Kathmandu

Apr 8, 2009

First thing required when entering Nepal is a tourist visa.  Going through customs at the Kathmandu airport, I applied for the visa in person and received it 30 seconds later for a cost $40 US, which allows me multiple entries into the country for 30 days.

Exiting the airport, I was immediately approached by nearly 20 taxi drivers and hotel representatives trying to lure me to their transportation or sell me on their accommodations.  But much to their disappointment, I already have a pre-arranged pickup and a hotel booked.   Once I was able to find my guy I was left alone while I wait for my friend Zita to arrive.  When she arrived, our driver took us through the chaos that is Kathmandu traffic.

Now I haven’t been to India, but this was definitely the biggest gong show I have ever witnessed.  Just imagine the most horrendous driving situation you’ve ever been in and then take away all the rules and lane markings, and add in some pedestrians, bicycles, and some animals each taking the same path.  This is what driving in Kathmandu is like.  If you rent a car it generally comes with a driver because you will not be able to handle it.  And the drivers just dart in and out of everything, taking the easiest possible route regardless of anything else.  I swear we almost hit 15 people, 6 cars, 3 bikes, 2 dogs, a buffalo, and 5 chickens on the way to our hotel.  The only thing missing was his phone ringing with the mission impossible theme 🙂

But we made it to the hotel safely, where we were warmly welcomed.  However once we were back on the streets it was a similar story travelling on foot, because now we are sharing the road with these cars that dart in and out, not to mention to abundant amount of exhaust fumes and pollution in the air that would make Los Angeles look clean.  And what’s more, store owners and street merchants constantly hassle you for your busineses.  The products are generally very cheap, but when you’ve already bought the same thing 4 stores earlier, it starts to get annoying.

Oh and another thing, there is no electricity in Kathmandu for most of the day. Power is available usually for a few hours in the afternoon, and then the whole town is blacked out at around 6pm. You could be at a restaurant and the power will go off at any given time. It sometimes comes back on later in the night for a few more hours before it is turned off again. If a store needs energy, they usually run a generator to power their buildings.

One thing is for sure, 2 days in Kathmandu is all I can handle.  Time to leave the craziness and pollution for some peaceful mountains.

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