Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Paul's Country Review: Nepal

We crossed the border between China and Nepal at the Bridge of Friendship and after clearing customs, drove the 3 hours from the border to Kathmandu on the "highway" a 1 1/2 lane road that was mostly dirt, sometimes paved, sometimes washed out, praying that someone wasn't headed in the other direction because there wasn't enough room. Getting closer to Kathmandu the road widens and gives way to pavement. All this does is give every motorist on the road free reign to use every part of the road to reach their destination - everyone else be damned! I honestly think that Driver's Ed in Nepal is gathering around an old TV and watching either Death Race on Beta Max or clips of Women's Roller Derby from the 70's. Cars, trucks, buses, microbuses, mopeds, scooters, motorcycles, unicycles, golf carts, clown cars, batmobiles and the General Lee are all over the place without thought of safety; theirs or anyone else's.

After spending the night in Kathmandu, we took a short flight to the town of Pokhara. Keep in mind it is a 25 minute flight or an 8 hour bus ride under the aforementioned conditions. Pokhara is a quiet, beautiful place filled with friendly people and we really liked it there. The town surrounds a lake and the Himalayas are the backdrop. What you do in Nepal is trek. There are numerous companies all looking to guide you out into the wilderness for a week or two. We are not Trekkers even if we had the time and opted for a one day hike which was great. We even went paragliding and for those who need an explanation, you strap yourself to a guy who is strapped to a parachute and you run and jump off a mountain.The rest of the time was spent relaxing and breathing the fresh air, which we had not had the luxury of in some time.

My lovely wife - she keeps me going and without her I would have gone on a 17 country
killing spree a long time ago!

I loved all of the different farm houses that dotted the hillsides

A very beautiful place

After Pokhara we flew back to Kathmandu to start the overly complicated visa process for India. With no real plan but to wait for our visa, we just thought we would take it easy after our very tiring China trip, and just walk around Kathmandu and see the sights. We also made plans to go around the Kathmandu valley to see other towns, but we didn't.

Kathmandu was crazy! Motorcycle riding madmen roamed the streets setting fire
to little old ladies

We couldn't really walk around without getting lost in the twisted rat's nest of streets that is Kathmandu. There are no road signs and every street looks the same. The same shops selling the same trinkets. The same style of restaurant that looks like one we just passed. And every person you meet is trying to scam you in one way or another. 

Where the hell are we? The guy auditioning for CHiPs looks lost too

Every street is a tight fit - this is a main avenue

Thankfully I developed an intestinal ailment and was saved from having to subject myself to Kathmandu, having spent almost all of our time safely hidden in our hotel room. Sure the staff thought we were strange, but I didn't care. Anytime I thought I was better we would attempt to get something real to eat (I was existing on a diet of ginger ale, water and Carr's Water crackers - thank God!), I would quickly return to the hotel.

The only thing to really do in Kathmandu is drink. There are an insane amounts of bars, each with a live band, playing the same set list every night over and over and over and over - it's enough to drive a person mad I tell you - mad! We didn't have to go out to listen to the music because our hotel had "soundproof" windows, the same way an open door is soundproof, so we got to hear all of the music right up until it was done anywhere from 1am-3am and then listen to all of the fall-down-drunks stumble home screaming and fighting while taxis honked incessantly to either get people out of the road or they really wanted to drive people the 100 ft to their hotels and the friendly neighborhood police are blowing their whistles as loud as humanly possible. So, yeah we got a lot of sleep. 

Nepal's countryside is beautiful - Kathmandu is not.

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