I arrive in the busy, noisy and bustling mess of a city that is Kathmandu late on a Friday afternoon. I have never experienced a drive like the one from the airport to my central Kathmandu hotel. Motorbikes flick-flacking between beautifully dressed women and impatient taxi drivers. Now, three days in, I still am not sure which side of the road Nepali people drive on. You need a certificate to drive on these roads…or a death wish.
Toss out the Lonely Planets and dispose of the Rough Guides, you’re on your own here.
After embarrassing bursts of excitement over seeing tubs and tubs of Nutella in a local supermarket, I become familiar with the ever popular trekking scene of Nepal as I meet my first pseudo-hippie/mountaineer loner friend; Chris from Canada. A tall and gawky guy, Chris shows me around the manic streets of Kathmandu’s tourist Mecca, Thamel. A few close encounters with nearly being mown down by motorcycles, we part ways at my hotel, sure to never see each other again. But this is not how Thamel works. A few hours pass and my volunteering counterparts and I are done with dinner and are now exploring Kathmandu at night. I catch sight of Chris in the streets and hail him over. Next thing, the four of us are hiking up a flight of stairs to the renowned English style pub/bar, Tom and Jerry’s.
Our hotel, being just one building away from another seedy drinking hangout, Buddha bar, means that I nod in and out of a sweat induced slumber to the sounds of Rihanna and other Western music offenders.
Fast forward to this morning. My Norwegian volunteer friend, Ole, and I embark on a cramped hour long journey to our host family and placements. They laugh at my big, polka dot bag (that shares the same weight as a heffalump) and I cheekily reply: “well, I AM a lady am I not?”. That shuts them up.-->
It’s quieter here. More Nepalese in a way. Ole and I share the same opinions on how we thought Nepal would be. This is more like it. Greener, more peaceful, less dusty, slower and calmer.