Catching planes, finding hostels and travelling on the buses, how do you do it? Let me show you how.......,|
writes Seamus Waldron.
How to get to Nepal.
Fly. It's the easiest way, either that or a two day coach, I use the term loosely, trip from
India, surrounded by goats and Hindi movies playing full blast all through the night.
Where was I? Oh yes, fly. The only problem is that in Nepal, the clouds have
mountains in them. Don't worry, the Nepalese pilots know their stuff, shame nobody
else does. I'd just landed in Katmandu when all hell broke loose (well it didn't really, but
describing it that way is more dramatic). A Pakistani plane, so it was said, had just
flown into an innocuous looking cloud, no survivors. I wouldn't have minded, if it wasn't
for the fact that I had just landed in an identical plane, that hadn't ever seen one of
those wonderfully experienced Nepalese pilots....
How not to tell your mother you weren't on a crashed plane.
"Hi Mum, just phoning to say I wasn't on the plane that crashed."
"I thought you were in India?"
"I thought you said you were going by coach to Nepal?"
Conclusion. Lie. Don't tell your mother a thing. Ignorance is bliss. The fact that you
weren't on the plane won't make a blind bit of difference.
How to get a hotel room in Katmandu with the coldest shower on Earth.
First, really look like you're struggling with your rucksack as you leave the airport.
Before you know it, you will have plenty of fine gentlemen offering you help and ; "I find
you very good hotel. I own one with my brother. Very cheap. Hot shower. I take you
there now." At this point he's already got your pack halfway to his hotel, so you've lost.
Get in the van and watch the scenery go by.
"Hmmm, doesn't look so bad. How cheap? Really? I'll take it. But show me the shower
"It's a very fine shower"
"It's outside. The water's freezing"
"Oh yes sir. I have very fine system to heat water in morning."
"Are you sure? It's bloody cold."
"Oh yes sir. Would you like a Coke. Very cold sir"
So it came to pass. I got an ice cold Coke (3 months of Thumbs Up in India will drive
anybody crazy) and an ice cold shower. Skinny dipping in a Norwegian Fjord would
have been warmer and infinitely more fun.
How to travel on Nepalese buses and how best to relieve yourself.
Travel on the top of the bus. No matter what the weather, ride on top. You get more room. You get to
see the scenery and it is truly spectacular in Nepal. You also get to meet interesting
people and have strange conversations.
"I love Asia."
"Why?", I said, innocently enough. This Aussie was such a curious fellow.
"The people just know what's more natural. They're closer to earth."
"Look. When they take a crap, they squat don't they? It makes sense. Down you go,
your cheeks part and out it all comes. Splash a bit of water and your away. Back
home, we squeeze our butts into a toilet seat, squashing our buns together and
making a right old mess!"
How not to travel on Nepalese buses
Don't, under any circumstances, travel in the actual bus. It's a very bad move.
First of all, you trust you pack to the roof rack. If you trust that, then you're brave. If you
trust the people riding on top not to nick everything and not to demonstrate the finer
differences between taking a crap in the West and taking a crap in Asia, you're even
braver still. Unfortunately, you have no choice.
"Oh look, there's an empty seat, I'll claim that!", you think as you get into the bus. You
sit down. You wait. Nobody else turns up. The bus leaves. You go two miles down the
road and every man, women, child and goat get on. To avoid this happening, make
sure you don't travel the day before any major festival. Better still, make sure you don't
travel in the bus at all, get out and climb up on high.
Remember, in the bus, you will be sharing your seat with, the smelliest/biggest person
you will ever have the displeasure of meeting. They will turn to you incessantly with a
toothless grin and insist that you meet their prize goat, which they thrust up between
your legs. Not so bad I suppose if you come from New Zealand.....
How to cope with "heebee geebees" (or "the runs")
First of all, your gonna get them. There is nothing you can do about it. The shits will
strike you down in the most embarrassing way possible. For me, it was the middle of
the night. Barely a wink of sleep all night, I arise with the sun streaming through the
large floor to ceiling window of my room. As I crawl past, all that is on my mind his
keeping my bottom as water tight as frogs. I could feel it, the gas was building up. I
needed to break wind. I needed to badly. When you've got the shits though, farting is
not a good option, unless you like a light coverage of brown liquid all over the inside of
you underpants. I digress, there I was crawling past this window, when I notice a lot of
activity going on in the court yard below. There are lots of men of all ages, from six to
sixty. There is also a goat. A prize goat by the looks of it. It's bleating away. I'm not
surprised, I wouldn't like to be manhandled over a big log either. For a brief moment,
the goat relaxed, took stock of the situation, looked around and had a munch on a
scrap of grass. A huge kukri (Nepalese machete) appeared held high above the
unsuspecting creature and with a sudden, decisive move, the shocked head of the
innocent goat was grabbed and lofted high by a small boy who then ran off with his
prized possession, gripping it by the horns and pretending it's the steering wheel of a
car. Oh the indignation. Oh, my stomach. Goats suddenly turning into little red
fountains do not do much for an unsuspecting traveler with a bad case of the runs. I
crawled at double speed to the bathroom, slowly leaking a small fart. All I had time to
do was stick my head down the toilet before I found myself passing liquid though every
part of my body that was capable of it.
