Date: 21 May
Location: getting my feral talons and claws seen to, The Zen Experience Spa, Kathmandu.
Notable sightings: a gut-wrenchingly awful drive down from Nagakot to Kathmandu; the gross green result of that drive, all over the side of the road, the ancient city of Bhaktapur which used to be the nation's capital and is shaped like a flying dove (aww).
The really awkward thing about being the only two guests at a remote guesthouse where the power cuts out at sunset is that, like it or not, you get a romantic, candlelit dinner for two — chaperoned by several doe-eyed Nepali boys who come over to the table perhaps more frequently than serving two simple plates of dal baht and two pots of masala chai warrant.
Anyway, as it happens, you don't see me complaining. Mister Swiss had me in stitches with his stories. Like about the time he gave away all of the possessions he hadn't touched in the last month (then bitterly regretted it, as did his poor housemate), or how he and his sherpa buddy would each day buy a live chicken and carry it on the day's trek so that they'd have something to trade for a roof over their head that night (and get a hot dinner), or about the time a few weeks ago in Kathmandu when he'd been brought by his wizened little Ayurvedic mentor into a dark little room for 'basti' treatment expecting another oil massage only to discover, to his abject horror, that this quaint sounding treatment was a colon cleanse. I nearly spat out my dal.
Later that night something occurred to me, as the stupidest thoughts always do, around 3am this morning. I woke in the pitch black to crazy rain thrashing the roof of my adorable but flimsy little cabin. My god, I realised, my whole last 24 hours looks suspiciously like the beginning of a low budget slasher film. Girl takes road trip to remote forested location perfectly alone. Girl is mildly creeped out by the way staff seem to watch her every move. Sole other occupant of accomodation sets her at ease. Girl wakes in the night. I'd seen this film and I knew what came next! Thankfully, my body didn't and it promptly made me pass out again.
This morning, bubbly and grateful to be alive and not in eight pieces on a serial killer's floor, I had breakfast on the rocky little 'terrace' at the guest house. I was midway through an amusing anecdote of my own when Msger Swiss's mouth fell open. At first I thought he just found my retelling of story of the Terrible Texan hilarious (it was) but then I realised he was looking over my shoulder into the distance. The pesky clouds that had been lurking for the last two days had suddenly cleared and, for a few precious minutes we had an unobstructed view of the mountains.
“To the temple!” he said grabbing his mug and dashing away.
Which, let's be honest, is a pretty cool line worthy of Indiana Jones himself. Not that I knew what it meant, so I just tried to look cool as I scrambled behind — following his lead and taking my precious life-giving morning coffee — up the steep hill behind the guest house. Up to a Shiva temple that had its own 360-degree view. We saw, ever so briefly, the wide Himalayan range unfold before us, crisp against blue sky, as we sipped terrible Nepali instant coffee in awe. Then, the mountains slipped back into the haze.
This afternoon it was back to Kathmandu, via Bhaktapur.
It's pretty funny trying to tell a rickshaw or taxi driver where to take you in Kathmandu. Addresses aren't so much a thing. It's more like, 'You know Thamel? You know K-too? You know the bazaar behind it? You know the big Northface sign across from that? Cool. Near there please.' One of the Irish expats I met tells a wonderful story about needing to get a new credit card and explaining to Barclays Bank that, no, she'd moved from Lusaka and, yes, she was in Kathmandu, no, she didn't have her Irish mobile phone that, yes, if they sent mail to 'Apartment 23, building behind the Coke billboard, Patan' it would find her.