Date: 15 May
Location: the beautiful outdoor daybed, Kathmandu Guest House, Kathmandu
Notable sightings: a smattering of the baby mountains of Nepal, an honest to god decent burrito.
Maybe the Hindus got it right and karma is a thing. We've just endured a truly hellish public bus ride with good (/tolerable) grace, only to emerge in the nirvana that is Kathmandu Guest House. It has a garden, a bar, a functional ATM, fans and free wifi. Stoked. The power will be off from 5-10pm, but we've been told this in advance — a courtesy not often afforded in Nepal.
The Texan finally “evacuated” ths morning, flying the 152 kilometres from Chitwan to Kathmandu, which is precisely where we've ended up after taking a much more rustic route. Our public bus fare was less than USD$5, and it took seven hours. That's less than a dollar an hour. I'm sure you can use your imagination to picture how nice it was. No report yet on Texan's status. Unsure if the Nepali doctors are qualified to diagnose imaginary ailments?
Now that we're in Kathmandu it only makes sense for our 'Delhi to Kathmandu' tour to end and tomorrow is our last day. It snuck up. I'd just typed 'I have mixed feelings about the tour ending' but had to delete it because (a) it's a hideous cliche and you deserve better and (b) it's not even true — I'm just plain sad to see it end. It's our last night tonight and I'd love to say that that meant we'd be hitting up the Irish Pub across the road but, as 3 of our members are off to climb to Everest Base Camp the day after, I'm guessing that's off the agenda. However, there has been serious talk about a group adventure to the tattoo parlour. (Relax! One's enough for me.) The Lady Bogans both want 'the end is nothing, the road is all', which is surprisingly profound, Brazilian Honey Twin already has part of a Kandinsky on her arm and now wants a sailboat on a cloud (she's artsy), Babysitters' Club wants the 'ohm mane' Nepalese mantra in Sanskrit and Miss Californa, who already has an ambiguous series of black dots and the cryptic 'I was consumed' on her arm, wants something 'open to interpretation' (she's even artsier).
We did a dry run yesterday and got henna-ed again. There's was a Nepali teen girl on the sidewalk in Thamel with the most gorgeous henna on her left hand, offering to paint us right then and there. So we sat down. This girl spoke incessantly of her dream Workd Tour while she worked in fluent English and, when a crowd of Chinese approached, she switched to fluent Chinese. I suspect this enterprising young lady will go far.
Thamel is a touristy enclave in Kathmandu and there are more white people here than I've seen in the whole preceding month all thrown together. Same goes for pubs, Mexican restaurants and bakeries. The Nepali know us too well… It's also trekking Mecca, and shops selling 'Goretex' and 'Northface' are prolific. Y'all have been paying too much for your trendy Northface puff vests: in Thamel, you can get one for 800 rupees (USD$8).
Thamel feels to me like a mini Delhi: if Delhi had a makeover, learned to smile and started taking regular baths. There's a satisfied glow to the tourists here. Everyone is far from home to climb massive mountains, or do yoga and meditate in monasteries. And eat Mexican food.
Today we have to leave the haven to see the rest of Kathmandu so my perspective on this city as a whole is subject to change.
Update: we just spied (from a safe viewing distance) the Texan out shopping in Thamel, happy as a pig in mud.
Update: the power still seems to go off whenever it pleases. You can't win them all.