24 September 2009

Kathmandu cough

We both really like Kathmandu, after the reserved atmosphere that you get in the Middle East it's great to be somewhere that is a little more lively. However there are a couple of things we're not so keen on when in the Nepali capital.

The first is the traffic. In most of Asia the traffic is pretty bad and crossing the road on foot is fairly challenging. Here it just seems downright dangerous.

Vietnam always felt a little risky as the traffic never seemed to stop. The guide books recommended that you just step confidently into the road and stride across at a constant, steady pace (whatever you do don't suddenly stop or run). If you do this the millions of mopeds that are hurtling past will just swerve and swarm around you.

The traffic never seems to stop in Kathmandu either. However; the Vietnamese (or any other) method of crossing the road doesn't work as no one seems to be fully in control of their vehicle. Even if you think that you're safely across the road and out of harms way, some bicycle, moped or taxi (usually all three) will make some improbable out of control maneuver and end up running over your feet or hitting you with a wing mirror. On the narrow, pavement-less streets around Thamel you need to have eyes in the back and sides of your head to avoid the constant threat of a mangling.

The other thing we're not too keen on is the pollution. Kathmandu is situated in a bowl shaped valley which traps the fumes from the vehicles and makes the air thick, gray and soupy. We're now both afflicted with deep, hacking, Kathmandu cough which would give a 60 a day smoker a run for their money.

We've not had any time for sightseeing since we returned to Kathmandu from the Chitwan. We've wasted yet more countless hours at the Indian embassy attempting to collect our visas. When we've not been slowly aging at the embassy we've been trying to get kitted out for a Himalaya trek. The streets around Thamel are great for getting knock off climbing gear. I managed to pick up a pair of Salomon climbing boots that cost £89 at home for the princely price of 1500 Nepali Rupes, about 12 quid!

After months of pestering and badgering I've finally managed to cajole Liz into a bit of mountain hiking. She still steadfastly refuses to discuss the 16 day climb to Everest Base Camp but has agreed to something a bit less strenuous.

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