Last night in Kathmandu tonight. Final beer in Tom and Jerry’s. A last decent meal before a lot of bush camping and what I imagine will be a noodle/rice/MSG fest in China.
The best bits about this city have been the food, the beer and the chance to relax and get better after India. But it is (sort of…) just another city and I’ve preferred the camping. It must be because I’m, ahem, a natural outdoorsman / shite Ray Mears.
The worst element has been the hassle you get as a western tourist.
– Prices triple unless you make a point of walking out of the shop. Then they fall fast.
– Taxi drivers pounce on you when you take a stroll. Drug dealers are even more aggressive. “No! I don’t want any pills!”
– Fella’s selling tuneless Nepalese violins can’t understand why you don’t immediately buy 5.
– My fave is the Gurkha knife salesmen who’s sales technique is to wave a “that’s not a knife, this is a knife” contest winning blade in your face. I honestly thought I was being mugged the first time this happened.
Deflecting salesmen, con artists, privateer trekking guides and other hassles on to your friends is great fun. “No mate, I don’t want a singing prayer bowl, but HE collects them….”.
And of course there is the begging which is just very, very sad. The advice is that you don’t give to these desperate people direct, hard as it is. The baby won’t get the biscuits or baby milk the mother pleads with you to buy, it’ll just be sold back to the shop 2 mins later… I’ll be making a small donation to one of the charities that work here instead, boy do they have their work cut out.
Hassle and all – I’m coming back to this country though. I love it and I’m just not able to put my finger on why. More research required.