Wednesday, 30 September 2009

03.09.09 - Late Afternoon - Kathmandu

The festival of The Living Goddess was on today and the streets of Kathmandu were rammed. The pic shows just one of many stands that were jam packed with people hoping to get a glimpse of the Goddess.

The Living Goddess is a pretty child picked from the city, always a girl and she is the Goddess until she reaches puberty. After that she's in a bit of a sticky situation, she is given a large dowry for a future husband but no one really wants to marry her as it's considered unlucky to marry a Goddess.

Monday, 28 September 2009

03.09.09 - 10.00am - Kathmandu

This morning we did the monkey temple visit. The monkeys were absolutely brilliant and I saw a mother and baby which was so cute. Another monkey stole a bag of baby clothes off a woman and carried a pair of trousers up a tree!

The temple itself was up an absolutely massive hill and we were sweating and panting by the time we reached the top. The views were amazing though and you could see Kathmandu stretched out below us, as seen in the pic here.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

02.09.09 - Kathmandu

The breakfast was very interesting, eggs, toast, salad (!?) and a banana with strong, sweet, black coffee. It was actually very nice.

Our guides took us site seeing today to a temple. For the first time in my life I saw a dead body. They have rituals whereby they wrap their dead in pretty cloths and build a fire besides the river. Once burning the body is placed in the fire and sent from what I can gather but im not 100% on this, they send the body into the river.

There were two 'funerals' going on today and although one body was totally wrapped up, the other had an exposed face. The lady looked peaceful, like she was sleeping and the only sign that she wasn't were the fly's that kept landing on her face.

There were alot of monkeys hanging around the river and the temple area and our guide told us to watch out as they like to steal tourist's cameras. To save my camera and to avoid provoking them therefore I abstained from taking their picture. Opting instead to wait for the monkey temple visit the next day as im told the monkeys there are much friendlier.

Our guide also warned us about looking the religious peeps in the eye. Since all the Nepalese people look the same to me this was a bit tricky but apparently they may curse you if you do. I wasn't sure if he was having us on but to be fair one white clothed dude did shake a stick and hiss at me as I went past. Although it was a bit difficult to know if he was actually hissing at me as I didn't look at him!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

01.09.09 - Sometime In The Evening - Kathmandu

We arrived at the hotel fairly latish, after what seemed like a long taxi ride. It was a nice hotel - TV, own bathroom etc but it was soooo warm, it was warm in Kathmandu anyway but especially so in our rooms and the one fan they gave us didn't work.

That said we were pleasantly surprised as we had no idea what kind of places we would be staying in. We went in search of some dinner and this was where we first experienced just how cheap things in this country could be.

I had a curry and the whole thing along with an iced lemon tea came to about a pound! It was really nice as well and there were plenty of veggie options for Kris, probably more than at home in fact.

It was hard to sleep that night as Nepal is nearly 6 ahead of the UK and it was so hot!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

01.01.09 - 7.00pm (Roughly) - Kathmandu

The drive back from the airport to the hotel is the first we saw of Kathmandu. It seemed like a bright city and full of life, but there was no escaping what a relatively poor country it is compared with the UK and what we are used to.

The traffic was manic and people were beeping their horns constantly! It took me a while to work out that they actually drive on the left as it seemed as if they drive straight down the middle of the road, occasionally swearving for the odd animal or person.

The cars all seem to be the same, tiny little white something or others, I don't know why they don't have them in more colours at least. Motorbikes are a big thing here as well, there seem to be just as many bikes as cars.

The old style traffic directors are still in operation here. It's not a job I would want, they stand in the middle of the busy junctions, pretending at least to direct traffic, but it seemed to me as everyone was just driving however they wanted.

Many people here in Kathmandu wear face masks when walking around the city. We asked our guide and he said there were two reasons for this - swine flu and the horrendous polution.

Nepal - 01.01.09 - 6.00pm - Kathmandu

Landing at Kathmandu airport was a bit of a shock to the system, it wasn't like any airport I have been to before! It was raining really heavily but you could already feel the heat.

The first thing that happened was a doctor looking guy came up to us and stuck an infrared looking gun thing on our head. Turned out he was taking our temperature but we wern't to know that at the time. We also had to fill out a medical form saying we didnt have a cough, cold, swine flu etc. This sounds easy but we couldn't find a pen and couldn't find anyone to lend us one. Eventually, after about 15 mins Kris found a pen in the bottom on her bag.

That done we went on to change our money into Ruppees, the exchange rate was roughly £1 to 125 Ruppees, so we were now thousandaires :-)

Getting the visa's would have been fine but they wanted us to pay in £'s! We had thought they would prefer Ruppee's but it turned out they wanted anything but. Luckily I had £20 on me (visa's were £27) and they accepted the £7 in Ruppee's. Ad and Kris had to change some of their Ruppee's back into $'s though and so ended up paying two exchange rates, nightmare. Thinking back on it now, I think if we had pushed it they would have accepted all Ruppee's, damn it.

The luggage took an age to come through and I was amazed at the amount of TV's and other electrical goods that were coming through. The belt kept breaking down and random travellers kept jumping up on it to try and fix it!

The best part of landing was getting waved through customs :-) I saw them asking some natives to unpack their whole suitcases and I would possibly have cried if they had done that to me, so jampacked was my backpack that im sure I wouldn't have got it all back in!

There were loads of people outside and locals tended to dive on you asking if you wanted a taxi. Luckily the guy from Quest was there to meet us and without too much issue we packed out bags into the (tiny) car and we were off .....