07 November 2010


What a crazy town.  Thamel (the tourist centre) is a district with a myriad of small streets teaming with tiny taxis, rickshaws and peddlers.  Normally I don’t get offered drugs anywhere (despite what other travellers say about their availability), but I was being offered hash at every turn-around here.  I declined, continuing my search for a decent draught beer (the last time had been in HK two months previous, and prior to that, it was in Irkutsk, around the start of May).  No luck here either.

We spent a day touring the main sights in the city.  Mad traffic, dog-, bird, and monkey-shit everywhere, street sellers saying hello constantly, taxis and rickshaws offering rides, dust and smog.  Sensual overload in a negative sense.  Complete chaos.

The sights were amazing though, Monkey Temple, ancient town centre, massive Stupas and Pashupatinath Temple (where you can actually witness people burning their dead, and pushing them into the river, it was intense).  By the end of the day though, I’d already succumbed to Hindu/Buddhist temple fever.

The day was also an opportunity to test out our new camera, a Sony Nex-5 (a present from Dr. Tam).  We’d left the Nikon D70 in the safe hands of Audrey’s dad in HK.  It is very different working with it (I’ll not go into the +ve and –ve points just now), but the picture quality seems to be better, and most importantly, it’s much lighter.

We met with a tour company who were sorting out our trip to the Everest region, a 13 day trek up to Gokyo Ri, where we should get good views of the big hill itself (details in the next blog entry).

While on the tour, we found out a few interesting things about how things work in Nepal.  Road accidents were the most disturbing.  According to our guide, if someone knocks down, and serious injures someone, then are required not only to pay for hospital bills, but loss of earning for the rest of their life.  Insurance is a rarity.  So, if possible, the drivers try and finish them off, then go to the police and tell them that they knocked down and killed someone.  A large fine (but less that would otherwise need to be paid) will be handed down, along with a few years ban from driving.

Vigilante justice is also common.  Someone caught stealing from a shop or a foreigner will be set upon by anyone in the near vicinity, and given a bit of a beating.  Even if the police are nearby, they let it go on for a short while before intervening, to teach the lout a lesson.  Then, possibly to stop the crowd from going too far, they interrupt and arrest the criminal.  Charges probably won’t be pressed, as that involves too much paperwork, but he might get a few more “touches” once at the copshop.

After buying a load of trekking stuff, we were picked up at 5:30 at our hotel by our guide, Raj, and headed to the airport.