Saturday, March 26, 2016

nepal: sleeping

The last time I went to Nepal, we slept in tents which were pitched by the Nepalis, and went to toilet in holes dug in the ground. I can’t remember if we showered. At that age, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m not sure if I’d enjoy that now.

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* Yanmei, me and JJ, in 1998

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* The toilet tent, I think I just woke up

This time, we slept in more civilized mountain lodges.

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* 500 Nepali rupee = US$5

These aren’t high-class chalets the likes of which you might find in the Swiss Alps, but creaky, quaint, slightly lop-sided affairs of board and stone clinging to the side of the mountains, with similar names like Panorama Lodge or Bird’s Eye Chalet.

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* A construction in progress

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* Super View Guest House and Restaurant (Ulleri)

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* Hotel Hungry Eye (Landruk). It took a lot out of me to claw my way here.

These are pieces of rather pricey real estate (I was told but forgot the cost) which are either owned by or bought over by rich farmers who then run them personally and maintain a farm on the side. We were served by the owners in every instance.

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* This lodge owner has vegetable fields (in the right) and a nice big herd of goats (little white patches near top right)

Every time the lodges need to purchase gas or goods, someone treks all the way down (could be a day or two’s walk) to order from the town, and the goods get sent up on donkeys, for about US 30 cents per kilogram.

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Each lodge has the same sort of thin wooden-board ceilings and thin wooden-board doors, which are locked with small padlocks.

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* The lock

There’s nothing in there except a flat pillow, down blanket and a thin bed with sheets which are, I think, not changed regularly.

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* Me in sleeping bag, Teng in red sleeping bag, and Choon keeping his lower half warm in his sleeping bag

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But the views are always spectacular. Of course.

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For some reason, we were also given second floor rooms at every stop, which was really very painful because by the end of the first day, our leg muscles were screaming to NOT go up or down.

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* Stairway of hell

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* Steps of doom

Except for one place where we had an attached bathroom (the luxury!), we used shared toilets which were alright. Showers were not always hot and sometimes had to be paid for (about US$1 per hot shower), so I didn’t bath every day. Maybe once every two or three days. Which is OK when you’re in a really cold place.

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* Outdoor tap

At night, we find ourselves with nothing to do by 7pm after dinner because lights, once again, are dim and are sometimes shut off. TV is not available and while all the lodges are now Wifi-enabled (you pay for it), you don’t get it when there’s a black out.

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* Me in my bag reading a book on Nepal's child goddess, clutching soft toys from the girls. The sleeping bag was provided by the tour agency. Unfortunately, I got bites on my legs from invisible living things in the bag... but I still used it because it was freezing.

One of my most Alamak moments was going back to my room, at our coldest stop, to find that the light didn’t work. I couldn’t even read. I lay in bed for four hours, in the dark, listening to the snores of the trekker in the next room (walls very thin).

Hotels in the cities are of course more comfortable, with creature comforts. In fact, our Kathmandu Hotel, plastered with local art works on its walls, was an art shop of sorts and Choon ended up buying this painting.

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