The other side
I arrived in Varanasi the ancient city, the sacred city after a bumpy, cold and sleepless night ride. It seems I’m not getting much sleep anywhere these days. As usual the bus stopped in the most unlikely place and from there we had to find our way into the city. Of course there were plenty of tuktuks waiting for us but I tried to book a Ola cab (the Indian version of Uber). When it works Ola works pretty well but when it doesn’t…. Well you can imagine. I booked three times a cab and one of them cancelled on me, the other two didn’t show up. In India money is apparently not an issue. If you feel like working you do, otherwise you don’t. So in the end I had to resign myself to share a tuk tuk with a guy from Belgium that was in my same bus. We agreed on a price but arrived in the city the tuk tuk driver told us to get off as he “couldn’t go any further “. There is apparently a restricted area in Varanasi, but from where we were many tuk tuk went further… Anyways… So me and Belgian guy had to take a rickshaw, that dropped us 5 minutes away…
We got off pretty angry and parted our ways. I had booked at Chatter box hostel and he was going some place else. I started to walk and found out that there is a “pedestrian area” in Varanasi where cars and the likes cannot enter as the alleys are very narrow. But motorbikes are of course more than welcome honking their way through the maze. And cows of course are welcome (gigantic cows), and stray dogs and their puppies are welcome so you have to walk your way skipping motorbikes, cows and their enormous dumps, dogs and vendors.
The entrance to Chatter box is pretty dodgy and there’s no sign to indicate that the hostel is there but then the place is pretty neat and very quiet and I was, at least for a few hours, alone in the dorm. As I was tired from the previous sleepless night I took a nap and then decided to go out for lunch. Following the directions and suggestions of “Happy cow” and went to Nyiati cafe. The place is very small therefore usually full but the food is very good, fresh and inexpensive.
Satisfied with my lunch I went back to the hostel to find out that I had a roommate, Angel from Madrid. We started chatting and had a good connection straight away so we decided to stick together for a few days. In the evening we had dinner next door , in this pretty famous place called Brown Bread Bakery (not to be mistaken with the one of the same name located close to Golden Temple, pretty horrible place). I had enough of thali, rice and fried food by then so I tried my luck and ordered a pasta with walnut sauce and a salad to share with Angel. The salad was OK, the pasta not so much but hey, this is India, you’re not supposed to eat pasta!!! After dinner we went to the banks of Gange river to assist to a very strange ceremony of dances, songs and fire. Very complicated and really interesting. They perform a lot of acts of devotion to whatever god they have and then in the end they wash their heads with the river waters…. when in the meantime a few blocks down they wash and burn dead bodies or else in some case they drown them with a stone tied to their feet.
The following morning we went again back down the river banks to assist at the washing ceremony when people take a plunge in the Gange before going to work and so use the same plunge to wash themselves.
The following day Angel and I boarded a train, my first train!!! headed to Khajuraho to visit the “Kama Sutra temple“.
While walking around the city I realize how good it was to have Angel on my side as he was showing off his muscles – he’s a PE teacher – and so people, men to be precise, were intent to check out his body and I was the invisible side kick.
The night ride on the train was far better than the one on the bus but I still couldn’t really rest. Indians can be very noisy, many snore (I’m not being racist, it’s a fact confirmed by locals) and the berth are not extremely comfortable. Moreover as it happened in the bus, I got frozen by the gusts of cold night air coming in from everywhere. On the train, thanks to his “good body, good muscles” Angel made friends with this local guy who at some point got stuck something in his teeth. As he was trying to get it out with a piece of paper I offered him my dental floss only to discover that he had no idea what that was. So I told Angel to teach him how to use it… and Angel told me he had no idea either!!!
Arrived in Khajuraho we took a tuk tuk to our hostel called Prem’s home stay that a girl from our Varanasi hostel had talked about with much enthusiasm. Prem’s place is a bit far out of the city but it is a very pleasant place, quiet and peaceful. The room we got was nice and clean and Prem is extremely helpful and friendly.
The morning after our arrival we rented bicycles and went visiting the famous Kama Sutra temple. The complex is pretty impressive, in the very center of the city, clean and well maintained. In the area is possible to visit some 6 or 7 beautifully decorated temples and some of them have on their walls some pretty explicit sex scenes which is very curious considering the fact that Indians are not open about sex affairs and naked bodies.
