Part 1 – Journey, Khumbu, and Kathmandu
(Not to Sound Cliche but: At the Top of the World…Literally!)
We have landed in Nepal! Get Ready!
Chapter 2: Of Cultures and Kathmandu
(Monkey Temples and Uniform Chaos)
I stepped right through immigration with no hassles and absolutely no troubles. Now I had 2 pages filled in my nice passport book. I read through my 30 day visa, found everything to be square and then proceeded down the stairs to retrieve my backpack. Because of the friendly and helpful lady who checked it for me in LA, it was the first one off the plane with a big ‘priority’ sticker plastered to the side. I immediately retrieved it and proceeded outside where the true chaos of culture shock would hit me in full force.
There are very few words that come to mind when I attempt to describe the scene that greeted me when I stepped through the doors.
I remember vividly that my first thought was that the smog and pollution in the air made Los Angeles seem like a secluded, untouched mountain resort.
I stepped out and there were fleets upon fleets of tiny Suzuki taxi cabs. Immediately all of the drivers flocked to the new arrivals, screaming at them to “Please follow me my friend.” No rhyme or reason was there to this pure chaos. If I had not thoroughly researched this place before coming I do not know how I would have handled it. After staring slack jawed for a few moments, I almost felt like jumping back on a plane and heading straight for home.
Unlike home, the taxi service here does not charge by the metered distance. Instead you negotiate the fixed price before you even get in.
I had read this and knew ahead of time how much it should cost to get to Thamel, the tourist district of Kathmandu. I walked away from everyone shouting “500 Rupees” while maintaining my solid stream of “Thamel, 250.” Eventually I got a nice guy to get me to Thamel for the agreed upon price of 250 Rupees. He then recommended to me a nice hostel called the Potala Guest House and said that if I stayed there for 15 USD a night he wouldn’t charge for the taxi. I agreed an he took me to the Potala Guest House, which indeed ended up being a beautiful place, if not a little more than I actually needed. Seriously, if you find yourself in Kathmandu, this is the place for you. I stayed in a lot of nice and grungy places on this trip, some memorable and most forgettable but I will forever remember Potala.
Again though, I move too fast through my narrative and have skipped right over one of the most exciting parts of life in Kathmandu: the taxi ride!