Saturday, 8 January 2011

What to do in Kathmandu? I know, get on with the partying and get smashed!

Hello everyone. This will be my last post from amazing Nepal as I will be moving onto Thailand in 4 days time - I am not sure what Thailand will bring but I am thinking debauchery in every possible way!

So back to Nepal and my activities over the past couple of weeks. I am can sum it all up very quickly - sightseeing and partying with my Australian homegirls with whom I have spent the last 10 days.
My last post was on Boxing Day and in the 2 days that followed not much happened. I just hung around in Pokhara, caught up with some friends and attended the Pokhara street festival, which was nice but nothing special.
My aim was to get to Kathmandu for NYE to catch up with the Aussie girls but I was recommended a small place called Bandipur that lies on the way there so decided to visit that first. By pure conicedence it turned out that that was where the girls currently were so it all worked out nicely.
Bandipur is a really nice little town situated up in the hills with great views of the Himalayan range and the best bit about it is that no cars are allowed through the place - something you really learn to appreciate over here.
So I arrived mid-morning to be greeted by friendly faces and checked into the girl's hotel. The rest of the day was spent walking around, climbing hills for the views and not doing much else.
There was a cave that I really wanted to explore, the largest in the Himalayas and only discovered 23 years ago (which is crazy), but the girls had attempted to venture down there the day before and the route was apparently very dangerous and slippy. I thought this was just standard girl talk and all would be well when a real man such as myself attempted it in an Indianna Jones t-shirt but later in the day I saw this Dutch guy who I had met on the bus and he showed me the lack of skin on his arms where he had visisted the caves and slipped down all of the steps! ha ha. Maybe it is just as well that I didn't have the time to do it.
The only other thing worth mentioning about Bandipur was the sunset. It was probably the most spectacular one I have seen to date. Each mountain seemed to have its own unique cloud situated above it in the shape of a mushroom cloud (seen after a nuclear explosion); combine this with the reds and oranges of the sunset and it was an inspiring sight.

I only spent one night in Bandipur and it was enough to be honest, there wasn't lots to do. Also it was now the 30th of Dec so off to Kathmandu to scope out a suitable location to get on it for NYE.
I was expecting to get the local bus, but as the girls are on holiday and therefore have a much bigger budget than myself, I found myself in a luxury jeep for the 5 hour road trip to the capital.
I was in the boot with the bags but it was all good and there was a seat!
We arrived in Kathmandu late afternoon and as we approached the city I was greeted with a view of the Kathmandu Valley - erm, the view in Kathmandu Valley is smog! You cannot see sh*t! Pollution-ville.

Kathmandu is a bustling place and is manic. You share the streets with cars, motorcycles, dogs and lots of people and whoever is the most assertive gets the right of way. Still, after experiencing India it isn't all that bad and it was nice to be back in a busy environment after my weeks in the mountains, jungles and more laid back areas of Nepal. Saying that, I still yearn to get back to the mountains and will return one day as the Everest trek still needs to be conquered.
We found a hotel in the area of Thamal - which I guess can be described as the more touristy area of Kathmandu. As we checked in the subject of rooms came up. In total there were 5 of us so I just expected to get a single for myself, but before I knew it I was in a triple with 2 of the girls - sweet!

My first evening in Kathmandu was spent alone! After a quick meal the girls declared that they were going to check out the shops (a reoccuring theme throughout our stay here). I could not think of any worse way to spend my time so told them I was going to explore the city and try to find the drinking areas so we had a POA for NYE.
I spent 2 hours walking the streets of the city and by chance happened to pass lots of the major sightseeing attractions but no bars (I was getting worried). I headed back to the general area of our hotel and there right behind our place was the street I had been looking for, the street of my dreams. This street had restaurants, bars, lots of live music (a must for me) and was generally buzzing. So that was that, we now knew where NYE would be spent - and even better, we could crawl home if need be.

For NYE day we embarked upon the walking tour of Kathmandu. The tour took in numerous temples (I am completely 'templed' out now after Nepal and India) and finished in Durbar (which translates to Palace) Square. I only mention the translation because there is a Durbar Square in every city in the Kathmandu Valley and this perplexed me a little, so I needed to know what the score was.
Durbar Square is where the kings of the past would be crowned and from where they ruled. The whole square is very impressive and it was nice to see the buildings in the style of how I always imagined they would be when I used to daydream of visiting Nepal.
So that was the day, now onto the night!