That night we had dinner at Raja’s cafe. The food took a long time to arrive. I was in the mood for salad and I ordered one with sprouted lentils. Such a disappointment. The sauce they used was something weird with a particular unpleasant taste so I had to eat a cookie afterwards to clean my mouth from that horrible taste. At night Angel had belly issues due to the fact that he had milk for breakfast that morning (having milk is not good for your health, I tell this to everyone!!!). But he decided that he was willing to travel the following day as planned and at 9.30 am we boarded a train to Udaipur. Although Khajuraho and Udaipur are only 800km apart, it took us 21 hours to reach our destination. The train network in India is pretty complex and not necessarily user friendly.
Another almost sleepless night and we arrived in Udaipur, a very nice city on the lake Pichola, kind of quiet (as quiet as India can get that is) with a very nice Royal Palace to visit.
We booked a room in Hotel Lake Star that looked very good in the pictures. Arrived there we discovered that the place is under a major restructuring so not at all what presented in the pictures. Still our room was nice and clean and I couldn’t wait to have a good night sleep in my bed!!! The next morning we had breakfast in a cafe nearby called Little Prince restaurant by the lake. Awesome food and good prices!
In Udaipur Angel and I decided that out ways were to part. I wanted to move south to reach asap Goa and some quiet beach. Angel was going back to Delhi to catch the flight to his next destination. I planned to spend just one night in Udaipur and the second night take the train to Mumbai but I discovered that the direct train to Mumbai doesn’t run on Monday. Of course… So the option was to spend two days travelling and sleeping on trains or stay one day more in Udaipur and take the train on Tuesday night. You guessed right. I stayed one night more and not to pay for a double room all by myself I checked in at Banjara hostel. Not the best place I’ve been, management is pretty unfriendly and uninterested but the room was OK. The first day after Angel was gone I took back my role of “stupid tourist with a lot of money ” and I wasn’t invisible anymore. Darn!!! I tried to book my train ticket over internet only to discover that international cards are not accepted so I resolved myself to go to the train station. Where once again I was the “STWALOM” and I had to pay 100 rupees extra just for being a foreigner. …
That night for dinner I met with Sanjay a very smart local guy met through Couchsurfing and we had dinner at Dream Heaven where I had a veggie burger with a ton of fries. Yummy! That same night I was back on a train with Valentina and Javier a couple met thanks to Angel. Some 14 hours later (and another almost sleepless night) we were in Mumbai.
I really don’t know how I managed to “escape” from Nepal but I did. I actually almost missed my flight because the taxi I ordered for the airport “surprisingly” arrived late… And for this reason I didn’t manage to change my Nepali money into India money (the importance of this will be clear later)
When my India visa was granted I was almost disappointed. I applied just for the sake of it but at that time I had lost all my will to travel. I just wanted to go home but since I was just around the corner I thought… “eh, what the heck! ”
So when I finally landed in Delhi I was tired and had no interest in visiting anymore but the idea of finally seeing the Taj Mahal was too enticing. I had managed to get myself a host that promised me to come and pick me up at the airport. Yeah, the airport. A pretty big area… And of course no Wi-Fi… I thought Deepak would wait for me at the arrival but I exited the airport and he wasn’t there. OK then I’ll change my money, I will by a SIM and I’ll text him…. Naive me. Nepali money has barely no value outside Nepal. Only 1000 rupees banknotes are accepted and of course I didn’t have any. OK then I’ll use the ATM…. as if… Same issue I had in Nepal. I had money but I couldn’t get it. I almost cried…. I was stuck once again and blamed Nepal once again. And I thought of all I read about India where everything is a scam and everyone is a bad person. And then I saw this guy and asked him if he could call my host… And he did and Deepak came out of the airport and together we took the metro. I was so relieved that I almost cried some tears of joy. But I was still very on the lookout if my host was really there to get my money (that was worth nothing!!!)
On the way to his place – that is pretty far our from main Delhi – I thought he would kick me off the motorbike that we took from the last metro station, and steal my money and my passport. Again all the voices in my head, telling me to be alert, in India they’re all criminals and thieves. But we finally arrived safe and sound to his place and he introduced me to his family and his dog Stella which I fell in love with. We then went out and met one of his best friend. The following day Deepak took me to a money change place and even if I lost money in the change I still managed to get rid of stupid Nepali rupees.
