It’s all very sweet and accomodating, though I know, formulaic: to please the Western tourists coming through who would like to pretend they (we) want something authentic when all they’re (we’re) really looking for is something familiar.
The last week of mine has been spent in absolute bliss. Well, maybe not – but Nepal IS a beautiful, glorious place that I don’t think I will ever get enough of. This has been slightly marred by the new precense of yet another kidney infection and terribly confusing hospital visits that equally rival, if not surpass, the confusion of the American or Indian medical systems.
We arrived from Delhi on the 14th and I was already getting a fever in the airport, getting woozier as time went on from the supposed “exactly like the Indian Tylenol!” medicine I recevied from the “chemist” (their word for pharmacist) for a fever and back pain but which actually just made me WEIRD for days. I couldn’t focus for more than a few minutes on anything, couldn’t remember the things I had focused on, stared straight at a wall in the hallway of our hostel in Kathmandu for no reason until my roommate found me and was generally known to make offhand comments that had no relevance to our conversations. Overall, not so much fun.
However, those same days, besides doctors’ visits and drugged out memories, were packed with beautiful experiences in Thamel, Kathmandu, and Bhaktapur, right up the mountain. in KTM, we’ve been staying at the Alobar 1000 Hostel, tucked away down an alleyway in Thamel with beautiful courtyards, huge cozy common rooms, brightly colored walls and a generally friendly backpacker/traveller clinetele. It’s all very sweet and accomodating, though I know, formulaic, to please the Western tourists coming through, who like to pretend they (we) want something authentic when all they’re (we’re) really looking for is something familiar. Hot showers, free wi-fi and cute semi-Nepali things scattered around is really what we want, for better or for worse. Of these things we have 2 – the hot showers have yet to come to fruition but we’re still hoping.
When we went to Bhaktapur, it was at once both more touristy and less. The people of Bhaktapur seem to have discovered that we Westerners love it when Nepalis smile at us, and at the same time, have not had enough of these tourist encounters to grow tired of the show. Either that or they are naturally, extraordinarily friendly people. Either way, they’re delightful to be around and everything here in Nepal is just enough calmer to remind me that I am no longer in India and can relax here just a little more. Even when people are trying to sell you something or bargaining, it’s more laid back – they let you peruse the shop for a few seconds before talking to you, they don’t talk as loudly, etc. It’s just easier here and I’m enjoying the break from the highstrung Indian experience.
We also took a mountain flight, as our tourist splurge, and were able to see Mt. Everest and the Himalayan Mountain Range from 20,000 feet. It’s impossible to describe but was one of the top 5 experiences of my entire life. Worth every one of my 16,000 Nepali rupees (cringe). There was fog in the valleys and with the sun hitting the Himalayas… simply breathtaking.