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Published: September 27th 2011
Nepal - Kathmandu and Pokhara, this is when I realised I’m not quite ready for India at the moment and a change of plan was required.
After a tentative night’s sleep following the earthquake the night before, the border crossing into Nepal was relatively uneventful, it did take several hours to get across but this is to be expected. The one thing that will stay with me for a long time is the image of the women and families crossing into Nepal with what seemed like their whole life possessions on their back. Women no taller than 5ft were carrying loads in excess of 40-50kg on their back and heads, this really put me to shame when I was complaining about having to keep my 16kg bag on my back because the floor was to disgusting to put it down. Once we were stamped out of China, we made the 200m walk across the Friendship Bridge which had the most beautiful views, even though I shouldn’t have I did manage to sneak one photo in before I was approached by the guards.
The drive from the Nepalese’s side of the border to Kathmandu was only 120km but took 6
hours, the roads are awful, nothing more than mud and stone in places and thankfully we had a 4x4 for this journey so we made it to our destination without too many problems. Well that’s if you don’t count that the front left wheel would no longer respond to the steering wheel. We stopped for lunch and a random guy appeared with a welder and hey presto it was all ok again??? None of us dared to ask, we just knew there was no other option so had to just hope for the best. I realised at this point Nepal was going to be very different when the 120km journey cost £5 and lunch was 80p.
The traffic, the noise, the litter and the general chaos that presented itself in Kathmandu was overwhelming and this was before we had got out of our car. Once we left the car it was a mad rush from the hundreds of locals to try and secure our business at their hotel. After some tough negotiating with my Polish and Dutch friends we found a hotel for £2 a night, bargain! And it even had wifi and running water, clearly two essentials!
being in Nepal I have not been all that well and have lost my hearing for a few days, this may be a contributing factor to why I’ve not enjoyed my time here but for me it’s the complete and utter chaos and noise along with all the dirt and mess that has made my time here really drag. Everyone here is out to rip you off and you end up trusting no one and continually feel everything is a battle. I figured that India would be very similar to this in places and have decided for the time being to give it a miss and will make my next destination Thailand. I’ve not got much to add about Kathmandu because I couldn’t really find a lot to do here, I went to a temple called Monkey Temple and visited the Garden of Dreams which is an architecturally designed garden, other than this I just wandered around the streets and tried to tune in with the local environment, but the non-stop shouting of “hey mister or excuse me, where you from” was driving me mad.
I did head out of Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park which I will talk
about in a separate blog and I also went to Pokhara. Pokhara was much more laid back than Kathmandu and had fantastic views of the Himalaya’s but the vibe I was getting from the place was not overly welcoming once you stepped outside of the tourist areas. I managed to get kicked several times by a few 5 -6 year old kids because I wouldn’t give then money or chocolate and at the start of several of the treks there were big warning signs telling you not to trek alone, do not take any valuables with you and it is likely you will be approached during your trek. The only alternative was to pay $20 for a guide for the day but this seemed crazy to simply trek up a mountain. Coupled with the fact I still wasn’t feeling great I decided to pretty much stay in the local area and just pass the time with the great views of the mountains. I find it kind of ironic that 2011 is Nepal’s year for tourism, maybe I have really missed something here but this was the way I was feeling.
On my way back to Kathmandu for my flight
I witnessed a large land slide, it was bloody frightening and only 7 buses in front of us on the mountain roads. Thankfully no one was hurt and thank god I was not one minute earlier in my bus. It was a sight to behold but thankfully one I could see from the comfort of my bus seat and not up close and personal.
Well I fly out tomorrow and I’m happy to be leaving. I realised from the outset of my trip that not every stop on my journey would be one that I would enjoy but I hope no further destinations leave me feeling quite like Nepal has. I’m also more than aware it’s very much a personal view point because other travellers rave about Nepal, but I guess this just reiterates the point about how different we all are.
Thailand here I come, I really cannot wait!
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