Unfortunately those days Delhi was covered in a very thick “fog” and the air was pretty bad. I visited from outside the red fort. I was not ready to spend easily the cash that was so hard for me to get, especially when, once again, the entry fee for the tourists was 5 fold the price for locals. The rest of the day I just walked around the city waiting for Deepak to leave the office and when we met it was dinner time and we went home where upon request I cooked dinner for the both of us.
The two nights I booked with Deepak were over and even though he said I could stay longer I preferred to book a hostel closer to the center to make it easier for me to do stuff. HOG hostel was not what I had really expected but it was cheap, OK clean and easy to move around from. But that day I didn’t leave the premises. I was so tired and overwhelmed by the “fog” and the constant honking that I preferred to stay inside and take a rest. The day after was my last day in Delhi and I said to myself why not visit a bit before leaving. I was in touch with a couple of couchsurfers and we were supposed to meet to visit some sort of old village in the city but I got there before them, the place was impossible to find, no one knew where that was and I had a nervous breakdown and had to go back to the hostel. I slept it off and later in the afternoon I met with the same two CSers from the morning and visited the stairs well an ancient well that now is empty but the structure is absolutely fantastic and then we visited a Sikh temple, watched them prey and we had a communal free dinner with them. It’s been quite an experience.
Morning comes and I board a bus to go to Jaipur to start my trip towards the south. I took a local bus that it’s an adventure for itself but I would have never expected to see at some point boarding the bus some policemen taking into custody a “criminal” kept on a chain (on his wrist) like a dog. It was almost surreal but the prisoner looked pretty at ease and even joked with a couple of passengers. Only in India!!!
In Jaipur I booked a room at Lazy Mozo hostel for just 1€ for two night I wasn’t really sure what to expect but for 50c a night I couldn’t ask for much. The place is new, just opened one month ago. And you can tell. They need to find their marks, how to behave and how to do things but it was fairly clean and the house is very nice. In Jaipur I visited some building in the Pink City but the only one I was ready to pay for was the Hawa Mahal especially because for once, locals and tourists pay the same price to enter. The place is pretty amazing but it’s missing some soul. After that I met with a CSer for lunch and had dinner and beers with another.
The two days planned in Jaipur were over and I was ready to go to Agra to finally fulfill one lifelong dream: visit the Taj Mahal.
I arrived in Agra in the evening and had dinner with some guys from the hostel I checked in. Moustache hostel is a pretty cool place, clean and with a nice atmosphere. It’s also very close to the Taj Mahal so in the morning I got up at 5.30 to avoid the mass of visitors and went to get my ticket. 1000 rupees is kind of a lot of money (around 13€/15$) but I came to India basically just to visit the Taj so I couldn’t not go. After I got my ticket I stood in line to wait for the doors to open (from sunrise to sunset) and when I finally enter the site at 7 my heart was beating fast. Visiting the Taj Mahal has been a dream since I can remember and I don’t even know why. When I finally faced it tears almost filled my eyes. The place in the fog of the early morning has a charm that no words can express. And as the day went by and the sun came up, it totally changed to become a spectacular garden for the beloved princess to find her resting peace. To make my visit more interesting I downloaded a free app called Captiva Tour with which you can listen to the story of the origins of the Taj Mahal without having to hire a guide. It’s been just perfect.
I spent the rest of the day at the hostel and took a little walk around the city. But Agra is an ugly town and people are just there to harass tourists trying to sell you everything they can. Thankgod I took the bus to Varanasi at 7.30pm and left.
I’m on the plane to Delhi. Kathmandu and Nepal are still a fresh memory. All in all I can’t really say that Nepal has been a pleasant experience. Since the moment I’ve touched land I’ve had problems and worries. Until the last moment.
The Annapurna base camp trekking has been nice, although cold. Being in nature, away from cars and traffic and people and chaos has been a refreshing break. The last few days I had a roommate – Paul – that literally saved me from going mad. I met a few nice people, even locals, I had good food but I don’t really think I’ll be back to visit Nepal, at least not in this life. I also cancelled my volunteering because goimg to the Dang would have meant to travel “12” hours on a bus. And honestly I wasn’t ready to do that. It would have been too much. It would have been fatal for my nerves. The “6” hours bus back from Pokhara had already been very tiring. I was not ready and willing to face again another “ride in hell”.
