The views were amazing as we flew in to kathmandu valley. Snowy peaks of the himalaya all along the horizon and smaller hills covered in trees and dissected by rivers on the outskirts of the city – the promise of some great sights to see!
Beyond that however my initial impression of Kathmandu has been somewhat tainted due to misfortune and timing. The misfortune in getting ill upon arrival and the timing of it being winter.
Upon arrival I waltzed out of the airport disregarding all taxi touts knowing that I could get a local fare from the streets beyond the airport precinct. I ended up sharing a taxi with a local who was amazed by the sight of a white guy with a turban and beard and happened to be going to the same place as me. Coincidence that I met another white guy with turban and beard here in kathmandu this week!
Anyway having been dropped in the middle of the tourist hub, Thamel, I proceeded to enquire about my hotel which not many people seemed to know the whereabouts of. Having asked half a dozen times, wondered backward and forward for a good 20 mins whilst scanning the impossible array of hotel signs, shop signs and advertisements layered upon one another from street level up to the 4 or 5 storey building height each desperately fighting a losing battle to be seen amidst this visual chaos, I finally found my hotel.
At first impression my room felt a bit nippy I.e. as cold as outside but without the benefit of the warmth of the sun, (no central heating here) and dark too with no outward facing windows plus a slightly stale smell – budget means budget! Little did I know of the multitude of power cuts that occur in kathmandu on a daily basis that would leave me in total darkness or of the hot water promised turning out to be just several degrees higher then the freezing cold one! I had my dinner in a local place and then having a premonition of a potentially cold night I bought some woollen socks before heading back.
A cold night it was indeed with the onset of fever to contend with plus a brooding sense of nausea whilst observing the vapour of my exhalations between the blackouts and the return of power to the dazzling fluorescent tube light in my room to startle me as I tried to escape the uncomfortable situation and drift into a warm slumber. A phrase which an old friend used to tell me came to my mind, whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!
Anyway no vomiting inevitably meant diarrhea over the next days which I am still dealing with now plus a slowly returning appetite.
In the end its just traveller’s diarrhea i guess but given the circumstances it is not something I would wish on anyone and my heart goes out to all the travellers who suffer such scenarios and god knows much worse ones on their ruthless agenda to see as much of the world as possible in as little money as possible.
These last few days have made me cast off the travellers mindset which had subtly come to influence my decision making of late and I can say for sure the next thing on my agenda is to check into a nice hotel with a ‘light and airy’ feeling, some kind of heating and proper hot water, preferably with a complimentary towel and soap!