I was found that way, in such a sorry state.
"What's up?", said my traveling companion.
"I'm not well.", stick head back down toilet. "I've been pissing shit all night", crawl into
shower to clean off.
I did get better, eventually. I moved to a different guest house. I was just too
embarrassed about the crazy painting motifs I'd made in the first one. Two days of
water, re-hydration packs, squatting over a toilet (the Aussie was right, this was much
easier and far less traumatic that squeezing my bottom into a western style toilet seat),
soon got me better. Soon I was ready for our trek up into the mountains around
Pokhara. Woe, is the traveler when he thinks all is well. My travel companion doubled
over the morning we were to depart. As I said, the heebee geebees can strike you
down anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
How to survive an attack of leeches
You've got your trekking pass, you're three hours from the nearest village, it's been
raining and your wet through. All around you is lush vegetation. The last sign of human
life you saw was a column of locals carrying supplies of bear and Coke, ascending the
mountain at a speed a mountain goat would have had problems matching. You need
to go to the toilet. Standing behind a tree will not do for this one, we are talking major
league here. What do you do? You find a quiet glade some distance from the track
and you squat. So far so good. In my case, I found a nice firm rock to squat upon. I pull
my trousers down to just above the knees (this is very important, otherwise you could
be leaving an interesting present for yourself in your trousers) and I attempt to do the
business. To my horror, an army of leeches had already taken up position and were
making an assault upon the north facing side of my legs. The little red buggers had
scaled my boots, got up onto my trousers and were making a final push for more
private parts when I had finally managed to do the business and get out of there.
Immediately I went into action. Out came the pen knife from my pack. Carefully, I
started flicking off these horrible little beasties. They were thin and small, smaller that a
maggot. Eventually, I got them all. Stupidly, I'd put my pack onto the ground, so it was
another ten minutes of leech massacre. Alex, my friendly travel companion, had had
the same problem as myself. We joked about how horrible it had been, as we
continued our assent. Alex felt something on his leg. With dawning horror, he pulled up
his trouser leg and there, already swelling to impossible sizes, was a leech, embedded
in his shin. Did we have a lighter? A match? Anything to remove the thing? No. Not a
sausage (not that a sausage would have been much use.) You see, if you just pull a
leech off, it leaves part of it still in you, not an ideal thing to do. Alex was brave. "I'll
leave it there and wait until it falls off". Yuck! So it came to pass, three hours later we
had reached our destination and the leech had sucked enough blood to swell to the
size of a ripe tomato. As we looked on, it fell off, satiated. With a swift kick Alex made a
terrible mistake. In a pique of rage and revenge, he booted the thing from hell with all
his might. He didn't think did he? The leech had almost broken Mach 1 when it finally
impacted with the wall. It started raining red stuff on us. Never, ever, kick a leech just
after it's had lunch. The result is just too disgusting.
How to ruin the game of "I SPY"
"I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with......B"
Butterfly. The answer will always be butterfly. Why? Well, descending from the
mountains to the valleys, you will undoubtedly follow a long winding stone path. This is
actually what the indigenous population use as a main road. Four to five feet wide at
best, non-existent at worst. You see some really odd things on a road like this. Schools
on unbelievably steep slopes, funeral processions and the occasional goat. On
occasion, you see something beautiful. Butterflies. Hundreds upon hundreds. Hues so
vivid and diverse, that all you see is a constantly changing melee of colour.
"....beginning with....B"; said Alex.
"Butterfly! I've got one........something beginning with....B"
"Butterfly!"; and so it went on. For about a hundred yards we played our silly game as
we walked through this inspiring painting of abstract colour and life.
Some time later, after we had had lunch, we resumed our game.
"...beginning with.....B"; said Alex
"Bark? Boulder?.......Bloke? Blink? Bludgeon over the head? WHAT IS IT!!!!"
"Butterfly? There aren't any butterflies!"
So, don't ever play I SPY with me. I'll always see butterflies.
How to enjoy Nepal
Immerse yourself in the culture. Push your western ideals to one side and get on with
enjoying the people, the scenery and the food. From city to mountain, you will be
awed. Life survives in this county that has no railways and I for one hope that it never