Archive for the 'Nepal' Category

Well then, dirt and grime, no I don’t want any damn weed.

The Wandering Nerd December 12th, 2007

So this is pretty much it. I wandered around Kathmandu one more time today with some of the great people I’ve met while I’ve been here. It’s gonna’ be strange rolling on. Kathmandu is a mess socially, politically, and sanitary, but there’s a certain charm to it. Even the guys mumbling about selling you hash every 10 feet, I think I’m going to miss it a bit.

Today I’m hopping a plane to India. I could have done the overland route, but it was 20 some odd hours and took 3 buses, a train and a rickshaw. The plane is 40 minutes. I’m tired of being cold and I’m really wanting to be in Goa by the 16th or so. Hence, back on a plane.

I have no clue what the interweb situation is in India, so it may be a while children. Amuse yourselves as best you can and try not to break any of the good china.

and nothing they could do or say
could make me think it’s wrong
-johnny cash

Canyon Jumping, ye’ gods the horn, and if only we’d had some marshmallows and chocolate.

The Wandering Nerd December 10th, 2007

First this is why I’ve been out, watch:

Absolute rush. The forward dive is so much more fun. It’s the freedom of skydiving but right above the raging water so you actually feel like you’re flying for a bit, though I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

The resort that you’ll see in the pictures and the gorge that you saw in the video is about 3 and a half hours from Nepal, and only about 18km from the Tibetan border. As the proverbial crow flies you could probably get there in little under an hour. However the crow doesn’t have to contend with the non-proverbial mountains. The bus - which I’ll forever refer to as ‘the demon coach’ - driven by a Nepali who was clearly mad with the V-6 power and lack of handling of the demon coach, made the bus ride more of a training or acclimation period prior to hurling oneself off a perfectly good suspension bridge. I’m not a fan of smelling the burning of brakes - or maybe it was sulfur - and hearing the brakes - or the damned souls of those the demon coach has claimed as victims - screeching as we went down a mountain side, generally on a road…I’m not kidding.

To get into the camp you have to walk across the bridge, so you really get the feel for what exactly you are getting into. The wind is strong up there, and when you are harnessed into the thing, the weight of the rope actually weighs enough that you have to apply a surprising amount of counterforce or off you go. It’s a 160m drop, 260m arc, and you top speed out at 180km/hr in the free fall which lasts approximately 7-8 seconds. I would have been more than happy to do more jumps but the trail to return to the top is…painful. If you go down 160m, guess how many you have to come back up kids? Show of hands? Yes, you there in the front. Right! 160m! More to the point, 160m of nearly 60 degree grade trail. Tough.

The food was good, the company as well. A few of us ended up sitting around a bondfire solving all the worlds problems under a blanket of stars accompanied by the gentle strumming of a guitar - sometimes it was even on key.

It was bloody damn cold though. I slept fully clothed in my fleece, wooly beanie, and gloves. I finally got some knitted fingerless gloves that have the flap that turns them into mittens. Hey, I jumped off a goram damned bridge, I can enjoy my mittens too you bastards. Where was I?….Ah yea, so the damnable cold. Somewhere in the night I apparently kicked off the the blanket. I woke up cold….really cold. However, I had the presence of mind to have placed my woolly mitted left hand over my face. I remember having thoughts about how I loved my left handed glove, it was the bestest woolly glove that had ever been made. My right glove - which had transformed in the night back to the ‘fingerless’ form was clearly defective and should be thrown off the bridge. Further, if I could just reach my towel I could pull it over my face and that would be all the warmth I would need, just me, my left woolly glove and my towel. Which just goes to show you two things, one, I’m still sick enough that my fever dreams are still hanging about, and B, always know where your towel is.

When we’d finally made it back to Nepal, the first order of business was an eatery I had heard of. The Everest Steakhouse; where you can get two filet mignons for the bank busting price of $6. Holy crap was it good. I’m thinking that makes for a pretty good breakfast…lunch…and dinner. Mmmm…nummy cow flesh. Strangely they said the beef was imported from India. *shrug* Sell your idols….

Speaking of the Indians - red dot, not ‘woo-woo’ - I’m pretty sure they have a monopoly on silly bureaucratic process. To get my Visa, you know, the whole reason I’m really in Nepal, I had to go stand in line to get a token with a number on it. Then you stand in line, in the order of your token number to get in the gate. Then queue for the security check. Next queue for the telex form - think of it as a fax, only not as hi-tech. Having filled out the form, queue to to the next window to pay for the telex fee. All done, go away for 4-5 days. Then do it all over again after said waiting period. Only this time, instead of telex, you fill out a different form and pay more money, leave the passport with them and go away for 4-5 hours, until about 1700. Then apparently security is no longer an issue and you can bypass that line, even though everyone is still in there. Join the waiting gang of other visa seekers and the cranky guy behind the glass mumbles out the names of the passports while a convivial game of telephone is played by the group - consisting of only nominally proficient English speakers…great fun.