To start our NYE celebrations we went out for dinner at this cool little Mexican restaurant. There was myself, the Aussies (Arancha, Josie, Nadia and Shahn), (girls - the names are not in order of preference, just alphabetical!!!), and we were also joined by Rachael (my friend who I met in India and have mentioned in previous posts).
NYE with 5 girls - just perfect really.
By the time we left the restaurant I was fully aware that I had had a drink but I was feeling good and had that lovely beer buzz.
From there it was onto an Irish Bar (why is there an Irish Bar in every city of the world?) for shots and more booze. Here we were joined by John, a guy from Oz who the girls had met in Pokhara and so our group for the rest of the night was complete.
At about 10:30pm we realised that the Irish Bar was not going to be a suitable venue to celebrate the stroke of midnight so we ventured elsewhere. First was to check out some dingy club which looked promising but as soon as I heard those silky vocals from a certain Justin Beiber I demanded that we left the gaff.
We ended up in the Shisha Terrace Cafe and Bar - which was perfect. A great blend of drunken Nepalese and Western toursits.
This was when the real drinking began and all that there is to say about the rest of the night is that we drank, we danced, we laughed, we sang and all in all it was bloody brilliant fun.
The night ended at approximately 3:30am when the Nepalese authorities decided that the curfew (which is usually midnight) should begin. The way that Nepal enforces a curfew is to send in armed soldiers, turn off the music and tell everyone to be on their way. It sounds quite shocking but as I have been out for a few nights now in Nepal it just becomes part of the experience, and besides, they are all really friendly and polite.

The next morning I awoke to find my roomies in not the best condition. I on the otherhand with my freaky ability to avoid a hangover was up at 8:30am reading (but still intoxicated).
The rest of New Year's Day was spent eating, to feed the hangovers, and relaxing at the Kathmandu Guesthouse, which has a beautiful garden which you can lie in and chill out and not here the hustle and bustle of the streets outside - it has become a bit of a haven for us in the past few days.
It also has a 25 seater cinema and shows a daily film at 8pm. I check the lisitng out every day and unfortunately it is always some dog-poo chick-flick, so I have yet to venture inside.

The 2nd of January saw us back to sightseeing. The 6 of us (me, oz and Rachael) first went to Swayambhunath, otherwise known as the Monkey Temple. This place was really cool and you have to climb up a lot steps (which you share with a lot of monkeys - some aggressive ones too) up to the hilltop to reach the temple itself. Once at the top there is a mish-mash of temples and statues. The view should also have been something special but we have discussed the smog!

From here we moved onto Patan which has its own impressive Durbar Square. We also visited the Patan Museum which is allegedly the best in Asia! I wouldn't agree but you have to love statues and carvings of erotic acts!
I love that every statue in Nepal (human or animal form) always had a massive willy and boobs, and some are painted in pink and red even when the rest of the statue is bare stone. Funny.

Our final stop of the day was to visit the world herritage site of the huge stupa at Bodhnath. For those of you who do not know (I didn't), a stupa is a mound-like structure containing Bhuddist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship. At this particular stupa there are thousands of pilgrims circumnavigating (clockwise for good luck) it and it was a good sight. However, I have respect for people's unquestioning religious faith but I still don't get it or see what it achieves and never will.

The next day brought a trip firstly to Panauti (which was so boring that I will not talk about it), a bus ride to Banepa where we had lunch with a complete stoner and then we took in a half day trek up to Nagarkot. The trek was nice partly due to the fact that it was good to do some walking again and some excerise.
The girls liked the walk because we past about 30 soldiers out on parade. You should have seen them saying hello to every single one that walked past with his big machine gun - very funny.
The whole reason to trek to Nagarkot was for the views, which are apparently some of the best and you can actually glimpse Everest in the far distance. You will notice that I used the word 'apparently' as the curse of the smog hit again.
Still, a good walk and result of feeling good from the exercise was to get back to Kathmandu and go out drinking. A night out wasn't on the cards but it turned into one of those spontaneous nights that ends up being great fun. This night was also my first contact with a Nepali band called Cobweb. They are seriously one of the best bands I have seen live, so tight, and the lead singer 'Flower' is amazing. Apart from Matt Bellamy (Muse), I am not sure I have seen many musicians play an electric guitar that well, and especially playing some Jimmy Hendrix. He also had the voice to match - very talented guy and band.
I have now been to see them play 3 times in 5 days and they will be in London and Oz soon!

As always when we have a night out (which was becoming a bit of a habit) the next day means eating and hanging out in the Kathmandu Guesthouse garden.

The day after was spent at Bhaktapur. This is one of the towns in the Kathmandu Valley that has been preserved and still is quite ancient in terms of buildings and way of life, and you realise this because of the astronomical entrance fee (in relative terms).
I cannot say that I was overly impressed with the place, the erotic statues are always worth a look and there were some beastiality ones to add to the mix as well but the stand out part of the day for me was watching 2 dogs that had gotten intertwined during the act of copulation. The poor dog had gotten his willy stuck in the bitch (I mean that in the dog sense, although she kept twisting him around so the other sense could also be applicable) and they were both clearly in pain from the yelps they made. What made it worse, or more amsuing for me, was that another dog on heat was trying to have his turn on her at the same time. It was just one big mess.
In the end we just had to leave them. By the way this was going on in the middle of the busiest square in Bhaktapur.

