Arriving at Kathmandu

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May 8th 2010
Published: August 21st 2010
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8/5/10: We woke up early so we could get an agreed cycle rickshaw at 7:00am. We waited for our travel agent, he would meet us in front of our hotel. The 6 day strike had ended this morning and everything started to open up. I walked to the bank so I could get some money out but it was not working due to bad internet connection and constant power failures. I came back just before 7:00am and waited and waited, we then tried to call our travel agent without luck. I went for a 500m walk to see if his office was open. By the time I got there it was 7:45 and he was open. I asked him what was happening? He said come to this office at 9:00am. I was pissed off because he never let us know what the hell is going on. I asked him why he didn't call the hotel or come see us, he just looked at me confused as if everything was fine. He said we would catch a share taxi for 800nrs (Nepalese Rupees) to the airport. I did the math and found it to be terribly expensive. Now that we finally knew what was going on we could have some breakfast and wait for the ATM to open so we could finally get some Nepalese currency. Again the ATM didn't work. I accepted defeat leaving for the airport with only a few India rupees left in my wallet. Our travel agent didn't stop talking the whole time we drove to the airport, it ended up being alright because we picked up a few trekking tips along the way. We arrived at the little airport with little security, little people and left in a little plane. It was just as well the little credit card with little money in the account worked, otherwise we would never have left the little town.
The take off was straight up, more like 30 deg, by the time we leveled out around 8km high I caught a glimpse of Mt Everest, it was massive, even our plane couldn’t fly as higher than its peak. The clouds wrapped around its hidden base like a blanket, I couldn't help wonder if there were people climbing Everest at the moment; later I found out that there was. The flight only lasted 1hour before we came down in a flurry of turbulence. Our little plane got knocked around until finally landing close to the speed of sound; well not that fast but fast enough. We hit the ground pretty hard and he reverse pitched the propellers straight away forcing all of us forward. We rolled up to our parking zone, got off the plane and got mobbed by a bunch of taxi drivers wanting to take us to Kathmandu just outside the airport. They all wanted 450NRS, the same price as the pre-payed taxi offered. Our experience told us that most airport prepaid transport are a rip off so we walked 150m up to the international airport found an ATM and also found a taxi for 300irs what a bargain. We were dropped off at the Thamel area which is the main tourist area. Once we had some lunch we found a guest house that was perfect for our stay. The Pilgrims guest house showed us a few rooms and we eventually settled on one for 400nrs or $7USD. We were introduced to a young Nepalese man that had a trekking company tied to the hotel, we were soon making a time to sit and chat. We needed some gear and with the hundreds of trekking shops in Kathmandu it was no problem finding what we needed, it was more a problem finding someone that could be bothered to get of their arse and serves us. We went into six stores before we found a young man that had enough drive to get of his seat not yawning every second; it must be tough after 6days of doing nothing in a strike? We ended up buying 2 down sleeping bags, 2 gortex rain coats, 2 swiss army utensils, 2 good head lamps, a water bottle, carribean hooks, compass/thermometer and 2 pairs of gloves all for $200AUS or $180USD; what a bargain. We still need some thermals and a few other bits and pieces. It was just more shit we had to carry and our bags are getting heavier and heavier. We went out for a walk late in the day so we could find some good street food; we ended up finding a clean place that make chicken salad wraps for 170NRS each, they were sooo nice but expensive. We walked around some of the other shops getting pestered by men trying to sell drugs, this was the 20th time somebody asked me if I wanted to buy drugs, I started sick of it, one guy asked me and two minutes asked me again if I wanted to buy some ICE. I lost it and said “I said NO before now f#$^ OFF!” he raised his middle finger to my face so I pushed him away. Jacinta got the shits and yelled at me for pushing this guy. You can only take so much from dealers, especially when the ratio was 1 dealer for every 10m of walking, they all tried to sell hash, weed, cocaine even Ice on one occasion. I was now more pissed off at Jacinta than the drug dealer for sticking up for him and not me. Needless to say we didn’t speak for the rest of the night.

9/5/10: The morning turned out to be a disaster, I woke up in a good mood but Jacinta had other ideas. This set the tone for the rest of the morning so I took it upon myself to leave her alone for the day. I walked to the post office where I had some special batteries delivered by post restante. It turned out that they never arrived, this just made things more difficult and I had to walk back the 2kms with a pissed off attitude. I past a mob of Maoist protesters that were holding big sticks, I thought about joining them. The police were out in force, ready with tear gas. By the time I got back the hotel staff were watching the mob on TV, tear gas flying everywhere. I wish I would have stayed back just to watch it; oh well maybe next time. I also tried to get a Nepal sim card that proved to be a real pain in the arse. I came back to the guest house, Jacinta had calmed down some so we went to Durba Square only 15min walk away; depending on the traffic of course. We caught up with the tour guide we meet yesterday,. It turned out the Mt Everest Base camp trek would be around $945USD/ person for the 18day trek. This is cheaper than others but we preferred to do the trek ourselves. We thought it was compulsory to higher a guide but later found out that this wasn't the case. We kept walking towards Durba Square. I can’t believe they even let cars in the small alleyways like these ones let alone have cars come from both directions. It was almost impossible to walk because it was so crowded. We finally got to Durba Square half an hour later, it was full of old temples surrounded by new buildings in-between. The architecture was nice but the town planning was poor. Motorbikes whizzed in and out of pedestrians and cars tried to reluctantly find a way through. This, in my opinion should be shut off from all traffic so you can walk through peacefully, also to preserve the 1000 year old temples. We walked back to get on Skype but once again the power went out, we couldn’t catch up with family and friends. So I just caught up on my blogs and read about the upcoming treks.
10/5/10: Today involved shopping for some lose ends; we walked some 3km to a temple on the hill. They wanted 200rs/ foreigner, which was totally unjustified so we walked back down the 200 steps back to town. On the way we passed a river which basically was a waste station for rubbish and human waste. It was the most disgusting thing I have seen since India, it made it so much worse being surrounded by beautiful mountains. The garbage was incredible and I couldn't believe that humans could be such pigs to the world, more like a parasite that takes what it wants and not caring about the consequences. The drain next to the bridge had hundreds of litres/min of raw sewerage, soapy water and pollutants pouring out into the river. The whole thing made me feel physically ill. Back to the guest house to find the power was out again, what a big surprise that was. We booked our bus tickets for Pokhora so we leave the following morning. That night I attended a seminar run by a man that has been photographing the Everest region for the past 20years. His seminar was focused on people wanting to do the Everest Base Camp trek by themselves. It cost 400nrs and it was only just worth the effort. The photos were very impressive and I could only imagine how it must look in real life. I secretly recorded the whole seminar only my video camera, I picked up a few pointers and later reviewed them. I arrived back late, had something to eat, packed and shower for a big day to Pokhora tomorrow.

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