Needless to say, avoid demonstrations in Kathmandu as you never know when they may turn nasty, or baton wielding police come to break it up. If you see what appears to be a demonstration forming head the other way.
BEGGARS, TO GIVE OR NOT TO GIVE ?
Whenever walking around Kathmandu you are likely to be approached by beggars, but if you give a few rupees other beggars will see this and soon you will be surrounded by a hoard of them. It is very difficult to know what to do as there are working beggars too, that is to say children or teenagers sent out on to the streets to get money from tourists. As a rule i walk straight past them and ignore them completely as you could give away a fortune each day with the amount of beggars on the street. Trekking in the mountains is a different story where you may come across a lone individual who pleads for a few rupees, and i usually have a few coins or small notes that i am able to donate without being hounded by hoards of others.
Stay away from this shop
There is a very small shop in Boudhanath area which sells beads. It is not even a shop, it is opened in the corridor that leads inside a building. I happen to purchase prayer beads from this shop on New Years Day of Nepal (April?) and the owner assured me that the price was reasonable. I have no grudges against retailer making some money for themselves but this is what happened.
For a bead that was about NRs. 500 on most shops around, he told me it was 1300 and for something that was Rs 250 elsewhere, he said it was Rs 2500. I liked the smaller one better and he jacked up the price by 10 times just because I said small is better. I bought two bead for around Nrs. 2000 (good deal I though) and asked for a receipt. He had none, but he assured that if I found a better deal then he would return the money and intact give me one as a gift.
I walked into the first bead shop I noticed just to make sure, and there you go. The stuff that I paid Nrs 2000 is work Rs 500. I smilingly went back, since he had assured me that his price was the best. Then he lied telling me that his beads were some exotic stuff and all that ***. I asked for money back since it had been just 5 since I bought the bead. Well I managed to get about Rs800 back after much argument.
May be it is not that much money, but this guy is terrible. He does;t even have licensee to run business, life in every other sentence, and does anything to just rip you off. The shop is not legit too.
The most important part of this story is, I am a native Nepali living abroad. I threatened to call police on him, then only he returned some part of the money but still did not stand up to his words. I joined this forum just to share this experience as I promised him that I will let others know about this conduct.
Nepal is a wonderful place, people like this are everywhere, CEOs and multi-national tycoons make billions lying, he made just $10-$15 dollar profit, however the question is not just about the amount but about his ethics. I recommend just any other places, and unlike me, do not make a mistake of purchasing without gathering information from a few shops.
Thanks for visiting nepal, or showing interest about Nepal. I welcome you to my homeland.
Bring a flashlight
Stores close between 8-9 pm and when they do, the streets become quite dark especially if there happens to be a power outage at the same moment. Try to be back at your hotel beforehand or if that's not possible, be sure to have a flashlight and have a companion. While KTM is generally safe, it's always best not to tempt fate by making yourself an easy prey for thieves.
This tip also holds true for Pokhara.Related to:
- Road Trip
Avoid drinking from the tap!
I think I need not stress too much on this warning because it is very evident. Unlike in other countries where tap water is not potable though it looks deceptively clear and odorless, the tap water in KTM and Pokhara have a yellow tinge even in 5-star hotels. I don't wish to know (and probably neither would you) why it is so.
So bottomline: drink (and gargle with ) bottled water only!Related to:
- Road Trip
Sadly pollution in Kathmandu was really bad. The air was filled with the smell of generator fuel and we quickly developed irritating coughs. The smell of this fuel gets on everything your clothes, hair, luggage.
The rivers were also really polluted. I assume rubbish is thrown into them to dispose of it, because at low water level in the dry season when we were there the rivers were choked up with rubbish. Very sad.
Careful about the prices, espcially food
Like most tourist places the food is exorbirantly priced. If you are travelling towards Pokhra and stop mid way to have food in the road side restaurants be careful and clarify the rates before you order. If you dont do that they will charge some insane prices so be careful.Related to:
- Luxury Travel
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
Massage Parlors in Thamel area of Kathmandu.
Every time I visit Kathmandu, I find there is a surprise waiting for me. This time, I found the infamous dance bars are closed but there are lots of Massage parlors have emerged in Thamel area. Our Vt friend Basu Thapliya ( Thapliya) and also Mr.Ritwik Das the owner of Tajmahal Restaurant ( Earlier known as Sree Lal Bhojanaya) informed that most of them offer sleaze, in place of genuine massage. These are mostly dens of corruption and illegal in Nepal. They have a modus operandi to inform the police if they feel the customer is wealthy. The police is also hand in glove with them. So they conduct raid at the time the customer is in compromising position and demand money. They also informed a few Indians were arrested in recent past and were released after their family paid hefty sum as bribe.
