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   NEPAL  DIARY 7
    2014 - 2015

  Map + Plan  

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   Diary
 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  

From diary 6, and the more distant areas in the east, I'm now closing in on Kathmandu.

6/2 While I try to get an auto to the right bus terminal, the security guard from the hotel want me to come back with him. It turns out, someone have made an error, and they believe I have stayed there for three days. I'm unlikely to pay additionally 1000R, and after some time, they recognizes their error.
Back to the driver, who understood some English. He drives me to the right place along the highway, and I get the good seat right inside the door, despite the bus is full. Not sure how, but it was kind of expensive ticket.
Up north to the big highway, and then straight west. The landscape is flat and little farmed. After a hour, we reach the forest, and besides from some huge openings and two cities, it remain forest for the rest of the tour.
It is a quite undisturbed area, only a few settlements in the clearings and next to the many rivers. Considering I'm in the perfect seat, it is a pity here is so little to photo. Here are not even any orchids in the many trees.

We reach the town Pathaiya at noon, and while the bus head south, I get a tea brake along the highway. Here is not really much to see, and I soon find another bus, heading my way; north. It is a short ride to Hetauda, but the landscape change character. From the ultra flat Terai, it start to have hills: We have turned into the foothills of the Himalayas. I have a seat in the middle of the bus, but I hope for both a better seat and a more sights, as we start the true assent after Hetauda.
Hetauda is a surprisingly big and modern city. I do a few loops around the terminal, but I kind of seen it all.
It is quite difficult to find the right bus to the nearby Daman (accordantly to my map: Around 20 Km!). Finally, I am told to take an auto to another terminal. Here, two totally worn-down busses and a almost new mini-bus are parked. First, I get a seat in one of the old busses, but it is my favourite seat. Then, after quite some time, tea and biscuits, I'm told; it is the new one, going to Daman. Bit of a bummer: It is already full, and I can't see anything outside, but a meter of sealing. Well, it is a short tour on  the Tribhuvan Highway - I thought. Three and a half hour later, I can feel some motion-signees, but at least not as bad as some others. I have a clear feeling of, I have missed a fantastic mountain-road. We have claimed more than 2000 metres, and I think we followed a white river for the first bit. We are so pressed together, I can't bend down to have a peak out, and my head hit the sealing. I'm about half a meter higher then the rest - except the short ones.
At five, we finally reach the mountain village Daman (elev. 2322m). It is a tiny village with a great view! It is only 80 kilometres southwest of Kathmandu, and I guess it will be teaming with tourists in the season. Right now, I'm alone as usual. I'm dropped at the real expensive resort, but the place I have chosen is real close bye. Here are actually only three places to stay, and I go for the Sherpa House. It is a little house with three spotless and real cosy rooms, facing the Mountain Botanical Garden. I can spot some of the red flowering Rhododendron arboreum, and with a bit of luck, they have started flowering all over the mountains.
I get a cup of tea, and start working, while my hosts prepare supper in the same room: Cosy! It is a bit cold - to say it nice. The sun kind of vanished, just when I got here, and then the temperature drops fast. Half pass six, it is 11C, but the host have a great trick: He places a bowl with glowing coal under the table, and I start to feel alive again.
The toilet/bath is a tin-plate sheet in the back garden - but real clean - sure glad I don't have to use it during the night!
My hosts are so nice, and the supper they prepare is traditional and real tasty. They go to bed a eight, while I wait a bit, despite the glows underneath me had died. I give up when the temperature pass 13C - on the way down. I wished I have brought one of the rubber-bags for hot water. Sure would come in handy by now!

