Monday, May 28, 2007

Hippie Geek

Kathmandu, 30'313 km

Gosh, I almost got trapped in the easy-going atmosphere of Kathmandu, nice hotel room, plenty of good food, great bars to have a drink and chat, nice weather, what else could you ask for (well OK, a beach maybe). Even the hashish and tiger balm hawkers fail to annoy me.. it would be all too easy to stay here another few months (right Khim?).

But I've only spent about 4 weeks in total in Nepal, as I flew back and spent 3 weeks in Switzerland, to see people, do some shopping and other administrivia which is easier to do at home, like a new carnet, new visas, etc... Mainly I had to get a new shock absorber (Oehlins refurbished) and a few parts for the bike, and replace my camping gear which is either missing or needs to be replaced. Thamel may be plastered with (mostly fake) hiking gear shops, but a good tent is impossible to find here. I gave away my old one in Goa, as it was pretty worn out and I didn't need it during the last few months. I sent my mat by post in Hyderabad to fix it, but the package is still "on its way" after almost 3 months. And I want to replace my synthetic sleeping mat with down for the cool nights in altitude. I also bought a new Primus stove here for a lot cheaper than in Switzerland (it's much easier to haggle at the end of the season).

So now that my bike is fixed and ready, my camping gear sorted out, and the weather has improved, there is no reason for me to stay here. It's nice to have breakfast with Khim, in a nice cafe with free (but slow) WiFi, spending most of the morning (and sometimes the afternoon) playing with our MacBooks, as true "neo-hippie" Kathmandu geeks.. Well, it's not only playing, I did some serious photo and video editing, which is the main reason I carry this pice of hardware. Khim has shipped his bike to Brazil, so he's a happy camper, but as the monsoon just about hits Sri Lanka I want to take advantage of the last window of good weather to explore the upper himalayan valleys of Himachal Pradesh, before heading to Ladakh when Cecilia joins me end of June.

The situation here is a bit unstable. The fuel is in short supply: Nepal is not paying their bills to India so they're pulling the plug; I had to wait 45 minutes this morning to top up my tank. It was not hard to find the petrol station, it was heavily guarded by police forces. But when I arrived very early they hadn't received the petrol yet. I returned after breakfast and a long queue was quickly forming as the rumor spread. Fortunately the guy didn't restrict me to the 500 rps quota so I have a full tank now. Not enough to make it to the western border though, so I'll have to find some on my way (or head straight for the nearby Indian border but that doesn't look very interesting).

A demonstration by teachers on strike yesterday had been brutally repressed by the police, so today there's a general strike to protest against it.. it's hard to tell which direction the country is going, I guess I'll find out when I'm back in fall, on my way to Tibet and China - Inch Allah!

Well, that it for a quick entry. As usual, check out the portfolio for the latest pics.