So I decided to buy my visa to India (which surprisingly enough was extremely easy) and leave the country before planned but at the moment of buying the ticket I was stuck as the website didn’t accept my cards and according to Nepal laws you cannot fly on a ticket bought by someone else….and once again I was stuck. Chance though sent me a guardian angel called Paul from France. Without even knowing me Paul offered to buy the ticket for me and soon said and done he booked the ticket to Delhi and paid it with his own CC (of course I have to pay him back). And finally, at peace knowing that I was finally able to leave the country I managed to enjoy my last moments with Paul and some other cool people met thanks to couchsurfing. But I really think that Nepal has been a big disappointment because I was expecting so much. I was so looking forward to visiting that I had imagined a land of fairy tales. But that doesn’t exist and Nepal is just another country in Asia. With its pros and cons. Anyways…
Once again I met a few cool people that by themselves made the trip to Nepal worthwhile. I trek up to 4000m without any training. I escaped two or three life threatening situations (in traffic) so I guess I can still consider this stop as a positive one.
Maybe next time – if ever – I come back, I will just skip Kathmandu and move to nicer places.
- Fire and ice 👍👍
- Gilingche 👍 👍
- Western tandoori… OK I guess
- Mahaaja 👍👍
- BK’s good
- Chick n falafel 👍
- Aniyor…. Uhmmm
- Himalaya Java cafe 👍
- New Satkar 👍
So I finally left Pokhara direction Nayapul to begin my longed for trekking. At this point I really needed a change of scenery and the idea of spending time on the mountains was really appealing.
After two hours drive we arrived in the Nayapul village. From there I started walking and I didn’t stop until I got to Jinhu. It took me the entire morning and when I got there I was ready to give up. I was so tired that I had a hard time to talk and as soon as I managed to have a bed I took a shower and went to sleep. It was around 4pm but it felt like midnight. I walked 17km up and down the mountains without any previous training and it had been hard.
The last time I did something similar it’s when I was a kid and we went to the mountains with my family. After that no mountain walks for me so much so that I had forgotten what it meant. I love walking and the nature but this was another level of walking. When you walk in the mountains you realize how nice it is to walk on a plane road, on a paved road where you don’t have to check every step you take or be careful not to slip down the slope. I have to confess that I wasn’t really prepared for this. All the people I asked about the trekking to Annapurna Base Camp told me that it was pretty easy and duable. They were lying. It’s not a complicated walk but it’s physically demanding. And I have been joined in my opinion by the people I met along the way.
The second day I met two girls, from Spain and from Uruguay and the trek has been lighter. Not that the walk was easier, exactly the opposite as a matter of fact, but simply for the fact that I was not alone and that I was able to distract myself by talking with someone else made things easier. By one o’clock we arrived at our second stop in Sinuhua at 2340m of altitude. We were all pretty tired so we decided to spend the night there. It was starting to get cold and the fact that there is no heating whatsoever was not a reason for joy. Nepalese people don’t use heating. Ever. They just content themselves with wearing warm clothes and drinking hot tea. We were pretty cold and very tired but we managed to spend the night having some sleep.
Third day began and the altitude and lack of oxygen started to be noticed. Thankgod the walk was easier than the previous days so we managed to arrive in Deurali at 3200m, almost 1000m higher than our previous stop. The cold was worst and that night although exhausted I couldn’t sleep a bit. In the meantime a couple of italians had joined the team and waling with Martina and Raimondo was a “nice little walk” uphill.
The following day was supposed to be the day that we reached the camp. ABC is located at 4130m of altitude. I was always the first to arrive (even though I was the eldest of the group!) and after I arrive to destination I had to wait a couple of hours to see all the others arrive. The cold at that point was really bad and I wasn’t really prepared for it. Inside the hamlet it was around 10° C whereas outside after sundown it got to -3. And no heating at all. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never be good with cold weather although I had to admit that I got better with years but that was really too much. There was no way to get warmer. I kept on drinking tea (that means also peeing a lot at night) but I couldn’t get warmer. It was just impossible. When I was a kid and went to the mountains with my family it was cold outside but inside the hamlet it was really hot. Here no. Nothing, not even a chimney. We were all freezing and we were afraid to go to bed as the bedroom was colder than the dining room. It had also started to snow and the fear of getting stuck there was growing fast. We were actually looking forward for the following day to come so that we could leave and get to warmer temperatures back in Pokhara. The night went by and thanks to the fact that we covered the windows with the extra mattresses in the room we managed to be less cold than the previous night. A couple of times I had to wake up to pee and had the chance to see the myriad of stars above my head (as the toilet of course was outside the room). There is no light pollution there and it’s possible to see all the stars in the sky. Amazing!!!