7/2 I did not get enough to drink yesterday, and I have to sneak down the the kitchen twice during the night, to get some water. I just hope I'm taking it from the right bucket? Besides from that, I get a real good night's sleep on what is probably the best madras on the entire tour. Considering the early bedtime on one hand, and the need for the sun's warmth, I asked for breakfast at seven.
The grass in the front-garden is covered in frosting, but it does not feel that cold. The sun has been shining clear and bright for a hour, and that make all the different. While the temperature does not exceed 13C during the day, I feel as it is 25-30C - as long as I am in the sun.
After the omelette, I head up to the viewing tower. The light is changing fast, but I think I made it in time. It is a 180 degree view of the Himalayas, even Mount Everest can be seen, way out to the east. I spend quite some time, taking a lot of pictures, just alike. I try to capture the waste valley, but is is simply too big.
Then I head down the road, leading to Kathmandu. It is just as serpentined on this side of the pass, and I look forward for that tour tomorrow - if I get a a seat.
The villagers are slowly starting to peek outside, and their animals are enjoying the sun. The bushes and trees along the twisting road is mainly made up by different oaks and Rhododendrons. Underneath is a few flowering plants, one is minute as can be. I find a few Dendrobiums, and some ferns, but not that much. On the way back, I make a shortcut - well, seen from above. It actually leads all the way out on a ridge, then down the gorge and up the other side. Here, it is mainly pine trees and Rhododendrons.
On the way home, I try to find a restaurant with milk and some sort of bread. That turns out to be a challenge, and I have to do with milk-tea.
While I sit enjoying it, several women are passing bye with huge bags on their backs. They contain dried leaves "for the goats to sleep on". Underneath the big bag are fresh oak branches for the goats to eat.

I pass my hotel on the way back to drop the winter cloth, and pass the street to the Mountain Botanical Gardens. It comprise over 78 hectares of mainly forest. In February to Marts, the national flower; the Rhododendron is in flower. I have seen some of the first flowers being open in the previous botanical gardens, but at lower altitude. Up here, they are starting, and it is truly a great sight.
Besides from that, it might have been a great botanical garden once, but now it is more a park. And an awesome one! It is located in a vast gorge, and most of the sides are made into terraces. That could be a part of former farming?
Here are a few greenhouses and a open orchid house, but I am clearly here on the wrong time of the year. I walk the upper part with the buildings, then I head down the gorge. A small creek crosses the trail, before it head up again. A single cherry-tree is partly covered in orchids, and a few other are found around other trees.
Only the local Rhododendron arboreum is flowering now. The five species from Sikkin are a bit later, I guess.
Another impressive flowering species it  the Berberisa nepalensis.
In the wild part, I find a pretty Selaginella and a terrestrial orchid, but not much else, but the fantastic landscape.

After noon, I head back the road I came by last afternoon. It is just as great, and here are more flowering Rhododendrons. I can't really determine what kind of rock the area is made of. It look a bit like granite, but also like slightly grained limestone? Could be some sort of volcanic ash?
I find some narrow tracks, leading away from the sealed road. Probably from the gathering of firewood and dead leaves. A few big clusters of Dendrobiums sit rather low in the trees.
A few kilometres up the road, I reach the entrance for the local monastery; Shree Rikheshwar Mahadev Tempal. It is a long walk through the forest, both up and dawn. From time to  time, the fantastic mountains can be seen through the trees, and then the praying flags take over.
It is a pilgrim place, and here are around 20 people, praying and offering. Some from India, some from Bhutan. Here is a secret well and a drawing on a rock-wall. And of cause; bells and statues. Round a corner, I find some small, moss-overgrown statues, which seems to be forgotten. Some monks should live here, and it does look like someone is. On the way out, I find a trail leading to a small stupa.
I passes my hotel on the way down, to get a milk-tea. Then it is back to work. I have walked the trails and roads around the place, and after six hours walking, it is time to sit down anyway.
The sun disappears behind the ridge before four, and then the 13C can be felt, and it soon drops further! When it pass 10C at six, I break out my Michelin-man-suit. Soon after, my host bring the bawl with glowing coal, and life worth living once again.
Daman is a truly great place, even in the winter. Fantastic views, great nature and so peaceful. My hosts are fantastic people, and the even speak English. But two days are enough for restless me.
Then I show my hosts some of my pictures: They name a country, and I show them my best photos from that area.
When they retire at eight, I start choosing the best 100 - make it 200 - photos from Nepal. After that, I make a page about the local botanical garden and one with the still un-named caudiciform.

