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Published: November 13th 2007
The streets of Kathmandu
This is Kathmandu proper not the Thamel area
Well arrived in Nepal and was greeted by a zillion taxi drivers and Hotel Touts (ok slight exaggeration - maybe it was only a million) and they were all vying for my custom as I left the airport. They even followed me in a long procession to the ATM and continued to hassle me there. Slightly daunted I beat a hasty retreat back inside the airport and followed Lonely Planet Guides advice of pre-paid taxi. Less hassle though I still seemed to gain a tout who was determined to show me a commission paying hotel as well as sort my trekking but with some insistence I ended up at my designated and booked hotel - a quite haven on the edge of Thamel in the Pakanagol with French owner!
My first impression of Nepal - erm - noisy and mad!!! The road rules are none existent or they remain elusive to me if they do. Tooting the horn constantly seems to equal coming through either side ready or not and motorcyclists just squeeze through any gap or come at you head on or just drive through pedestrians!!!! Yikes not sure I will survive.
The four days before heading too
Outside Thamel you will find sellers just seem to set up trade in any spare space even on round abouts
Kopan for meditation saw me requiring copious doses of paracetamol from the constant noise of Katmandu streets especially Thamel - either in the form of motorcyclists tooting (which you are jumping out the way to avoid been run over) or from the constant hassle from the trekking touts or street sellers following you down the street. If you want a quite life avoid Thamel. My first excursion into the mayhem I must have had "NEWBIE" stamped on my head because I was targeted by all of them and it took an hours to cover a short distance! Four days later I had master the Firm, Polite "No Thanks" but even that sometimes fails when made to feel guilty by the comment "I am only trying to help you make sure you have a good time" (yeah yeah and oh and get commission - right?).
Day 1 to 4 was mainly spent getting lost around the windy un-signposted streets initially in Thamel and then Katmandu - I learned to tune out to the constant din and started to like the place and loved looking at the hippy travelers clothes on offer from nearly every other shop in Thamel.
some sight seeing to Katmandu’s Durbar Square but after the 10th guide followed me and wouldn't give me a moments peace I gave up and decided to return at an earlier time of day maybe when they are not so desperate and have more tourists to pick on. In an attempt to avoid walking back through the square and the barrage I tried to shortcut by going into a side street and promptly got lost in side alleys and away from tourists. Nervously wandering as the light faded - where is a pesky rickshaw driver when you need one? After walking a circle I ended back at Durbar Square - phew! From now on main routes only!
Another experience and learning curve is that some of the shops vying for business view tourists as easy money are not that honest with pricing - one bed covering which would cost about 100 Rupees from a more honest seller was offered to me by another less honest one at 1200 Rupees before dropping to 800 then 600 and finally 200!!! Even if I had been interested I was not going to buy from such a seller but it did warn me
A big toy or a statue of worship - you take your pick!
Worship Statue in one of the squares of Kathmandu (maybe Durbar but can't remember now)
to check with multiple sellers before buying anything.
At the end of the day it was always nice to get away from it all and back to the guesthouse with its garden and relative peace. Unfortunately the guest house been located up a narrow and quiet side lane and frequently effected by the impromptu (as well as scheduled) power saving cuts meant I did not like to return late especially as I was still not familiar with Nepal so for the first few days I remained pretty much on my own as difficult to meet people if you have to head back early.
Though having said that the day before I left for the monastery I meet someone to chat to when in a busy restaurant I shared a table and we ended up meeting up for Brunch the next day (a final decent meal before Monastery life and food).
So after that it was off for 10 days to be incommunicado in the Kopan. Leaving behind the trappings of modern life - mobiles, non-Buddhist readings materials and Internet access behind.
Next blog will be after 10 days - if I don't decide to shave my
head and become a nun/monk that is!!!!!
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