Morning comes and it was a fantastic sunny day. We had breakfast at 6am and after a few (hundred) pictures we made our way to descend. At the beginning we were very careful so not to slip on the snowy terrain but when we reached the not snowy area we walked as a fast as our soar muscles allowed us. I was in pain for the extra exercise and for the cold and really desperate to go to a warmer climate. Once again I arrived first (and alone) at the accorded meeting point some 9h later. I had lost everybody along the way but I was really decided to get over with the walk as soon as possible. The last part before checking point was a stair of some 400 steps upwards. I thought I could die. But I didn’t and arrived at the hamlet I managed to get a scorching hot shower after 4 days of barely washing in freezing cold water. It was bliss. I had dinner and went to bed. Completely exhausted.
The following day the others had not yet arrived so I decided to continue by myself and get to the bus to Pokhara the quickest possible. I thought that the way uphill was over but I have never been so wrong. Again the last piece of walk was upwards and when I arrived in Landruk I realized that the only way out was a jeep that costs 1500R (roughly 12€/14$) that is a lot of money here. But at that point I couldn’t walk anymore. Had I taken another step I would have probably had a heart attack so I accepted the be taken for an idiot and pay 1500R against the 200 that paid the locals.
The way down was horrible and the “road” was not paved or smooth in any way. Two hours in a tumble dryer and some more on a “decent ” road later I finally arrived in Pokhara and to prize myself for my accomplishment I had a very good pizza at “Godfather’s 2”
The trekking has been one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and luckily I didn’t know much about it. Had I known more what was expecting me I probably wouldn’t have done it. It’s not difficult but it’s really tough. It’s physically demanding and the altitude doesn’t help. I wasn’t too affected by altitude sickness but my muscles were all soar and two days after I still have some problems walking properly. And it’s also mentally demanding as you have to decide that even though it’s tough you wanna get up there and most of the times you feel like you wanna give up and go back to the start. And the fact that people at the hamlet take advantage of the situation is not helping. The farther up you go the more expensive things are. For a roll of toilet paper you can pay up to 2€. But then you see the “goat men”, usually boys who move merchandise up and down the mountains on their back and you understand why things are so expensive. There is not other way to move stuff. There is not drivable road so all goods need to be moved by men or mules. And you wander how they have built “houses” up there.
But then the fact that you have to pay for recharging your phone, for hot shower and so on it gets on your nerves. If you ask for blankets you can get the answer that they don’t have enough. It’s hard. It’s trying but once you get up there and see the beauty of the mountains covered in snow you understand why you did it.
I am very proud of myself and happy I did it. But I won’t do it again. Ever. Don’t make the same mistake that I did and think that it’s easy because everybody say so. It’s not easy. It can be done by anyone decently active in sport but it’s not a weekend walk in the countryside. You need a little preparation. Don’t forget hat, gloves and scarf (I had none of them of course). Bring a small backpack full of warm but light clothes. Bring a power bank and possibly two even though up there there is no network and the phone in airplane mode lasts a lot longer. Download maps. me (available for Android and iOS) as it works very well on the mountains and you don’t need internet connection. I had cramps on my back, I had a hard time to lift the tea cup on my last day. Drink a lot of water and take some rest every now and then. Bring some food like dried fruits or nut for the walk. Bring teabags so you just need some hot water (and you save some money). Buy bags of dried noodles so again you will just need some hot water. And if possible bring your own sleeping bag. But most of all don’t underestimate it. Mountains are beautiful but cruel at the same time. A simple mistake can ruin the entire trip (I almost killed myself a couple of times!!!)