8/2 A good, long night's sleep, and I'm ready for the tour to Kathmandu. Unfortunately, the first bus passes bye, as I eat breakfast, and the next is two and a half hour later. I walk down to the central part of town - where three huts stand quite close. Time for milk-tea and some homemade, sweet rings, made with rice-flower and cooked in oil.
Then I start on making an estimate on my next years work, while the women carry huge loads of dried leaves and firewood bye. The roosters, hens and chicks are busy, trying to find scraps around, while the dogs just bask in the sun. While I sit here for a couple of hours, a oil-truck with kids on, another truck and  a small car passes bye - it is truly a quiet place!
I am looking forward for a hot shower - or shower for that matter, and some internet, but I rather prefer the tranquillity and great nature around here.
Just before ten, the mist overtake the scene from the sun, and it turns cold again. The sun only peak through a few times on the entire tour to Kathmandu. I recon I've been lucky with the weather yesterday!

The bus is almost on time, and I even get a seat. Some more people get on the next kilometre, and the last ones don't. I had though of walking ahead, good thing I didn't. And then again; It turns out this bus only connect to the bigger village, nine kilometres down; Palung. If I had known that, I would have walk instead of waiting. The nine kilometres tour took a hour and a half. It was a truly steep decent, and the views fantastic. The winding road leads down through pine- and oak forest, endless terraces, tiny settlements and unspoiled nature on the most steep areas. The Tribhuvan Highway from Hetauda to Naubise it worth the time - if you got a good seat and a steady stomach.
I'm guided to the ticket office - a dirty, rusty, decaying hut. They are happy to sell me a seat on the next bus for Kathmandu - in two hours. Nothing to do, but walk around the rather busy village, drink milk-tea and make some photos. A cherry tree is in full flower along with some yellow flowering bushes.
All the terraces are prepared for sowing. It look like potato fields, but I think it is to prevent the crop from drowning, and in the same time being able to water them as rice-fields.

The bus is here early, but I prefer to stretch my legs, not sitting crammed together more than I have to. I get on when the engine starts, and find my seat, which turns out to be in the middle of the bus. The bus take of seven minutes before time, but it is pretty full anyway.
The road now leads through small but steep hills. They are greatly farmed in terraces, but still barren for now. Then we meet another mountain range, and we climb through endless pine forests. On the other side, the same familiar type of terraces with "potato fields" continues. After some time, we hit a narrow valley, then the climb to the ridge of the Kathmandu valley begins. The clouds have now overtaken the mist, and the temperature falls with the assent.
After 67 kilometres and four hours, the bus terminate in the south-western corner of Kathmandu. I had a plan about using my usual hotel, and I quite fast find a connection city-bus.
We pass some familiar places, and I ask the ticket-boy, but he tell me to sit back and relax. I might just recognise them from one of the tours I have made within the city? Finally, he give me the signal, and I jump off at a big and really unfamiliar square. I check a couple of the business signs; they say Chabahil! Well, I asked to go to Thamel, and that does sound like Chabahil, right?
I find a new bus, heading back to the familiar sights. I start walking, but it is dark, and I'm not really sure of the location. That is good business for a trishaw driver, who make 100R on the relatively short drive. I'm greeted by the manager, who remembered I had said; I'll be back on the tenth.
It is half pass six, and I just check emails before I find my favourite restaurant, which ought to have my favourite band playing on Sundays. But they don't. That don't stop me in enjoying a tandoori chicken.
It feels a bit wired: Here are almost as many tourists as locals - even in "my" hotel.
Then it is back to work. I figure I might as well can make a slideshow from Daman.
After work, I can't find the energy to seek out for a cup of tea. The mountain-driving sit in me like a day at sea. The hot shower I have been looking forward for, is a no-show due to the missing sun. That won't stop me from having a hot bath! I still have my dip-cooker.

