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Memories will be made of this.....

Searching for Kath's In Kathmandu

NEPAL | Wednesday, 10 October 2007 | Views [1636]

It may have been over two years, however the time has come (for those who don't know) for another travelogue...this time its Nepal.  I'm still (even after 4 days of being here) why i decided to go to Nepal (or none that i can mention at the moment!).  However, it was booked and here i am.
 
The journey was a bit of a farce - by saving well over a thousand pounds, I decided to fly from Manchester to Abu Dhabi, followed by a bus journey to a place called Sharjah, then using the low cost airline Air Arabia (who?!) to Kathmandu.  This was quite a simple plan in my head, however the realisation that not everything would not be the easiest on the trip dawned on me when i was dropped off in the middle of nowhere in Sharjah by the bus and i had to hitch-hike to Sharjah airport.  This involved far too much walking and two different cars picking me up along the way.  Sharjah is a strange old place with houses bigger than any of seen before isolated along the main roads, all having at least two gates into them.  Once i arrived at Sharjah airport, i then had to wait for 5 hours for the airplane (for information purposes, Sharjah International Airport isn't exactly like Heathrow!).  I was the only white person on the plane (and also the only person it seemed not to be bringing TV's, DVD players, or other electronic goods to Nepal).  I felt very out of place!!
 
Once i got on the plane, fell asleep until we were about 200 metres above Kathmandu INternational Airport - and the view was stunning of lush green hillsides and just stunning mountainous scenery.  Getting through the visa stage was a bit of palava, but eventually made it through.  I hadn't booked any accommodation, but as is usual in Asia, there were hundreds of people waiting to take you to their hostel for free. I had decided upon Kathmandu Guest House (if it was good enough for the Beatles, then surely it was ok by me) and blindly lied about having a reservation.  When i got to the hostel, i couldn't say that i didn't, but they couldn't find my reservation, but the luck was with me and managed to get the last room available - so after 28 hours of travelling, managed to down my backpack.
 
I had only been there about 10 minutes before going back out to Thamel's main street in Kathmandu - as tacky as any main tourist place in the Asian cities - being offered dope 7 times in the first 10 minutes of being out there, fake DVD's etc. etc., so retreated quickly back to the calmness of the Guesthouse bar.  I had only been there 5 minutes when an Aussie guy called Dave (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Mark Philippoussis) came over (impressed by by Lonely Planet Nepal book) and asked to sit down.  We hit it off relatively quickly and i told him what i planned to do and vice versa - he thought i was crazy to contemplate a bungee jump, likewise i thought he was mad to do a whole weeks worth of trekking.  So we went out and investigated for the other.  When looking at the trekking place, Dave said if you come trekking, i'll come bungee jumping - well, it sounded like a good swap to me!!
 
So the next morning, we got the 'tourist bus' to a place called the Last Front (about 5 miles from the Tibetan border for the bungee jump).  As is always the case with me and planes/trains/automobiles nothing ran smoothly.  Upon leaving Kathmandu, saw many army people on a training exercise, including one that was dead on the side of the road.  About an hour into the three hour journey, the accelerator cable snapped and we pulled over - needless to say they didn't ask me how to fix it!  Eventually, we got on our way again, but within another half an hour, it was gone to for good - we stopped in a place we affectionately named 'Fish-Kebab City' (obviously due to the amounts of fish kebabs which were hanging from all the shops and must have been there for several years).  We were there for about 6 hours, waiting for the local bus to come.  It came and there was no space, so we moved onto the top of the bus for a 2 hour rollercoaster up to the site.
 
We were meant to bungee that night, but it got put off 'til the next morning.  We had to cross the bridge that we meant to bungee - a nervous experience, looking nearly 200 metres down to river rapids, knowing that shortly i'd be jumping off with a piece of cord attached to my body.
 
That night, the locals decided (as the only english person there) to get me drunk on McDowells whiskey (a unique blend of Scottish and Indian malts). By the next morning, i realised that half a bottle of whiskey wasn't particularly condusive to a clear head for what would be the scariest thing i've ever done.  Anyway, the jump itself was simply awesome.  Unless you have bungee jumped its impossible to describe (160 metres - the second tallest bungee jump in the world, bigger than any in NZ).  I so wanted to stop myself and my brain was saying no, but the DVD will be out soon, so you can see it on Facebook at a later date!!
 
After jsut surviving the scariest thing i think i've ever done, the journey back was to replace it as the scariest thing i've ever done.  We had to get the local bus back (easy enough i thought), but what transpired was a bus full of nepalis bringing stuff back from China and there were 80 of us in (and hanging out of the bus - remember on the Himalayan hills).  After 10 minutes, we couldn't stay in there - we were sweating all over each other and so squashed that we couldn't breathe, so Dave, a girl we called Red and I got onto the roof of the bus after a relatively nice experience the previous day).  However, this time we had to share the top of the bus with lots of people, electrical items and duvets - so we were a good 5 foot higher.  The nepalis wouldn't lt us touch the duvets (they seemed to have pride of place and were pushed off anytime we got close to them).  On the way down, the bus was really not safe and the three of us were holding onto cords so we didn't fall off (the roads being typical potholes and windy).  On top of this we were regularly hit by tree branches and within inches of our heads being knocked off by electricity cables - if we had not ducked at the right time, we would all have died.  At least the bungee only lasted a couple of minutes, this was 2 hours of the biggest rollercoaster ever, we were petrified!!!  Saw another dead body in the middle of the road - but finally got back to Kathmandu to have a few drinks thankful that my travel insurance wasn't needed!!
 
Today, we travelled to Pokura (in the west of Nepal), where tomorrow we will be embarking on an 8 day trek to Annapurna (i'm still with Dave, a cool guy that getting on with great - especially after England beat Australia in the rugby!).  In Pokura, i am currently surrounded by cows outside the internet cafe.  To say Nepal is basic and primitive is a massive understatement!!  Another day and another incident, we were walking back to our guesthouse, when a motorcyclist got hit by a car (its been raining) and we had to pick him up - thankfully this time he survived and we managed to get him up before the police and a doctor arrived.
 
There are so many things left to say, but alas i have no time.  Having just the most amazing experience and feeling very alive again.  Can't believe its only 5 days since i left England - feels so much longer.
 
Anyway, thats all for now - i'll get pictures / DVD's and all the other modern things you can do on asap (but probably when i get back to the UK).

Tags: I should have known better!

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