As we had gotten back to Thamal earlier than expected 2 of the girls decided to go for a massage, so I thought I would tag along. I opted for a deep tissue massage and elected to have a bloke do it because I didn't think that a woman would be able to administer the force neccessary to get ride of all of my knots.
I wish I had gone for the woman.
It all started well enough when he was massaging my legs which have been in need of some treatment since my trekking but once he reached my feet he nearly got a kick in the face. My feet are seriously sensitive and when he touched them I kicked out on impulse.
After that the pain started and this bloke had sharp elbows. An elbow over the shin is not nice I can tell you.
You have to bear in mind that this massage was taking place with the use of hot oils which was very relaixng on my back and legs (apart from the odd bit of pain) but when it came to my buttocks and chest......
I like to view myself as one of the most openly minded people I know and I am not homophobic in anyway, but I know that I like women. I have to say that I felt very umcomfortable when hot oil was splashed onto my bum and chest and he start to rub it in.
I mean, seriously, leave them alone man, this is not right!

The evening followed the usual routine of dinner with my homies and then back to the room to just talk about girly stuff with my roomies - which I am very good at now.
There were also the obligatory visits to the jewellery stores to pick up the various items that the girls had acquired. I will not disclose and figures but I am pretty sure one jeweller in Thamal can now retire and buy a streets worth of properties (given that you can buy a house here for 100 quid - which I read in the paper yesterday).
I am glad I made the trip to this particular store because one of the workers had fingers that I can only described in their most basic form as 'cock' fingers. Each digit from the top knuckle upwards was shaped just like the head of a penis - it was hillarious. I bet his wife is happy!

Thursday 6th January was to be our last full day together and the girls were leaving for a shopping trip to Dubai on the 7th.
We spent our last day together doing what any normal group of freinds would do - going to watch some bodies burn.
Like Varansi in India, Kathmandu has a cremation area at a place called Pashupatinath.
All in all this was not my favourite experience of Nepal. As you approach the front gates you have to walk down a path which has a number of lepars on each side begging. It was just awful and some of them were clearly near to the end.
Once inside we were confronted straight away with a cremation. After Varansi I am used to the sights and smells now of burning bodies but it was still an eye opener to see a bodies turned over in front of me and then watch the bodily fluids sizzle and steam.
Made me quite peckish for some barbequed food.

Whilst the girls were petting some puppies (also a frequent occurrence) I took a walk over the bridge to watch another cremation. I stood on the bridge and noticed a little old Nepalese man next to me. I looked a little closer and saw that he was quietly crying and that this cremation was obviously a relative. It is all well and good watching the cremations because it is just a dead body, but to see the personal side of it like that was not nice. All I wanted to do was give him a big hug because he looked to fragile. He then moved on and went to the rest of his family.
I think I am getting a bit soft now that I am in my 30's.
We explored the rest of the area which housed more temples, ruins and monkeys and then headed back to Thamal.
Our last night together was what it should be - great fun. We had a lovely meal and then got smashed again. I know it is a good night when someone chucks up but I am glad it was not me, but you know who you are!

Yesterday was then a standard post drinking day - food and the garden. In the evening the girls departed and I have to admit that I was a little sad. We have spent the last 8 days travelling together, as well as spending Xmas together in Pokhara and I have grown very fond of them all.
You meet some people in life and you just get on with them; it isn't difficult to have a conversation and you just enjoy each others' company, well that is what I had with Arancha, Josie, Nadia and Shahn.
The good thing is that in 2 mths and 2 days I will be landing in Oz and going to stay with Shahn straight away in Sydney, followed by a reunion the following weekend with all of the girls, so it is all good in the hood.

I would just like to say thanks again for making me feel so welcome within the group and even trusting me with the kitty on occasions!!

So that brings us to today. I think I will just bum around for the next few days. I have bought 2 books - Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' and a 'Teach Yourself Spanish' book (I need to get to South America at some point). I have been growing restless for some intellectual stimulation and as I have so much time on my hands I should at least get something out of it.

Finally, Nepal has been fantastic. As with India, I have been completely blown away by the place and leave with very fond memories. Nepal is so dynamic; mountains, jungles, bustling citites and beautiful little quaint villages. As with India, I will definitely be coming back.

I am pretty sure that my posts will become more interesting as of next week when I report from Thailand. I just hope that the massage experience was not a prelude of what is to come in ladyboy central!!!

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