It’s a strange feeling as we’re coming to the end of our time in Nepal. Mixed emotions for sure but on balance we are both ready for a change of scenery. A few weeks ago, I wasn’t so sure but now Mark and I are in agreement and looking forward to the next chapter. It has certainly been an experience. It is ironic that, as well as the lure of the trekking for Mark, one of the reasons we chose Kathmandu was that we thought it would be an easy place to live. What we did have was the convenience of the back-packing area, and a wide choice of places to eat and drink, on our doorstep. However, we came to learn that life in Kathmandu is not that easy for many people – even those like us, with money. Adjusting to a “power cut schedule” or load shedding as it is commonly known was difficult at first but then it just becomes part of the daily routine – “cup of tea?”… “No, we don’t have any electricity for the next 4 hours to boil the kettle”. These days, in most first-world countries, you just don’t contemplate boiling a pan of water to get a cup of tea. Internet connections that drop out without warning – if it dropped out at 9 o’clock at night, chances are you have to wait until 10 o’clock the next morning when the ISP’s office opens again! Could you imagine BT and the like getting away with that?
At Boudnath, one of our favourite places in Kathmandu
Anyway, below I have listed some of the things we will and won’t miss. Looking at it, it seems that the negatives out-weigh the positives but I don’t think that really is the case. I guess it’s just easier to remember the bad things!
Kathmandu was a challenging start to our life overseas, but also a lot of fun and a lot of good memories. It was lovely to have Andy and Mandy come out for a holiday back in February and then to see Katie in April (thanks largely to Facebook!). And last, but not least, the great “trek off” in April/May when Mark’s dad, Ben, came out to join Mark for a 3-week trek (which you will of course have already read about).
The things we’ll miss about Nepal
- The amazing things to see and do right on our doorstep, in particular Bodhnath stupa, my favourite sightseeing spot in Kathmandu.
- Friends old and new – people that we knew before we arrived, in particular Bijay who was instrumental in helping us find our feet and our apartment. And people that we have met here and become good friends with but wonder if we’ll ever see again?
- The climate – OK so it’s getting a bit hot now and the cold in the winter meant we had to sit around the fire in a fleece drinking beers instead of on a rooftop in a t-shirt but we are coming to reflect that we will probably find not find a much better climate in Asia.
- Pizza at Fire and Ice, Indian food at the Third Eye and drinks at New Orleans and Pub Maya
- Our apartment – I know we have opted for this slightly nomadic life-style but I am a home-maker deep down and like to make the space in which I live our own.
- My daily yoga class and the girls at the Himalayan Buddhist Meditation Centre (HBMC) downstairs (Kirsty, not Mark – they all joke he was too intimidated by the female-orientated staff!).
- He won’t admit to it but I know Mark will miss the mountains and his trekking team.
The things we won’t miss about Nepal
- Electricity load shedding – I’ll never take boiling a kettle for granted again.
- Barking dogs – particularly at 5am! People have dogs as guard dogs but if they bark constantly how will they ever know if something is wrong. It’s much like car alarms – you hear one going off on the street but ignore it!
- People honking their horns at their gates – in order not to have to inconvenience themselves for one second, our neighbours start honking their car horns about 50 metres from the gates of their house. This is to alert the poor houseboy or girl to come running to open the gate. It is amazing how lazy people are, impatiently hooting their horns rather than getting out of their cars and opening the gates themselves.
- Taxi drivers who assume you want a taxi but somehow think you haven’t seen them so again either honk their horns, shout “taxi, taxi” at you or even more irritating, pull up at the side of the road right in front of you when you are on the kerb about to cross the road in a rare break in the death-defying traffic.
- The filth and dirt, pollution and dust. The streets of Kathmandu are literally choking and probably around 30% of the population wear face masks as routine and not because of the risk of swine flu. The fresh air outside of the city and in the hills and valley is something to gulp in whenever the opportunity is there.
- Kathmandu airport – I didn’t, but should have totted up the number of wasted hours I sat waiting for delayed flights at Kathmandu’s poor excuse of an international airport. If there was anything to do at the airport except sit in an airless hall it wouldn’t be too bad, but there’s not!
On our final afternoon in Kathmandu, my HBMC family invited me downstairs for a farewell tea party, which really touched me and made me think about the friends that I have made whilst I’ve been here. As I said to them at the time, I was not being very Buddhist about my farewells (i.e. in Buddhism you should practice “non attachment” to things and people) but hey, I guess I’m not there yet. And so, it’s on to the next chapter of “Kathmandu and Beyond” …