Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Kathmandu- My Third Tour

After enjoying the splendors and excitement of Chitwan National Park, I, naturally, had a few days in Kathmandu-- all roads lead to Kathmandu-- to prepare myself for my next adventure-- the Annapurna Circuit and Sanctuary treks.

I had posted an advertisement on the Kathmandu Guest House's bulletin board before I left for Chitwan looking for travel companions for the journey-- when I came back I found three!

I met my new buddies, Ryan and Jules (from Vancouver) and Craig (from England), to set our plans for the trip and, in the interim, sorted out my Indian visa so that I didn't have to worry about it after my trek. What an experience!

I will spare the details by just giving an example of what the Indian mentality is like... They only take Nepali Rupees as payment-- not Indian Rupees-- at the consulate. Yes, the Indian Consulate does not take its own currency as payment for their visa. Hard to believe but true.

(Not that I was going to pay in Indian Rupees, but that should give you an idea of what the three-day process could be like... Oh yeah, and, of course, U.S. citizens have to pay 50% more than every other nation. Thanks!)

I also extended my Nepali visa for another 30 days. Likewise, a somewhat lengthy process, well, especially when you are dealing with people who are trying to charge you double because you want to extend it early-- only to find out that they do not work for the bureau. The people I initially talked to were sitting at the information booth impersonating the officials and looking for bribes. Luckily, the Nepali consulate isn't corrupt (at least on the surface) and everything was sorted fine. (My now keen Asian instinct saved me a few hundred rupees...)

My fours days in Kathmandu was eventful and chaotic, to say the least, but it felt good to be productive and to move toward one of my main goals for traveling to Nepal-- the Annapurna Circuit and Sanctuary treks.

Here are some of the photos that I took during my third tour of Kathmandu.

The lovely lady that sold me my first corn on the cob in Nepal.

Corn on the cob can be found everywhere in Kathmandu. The Nepalese love their corn, especially popcorn!

The cost of corn on the cob? 7 rps ($0.10). I gave the lady 10 rps-- she was absolutely thrilled! I think I might have made her day. (She let me take her photo, so, in the end, I think we made each other's day.)

The Maoist national headquarters-- directly across from the Tourist Bureau, where one extends one's visa.

A view of one of Kathmandu's chaotic streets during rush hour.

A rally.

You see one nearly every day in Kathmandu. Eventually, they typically run through the heart of Thamel and its narrow streets-- stopping traffic and affecting its flow for upwards of 30 mins.

A Hindu Temple near Thamel with the clock tower in the background.

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