FOURTEENTH MOVEMENT: NEPAL
I woke up today in the Indira Gandhi International Airport hotel and got ready (I had no toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, or deodorant, but at least I could take a shower). I then received my new boarding pass and walked to the appropriate gate. The plane ended up being delayed a couple of hours, but it did take off. During the flight I watched ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and I have to admit, I don’t see why that film is constantly praised as the best musical, I personally prefer ‘All That Jazz’, as well as ‘An American in Paris’ – this film is a much better Gene Kelly musical with better characters and dance numbers. My in-flight meal consisted of an omelet, sausage, and some vegetable matter. The flight lasted a bit longer than expected; we ended up circling over Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu a few time until the pilot was given the go-ahead to land. After touching down on the tarmac, we exited the plane and rode on buses to the immigration area; there were many people in line and it took for ever to get up to the counter to pay for my thirty day Visa; then after receiving the Visa, I grabbed my baggage and walked outside of the airport, out to the main road, ignoring all the taxi drivers at the airport with inflated prices. I stopped at an ATM, grabbed some cash, and then walked up to a taxi parked nearby (earlier he and another cabbie were trying to get me to ride with them, but I ignored them and sure enough the price fell from 500 rupees to 350 rupees); I took the taxi in to Thamel (the backpacker and tourist ghetto in Kathmandu), walked around until I found the hostel I booked with (it was hidden deep inside an alley), checked-in, and then dropped my bags off.
I then grabbed my camera and walked around the hectic city of Kathmandu; there are many people, cars, motorbikes, and rickshaws sharing unmarked crumbling dirt roads that weave through many old Nepali-style buildings – it is a very colorful sight, made more so from all the shops selling many clothes, blankets, trekking and mountaineering gear, pots and pans, art, and trinkets (it is also very dusty and the drivers are irritating with their incessant honking, but the automotive noise pollution is common just about everywhere in Asia). I walked southward to Durbar Square, which is in front of the old Kathmandu Kingdom royal palace, but there was an entrance fee and since it was almost 17:00, I decided against going in and figured I would come back some other day. I then walked around some more before deciding it was getting late. I went back to the hostel and inside met a man from Denmark and we talked for a while before I left to eat dinner. For dinner, I had a vegetarian pizza and a Gorkha beer (Nepali produced). After dinner, I went to the local supermarket and bought a bottle of wine that was “crafted in Nepal” (I suspect the grapes may have come from India); then I went back to the dorm room in the hostel and opened up the wine; it tasted slightly fruity (strawberry and melon flavors), but overall was not very good. Then the Danish man came back and invited me out to a shisha bar; so I joined him (taking my bottle of wine with me) and we had beers, a hookha (or “hubble-bubble”) with strawberry and mint flavored shisha, and that bottle of Nepali wine (no one seemed to care that I had brought my own drink). After smoking all the shisha and finishing the beer and wine, we then left and walked to an Irish pub where we had some more beers and played a game of pool; we were both horrible and, in my inebriated state, I had trouble hitting the cue ball. I then decided to call it quits and walk back to the hostel just after midnight . . . well, I took a wrong turn and could not find my way using the map on my iPhone; so I walked, stumbled around, fell down, splashed in mud, and ended up near the Gongabu bus station at Ring Road, next to the industrial area of Kathmandu, about three kilometers away from where I started. I then gave up trying to get back to Thamel on my own, so I found a taxi (this time of night in an empty part of the city . . . pretty lucky I guess) and rode back to Thamel. Back where I started from, I still had trouble finding the right alley in the dark, but finally did (by the grace of God) and I then made it back to the hostel (it was now some time past 02:00). I then crashed out on my bed, very lucky to be alive and surprised that I was not robbed or killed.