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Kathmandu - paradise for tourists?
We quickly make the last 5 kilometers to the top of the pass with an increasing traffic of big trucks and busses sending out clouds of half burned gasoline into our faces. A long range of small hills bring us to the outer part of Kathmandu, finishing the 2520 km trip after 48 days. The traffic is beyond a nightmare and we still take a long time to find the tourist quarter, Thamel, because the Nepalese point in different directions then asked for Thamel. I lead the gang of two to the hotel I have stayed at for the last two times I have been in Kathmandu, but they are both going to stay in town for a month and want to check out other places. I wait for a long half an hour outside another hotel, guarding our bikes while they inspect it until I have had it and tell them I take my usual hotel, which I later realize has dropped several stars from past experience (to none).
For example: 1) The bathroom door can not open after taking a cold shower, however much I ever try. Result: people outside suddenly see a half-naked man hanging out of the small window in the bathroom, yelling for help. Eventually a motorcyclist feels sorry for the guy and walks into the hotel to alarm the staff, who come out staring at the phenomenon. They are in my room moments later and begin a 10 minutes fight with the door, and it eventually ends up with a big hole there the lock was before. 2) The manager suddenly realizes a few days later that the rotten bathroom door needs to be fixed up and starts installing an iron plate on it while I am in the room and 3) as goes for the curtains a few days later, but now they take care of me and kick me to another room. 4) There is no fan in the room and I usually wake up in the middle of the night under a massive attack of swarms of mosquitoes. The fight is unequal and hopeless, a biological version of Pearl Harbor and my only defense is to bury myself under the sleeping duvet, while the massive attacks take place. I swear to launch a massive counterattack in the shape of insect poisoning, but somehow biological diversity leaves some mosquitoes unharmed to make life miserable for me.
The stay in Kathmandu is just waiting time before catching a flight to Denmark Unfortunately, the Nepalese branch of Kilroy Travels in Denmark, the place I picked up my flight ticket, needs a confirmation from Denmark, that changing the ticket from Beijing to Kathmandu as the return flight to Denmark can be done. It takes unacceptable long time and the Nepalese accuse Kilroy in Denmark of screwing up things, but it turns out to be a lie. It takes incredible 10 days before I fly out of this overcrowded, noisy, polluted third world capital city and I don't miss it for a second.
Waiting time was killed by hanging around with the gang of three, walking around in the Thamel tourist trap on the search for restaurants in between hanging around doing absolutely nothing. We meet the couple from Holland I ran into in Aksai Chin and hang out together in restaurants and have a lot of "happy hours" in a local bar. We even meet a German Kailash pilgrim, Franz we talked with in Kashgar before the start of the trip. All funny experiences, but I still don't like Kathmandu, while the gang of two feel like they are in heaven. Maybe the difference lays in mentality - this has been their goal on their trip across West Tibet, while I feel it is a depressing end of my Tibet trip, planned for more than a year. I want to do more in Tibet and I am for sure going to, but sadly not this time.
The only really travel related theme in Kathmandu I experience, is while working my way through loads of emails, and open a strange looking one. It turns out I almost have reached world celebrity in Denmark. A Danish journalist wants to interview me. Wow - on the edge of being discovered, sponsors will soon hang around my apartment, waiting for an opportunity to give me some of their gear. I am very flattered until I come through the rest of the email and it turns out he is a journalist on the biggest Danish pornographic magazine and probably searching for fill-in stuff between the girls. The highlight of my travel career.
No - this place is no good for me. While walking back to my hotel from a visit to a restaurant I realize that all the street dealers claims for attention have made me immune from contact with the Nepalese. Here I walk with my $2000 camera gear and this one-legged man asks me for money for food, and my reaction is to completely ignore him, despite his obviously miserable situation. I was helped in West Tibet by nearly everyone, offering me free food and water even though didn't ask for it. Here I don't even have the energy to listen to people because too many people claim my attention - Kathmandu has made me act like a zombie and I want more than ever to get out of the place immediately. I am a happy man when it happens, even though it means back to problems in everyday life.
What did the trip teach me?
1) Mental strength is almost the only factor determining whether one accomplishes such an expedition or not. Anyone can endure it if she/he really wants - like the Norwegian who walked to the South Pole without arms.
2) I have to enjoy future trips more, relax and avoid mental exhausting catch-up games.
3) I want to go back to the Tibetan high plateau again - more than ever. This is only the end of the beginning.
Mura's different perspective on cycling Tibet caused him to use one month more than us before reaching Kathmandu. The gang of two really sank into the tourist dirt in Kathmandu and it took them two(!) months before they resumed their bicycle trip together heading toward India on their leisure cruise.
May god save their souls!
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