Travel - Kathmandu 

Snakes and ladders

The ups and downs of Kathmandu

On the second day I came up with a plan. All the previous day we were accosted by holy men wanting to put marigold petals in our hair and put the red dot on our forehead. I thought if we just paid one and got it over with we would then be left alone. So first thing, first holy man, we got our dots. Of course a second instantly showed up and we had to pay each of them.

Off we went to interview the first guide and trekking company. We were greeted with leis of marigolds, which were heavy and hot and we wondered how long we had to wear them. After much discussion and negotiation we said we had to go check out the second company and would give our decision in the morning.

Into Thamel, the touristy district, to find the other trekking company. A small boy in gold robes showed up with a basket wanting to know if I wanted a photo. Next thing he is opening the basket and Miles says, "It's a snake!"

I was not happy. The snake was a cobra and did the snake charmer thing about two feet from me. I thought I would run screaming back to Canada, but we were brave and said no.

The boy and the snake then kept following us. I stopped to browse at a shop to lose them. We did, but only briefly. We went down a non-tourist street and they then dumped us. I was so frazzled I had to go sit down and eat.

We found the Rumdoodle, a famous climbers barn, and ordered. I then called the second company for them to come and get us. With no street names or numbers the waiter finally conveyed to the sherpa how to find us. We were escorted to the company and then entered into the time-share presentation of hiring a guide.

After about an hour of trying to sell us a package another hour was spent trying to negotiate the independent services. We said we would call the following morning and say which company would get the job. At this point the price fell again and the operator sent the prospective guide with us to see the monkey temple and Durbar Square. We tried to tip the guide but he would not accept it.

In Durbar Square we were accosted by Nepalese wanting to be our guide. We were exhausted from all the Buddhist info at the monkey temple and just wanted to walk. Finally after one guide said, "If you hire me, no one will bother you," we succumbed and hired one of the boys who had been more polite in his attempts. He asked for 300 rupees and we paid him 150 rupees for an hour tour (47 rupees per dollar).

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