Those of you who have travelled to Nepal will know that things seldom happen here as arranged.
Our upscale – meaning with good tires, suspension, seatbelts, operational doors, air conditioning etc – was to pick us up at 9 a.m. from Sapana Village. After our seven hour delay leaving Pokhara, I checked this twice with two different people and was confident we’d not be disappointed.
Oh silly me!
A van appeared at just before 9:30. It was obviously not ours as it was clearly not a tourist vehicle. It was small and dilapidated.
It was our van. Jim and I walked around it. It did have four tires and a spare on the roof. It had so many dints, it had a huge crack in the front window, it had no seatbelts, a broken – missing – door handle for the only passenger door. It was filthy. The air conditioning did not work. We climbed in.
The driver was not a tourist driver either. We all arrived in Kathmandu safely and quite a bit quicker than expected. The drivers here are skilled at passing on blind corners and squeezing in between trucks when the oncoming traffic is bigger. They manage to not run over goats and children scampering along the road. Tourist drivers tend to keep the more risky manoeuvres to a minimum. This guy was intent on delivering his cargo of six tourists and their stuff as quickly as possible safely be damned.
He took a short cut around busy traffic on the outskirts of Kathmandu that was similar to an exciting roller coaster ride. We did see a nice bit of Kathmandu’s suburban sprawl.
About 300 metres short of our hotel a police woman pulled him over and took his drivers licence. As far as we can tell this was because he had an illegal cargo of tourists which neither he nor his van were licensed to carry. He was allowed to continue to the hotel so we don’t know the outcome as she retained his drivers license.
Like the fellow who drove us to Lumbini and on the Chitwan, this guy refused to listen to Jim showing him how to get to the hotel. Instead he made numerous phone calls while driving. Finally Binod showed up on his motorcycle and led him the last couple hundred metres. Unnecessary but at least Binod was able to see for himself how badly he and we had been ripped off. Binod had of course paid for the tourist van to pick us up. Someone nicely pocketed the likely considerable difference in price.
Thus it can be here.
We had a late lunch in our Florid Hotel garden restaurant then set off to do a bit of shopping. Claire and Jim were still shopping when the rest of us sat down for dinner sometime after six!
They had not returned by the time the rest of us went to bed! Jim has taken to the art of haggling! OMG can he get a good deal!
Today is a chill day in Kathmandu. Well as chill as it can be in this chaotic city. Shopping and relaxing tops the agenda.
Tomorrow we head off for four days in Tendi’s home village Khamding. There will be no internet there so this is likely the last missive from me until our return.
Tendi has been given instructions to hire a Jeep with seatbelts and tires with treads. We’ll see how that goes!