Sadhus, Dhal Bhat and Luxuriously Thick Air

Trip Start Sep 25, 2003
Trip End Apr 23, 2005

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Flag of Nepal  ,
Saturday, November 6, 2004

Factoid: From Kathmandu Post: "KATHMANDU, Dec 30 - The World Bank Nepal Office today refuted a recent news report putting Kathmandu on the top of the 17 Asian cities with the dirtiest air" these guys have never been to China! (or Bangkok for that matter)

Abstract: Having crossed into a different world of trees and greenery, we successfully and unstressfully negotiated customs and exchanged some money, then found our way, via one change of bus (and 8 hours of bumping around) to Kathmandu. The views of the Himalaya at sunset where beautiful. It was warm, humid and comfortable (except for the thermal underwear that we were eager to strip off!) for the first time in a month!
Spent a few days wandering around Kathmandu, visited the Indian embassy and generally ate and recouperated.

Nitty Gritty: We struggled across the friendship bridge and to an oasis that is Nepal. The sights, sounds and smells were music to us after the hardships of the Tibetan Plateau. Nepal is 2 and 1/4 hours behind Tibet so we were in time to catch a bus to Kathmandu. Luckily there was a bank at the border where we managed to get some Nepalese rupees in a "totally legal transaction" as we were instructed by the bank clerk.

One young Nepalese boy was delighted to hear that we came from England as he considered us a very good cricketing nation. There were quite a few soldiers around, but everything seemed pretty calm. The first bus wound it's way down the valley past women washing their hair, clothes and dishes in spring water at the side of the road. It was hot and sunny and we were sweltering with our thermals still on - it was a total contrast to Tibet.

Luckily we had some left over snacks as it was a long trip to Kathmandu. There were several military checkpoints to pass through - generally guarding hydroelectric plants from Maoist terrorism. The Nepalese are extremely good looking and there were some very pretty girls on the bus and it was difficult not to stare at them. It was so easy to breathe!

The villages beside the road had goats tethered beside the houses, many chomping on big bits of greenery suspended from the rafters and chickens wandering around. The houses were also brick built and 2 story which made a change. The scenery was very alpine. The second bus crawled to Kathmandu but at least it allowed us to savour the views of the Himalaya.

It was dark by the time we reached the bus station and we were all really tired so we jumped into a cab and checked into the first hotel we could find. Thamel, the tourist area of Kathmandu was buzzing and stuffed full of shops which could turn you into a hippie in a matter of seconds if you opened your wallet.You also had to duck the Shadus (Indian holy men) otherwise you ended up daubed in red dye with marigolds in your hair.

R started antibiotics for her now chest infection. Lucy headed off to the Indian Embassy the following day and R & G found an amazingly cheap and delicious nepalese cafe (rare in Thamel) where we discovered dhal bhat, a tray of rice, dhal, potato curry, pickles and veg - yummy! and we have all become regulars there, there and the supermarket that sells local cheese (a bit like emmental) for top up sandwiches.

We braved the Indian Embassy under Lucy's instruction - first you have to queue in the telex line and pay money for the embassy to telex your home country before you can be approved to get an indian visa - the hangover of British Impirialism we feel!!

A few more days of recouperation and we will head off to Phokara to do a couple of weeks trekking around Annurpurna region before heading off to India.
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