken about as many bumps and inclines as it could we arrived in Daman, which is situated at 7620 feet.

The reason we decided to go to Daman was to see some mountains, a big snow capped mountain range, the highest in the world to be exact. However when we arrived they were almost completely obscured by cloud. Although we did glimpse the top of one. This was something we'd expected though, the guide book had said an overnight stay was obligatory because it was at sunrise that you got a clear view of the mountains. I do blame the guidebook for all that occurred, or rather didn't occur over the next 24 hours, even though it could be forgiven slightly for being about 8 years old.

Daman had two “resorts”, one of which wanted to charge us $125 a night, a little too rich for our blood as it equates to over half our combined weekly budget. The second one, well Adam said it was like something out of Resident Evil, which basically means it was fit for a horror movie. We ended up staying at the Everest Hotel and Lodge, although when we asked for a room they looked at us like we had asked if we could buy a boat full of pineapples from them, and we actually had to point out the hotel sign on the front of the building. In the end we were shown upstairs and presented with one single room which along one side had been divided into three areas with some strips of mdf. The toilet we were informed was outside. It was cheap, maybe not cheap enough really, but for one reason and another we didn't argue and we'd kind of exhausted our options anyway.

Perhaps Daman was once a lively and upcoming place with its two resorts and botanical garden (mainly devoid of both people and plants), but it would appear to have died a death. Even if this fact does fly in the face of the sign to the local hillside temple which claimed it had been very important for tourist development.

We were not made to feel very welcome, and at times people stared at us as though we had committed some kind of heinous crime. That said the peace and quiet was incredibly soothing, and the smell of the woods was lovely, even if it was intermittently punctured with the exhaust of a lorry thundering around the bend. We went hungry in Daman, after declining the cold food covered in flies, we decided a 24 hour fast may be safer with the limited options available. I felt a little bit like an intruder and all the smiles I could muster didn't seem to change anything. We went to bed early.

Next morning we were up at 5:45am and full of hope that we would get a visual overload with a Himalayan panorama and it would make it all worth while. We saw the sunrise, creeping up over a mountain we couldn't see and we waited for it to burn off the haze that was shrouding them from sight, then we waited some more. It never happened, what we came for never materialised.

We quickly got over our disappointment and just became focussed on getting out of Daman. There was no other option than to go back to Kathmandu, and then we planned to go on to Pokhara which is the next big destination in Nepal for tourists. Which does not necessarily make it that appealing but it is by a lake and also boasts some mountain views, such as the Annapurna, an 8000m peak.

We waved down the packed bus to Kathmandu at about 11am and rushed to get on. We managed to squeeze on with our backpacks although I was positioned precariously close to the open door and am very glad I didn't have to stay there for long as a few people soon disembarked and we moved into the aisle. We only had to stand till we reached the next town of Palung, about 15 minutes from Daman. Despite being more comfortable sat down the journey back was long, bumpy, and hot. When we reached Kalanki Bus Station 4 and a half hours later I did not feel too well, especially as we hadn't eaten for over 24 hours, so the thought of another 8 hour bus ride to Pokhara was just too much. Adam would have gone on, although in the end I think he's glad we didn't.

So back in Kathmandu and will update shortly.

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 07:37 Archived in Nepal Tagged round_the_world

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