06.05.2007 - 10.05.2007 26 °C
I am now half way through my trip and on my way to Nepal which will take me 3 days, from Fiji to Sydney to Bangkok to Calcutta and then to Kathmandu. Also discovered that I have spent my entire budget apart from GBP 500 already! great!
After carrying a package from a Monk on the plane, i was hoping to not have done the biggest mistake ever. Everyone knows the horror stories about people getting caught with drugs in thailand and what does Julia do? But he was a monk so I was hoping for the best and fortunately it all worked out :-)
It all seems to change now and I think I need to prepare myself for the culture shock. I am already the only Westerner on the entire plane! Quite strange...
kalkutta was a right nightmare! What a shit hole. Later on I was told by one of the Nepali trecking guides that India stands for
I : I
N : Never
D : Do
I : It
A : Again
and that certainly goes for Kalkuta. the place is complete chaos and doesn't compare to anything I have ever seen or experienced before. difficult to even describe it. Poverty and dirt everywhere, chaotic, no apparent traffic rules. You just beep when you pass someone and I was convinced several times on my journey that we would crash into another car, run over pedestrians, rikshas bicylcles or cows. Yes, cows!!! who happen to be in the middle of the road.
First lesson learned : don't ever go to kalkuta without booking accomodation. They didn't have anything at the airport to book accomodation so I tried to find something close to the airport. The first hotel the taxi was trying to drop me off wasn't too good, as I was too scared to even walk down the alleyway where it was based in, so that wasn't good, the next one didn't have A/c which at 37 C is even for me not acceptable and the other two were apparently booked out. So, getting a bit nervous I evetually found something. The taxi charged me 3 times the agreed amount as i didn't want to stay in the first one. Needless to say that the other hotels were less than 1 minute distance from each other. He then of course conveniently didn't have any change, so I ended up paying a fortune. Well, you live and learn.....
The hotel was probably a complete rip off too and didn't even have toilet paper.
Also needless to mention, that a hotel that doesn't even have toilet paper of course doesn't have Internet either, so there were my plans on catching up with my blog gone.
For the first time on this trip I was actually scared and really didn't like the place. I was too scared to even leave the room, so I just stayed in my room, which I couldn't even lock. so no food for me then.... AS I didn't eat anything in the evening or morning, you can imagine my delight finding a snack shop at the airport the next day selling Twix and Pringles! Hurray, I thought the world was great again and I didn't even mind that I paid a fortune for it. Not until I discovered that the Twix had melted so many times that there was no chocolate left at all and the Pringles had a broken seal and not one of them was whole anymore. they were smashed into so many tiny pieces that it far more resembled to Pringle Powder! they wouldn't even let me go back to the shop to bring it back. I was wondering whether the security guy was owning half the business! Damn! As I said I didn't like that place and was glad to leave.
I started to wonder whether this was really for me. It's one thing to say you want to experience different countries and cultures but it's a very different thing to give up things like toilet paper and use that disgusting bucket next to the toilet and your left hand! Yeah, sorry, but that's not me. I hope I just get around certain things and probably have to start carrying tissues and toilet paper with me from now on....:-)
Kathmandu promised much better straight away. I found a nice hotel in the Lonely Planet for around GBP 5 and have a very nice clean room with toilet paper so I am happy again! :-)
Kathamandu is even more chaotic, really don't know how to describe it but this is certainly like nothing I have ever seen before. Unbelievable! There are again no traffic rules and couldn't even find a traffic light for the first few days. cows still in the middle of the road and everyone is carefully manouvering around them, as they are sacred and you get 2 years in prison for killing one! It is still different though, as I straight away loved it and felt safe.
Got some info on the Everest Base Camp Treck but it is informatin overload again and I would prefer to walk with a group and not by myself. I get the impression that the guide in the hotel doesn't want to link me with other people, so I think I have to find them myself somehow.