9/2  Knowing breakfast is served late in Kathmandu, I take it easy in the morning. Sorting out all my gear, and do some work, before I head out in the city. Then back to start on the big accounting. I real nice Croatian photographer ask for some hints to the country, and we end up talking till two in the afternoon.

Then I head out in the city for tea, and I decide to treat my self with a bigger statue, if I can find the right one. It is not like Kathmandu don't have statues! But I just want something nicer. I finally find a shop who not only have one, but three I like. Unfortunately, they are all made of ivory, which I won't  buy, and the price is there after! I have defiantly not seen anything else in ivory, and these are ancient. One is a Ganesh, the two others are with dragons on.
The next statue I find is in metal, but it turns out it is several hundreds years old and just as silly expensive. Why is it always that way?
I find a square with a huge stuba, I haven't seen before - or don't recall. It is Shree Gha, and it is a nice one. I get some more tea, but I completely fail to find a statue I like - and can/will afford.
The sun disappears, and the temperature drops. Somehow, I manages to keep warm enough in my long sleeved T-shirts, but it reminds me, I want one of the thin goose down jackets. The cheep ones is 2500R, and I can probably get them down to 18-2000R. But the sleeves are too short - as usual. One shop has both an owner who don't give up, and some genuine The North Face. Long sleeves, but 6000R. We spend quite some time negotiating a price on 3500R.  Less than a tenth of the price at home.
I passes my hotel around seven, and then find some supper. I remember something about my favourite band playing this Monday, because they didn't play Sunday. And they are. I chat with two of the musicians, and not surprisingly, they are music teachers, and have gigs on recordings and one have just been on tour in Europe. I spend the evening listening to them, and drinking masala tea.
Then it is back to work on photos, and NOT planning tomorrow. I original had a plan about seeing Nuwakot; "An untouched gem of a village". At present, I think I have seen enough of them. I also thought about taking one of the flights around Everest, but I have seen snow covered mountains enough by now.
I rather continue my work on the accounting, and cruising around in Kathmandu's tourist area and old town, drinking milk-tea. And I might get a tailor to slim-line my new jacket a bit. XL is fine over the shoulders and sleeves, but around my stomach; it is way too loose, and I don't like the hut!

10/2 After breakfast, I finish the accounting. The few things I want to get sown, might be sown here at 1/20 of the price, and I find a tailor. While he works, I head down his street; one of the non-tourist ones. No sealing and lots of cars, none sidewalk. A photographer's studio is surrounded by wedding guests. Besides from that, I don't really se anything new.
Then, the hunt for a great looking statue for little money, is a foot. I go through the tourist streets quite systematic, and I soon learn which shops are worth visiting. It is those with second hand things. Some are 500 years or older. Not that surprisingly, they all have some ivory work in a draw. When one of them pull his draw out, a rat jumps out of it. Then your expectations are lowered a bit. He unpack two 20 centimetre statues with an incredible amount of details and finish! I have no intention of buying ivory, but I must admit; I admire the craftsmanship, which have gone into this old statues. And it the legal madder wasn't enough to control me, the $10.000 is for sure!
At some point, I find out, it is the old bone carvings that have, what I want. But I am not willing to spend 12.000R on a piece of bone - carved or not. After a lot of shops, I give up, and settle for a metal statue. Not much easier, and when I get the price down from 8.000R to 3.500R on a rather nice Ganesh, I settle for that.
Soon after, I find a nice, old bone carving which originates from a chaman's religious necklace. I spend quite some time saving 5.000R, but the result is satisfactory. Despite I don't look anymore, I end up in a shop who have some of the large bone carvings. And his price is 1/6 of the others! I have to buy one.... Then I avoid those shops like the plague!
Most of the day have gone, and the rest is spend walking the old Thamel district. Here are so many nice motives, but I have covered them by now.
Supper at a local joint: A huge plate of tasty fried noodles with quite some boneless chicken for 1,20R - 1. Then it is time to go home and work - if the power was on. Instead, I do one more loop, and as usual, I find new roads in the waste area Thamel is.
When the power returns on the scheduled time 19;45, I start working. To my big surprise, I don't freezes anymore, despite the temperature in my room is 15,6C. Plan for tomorrow; Well, breakfast and then....

