Friday, April 22, 2016

Week 3 - I tried trekking, it doesn't seem like it's for me...

Day 18.
Just a do-nothing Saturday. Literally didn’t do anything. Wanted to go to the garden of dreams again, just to chill and read a book, but it was packed with people. Will probably do this tomorrow.

Day 19.
Worked today. I keep astonishing myself, because, well, at home, when I work from home I usually can’t concentrate, and keep getting distracted, and get almost zero work done. Here, I say I’m gonna be working, and I’m working. Hard. I kill tasks off in an astonishing pace, and every work day I’ve had I’ve been extremely happy with so far.
I sat in a small vegetarian restaurant called OR2K for about 5 hours (they have good wifi and constant electricity, and they don’t make a fuss about people hogging tables for long). I ended up eating breakfast and lunch there, and then needed a change of scenery, so went to the Chabad house, and got three more hours of work done. Then I went shopping for trekking pants, and got a decent pair for $12

Day 20.
Started the day by catching a bus to Nagarkot. Well, it’s two busses.
And busses in here are extremely uncomfortable. They’re massively overcrowded, and they stop every minute. A 30 minute ride turned into a 90 minute one, and when we got to Nagarkot I was just happy that this was behind me.
Nagarkot was, well, not very interesting. I chose a hotel room, and took a stroll around town, and I found nothing of interest. Went back to the hotel, and discovered that my room has not been cleaned (missed it when I checked in), it was so bad that I demanded to get my money back (to which they complied), and I found a decent hotel room overlooking the valley. Met a nice American traveller named Alex in the hotel, and we enjoyed each other’s company for dinner.
Nagarkot’s main attraction is the sunrise over the Himalayas, from a view tower located 45 minutes walk out of town. I thought that the walk is 30 minutes out, so I woke up a little late, and had to run up the hill. Almost missed it, if not for a couple who gave me a ride on the last two KM. We were very lucky, it rained at night, so the visibility was pretty good (still, far from optimal, but you could actually see the Himalayas until around 1pm)
After watching the sunrise, we went back to the hotel with Alex, and apparently, she was very displeased with her guide, so dear reader - be very careful, if you hire a guide in Nepal, make sure that they’re knowledgable and professional.
Then I set out for the trek from Nagarkot to Dhulikhel. The trek is about 15KM, mostly downhill, and passes some small villages. In these I found the most fun parts of the day - whenever I passed through a village, I seemed to be a magnet for the local children. They actually saw me, ran away to call their friends, then all of them came out to get pictures taken and either ask for some money or chocolate. After this day, I made sure to have a chocolate bar with me.


I arrived at Dhulikhel completely broken. My legs were killing me, and my back hurt like crazy. The town itself was uninteresting at first glance, I had some trouble finding myself a hotel (they’re either taken out of horror movies, or WAY too expansive, I finally settled for a $9 crappy hotel with no hot water, but a decent enough bed, with a balcony)
After lying in bed for about three hours, trying to recover from the trek, I decided I want to go to what Wikitravel recommended to see in town - the Kali temple, on top of a hill (about 400 steps, yay). It was getting dark, but I soldiered on. Got to the temple, and it turns out that it’s an empty broken down building, and it has a small statue of Kali next to it. Not much of a temple to talk about, and definitely not worth the walk up just to see it.
On the way back I stopped to buy a bottle of coke, and a local man started talking to me, he said that he always wanted to talk to a tourist, so I invited him to sit down, bought him a coke, and we chatted for a while. He’s from a tiny village 500km from Dhulikhel, and it’s the first time he’s ever been out of his area - he went to Kathmandu, trying to find work abroad via a manpower agency. He’s married, father to a 9 year old girl, and makes about $1-2 dollars a day. He’s seeking work in Dubai or Qatar, to work and send some money to his wife and child. I told him about some of the horror stories I’ve heard about people being treated as slaves there, forced to work for years without pay to repay their “debt” to the manpower agency, and living in repurposed containers in the scolding desert heat, with no A/C, and with 6-10 people in every room. I recommended him to try to come to Israel, which has laws protecting workers (although it’s harder to find legal work in Israel). Later on I was really bummed than I didn’t take his number, it could have been an interesting experience to ask him to be their guest for a couple of days, and get to know Nepali life from a personal perspective. I’m also sure that the money I’d have paid for the stay would have helped them a lot as well.

Day 21.
I was debating whether to take the bus or hike, and chose hiking. Went to the Namobuddha monastery, a 3 hour trek from Dhulikhel. On the way, passed through a village, and the scene with the children happened again, albeit the kids were much more friendly, and we ended up in a playful tickle fight. Afterwards, one of the kids, a bright little 10 year old girl, continued to walk with me, she was going to the shop to buy some food stuff for her family, and we talked. Her name’s Amitah, she has a brother named Amit, and was very amused to learn that this name means “friend” in Hebrew. She told me she loves to read, and wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Told me a bit about her life in the village, and then we reached the store. I offered to pick up the bill, to which she happily said yes (25c), and I bought her a chocolate bar, we said our goodbyes, and I kept on walking. I really enjoyed talking to her.

After walking some more, I reached the Namobuddha monastery, which is a beautiful building on top of a hill (these guys love building religious stuff on top of hills…)
The monastery has a guest house ($12 a night, shared bathroom, very clean and well built), and guests can eat their meals with the monks. I arrive just in time for the afternoon prayer, and it was a very interesting experience. The monks play instruments and create a very hypnotic music, and they chant. For about an hour. I was basically stuck, aimlessly watching a random point in space, for the entire time.

The meal was fun, basic Dal Bat, nutritious and tasty.

Day 22.
Woke up, went to breakfast with the monks, we ate some kind of steamed bread, with milk tea and vegetable stew. The monks were chanting before and after food, which was interesting to watch.

Afterward, I set for the walk to Panauti - a 3 hour walk downhill. I was quite amused by the fact that cannabis plants grow here like weeds, literally, just grow on the side of the road.

Passed through more small villages, but because it was early, I guess the kids were in school, so didn’t get much of photographing the Humans of Nepal on that day. Just when I was about to reach Panauti, I saw two sisters sitting on the front porch of their house, one of them was holding a baby. I asked to take their photo, to which they gladly said yes, I took a few pictures, then they asked me to sit down and show the pictures to them. I did, and in a few seconds the entire family was outside, all asking me to take their photos, and trying to communicate although nobody seemed to speak English…


I then continued to Panauti, there was a cremation ceremony at the entrance to town.

The town itself is nice, I walked around a bit, and then got on a bus to Kathmandu.
In Kathmandu, I got a recommendation to a good hotel room, I was told to expect $15 per night, which is my budget. When I got there, the room was up to standard, but they asked for $35. Apparently, it’s okay to negotiate even hotel prices here, so I got to pay $15… This was quite funny, they started at 35, then 30, then 20, and as I was heading out they finally agreed on 15 :)

I decided against going on treks in the Himalayas. The guys I wanted to join for the trek were volunteering in an orphanage in the outskirts of Kathmandu, and I will come there for a week or two to volunteer. I met with them at night so they can tell me about their experience. We had a nice meal, then went to their room to smoke some weed. I came back to my hotel completely stoned, and immediately fell asleep.

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