Our first full day began this morning, after a successful “jetlag busting,” 16-hour night of sleep. We were up at about 5:45, and hit the streets by 7, to find that the early morning was much quieter and more pleasant than the afternoons here. In the morning light, following a torrential overnight rain storm, the only activity on the streets was that of vendors delivering goods and preparing for their day of work. The water needed for the day is delivered in large jugs on trucks (see above), and the vegetables, flour, and grocery items sold in markets are delivered by bicycle.
The afternoons and busy times of the day are characterized by amazingly busy streets, with cars, trucks, taxis, motorcycles, rickshaws, bicycles, pedestrians, and street dogs galore. With this veritable panoply of transportation styles, it is amazing that more collisions don’t occur. Amongst all of the swerving, honking, and dodging, there is the additional heckling from taxi and rickshaw drivers. Every one that passes shouts out his window, “Taxi?,” or “Rickshaw?” We had our hands full just turning down such offers. A few hours into this verbal ritual, I realized that along with saying “No thank you,” I was also shaking my head “No,” which as it turns out, signifies “Yes” in Nepali culture. I was a walking contradiction. We have since taken to saying a firm “No taxi,” or just pretending not to hear such offers.
As we set out to find breakfast, which included something called “Egg Sandwiches,” we got to do a bit of exploring, and passed by a number of shrines, temples, and governmental palaces. [NOTE: “Egg Sandwiches” are not anything like New York-style egg sandwiches, but are actually more like triple-decker white bread coleslaw sandwiches. The lack of consistent electricity, and hence refrigeration, makes anything with mayonnaise very questionable, and “Egg Sandwiches” have since been added to our list of “what not to eat…”] To make up for a questionable breakfast, however, we had an excellent lunch at a tiny dhaba, or local restaurant. It consisted of a curtained entryway with a Tibetan sign, two very friendly young men, and two small tables. The food was fantastic, and cost only half of any of our other meals thus far–generally speaking, 200 Nepali Rupees (NRS), or about $2.50, will get us both a full meal and two cups of tea. We plan to frequent this dhaba for the rest of our time in Kathmandu.
In the upcoming days, we plan to venture farther afoot, and to explore some other regions of the city. Thamel, the area that we are staying in, is a very popular tourist region. Hence, most of the shops and businesses are tourist-oriented. One could say that we are in the Lake George Village of the city. It is somewhat challenging to find everyday goods, and it seems that at every step someone is trying to sell us something that we do not need. It is very beautiful and strikingly different than any place we have ever been. However, we have realized that we will be better off staying in another, less-touristy, part of the city. Tomorrow brings countless new adventures, with more lessons to be learned, and people to meet.
Did I mention the monkeys…?