Navigating Kathmandu

Trip Start May 28, 2010
1
6
19
Trip End Aug 02, 2010


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Where I stayed
Mountain Fund House

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's time for a blog post about Nepali transportation...because it is entertaining and might be helpful after that last post with the heartbreaking photos of poverty-stricken children.

So, you need to get somewhere. What do you do? Well first...you decide how much you want to pay. If you want to be frugal, you walk. If its too far away, you go with the motor options. First is the bus. It costs 10 rupees for a bus ride...which translates to about 13 cents. If you feel like spending more than 13 cents, and would like a little more precision with the location of drop off, you take a taxi. They cost between 150 and 200 rupees...so around 2 dollars. It is crazy how inexpensive things are here. Inflation is a powerful thing.

The taxis are fun. You walk up to a man in a taxi (a tiny little beat-up car that seats 5 but is half the size of an American taxi), and give him your offer. For example, "I need to get to Thamel, I'll give you 150 rupees." He will usually shake his head and say he will do it for 200 or 250, not 150. You then have to explain that someone else gave you a ride for 150. They try to get white people to pay more...because they assume we are less experiences and don't know the rates. I'm so glad that they stagger the arrival of volunteers here...so there is always someone experienced to tell you what to ask for.

The buses are even more fun. First off, not many of the buses are actual buses. Some are vans. But all of them are small, dusty, and have as many seats as possible packed into them. You walk to the side of the road and listen for a bus with a man hanging out the door shouting your destination. The buses have an interesting way of operating. Two guys work it...one drives, the other is the one at the door organizing the pick ups and drop offs and collecting money. When someone wants get on or off the bus, the guy at the door hits the side of the bus, signaling the driver to stop. You hand him your 10 rupees and hop off. Sometimes the bus doesn't stop all the way when you are getting picked up...so you have to jump onto a moving vehicle, which is exciting. It's a good way to wake up in the morning, for sure. And then you stand in a very full vehicle with a bunch of Nepali giving you the "You have blonde hair" stare. Nepali people are not shy about staring...so I feel a bit better about staring back. =) They are also not shy about being very close to other people....which is a good thing when living in such a packed city! The other day we were in a van about the size of the Luther vans. However, instead of 12 people, which at home is a full van...I counted 25 people. It was amazing. It helps that the Nepalese are small...I feel like a giant when I walk down the street.

But I need to get going...time to get ready to head back to the day care. We are taking a taxi today...the girl I am going with has some things to bring to the center and doesn't want to carry them on the bus. Which is perfectly ok with me. The buses can be stressful...a day in a taxi will be a relief.

Til next time, friends.
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