© 2009 mcullen

Nepal Part 2 – Hacking Kathmandu

Catching cabs at the airport in Kathmandu is an interesting experience. Catch a cab from just about anywhere in the city and you can get to the airport for around 200 Rupes. Get out of that cab and into another one and they want to charge you 500 Rupes to go back. It’s an interesting sort of negotiation where if the driver doesn’t agree with your price they’ll just drive off while you’re in mid-sentence. It’s pretty damn amusing, actually. So long as you’re not in a hurry.

We managed to find a cab, and survived the ride to Franz and Melissa’s house. James had a phone call about the same time we were arriving, and hadn’t been able to to out to the airport. So the thee siblings, Dara, Melissa and James were all together for the first time in eight months. It was a brief but happy reunion from which we headed down to Thamel – the tourist district – to get some lunch, pick up the trekking permits and do a little shopping.

After lunch, Melissa, Dara and James did a little shopping in Thamel while Franz and I went out to see some of the city. Expecting a short trip without much to see, I had left my camera at home that morning, so sadly there are no photos. We spent a couple hours walking around and saw Thamel, Durbar Square, Kumari Ghar, the Pigeon Temple, Freak Street – not actually that interesting, and Indra Chowk – the main market street. Great stuff and worth a visit if you’re in town.

Everything went well with the trekking permits, bus tickets and provisions purchasing.  Then just about the time we finished we learned that the prime minister had stepped down over a conflict about the head of the army. I don’t know nearly enough about Nepali politics to begin to describe that, but Franz and Melissa’s upstairs neighbors suggested that we stay in Kathmandu, stock up on food and supplies and lock ourselves in the house. It should be noted that these neighbors are easily frightened, and offer the same advice just about any time there’s any sort of political unrest. This prompted a few hours of frantic information gathering as we had expected to leave Kathmandu around 4:30 the next morning and didn’t have a lot of time to decide whether it was better to stay in Kathmandu where it would be easier to evacuate, should the need arise, or be up in the mountains where we would be less likely to be affected by unrest in the city.

After some debate we decided to go for it and head out for the trek in the morning. The rest of the evening was spent packing bags and having dinner before an early bed time. After all of the taveling and activity, falling asleep early for our 4:30 wake time wasn’t a problem for Dara or I.

Gallery – A few shots from in and around Franz and Melissa’s place in Kathmandu.

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