Friday, June 13, 2014

Kathmandu's Cavalcade

For the life of you, do not attempt to travel half way around the world by flying three different, back to back flights. No matter how good a flier you are, you will find yourself exhausted from lack of sleep. Your eyes will sting from lack of moisture. Your stomach will distend and cramp from too much gas buildup, and the interior mucous membranes in your nasal cavities will crack and bleed. If you insist on flying to four different countries on three different continents over the course of 2.5 days to make for a total of 26 hours in the air, make sure you break the trip up. And don't fly over the Bay of Bengal during a severe thunderstorm...It will scare the crap out of you. Unless of course, you're 19 and don't give a shit.

But the ill effects of three sleepless days and nights were quickly forgotten upon landing in Kathmandu, Nepal. Sure this is the home of Everest and expert climbers from all over the world who come here to scale the tallest mountain in the world (I know this debatable, but it's my blog so bear with me). However, Nepal's capital city of Kathmandu is a vibrant, ancient metropolis congested with people, young and old, who all seem to be moving rather quickly to some unknown destination. The bazaar itself is made up of narrow roads connected at odd angles as if no planning went into them. The roads are boarded with crumbling ancient architecture interspersed with Buddhist and Hindu temples. The smog pervades the air to the degree that, like in many Chinese cities, the locals don masks over their faces to filter the pollution. Some of these masks are made by famous clothing designers. The masks might match a woman's outfit and I imagine they cost a lot.   

Cows and rickshaws share the roads with cars and motorcycles, the latter combustion engine-powered machines forever competing for the finite space that exists on the byways but miraculously never smashing into one another or running anyone down. Drivers honk horns relentlessly and at times, you find it impossible to know who is honking the horn at who. 

The night life is vibrant to say the least. Kathmandu is a musician's paradise with the rattle and hum of live bands competing with one another from the many bars and eateries that exist within the bazaar. Last night I enjoyed a couple of beers while listening to a middle-aged man play trombone not to an accompanying band but instead to digitally pre-recorded tracks. This is 2014 after all, even if the Kathmandu of today could easily fill in for the Kathmandu of 1970, or 1935 for that matter. He was dressed in a long tunic over pantaloons that looked like pajamas. His feet were bare and he wore a long gray/black beard and even longer gray hair pulled back in a ponytail. I took him for a SoCal transplant, circa 1985, who came to find something to smoke and never left. 

I could tell you about the food and how fresh it is ... nan prepared over a stone fire...chicken and beef drowned in savory and crisp vegetables cut up in chunks...but I need to head back out to explore more in this city of adventurers and ancient history. 


  1. I love living vicariously through your travels Vincent! As I don't have the stomach (or nerve) to go to the far reaches of the earth myself. :)

    1. Thanks Ed, I shall be happy to take you all over the world!

  2. your words and images always deliver the true flavor of the exotic slices of life you experience the world over. looking forward to the next offering!