16. I imagined it a little different. Kathmandu

At first sight I fell in love with this city. I’m not gonna lie, I was really looking forward to seeing Nepal. It’s one of these countries you know what to expect. You think you know. I expected beautiful mountainous landscapes, monks walking around, smiling and generous people and an atmosphere of harmony. Now, after spending some time in Nepal I must say it was a pretty idealistic fantasy. It doesn’t change the fact that Kathmandu is really impressive. Lively streets filled with markets, medieval temples and its mystical energy you can find only in Nepal.

Although in a beautiful place, our experience here didn’t start very positive. Thanks to our first cs host we had a chance to see the negative side of Nepalese people from the first day. Vinod was a 40-year old man running his travel agency with his French girlfriend who recently left him and his wife and kids lived separately. So Vinod was living a single happy life with no commitments. I have to say we had a quite warm welcome at his place when we saw a bunch of whisky bottles on the table. The problem started when we realised that our host emptied all of them and he wasn’t planning to stay sober at all. It didn’t affect his business skills though as he was sneakily trying to sell us a tour to Everest base camp. And he almost succeeded but his real nature that showed up later convinced us to stay away from him. He was hosting a French couple who was volunteering to help people after the earthquake. As we noticed they weren’t really satisfied, maybe because their boss provided them more alcohol than opportunities to help the others.

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Buddha temple and old town destroyed by the last earthquake

We had an interesting night with them and other friends of Vinod in one of the night clubs where local Nepalese girls entertained us by their dancing. The next day after we left the house seeing Vinod already drunk we had some time to visit the city. Getting back home in the evening and hoping to have some rest we found the door closed. After around 20 calls and messages we realised our host was probably sleeping after a ‘tiring’ day. We were lucky the doors weren’t secure so after pushing them a little harder they opened up. Tired and angry we went to sleep giving up waiting for Vinod. He came back red and smashed at 4 am knocking to our door. He accused us we didn’t call him or let him know where we were. That was enough. After unsuccessful suggestion for him to check his phone we decided to leave next morning. We found him, his friend and a girl from the night club half drunk half asleep in the room in order to say goodbye. I don’t think they cared but it wasn’t our problem anymore.

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Queues to the petrol stations

Fortunately the same day we found a new host who maybe wasn’t an alcoholic but definitely had something from a twat. His wife and children are living in USA while he and his cousins run a cashmere business in Kathmandu. When I asked him: “Do you miss them?” the answer was: “Noo, not really”. No questions. Anyway, we could rest properly in his bungalow and prepare ourselves before a trek to Everest base camp. We bought flight tickets to Lukla from where we planned to start our adventure. As we realised after few days we didn’t choose the best time to come to Nepal. The earthquake half a year ago wasn’t the last thing that hit the society, now they are facing a gas&petrol shortage which is caused by India. It’s said Nepalese people controlled by India block the southern border so no tracks can go through. So you can imagine kilometres of queues to the petrol station and people cooking meals from the fire. Our host had some gas and cooked a dinner for us that took about 4 hours (including frying the salad) but unfortunately, in his opinion, there wasn’t enough gas to boil some hot water for us. Well, priorities. We accepted absurd rules of the house and from then on we decided to use our own spirit burner.

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Camps for people who lost their houses

Kathmandu reminds me of Cracow a little – the same huge valley filled with all kinds of pollution. In Kathmandu’s case you can also add lack of asfalt roads and clouds of dust – all combined makes a perfect place to live and die of cancer. I was disgusted by Nepalese men hucking and spitting their flemme everywhere but after few days I had to learn to do it myself. Petrol shortage made the buses even more overcrowded so we preferred to travel on the roof to avoid having someone’s ass in our faces. The city including famous historical places suffered a lot from the earthquake and we could still see the people slowly rebuilding the infrastructure. Many of them still live in the camps where they have tents and food provided. And some of those who do have their houses are still afraid to live inside. Kathmandu & Patan Durbar squares, Boudha temple and few other places were seriously damaged but it doesn’t stop the government from charging the tourists 20 times more than the locals. Sometimes I have an impression this country gets money only from tourists as here taxes don’t seem to exist and everyone has his own business. Although quite tiring, the city and its atmosphere still impresses me. Swayambhu temple with its monkeys, Durbar square that remembers medieval age and funeral ceremonies by Pashupatinath took us back in time and made us think how beautiful this place was before it started to be a commercial hub of Western hippies.

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Funeral ceremonies by Bagmati river
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