On my way back to the hotel, I got lost and had to take a riksha. it all looks the same here, not sure I am going to manage here...
The next morning, after telling the hotel I need to find a different trecking agency in order to get a group I finally was introduced to an Aussie, called Kirby who lives in London too and he wants to do the same treck and was looking for someone.
We went out into the hectic and chaotic Thamal areo to get some more quotes. We also got quotes for Tibet which seems to be the same everywhere but the trip is much longer than I thought. It is 8 days minimum. So I definitley have to extend my time here and probably have to skip Chitwan National Park which is a real shame as you can see tigers and rhinos and also can have a bath with an elephant which I was really looking forward to, but I have made up my mind that i rather skip that than Tibet. That has been a dream of mine for such a long time now....
I still haven't got my visa as they just sent me away and asked me to come back the next day with no reason whatsoever. I went out for dinner with Kirby who seems really nice.
The next morning I met Jon, from New York but he lived in Amsterdam for the last couple of days. After many discussions and us pushing our treck by another day back, we agreed to go together and cancelled his treck. It's now the 3 of us, a guide and two porters. I can't wait but I am also very nervous. The guys seem much better prepared and have done quite a bit of trecking before so I am really worried that I won't make it and ruin the treck for them. It also seems like a childhood dream for them which makes it even worse, as I just stumbled accross that treck and didn't really know anything about it beforehand. It should take 14 days of trecking up to 5545m which is a lot.
for the next 3 days, we finalised our treck, I sorted my visa and went shopping to get all the stuff for the treck. They were quite surprised to find out that I didn't even have trecking boots. i think I am probably the only person who does that treck with a pair of brand new boots! :-0
The longer I am in Kathmandu the more I love it. It's so chaotic, hectic and polluted but it's a great atmosphere that is difficult to describe. The smell of incense everywhere, people constantly spitting with the most disgusting sound, cows in the middle of the road and someone on every corner trying to sell you tigerbalm which seems cure everything! :-)
So far I find the Nepali very nice and friendly and usually quite sweet and also very honest. It is sometimes really hard to see the poverty but I suppose that is just part of it. They are one of the poorest countries in the world after all.
While the 3 of us were having dinner on one of the many really nice roof terraces suddenly the rain started. Bloody hell, that gave me quite a good idea of what the monsoon must be like. Streams of water everwhere, even inside the restaurant. There was water everywhere, running down the stairs, from the ceiling and every attempt to catch it with buckets seemed hopeless but very funny.
We managed to squeeze the 3 of us into one riksha and a very funny evening. I think I will have a really good time with the boys.
after finalising my shopping the next day, Kirby and myself went to Durbar Square for some sight seeing which was great.
The square has 48 different temples, Buddism and Hindu, shrines, stupas and all that sort of stuff. We were even lucky enough to see the Living Goddess. She is elected when she is 5 years old and has to fulfill 32 different criteria, i.e. needs to be from a sacred family, needs to be born at full moon etc. and then she is tested for her strong heart meaning how brave she is.
During a festival she has to watch how 329 animals are slaughtered in a temple and she has to spend 3 nights by herself in a pitch dark room in a temple where they try to scare her with making noises, putting a buffalo head, a rattle snake and loads of blood into the room.
If she gets through all that, she moves into a temple to live with a priest and his family and is only allowed to leave once a month. She hardly sees her family and as soon as she gets into puberty they kick her out and she is no longer a Goddess anymore. She can't get married as all men are scared of her,a s the tradition says any man who marries her will die within 36 days of vomitting blood. It's really awful for that poor little girl, as she has no saying in it. Seems like a pretty bad curse to be a living godess.
we also saw some really cute monkeys around the temples that were throwing berries and seeds at us and a huge monkey. He was absolutely massive, so not quite sure whether that is still called money or something else....
Right, everything is sorted now and the big treck can begin. I am so excited and I am sure it will be a very unique experience either way and I really hope I will make it all the way to Base Camp.