Wish that I could say my time in transit flew by but I would be lying. The three flights (two were eight hours), three layovers and however many time zone changes had me drained. I met so many amazing people along the way that it wasn’t too bad. The adventure started when I left Toronto Airport. Nothing like travelling across the world to adrenaline was in full force and I was excited to get the adventure started.
I made it, feet on the ground in Kathmandu, 28 degrees celsius with some pretty intense humidity. I walked through the border and got a visa on arrival with no issues. While waiting to get through customs I met a couple backpackers from England. Turns out we were headed to the same spot so we shared a taxi to the Sparking Turtle Backpackers Hostel in the Swoyambhu neighborhood. It is a little ways away from Thamel, the backpacker/traveller zone. After visiting Thamel numerous times I can say that I am happy I stayed in a local area. Nothing can compare to the conversations and interactions I have had with the local people over the past few days. The people are kind, I have nothing but good things to say about so many of the good people who I met. The crowd and vibe were great at the hostel, friendly staff willing to help with whatever you need.
It only took three days in Kathmandu but I knew it was bound to happen. I was riding a local bus at night and ‘bang’ a car hit us as we were turning. Not a big deal the driver honked and we kept on driving. The bus cost me 15 rupees (20 cents).
The Nepali language is challenging. As I was attempting to find the right bus in the dark (no street lights) my pronounciation of Thamel was totally wrong. It’s is supposed to sound like ‘ta’ ‘mill’. The bus driver and surrounding three people struggled to understand where I wanted to go; I did get on the right bus and after asking three more people for directions I ended up right in tourist central Thamel.
The roads in Kathmandu are brutal. I can get used to the left hand side driving but the road conditions are poor all around. I watched an ambulance take 30 seconds in attempts to get past a full street of vehicles and a bus, not one person pulled over. Many of the roads have huge pieces missing, one lane wide streets have two lanes of traffic and people walking on them (as there are no sidewalks in many areas). Houses are build almost right onto the streets in many areas which makes for some entertaining driving and a lot of honking.
As I was gathering my things for the Mount Everest Base Camp I took a different minibus to the Tourist Office to get my TIMS card, I had to buy my park pass in Lukla. We had 23 people packed in the minibus so I figured that was about full, of course not, the driver kept stopping and somehow people kept getting in. I pretty well had a Napalese man sitting in my lap but we continued to stop for more passengers, women in dresses, men heading from work, until we peaked at 28 people including 5 kids hanging off the side of the minivan. It was beyond tight, I couldn’t help but to just laugh. The joys of local transportation.
Throughout my time in Kathmandu I have visited many local temples, different areas of town and feel like I have explored it thoroughly. This is a developing place, houses are not bought and sold; land is bought and a house is build from the ground up. Monkeys, dogs and chickens hanging out at Swayambhunath temple. Roaming around Dubar square taking in some history. It has been the kindness of the people that has stuck out to me the most.
Ten governments over ten years doesn’t yield many positive results. Governmental stability is needed to develop this country and economy. Many of the roads are in brutal condition, no street lights anywhere in sight from the rooftop of the hostel. On most nights stars haven’t been visible because of smog overhead at night, though rainy season is coming up.
Without accessible water, fuel, electricity, public healthcare, public education; the biggest challenges in Nepal are yet to be overcome.
The problems facing Nepal are bigger than the individual, I have seen the people here and know that they do work hard. Construction projects going on all over the city trying to rebuild from last years earthquake.
The people are great, the places are beautiful, the monkeys are crazy, Kathmandu it has been fun.