Now back in Kathmandu I really miss the quiet and peace of the mountains. I really managed to detox myself from the use of mobile and now it’s almost annoying. The green, the tweets of the birds, the sound of the river running in the valley. But the cold I don’t miss at all. Winter is coming in the city too and soon it will be cold. I thought that some time away from the traffic of the city would help me to be more patient with people and traffic in Kathmandu. But it’s exactly the opposite.
Nepal has been the greatest deception of this trip. I was so looking forward to come here and now I can’t wait to leave. I’m waiting for my Indian visa and as soon as I have a verdict I will leave this country probably never to return again. It’s a shame but it’s part of the adventure. Sometimes you are lucky. Sometimes not. And now that it’s finished I realized I really enjoyed my time up the mountain. I was too tired and too cold to see it back then. But one thing it’s for sure… The beach is the best place to take a relaxing walk!!!
I thought that Laos roads were bad. Then I went to Bangladesh. I thought that Bangladesh roads were very bad. And then I came to Nepal. And it was horrible.
In Kathmandu everything is covered in layers and years of dust. I had to start to use a mask to move around the city because my nose was completely stuffed. I couldn’t breathe anymore. The majority of streets in town are of dirt, bumps, rocks and rocks. And those that are paved are full of holes, bumps and rocks. Getting decent roads here it’s apparently not a priority. People seem to be satisfied with the current situation and they limit themselves to dust off everything every day. The city is grey. From afar it looks like a picture in black and white.
Every time I go back from a walk, I need to shower. And not because I’m all sweaty like it was the case in Bangladesh but because I am completely covered in dust. I feel like a mummy recently taken out of the ground. And it’s not a nice feeling. Traffic of course is a mess, once again. The streets have no direction and everybody goes everywhere they like.
Today I took a bus to finally leaving Kathmandu and go to Pokhara where I will start my trekking. The trip should take roughly 6 hours. We made it in 10. I have the feeling I spent the morning in a tumble dryer… It’s been one of the worst trip ever. On top of the horrible streets the driver stopped 3 times for us to have food. And then the random stops to pick up random people or drop off the ones already on the bus. And it is supposed to be the tourist bus, the good one, the expensive. If this is the case I cannot even imagine what it is to travel on a local bus.
Nepal has managed to take the “cool” away from me. In Kathmandu you’re always a target for street vendors mainly to sell you drugs of any kind. Or miniature check boards, or bracelets or masks or necklaces. It’s so annoying that I’ve become nasty to anyone who approaches me. I was so looking forward to come to Nepal and so far it has been pretty disappointing. I really hope that my trekking time will make it up for the far too long time spent in Kathmandu. I really really hope.
Sometimes things are not easy. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes you are not prepared.
I left Bangladesh with a little sadness in my heart. My 2 weeks spent there had been fantastic and although I really wanted to visit Nepal I was a little sad to leave all the people I met there that have been so kind to me. As usual I didn’t bring any money across as I prefer not to change currency. I arrived at Kathmandu airport and after all the paperwork for visa (that luckily I could pay by card) I was ready to start my journey.
At the airport there is only one ATM. And it was out of order… Thankgod the taxi driver agreed to take me to my hostel anyway and stop along the way to let me get the money. I tried a few ATM but none would work. As we were getting closer to the hostel I was starting panicking. I had only a few rupees that Joy, my host in Bangladesh had given me. And that was it.
We arrived at the hostel and the guy at the reception was nice enough to pay the taxi for me. Obviously by the time all this happened the driver was already asking for more (1000 instead of the 700 agreed at the airport).
I paid without saying anything because I was too stressed and didn’t want to make it worst. After checking in at Pomelo house hotel I went around the city trying desperately to get money from ATM. Without any luck. The stress at that point was sky high and I was on the verge of a breakdown. One of the CSer I was in touch with contacted me and invited me to his place for dinner. I was so thankful because with the little money I had in my pocket I wasn’t able to buy any decent food. Shalik lives in a two rooms apartment. And when I say two rooms I really mean two rooms. Adjacent but not connected. The bathroom is on the stairs and common to the floor. In one room there is the “kitchen” and one bed. In the other room, the kids’ room, there are 2 single beds. His wife doesn’t speak a single word of English but she’s been very nice and prepared a lot of good typical Nepalese food. When I asked Shalik how they met, he explained to me that his was an arranged marriage. They actually met 10 minutes before the ceremony but they’ve been together for 8 years now. In Nepal divorce is legal but not well accepted.
