A gut-bustin' not-so-good time in Kathmandu....
Trip Start Aug 25, 2003
38Trip End Jul 23, 2004
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Fortunately for our revved-up metabolisms, compared to the options in Tibet, Kathmandu is a culinary metropolis, with every type of food available...if the restaurants are allowed to be open. We arrived two days before the start of a country-wide strike, called by the Maoist rebels and other anti-government groups, which have become a regular part of life in Nepal. Basically, all shops have to be closed and all taxis off the streets; if someone disobeys because they, for example, need to work to feed their kids, then the rebels take note and the person may be 'warned' (we were told this meant anything from verbal intimidation to a thorough thrashing) or may disappear and show up a few days or weeks later having been 'shortened' (Nepalese euphemism for the more graphic 'beheaded'). I can't claim to know much about the intricacies of Nepalese politics, but I do know that the people are really suffering; bus and truck companies are refusing to continue services outside of the major cities because rebels hijack and burn their vehicles, which means that food can't be transported to the huge number of rural people, and so it's another case of the average person suffering more than the groups agitating for reform or the government, both of whom claim to be working towards improving life for the average Nepali. Call me crazy, but there has to be a better way to help the common man besides first starving him, and then chopping his head off.
Off the soapbox: so we ate a brilliantly carb- and fat-saturated meal (cheese...cheese, oh how I have missed you...) our first night after the biking trip was over, and slept the sleep of people who don't have to get back on a bike at least for a few months. Ahhhh.....
The next day, we walked around the insanely touristy part of the city to get any essentials we needed before the bandh (strike) started on the 17th. We had dinner with Andrew, a teacher from Portland, and his friend Ford, a very focused Buddhist student/massage therapist from San Diego. At the recommendation of Andrew's guesthouse owner, we went to the Nepali Kitchen Restaurant and Phil, Andrew, and I all had the lentil stew. Big mistake...
By 9 the next morning, Phil is complaining about something, like not feeling well or his stomach hurting like he's swallowed poison, blah blah blah but I can't hear him because I am locked in the bathroom AND MAY DIE. Ok, it turns out we have the same evil food sickness and Phil is as sick as me, but I'm too busy wallowing in my own self-pity because the biking trip is done and I am supposed to be feeling GREAT! And FULL OF ENERGY! Not like the morning after a vampire attack. SO, our plans for seeing the sights are scrapped, and instead, we spend our whole time in Kathmandu, all three days, lying in our hotel room and complaining (ok, that's me; Phil reads). We only start to feel better enough to eat (NOT at the Nepali Kitchen Restaurant, however) the morning we are flying to Istanbul by way of Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. Sigh. I guess we'll have to fatten up on Turkish Delight instead...