11/2 It is slow start on the day, but my plans are limited anyway. I get warmed up by the sun as I eat breakfast on a roof-top restaurant - as usual. Then back to work for some time, till the sun get down on the narrow streets. I head for the old part of Thamel, and try to improve some of my pictures. Tea breaks in the sun, long talks with business owners, who are so bored. Not by me, but the lack of customers!
I see yet another wedding parade: First a real loud orchestra, then the decorated car followed by the fancy dressed guests.
Back in the tourist area, one more guy ask me, if I want some hash. I usually ignore them, but this one is a bit too persistent, and I ask him: "Do I look like a drug addict to you?". Unfortunately, he get a bit confused, and answer "Yes!". Big mistake! I think he will be a bit more careful, in the future...
At three, the sun disappears in a mist, and I get the last beams on a rooftop, sipping milk-tea. Back to have a hot shower while it is possible, and stuff the back-pack with everything. And "stuff" it truly to word! I really hope I get it undisturbed through inspections!
Then I make the last slideshows: Kathmandu Part 3,    The Highlights,    The Plants,    The People,  and  The Animals.
Supper at the Black Olive; Creamy Penne with mushrooms and chicken, followed by a apple pie with vanilla ice and several masala-teas. I'm the only customer, and I have a long talk with two of the employees. One is well in to politic, and I learn quite a lot, which is not visible to tourists. 120 parties, old kingdoms, old languages, religion, China/India and much more, hinder this country in developing as fast and smooth as it could.
It is a cold evening, and only the bonfire make the restaurant cosy. At eight, I return to work some more, and try to upload the slideshows and other pages.

12/1 Not much sleep during the night (never with a set alarm), but at least, the taxi is on time, and I even get a big American breakfast in the airport before take-off. I got 800R left, and it cost 750R - perfect. Except from the 13% tax. The waiter will draw the remaining on my Visa-card. But he draw the entire amount, and I can't figure what to do with the cash. I ask him to change it, but he offers to change it into US$. I agree, but then it turns out his dollars have gone, but I can change down stairs. Yes, half a hour after my flight have taken off.
The flight is on time, and three films later, I'm in Istanbul. I am now updated on Hercules, X-men and a dubious modern American vision of Sherlock Holmes.
They have some great changing machines in Istanbul - only dealing with $, and the local wooden-slides. The two manned counters are not any more useful. My bank at home might do it, but I have to pay additionally!
Anyway, two hours to spend, and I can't find a better way, than consuming a banana-chocolate cake and some tea. The gate changes constantly, from one end of the huge airport to the other.
Not much delayed, we fly towards Denmark. I get to see a long action film, then we are there. Two trains connect perfectly in Copenhagen, and I'm home at six - in a cold, dark and boring place.

On the entire tour round Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India, I have only taken 7855 photos - way less than I use to. Less than half of them can be found online. It has been a great experience, despite the cold weather. Considering I freezes way more than others, I am baffled about the lack of tourists in wintertime. Here ought to be way more people, enjoying the clear and dry season.

I came here to learn about how plants cope with the climate, and I have indeed learned a lot! The relations between temperature, altitude, sun and other factors, suddenly give a whole new perspective to growing high altitude plants.
The price of 27.500DKK; 3700 (+ some gear which can be used in the future) is a bargain for knowledge like this!

NEPAL EXPENSES: DKK Euro
Flight   5.400 720
Hotels   2.060 275
Transport   1.900 253
Entre i.e.   1.170 156
  Gear   11.300 1.507
Visa   600 80
Insurance   2.000 267
Food i.e.   3.000 400
    27.430 3.657

 

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