I must admit I’m sorely tempted just to completely give India a miss. After that experience and all the great marketing I’ve been hearing regarding the country and it’s problems it was a tough call. My currently plan is to head into Vernasi, head straight for Mumbai and stay there only long enough to catch the train to Goa. I’m yearning for a beach, a tan, a mojito, and a bevy of swedish or finish ladies frolicking within my vicinity. I’ll settle for at least three of the four.

Dunno’ when I’ll be able to post again gang, the access is getting sparse, and the bandwidth is passable at best. Try to entertain yourselves as best you can, just try not to do it so much you go blind…

i’ve seen you cry, i’ve seen you smile.
i’ve watched you sleeping for a while.
-james blunt

An army of monkeys is still an army, when beer is safer than water, and is it hot in here? *thump*

The Wandering Nerd December 7th, 2007

wow..Kathmandu… It’s a far cry from down home Kentucky - though people here know that that’s where the Bourbon comes from. Periodically it really strikes me how far I am out of my element. Here is one of those times. This place is unreal, dirty, offensive, and polluted well past the border of being criminal, yet somehow it’s open, bustling and more alive than some of the largest cities I’ve been to in the states, or thus far on my journey.

The water here is literally deadly. You have to brush your teeth with bottled water, and when you shower you make sure not to drink any of the water. I saw a guy fishing in what was literally black water just a few meters away from a pipe emptying brown water - let’s call it water - into the stream. Dust covers everything and trash is piling up in the streets, not to mention the amount of garbage and refuse in the waterways. You’ll see in the gallery, there are children playing in a ‘river’ full of trash and just a bit upstream of pigs. These people have so little but at the same time are so willing to share what they have that I have brief moments of guilt at simply having the option to go back to a place where something as simple as clean water is not a luxury. Walking from Thamel to the Swayambhunath Temple was an experience in humility. Don’t get me wrong, they are only brief moments of humility, but you can see what I mean.

I stopped for a lunch right outside of the temple. I had heard that it was colloquially known as the ‘Monkey Temple,’ but this really drove it home. When I was finished with my meal and working on my journal a monkey hopped up on the table, glared at me, then went after what I’d left.

The temple, once you get past all of the beggars, touts, sellers, stodgy bunts offering to be your guide to the temple, and the stairs - ye’ gods the stairs - you find the temple to be both beautiful and horrifying. You’ll see the beautiful parts in the pics, but over every wall, around every corner, and just past every ledge lies a mound of refuse. Did I mention the monkeys? They’re everywhere, and completely nonplussed by the human invaders. I met a UK girl later in the night who told me a story, including a reenactment, of how she was walking through the temple when two alpha monkeys decided to have a go at each other while she was walking betwixt them. Upon the initial charge one monkey mis-vectored, one monkey sunk his teeth into a much more robust chunk of flesh than he had anticipated, and a little brit girl ran around the temple for a bit screaming with a monkey attached teeth first to her buttocks. I would have paid for video of that.

For all of the tourism, and monkeys, it’s still a functioning temple. I grabbed a bit of video of one ceremony that was going on:

I was really hoping to see or meet a Hindu Sadhu, but none were up there. If there is a physical manifestation of devotion to a belief, it would be them. C’mon look at this stuff: ‘Many sadhus have entered the Guinness World Records for feats of marathon endurance including standing for 17 years, staying in the same place for more than two decades, crawling 1400 km and other similar efforts, in their quest to attain liberation.’

The place is a holy point for both Hindu and Buddism. The Buddist monks there are reverent, but still maintain an aura of joy around them. I have a couple good photos of them, from the really young to the wizened. I was tempted to see if I could get one to rub my belly for good luck but couldn’t bring myself to. Sorry Hosh.


Strange coincidence, but I found a “Sam’s” bar here in Kathmandu. Nothing like the Sam’s back home, but a fun place to hang out. Plus you’re allowed to write on the walls, so I pretty much had to do this.

Kathmandu is dirty, overcrowded and smells a bit, but I’m digging it and I haven’t even done the trekking, the big draw to Nepal. I’m not sure I’m up for tramping around in the mountains for days, I’m more up for something active, in the moment, and adrenaline filled. Which brings me to the next point, and the next post. If there is one, it should be interesting. It won’t involve trekking, but it will involve a tremendous amount of kinetic energy hopefully being gracefully dissipated and one hell of story.

Keep the lights on.

the night is very cold
i’m feeling kind of weak.
i think I’ll make myself a cap from your right buttock’s cheek.