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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kathmandu

Breakfast, saying goodbye to the girls, getting our laundry back, packing and finding a bus that would take us to Kathmandu, were our morning duties.

We took a small bus to Kathmandu. The seats seemed like they had made for dwarfs... Tiago had to keep his legs on the corridor and mine were on his place. I only cross my fingers for a nice road otherwise I'll get a lot of bruises on my knees.

Kathmandu
After a 6h journey we arrived in Kathmandu. Some years ago it was a mythic place for hippies. Now it's just as touristic as any other place.
We call Andre when when we arrive. His father works with Tiago's mother and he is living in Kathmandu with his girlfriend. We meet them an hour later in Old Banashwa, the part of town where they live. We all go for coffee together after we meet. They are both really nice and when me and Tiago say we have to go and look for a hotel, they invite us to stay with them.
Their place is 5 min away. Besides Andre and Seema, her sister Shandru and her boyfriend also live there, an indian guy who is working in Shandru's company, their brother and OD, the dog, who, to their surprise welcomes us as if we were part of the family.

We sat down talking a little and then went out to Club Insomnia where a friend of Seema is playing as a DJ which entitles us to a free entree. We don't stay long since everyone is tired but still laugh a little and dance at the sound of electro and techno music, which seem to be the music Nepalese appreciate the most.

After that we have three more days in Kathmandu. The only problem is, we don't feel like doing much... I guess we're still recovering from the trekking. And the traffic, noise, confusion and pollution almost make us feel like we're back in India. We visited the temple of the Three Goddesses, Durbar Square, wander around the narrow and crowded streets of Thamel, the tourist ghetto, went up to the Buddhist Stupa and I also went to Pachupatinah, a complex of Hindu temples and ruins of temples on the outskirts of the city close to the airport. It was before going to Pachupatinah that we accidentally meet up with, the girls! First Kara, and later that day with Sophie and Aurora. As they were going to Pachupatinah I decided to join them.
We visit the temple in a holy day for Hindus: Sheeva's day. There's thousands of Hindus that go there on pilgrimage. As we get there we start passing by several barriers and check points. Apparently tourists get a green card and can pass the crowds and move around almost freely. This makes me feel bad since that is not our party or celebration and we pass in front of devoted people that go there just for that occasion. As we move along the complex we see people dancing, singing, others are paying promises. It is also a free day for smoking pot. Specially Hindu priests smoke a lot. The worst part comes when we reach the crematorium. There's thousands pushing each other trying to pass through a narrow bridge. On the other side of the margin we are facing the cremation of people. The air smells like burned meet and I tell the others I don't want to stay there. Sophie leaves with me and since we lost the others we spend the rest of the day wandering around the complex, sitting with locals that are enjoying their drug free day and talking. It was quite a pleasant end of the day. To get back to town we had to make a detour because of the crowd and just followed a local who offered to help.

I go looking for Tiago who stayed at the hotel resting (we decided to spend one night in Thamel just see how it was like) and then we get ready for dinner with Andrew and Seema. We go to a really nice pizzeria in Thamel. We hang out together the rest of the evening, go out to club Maya and enjoy the happy hour which entitles to get 2 drinks for the price of one.

Our last day in Kathmandu was spent in Thamel in the morning, then we went to Seema's place where they prepared us lunch. We get really, really stuffed first with chicken pakoda and after that with the chili chicken rice. In the middle of the afternoon we say goodbye to the whole family. We felt really welcome there and really felt like we were part of the family.
We had dinner with the girls and said goodbye once again. Unfortunately Kara was robbed yesterday and besides being out of money is also out of passport. She has decided to go back home because the process of getting the temporary passport and visas takes around two weeks and the situation also made her loose all the motivation.

Problems at the airport
It was good we arrived at the airport 3h before the departure time. We paid the tourist tax and when we prepared to drop our bags they tell us they are not able to find our tickets. They find our names but not the ticket numbers which makes us confused and angry. After all we are used to showing only the passport when we check in... We go to the main office of the company, try to find the tickets in different ways, until Tiago remembers to check our old reservation, from when we were on the waiting list for this flight. The booking reference is not the same, and the old one happens to work and solves our problem... As we entered the duty free area we tried to spend the remaining rupees. This proved harder than one can think, as we didn't want food, and apart from that the options weren't many and the few available were quite expensive. In the end we spend them in sweets. The last thing was moving to the waiting room. While there we experienced a 30s blackout... Unthinkable! Finally right before we bordered the aircraft we were searched for the 4th time. Fantastic control they have here or just a way to entertain themselves......

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