After wandering through India for a month I realized Nepal was only a few rupees and a (uncomfortable / sleepless) train ride away. After spending almost 8 hours in a Delhi train station, dodging swindlers and cheats and trying to locate the right train I was finally off on another last minute adventure.
Kathmandu is probably the dirtiest place I’ve ever been. The air runs thick with diesel exhaust, the lingering scent of sewage runoff permeates what it can, and my mouth was constantly full of dust, soot and miscellaneous airborne particulate. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there had been a political power struggle going on and the monarchy had been disbanded less than a year before my arrival. Maoist rebels were violently challenging the newly formed government… and chaos was about to erupt in pockets of the country, Kathmandu included. The Maoists violently imposed a Bandh (general strike) burning and looting any establishment that opened its doors, and for 3 very unproductive days there wasn’t much to do. As a westerner I was able to walk around with some degree of “chaos immunity”, but even that got dicey a few times when I was shoed away with the whipping motion of a large stick.
I took this photo during the peak of the violence, a lucky shot of two kids perfectly attired outside their parents shuttered and locked shops… waiting patiently for the Bandh to come to an end.
With a mild case of “Delhi Belly”, and with a farm injury that had finally caused my thumbnail to puss and separate from my thumb, I opted out of a spontaneous trek to Everest Base Camp, and instead rented a bike to solo ride 40km up a mountain to Nagarkot… where I ended up meeting some locals, drinking homemade raksi with them in their yurt, and essentially getting lost for three days in the Hills outside Kathmandu. I was lucky enough to happen across a local yam farmer who liked my bike, and in exchange for a few rides around his hillside farm, generously provided me with a delicious meal and let me sleep in his barn (all somehow communicated without the use of English).