After dinner I went back to the hostel and I was so tired by the day’s events that I fell asleep right away. The day after I tried again to withdraw money from ATM but without any success. So I resolved to call my bank and after a long chat and many explanations the guy on the phone told me that my card was not compatible with Nepali ATM machines. I was desperate. Shalik was so nice to lend me some money but I couldn’t go very far with that. I could have a decent meal and then some but nothing more than that. It was so frustrating. I had the money in my account but there was no way for me to get it out. I wanted to cry. In the meantime another CSer contacted me and he also tried to help me. Gokarna invited me for coffee and drove me around the city in his motorbike. But my problem was not solved and I couldn’t really relax and enjoy the country. I thought of “cashback” but in Kathmandu very few places have card machines and those that have it don’t even consider cashback. It was a catch 22 situation. I managed to pay the hostel by bank transfer and they agreed on giving me cashback. It wasn’t much but it was something.
And then I thought about money transfer something that I have always considered with horror. But I had no choice. I downloaded the app and tried to make a transfer to myself but the stupid app only allowed me to make the operation in cash. I was stuck again. So I called a friend in Spain and he agreed to do it for me. Earlier I had moved to Gokarna house so at least I didn’t have to worry about rent and food.
Joan made the transfer right away but his credentials needed to be checked. So the money was not available for a couple of days. I was a little more relaxed now but still I really wanted to get the money. Chances are that theses days is holiday here, “Thiar Diwali” some sort of feast of lights, so almost everything is closed. Western Union included. So at the moment I’m still waiting to get hold of my money. Hopefully tomorrow the situation will be back in order and I will be able to start to enjoy Nepal.
I’m so grateful to have good friends. It’s the most important thing in this world. And you know that you can count on them especially in hard times. And it warms the heart.
October 16 – 9.01am. Gate 1X at Dhaka international airport. My flight is in 2 hours.
My adventure in Bangladesh ends here, where it started 2 weeks ago. Just 15 days have passed but I feel I’ve been here much longer. In these 2 weeks so many things have happened, so many wonderful people have crossed my path. I still cannot believe at what I’ve faced during my stay in Dhaka and surrounding. Dhaka, a city that I didn’t even know it existed, has stolen my heart. And not for the city itself. As I said time and time again, Dhaka is not a beautiful city. It’s not even a friendly city.
Everything is a mess, it’s dirty, is tourist unfriendly, it’s chaotic, it’s hot but Bengalis are the most amazing people I met in my life. To them the guest is the king, the guest deserves all their attention, the guest has to be attended in every possible way. The guest doesn’t have to miss of nothing.
During my stay in Bangladesh I’ve felt like a movie star. Never in my life I had so many pictures taken. Strangers in the street, at the restaurant, in the park stopped me to take a selfie with me. I have been stared at and scrutinized to the point of being uncomfortable. But I felt like home everywhere I went. The Bengalis heart is bigger than anyone’s heart. I’ve been helped by total strangers, I’ve been given food and drink for free, just for being a guest. I’ve been asked time and again where I’m from and what do I do in Bangladesh (just visiting??? As if they could not believe that someone wanted just visit their country).
Bangladesh, where men go hand in hand on the street, where the ads are still hand painted on the walls, where having drinks means drinking tea at the closer “tong”, where there is no official bus stop and traffic lights are non existent, where Barcelona is know for Camp Nou (Sagrada Familia… What’s that?), where people eat with their hands, has a special place my heart.
But many of the people that have accompanied me these days have a dream to leave the country. Usually to Canada or Germany. I discovered that there is a big community of Bengalis in Italy. Youth don’t like their country, they wanna flee, they believe that everything is corrupted and that there is no future for them here. Government doesn’t make things easy for anybody. This is a jungle (especially in the traffic) and everybody tries to survive as best as they can.
Once again I didn’t travel to the “best” parts of the country. I haven’t been to Cox’s bazar, the longest beach in the world, I haven’t been to the islands or haven’t seen any waterfall. But this place will always be special to me.
Thank you Joy, Shoshee, Rossi, Rasel, Pryom, Adnan, Shammi, Mukul, Shariful, Dola, Ishti and everybody else for making this trip memorable. You will always have a friend in my. I will never forget you.