Thursday, March 24, 2016

Nepal - Arrival in Kathmandu

The first time i seriously started planning the logistics and itinerary for visiting Nepal was about 6 months before their devastating earthquake that happened just about a year ago. The the earthquake happened, the Kathmandu valley was devastated and many were dead, so that particular trip planning was put on hold.

Then, in December, i was at home watching an '80s favourite movie - the Eddie Murphy classic "The Golden Child". This is a movie generally recognized for its place on many lists of worst movies, but i like it. In the movie Eddie Murphy travels to Kathmandu and, inexplicably, they filmed the movie's Nepal and Tibet scenes not on a Hollywood sound stage, but in Nepal. Seeing the tiered temples, prayer wheels, monks, and magic made me think: "It's time to go to Nepal." And one week later my flight was booked. 
I did decide to spend a few days in Delhi on the way here, but here, in Kathmandu, i arrived yesterday afternoon. I immediately knew i loved it.

Flying in, the city looked like a mouthful of yellowed, broken teeth. Driving through it it looked equally ramshackle, but so interesting. We passed the river where bodies are ritually cremated in the open. Next to that is a temporary carnival with a ferris wheel so rickety even i wouldn't dare to ride it. The rickshaws are all decorated with flowers and colored cloth and bits of mirror. Women wear colorful silks and the older men wear hats like woollen tea cozies. The narrow streets are hung with prayer flags and for sale everywhere are so many appealing looking textiles and handicrafts. It is busy, but less chaotic than New Delhi.

The area i am staying in is called Thamel and it is the backpacker area. A maze of narrow streets with trekking gear, souvenirs, hostels, and cafes and restaurants with 'peace', 'karma', and 'yeti' built into the names. I am staying at the Karma Traveller's guest house. My room is a bit cozy and has a nice patio with flowers.
A few things of note. In Nepal the year is currently 2071 and their time is 12 hours and 45 minutes ahead of Vancouver. It is a poor country and, sadly, women are treated very poorly, particularly outside of the cities. I'll spare you the depressing details. Electricity here is a problem and comes on and goes off for certain times every day, as well as randomly. It is primarily a Hindu and Buddhist country. Nepali is spoken here. In less than 24 hours i have now said 'namaste' about 1000 times. Mount Everest is here, and yetis. That's enough. I'm not an encyclopedia. I'm not even wikipedia. 

So last night i went for a wander before it got dark. It was busy and completely delightful. I had a bit of dinner at a garden restaurant listening to traditional, live Nepalese music and watching cricket on tv. I promptly threw up my dinner (which was weird, because for the first time in days i feel not at all sick). I settled my stomach with my first cigar in Nepal; fittingly, a Ghurka.

This morning i got up early and went walking in the crisp (albeit polluted and dusty) air and got breakfast. And here i sit. My plan now is to walk to Durbar Square. More to some.
Namaste (1001).

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