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Published: November 22nd 2018
After three nights at the Newa we relocated to our next (original) hotel. We'd had a wander around previously to see what it looked like but we couldn't find it in the rabbit warren of streets. This time we stumbled across it almost by accident as we killed time waiting for our luggage to be collected from the Newa. What started out as a walk turned into a complete relocation as our new hotel-keepers insisted we stay, even though we had a dog from the Newa who had 'adopted' Steve in tow as it had decided to join us on our walk. We felt we had not said a proper goodbye to Prem but decided not to go back as he would have had hundreds of questions for us about our new lodgings.
You may have seen the film 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'? Well, our new place was nothing like that but it was called The Exotic House Hotel and was just lovely - spacious, clean and with most mod cons including oodles of hot water, but sadly with no wifi that we could get to work ... Ho hum. Our new hosts were frequent travellers themselves (to Europe
and India) so knew exactly what hotel guests expect. She had also worked in tourism and hospitality and it showed! Our room came with a replica peacock window of our own on a lovely private balcony that overlooked Laundry Lane and I spent hours there, watching the daily life in Kathmandu.
Laundry Lane was constantly busy, 24 hours a day. A small flock of ducks had moved into the area - it was evidently the wettest place around but could still only muster a damp puddle. Packs of stray dogs wandered around and a few chickens sauntered about searching for scraps. We spent some time one evening watching a young man on his phone for an hour or more, wandering between one huge water butt and another. We thought he was ringing around trying to find somewhere to sleep for the night but in the end we decided he must have spent the night under the water butt. Laundry Lane clearly dealt with all the towels and bedding from the local hotels and lines and lines of various shades of grey stuff (nothing could be truthfully described as white) were strung across every piece of open ground. We were
getting to the point of needing to do some laundry ourselves, and it was certainly cheap enough to do but when I saw how and where it was done I decided to take advantage of the Exotic's plentiful hot water and do it myself in the bathroom sink. One day a Laundry Lane washing line holding up dozens of hotel towels broke. The man who looked after that line simply picked up all the washing from the floor and repegged them on another line. That would be the ground that dogs, ducks, chickens, people and who knows what other unseen things walked and did other things on. Okay, then.
A 'house' opposite (the occupants seemed to only use one room on the ground floor) did a roaring trade as a) a hairdresser, where clients sat on a stool in the street to have their hair coloured; b) a shop, though I couldn't determine what they were selling; and c) a drinks establishment of some sort as locals popped in and came out with something in a cup which was drunk on the spot before immediately returning the cup for the next person to use. It may have been tea
but I think it was more likely some home brewed hooch. Three generations lived in this home. Two school-aged children emerged one morning. After weeing up against the side of the house the boys had their hands and faces washed in cold water from a bowl and were collected by the yellow school bus looking clean and immaculate in their school uniforms. People did anything, just to get by ...
And boy, did they work hard. Heavy stuff was pulled, pushed or carried by young and old alike - and the Nepalese are generally small, slightly-built people. Days started really early and never really ended - they just morphed into the next day. Somehow the streets seemed cleaner on a morning so maybe there was some kind of sanitation department quietly doing what it could. A water lorry blocked the streets every day topping up supplies for hotels and businesses and private users filled up jerry cans and other containers for their own consumption. We watched a couple in the building next door (not that we were being nosy, you understand, just interested ...). She wore a dust mask even in her own home and they proudly displayed certificates
and family photos on the walls of the one small room they occupied. Across the way another couple lit candles on their balcony every night, and made an offering to whichever god they worshipped.
We spent this time in Kathmandu becoming more familiar with the area and generally having a relaxing time. We ate in a variety of places from almost-restaurants (the Fork and Knife) to typical fast food places depending on if we were likely to need to use the restroom there. We saw no public toilets in all of Kathmandu (not that I would have been inclined to use them!) but if we were planning on having a beer ot two with our meal the facilities were a critical factor! I think our favourite place was probably Coffee with Menz where they served a mean chicken sizzler meal and played our sort of music. We drank them out of beer one night after only a bottle each but the server literally got on his bike and came back with more! Unfortunately, they didn't offer to nip round the corner for fish when we asked for it; despite being on their menu they never seemed to have any!
We had steak one night in the Fork and Knife. It certainly wasn't cow, I doubt it would be horse, but we did notice there were only two goats left outside the butcher's ...
We returned to ManCanDo's offices to pick up all the completed documentation for our forthcoming trip. The visa covered us and the couple from Surbiton that we had recently met and we were told not to lose it on any account. As Steve was the first named on it, that became our responsibility, as if it's not hard enough just making sure the pair of us end up in the right place at the right time with the right bits of paper, now we have to do it for other people as well!
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