23.10.2008 - 25.10.2008 20 °C
Day 1 - as we stepped off the plane one of the first things that caught my eye was that the soldiers at Kathmandu airport carry rifles that look like they're from WW2, a sharp contrast to the splinter new light weight automatics on routine display throughout Amman.
Following a time consuming visa acquisition process we headed into town and I soon saw that the last twenty years hasn't been kind to this city. Choked with cars, motorbikes, rickshaws, bikes and pedestrians the chaos reaches an almighty stinking, ear piercing crescendo in Thamel and thats were we now find ourselves based. The pollution is excacerbated by the regular power blackouts which necessitate many of the shops turning on and running generators. Its such a pity that nobody has grasped traffic managment by the horn and pedestrianised vast slabs of Thamel, because I like whats on offer.
We are now in the process of sorting out guides, porters and a trekking itinery and have liaised with a couple of companies. I am finding this process challenging, partly because of the almost overwhelming compulsion i have to get out into some clean air.. This compulsion caused some conflict with Lute and me today after I gave the go ahead to a trekking agent who she thought was too expensive, the fact the she didn't say so until we came back to our hotel annoyed me. Anyway I ended up agreed with her and quickly went back and put things on hold.
Day 3 - We still haven't decided on a trekking agency but Thamel is too much and I have voted out. Today we took a taxi, which wasn't nearly as challenging as in Amman and had a squizz at Patan, which is about 5km South of Kathmandu centre. With our trusty guidebook in my hand we proceeded to walk from the backdoor of Patan into its heart and it really is much less scarred than Thamel. The first guidebook recommended place in the low/med budget range was full and after reviewing a couple of scruffy places we found the calm oasis of the upmarket Summit hotel hidden near the Norwegian and Dutch embassies. I drank the relative sweetness of the clean air and wandered past the grassy poolside stewn with relaxed people reading books in the sun in their swimmers! Shit I thought, they're having a real holiday! I checked out the prices and was about to walk away when Lute noticed that they offered some budget rooms (20Euro/double), which turned out to be very simple (no TV, no Aircon etc) and very clean with hot water - Purrfect. Our room was reserved within 5min and we are moving over in the morning.
Both the boys and Lute said tonight that today had been heavy for them. We saw a dead dog lying on the side of the road, some dead rats and beggars were commonplace including one young boy with only one leg and no hands. The fetid stench of rotten things and raw sewerage wafted past us regularly and the smell that engulfed us as we crossed the Bagmati River has cemented my newfound no fish/no meat diet.
I learnt today that 500 people/day fly in and hike up towards Everest basecamp and there is no way we want to be on such a treadmill. We have purchased some maps for Eastern Nepal and are talking about a 16 day trek in the remote restricted region between Makalu and Kanchenjunga. I am getting excited!