Monday, October 29, 2012


I was the last one of our four-person team to get into Kathmandu, last Friday afternoon. After an uneventful flight on Thai Air from Bangkok, having to stand in line for over an hour in order to obtain my visa made me worried that I wouldn't make it into town in time for us to go and get our TIMS card (Nepal's Trekkers' Information Management System) in the afternoon. Turns out there was no reason to worry. Jason had been told that the earliest flight to Lukla we could get tickets for might be Tuesday, so we weren't in a rush anyway and went to have a beer instead.

Random intersection in the old part of town. Power lines and motor cycles everywhere.

In addition to organizing ourselves and buying things like toilet paper for our trek, this meant we had plenty time for sighseeing. Our hotel is in Thamel, the tourist core of the town, which is littered with shops selling souvenirs and mountaineering gear; as well as plenty of massage parlors, restaurants, and bars catering to all potential desires. Most of the time, we had to actually move around single-file. Cars and motor cycles (as well as bicycle rikshas and the occasional solo bicycle) are constantly squeezing themselves through the narrow streets, frequently making you aware of their (and each others) presence by honking their horns and ringing their bells.

The mountaineering gear vendors are entertaining. They typically sell knock-offs of western brands. Not necessarily one-to-one imitations if you take a close look, but bearing the logos from the North Face et al., including tags that claim that the material is -- of course -- Gore-Tex. I even saw copies of Goal Zero solar panels that looked pretty much like the originals, just the paint job was a little sloppy. In between, they sell Nepali brands, too. Pati, Vickie, and I were actually in the market for heavy down parkas, and we ended up buying "Sangam" ones for slightly over USD 100 each. They seem functional, but (as is to be expected) lack all the (technical) bells and whistles you get for significantly more money in the west. We'll see how they do.

Sightseeing included Durbar Square and the Swayambhunath temple. Getting used to the local food (momos and dhal bat) was fairly easy, it has been delicious so far!

Stupa at the Swayambhunath temple complex.
As we are sitting in Tom and Jerry's bar for a pre-dinner beer and the lights suddenly go out, another tidbit to mention about Kathmandu comes to mind. Rolling power outages. They do seem to happen within the boundaries of some set schedule (at least there is one posted at our hotel), but otherwise randomly and multiple times a day. Every place has at least some battery backup-powered lights, and/or candles. It doesn't stop anybody from going about their business. (Except me, maybe, when the Internet goes down.)

Anyway. After some last-minute flight-booking drama last night (our previously confirmed but not ticketed plane seats were lost and did we want to go by helicopter at 6 am the next morning instead?), this afternoon the hotel agent finally managed to get us tickets for a flight tomorrow, and Vickie and I remembered to actually go and get our TIMS cards half an hour before the tourism bureau closed. The rest of the afternoon was spent packing and recharging batteries for various gadgets, and tomorrow we're finally off to Lukla, at least by all likelihood. It's about time, too, my throat is starting to get irritated from all the dust and smog in the air here. No wonder face masks are popular.


  1. Thank you for sharing this experiences with us!!! Good luck!!!! Much fun and a wonderful time!!!

  2. Yum! Momos! Jennifer and I were just talking about those being delicious. I also love that you even saw Goal Zero knock offs! They must be awesome if they are knocking them off :-)