Those with chicken heart please stay away from these joints, instead go to SPAs, they are safe place for massage after hard walking. Hope I am clear.Related to:
- Spa and Resort
Load shedding - electricity blackouts
Always be prepared in Kathmandu: teh electricty may be switched off for hours at a time - deliberately. this in order to supply other parts of Nepal with electricity. The consequence is that you will need to always be prepared for darkness: good shoes, spare batteries, torches, headlamps, backup batteries for cameras, cell phones, laptops - you name it. it is a hopeless situation, pretty much brought on by the people's elected representatives - the politicians. When the country in the world with the 2nd highest hydropower potential (after Brazil) hardly produ ces electricity, something has gone seriously awry...
There is a load shedding schedule - ask your hotel or hosts when darkness falls so you can plan a little ahead.Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Business Travel
Warning to Women
This requires an urgent update to your page on Kathmandu.
A friend of mine recently returned from Kathmandu. She was shopping in Thamel and journeyed into a gem shop. The proprietor struck up conversation with her, and gave her his card. He was very nice, and asked if he could sketch a piece of jewelry she had worn into the shop... He said it would only take a few minutes, and asked his assistant to make some tea. My friend agreed, and followed the proprietor into his back office where he proceeded to sketch and
engage her in pleasant conversation. When the assistant brought in the tea, he only brought tea for one... the proprietor declined.
My friend sipped her tea ... but after a few minutes a wave of light headedness washed over her and she felt like she was going to pass out. She immediately knew what had happened, and without a second thought, bolted from the store. She was understandably frightened, unsure whether or not whatever she'd been drugged with was going to cause her to lose consciousness altogether. Apparently, the "assistant" had used too little to render her useless before she was able to escape.
Later, she wondered if she could ever find the shop again... and remembered she had put his card into her wallet. Retrieving the card, she realized he'd given her a business card from Noor Gems, on Durbar Marg - a reputable gem shop in another part of Kathmandu. Hence, even if she wanted to pursue action against this would-be mugger-rapist-human trafficker-murderer (insert your desired law-breaking noun here), she would likely never be able to find him... although given the stories about police in Kathmandu and their attitude about crimes against women, it would most likely be a lost cause anyway. My friend was extremely lucky.
Don't shop alone, if you can help it. Stay in visible, populated areas. Avoid accepting beverages, etc. that are offered to you. Stay street smart... Human trafficking is a very real thing, it is a very big deal ... in a moment of being trusting, open to new experiences in new cultures, and a little naive, your entire life could change - or even end. If you feel like you've been slipped something, don't sit around second guessing... get into a well populated area right away, get something to eat and something to drink. Best bet... stick with people you know, and only travel with people you trust.Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
Hiring a Porter for Treks
It's always better to hire a porter or guide from an agency in Kathmandu or Pokhara (and take him with you) rather than rely on hiring one from a village in the mountains. I have seen trekkers come unstuck when a porter has turned out to be unreliable and either abandons them or lets them down. This happens when the guy regularly gets drunk on the trek or stops off in villages to gamble or doesn't take care of his eyes in snow conditions and become snow-blind. Any of this is liable to spoil your trek.
- Budget Travel
- Mountain Climbing
- Hiking and Walking
It is very likely during your stay in KTM the electricity will be out for a good chunk of the day - if you need to charge your camera/devices or use any electrical appliances your best bet would be after dark when the electricity is usually back on. During my stay there - the electricity was out for most of the daylight hours.
You can obtain your Nepalese visa prior to visit or upon arrival. If you do it upon arrival - if you have an extra passport size pic with you bring it along because you will need one to get a visa - you can get your picture taken at the airport as well for about $USD - but only Indian and Nepalse rupees are accepted.
It cost 22 euros (other currencies accepted) for a visa and will take approximately 30minutes or so depending on the number of people also applying for one.
There is no ATM inside the airport - there is one outside of the airport but it wasn't working when I was there.
Exhaust Fumes, Dirt and Dust
The air quality is so extremely poor in KTM. Many locals wear masks to avoid the ingesting the horrible fumes - be prepared for this. Also the dust and dirt roads will also make it hard to breath. Wear glasses to help protect your eyes.
Worst Drivers Ever
The roads are terrible - every conceivable mode of transportation is used on these tattered (and often dirt roads) which are very narrow. You need to be extremely careful not to get hit - most of these folks do not know to operate their vehicle.
For the first time, I was hit. Fortunately it was just by a boy on a bicycle who rammed me from behind - no injuries.
Also be prepared for the constant honking of horns.
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