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February 28th, 2011 | Asia

Kool Times in Kathmandu…

Novel message to would-be buyers from silk scarves...

The last few days in Kathmandu have been pleasant and warm for the most part, but when the sun goes down, the temperature drops significantly…

To the point where I not only slept in my long thermal underwear, but on two consecutive nights had to wear my fleecy to bed as well…!! A constant breeze blew freezing air through the gap between the door and the frame… My room was almost always cold, even when the conditions outside was sunny and warm…

Power outages or “load-shedding” has been a fact of life all over Nepal for many years… Most businesses only have the use of what is known as “government power” for perhaps four hours of the day…

How they manage to stay in business is beyond me, especially those small enterprises such as internet cafe’s, who, once the power goes off, are left without any form of income until it comes back on again…

Shopkeepers use hand held calculators to add up your purchases… Cash is kept in a large bowl or drawer under the table you are served from… Sales of electronic cash registers are slow…!!

When washing the Big Fella, I noticed with alarm that the oil level was very low… I had not checked this too often, as my bike has never used much oil before… At the last service in Cyprus, I had ditched the two litres of spare oil I had carried all the way from South Africa… Now I needed those two litres…!!

This taxi driver uses the Sunrise Hotel as a base, and was always there to help out...

My taxi-driver friend took me downtown to find the correct oil and when we got back, I added a litre into the reservoir and then fired the Big Fella up and let him idle for awhile… After lunch, I checked the level again, and it was up near the top where it usually sits…

I plan to service the bike in either Singapore or in Sydney, which is probably about 4500 kms of riding away from Bangkok, so I decided against a full oil change and packed the second litre I had bought into my right pannier, in case I needed more oil along the way…

The owner's young daughter also seemed to take to me, and whenever I was near the bike, she would come running over and beg me to hoist her into the saddle...

"Move along buddy...!! No riff-raff allowed here...!!" The Big Fella took umbrage to this rickshaw parking so close to him...

Kathmandu...a jaywalkers paradise...!!

Walking the streets of Thamel was a pastime that I could have indulged in for days… After a few days, the shopkeepers in the neighbourhood knew enough about me to shout out greetings as I walked by…

“Namaaste, Mr. Biker…!!” or “Hello Big BMW…!!” often met me as I strolled by… Many of them seemed to know my future plans and would ask when I was taking the bike to the airport to fly to Bangkok…

There is a very active grapevine in these parts it would seem…!!

Two things bothered me while walking in Thamel…

The first was the minor hassle of being offered dope on a regular basis… Marijuana is illegal here, despite the many people who smoke it, and offenders are whisked away to police stations when they are discovered…

The second thing was of a more unpleasant nature, and this was the fact that I had to keep one eye on where I was going, and the other on the ground in front of me at all times, to avoid the many globules of phlegm and spittle that dot the pavements and roads in Thamel, and all the other towns I visited for that matter..!!

What is it with all the spitting, Nepal…?? It seems to be a national pastime of sorts…!! The hair on the back of my neck would raise as I heard a throat being cleared behind me, as I knew that seconds later a blob of gob would be meeting the pavement somewhere close to me…!!

I began passing comments like… “Oooh…!! Good one Buddy, but maybe it’s time to see a doctor about that…!!” or “Well out, there my friend…!!”… Naturally, I never ever received a look of embarrassment from the spit-tees…!! To both Indians and Nepalis, spitting in the street or out of the window of a passing taxi or bus is the most natural thing in the world…!!

While in Kathmandu, it was suggested to me that I visit an obscure monastery nearby, where I could meditate and receive some enlightening advice from the monks and gurus there…

Not quite what I expected...!!

I made my way to Kathmandu’s cargo terminal by following the guys who had made the crate for the Big Fella… Until then, Jeewan Dhakal had made all the arrangements with the minimum of fuss, and it was a pleasure dealing with him… He and his company, “Eagle Eye Exports” (email: eagleeyes61@hotmail.com) have shipped hundreds of bikes out of Nepal since 1999, and are well known for their efficient and friendly service…

"Is is that time again...??" came the question... "Yeah Buddy, but this time it's a quick one...!! You'll be released from confinement in just two days...!!"

From me to me...!!

"And in the blue corner, weighing in at a hefty 444 kilograms..... The Beeeeeeeg Fellaaaaaa....!!"

The only small hiccup was I demanded that the base of the pallet which had been made. was strengthened with more planks and some of the gaps were filled…

Jeewan sorted this out in a jiffy and the carpenter made the adjustments just as I suggested…

There are no forklifts or pallet trolleys in the export area, and in order to get the Big Fella weighed, it took twelves sweating Nepalis to lift the huge crate onto the scales…

It weighed in at a eye-popping 444 kgs…!! Then the crate was manhandled off the scale and pushed about thirty metres away, lifted again and placed on the roller conveyor going into the x-ray scanner…

The crate just fit through the x-ray scanner...!!

When the crate had been hoisted off the scanner, and pushed into a bay in the customs warehouse, ready for it’s flight the following day, I stood at the gate and waved it goodbye… The dozen guy who had been doing all the lifting and pushing saw this, and to a man, turned around and waved at the crate, shouting, “Bye, bye…!!”

I nearly fell about laughing…!!

Did I mention the narrow roads of Kathmandu...??

Then it was back to Thamel to get my old maps and other stuff sorted for couriering back to South Africa… Jeewan handled this as well, as he is a registered DHL, SkyNet, TNT, FedEx and UPS agent…!!

Just in case you had no idea what a red tail light means...

The next day, after a final Sunrise Hotel breakfast, the owner very kindly presented me with a silk scarf, wishing me a safe journey and good luck for the future…

I was presented with a silk scarf by the owner when I left... It had been blessed by his wife, using incense, incantations to Buddha and ringing bells... I was both honoured and pleasantly surprised...!!

He also arranged for a taxi to get me to the airport, from where I was to fly to Bangkok and start the South East Asian leg of my world tour…

Not sure if bamboo scaffolding will ever catch on in the West... Unions might disagree on the safety aspects of this particular invention...

Nepal has been an eye-opener, and I have enjoyed the relaxed and friendly atmosphere that pervades the country…

“I would like to return to Nepal again…!!”, I told the manager as we shook hands for the final time…

Placing his hands together in front of his face, he bowed and said,

“It is good, and I will be here to welcome you, sir…!!”

©GBWT 2011

 

2 comments to Kool Times in Kathmandu…

  • Mal

    Hey Ronnie, these goodbyes can be so tough! Glad you’ll soon be with your beloved BF, and hope you both have a smooth flight. Thanks for the info. on the shipping agents.
    Mal

  • Mark Behr

    Humbling when total strangers give out of the goodness of their hearts. Nepal seems to have been a great experience. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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