What do you imagine when you think of Nepal?
I used to imagine a pristine Himalayan kingdom full of smiling Sherpas and soaring, snow-capped mountains. I thought I would love Nepal.
Before leaving the United States, I talked with a young woman who had spent 3 weeks in Nepal as part of a Cornell Outdoor Education trip. I was describing our travel plans and how excited I was about tramping in New Zealand, but she continually interrupted me to say, “Go to Nepal... go to Nepal... Go To Nepal!!” It seems like the type of place that everyone loves.
|a typical stream: 1 part water, 2 parts trash|
But I never loved Nepal.
|a tee-shirt for sale in thamel. looks like i'm not the only one...|
On the contrary, there were many moments when I outright hated the place. One of those moments was the evening of our return to Kathmandu after the illness of a friend had defeated our hopes of trying the Helambu Circuit. The night before, bedbugs had feasted on my chest and waistline. I had a stomach ache, and I couldn't sleep. In order to vent my frustrations, I wrote the following.
The ABC's of Why I Hate Nepal
Air pollution. Wheeeeeze cough cough.
|kathmandu is out there somewhere... under the haze...|
Cascading waterfalls. We get the craps so often they've got their own nickname. Runner up: Cheats who treat us like walking ATMs.
Dal baht... so sick of dal baht.
Environmental degradation like I've never seen before.
Frustration. Ask three different people a question and get four different answers. If it's someone's job to pick up a phone, rest assured that he will not answer. Price quotes are always 50% too high, but quotes for bus trip lengths are always 50% too low. Don't bother trying to get anything done—the Nepali government doesn't, so why should you?
Groups of more than 8 individuals on a package trek booked from the home country. You are wearing brand new boots (enjoy those blisters) and you're holding those trekking poles incorrectly. Your guides book out trail accommodation days in advance. Please step aside so I can pass you on the trail, and also, screw you.
Haze. I know there are mountains out there somewhere...
Illness. I've lost count of the number of times I've been sick.
Jaded, rich “teahouse” employees who can't be bothered to say “namaste.”
Kathmandu. This ain't Shangri-La. I've been through this city four times, and I've yet to find anything remotely beautiful.
Local buses. I've used up my stash of Dramamine.
|if it makes you feel any better, locals vomit too|
Noise pollution. Beeping your motorbike horn does not make the traffic move faster.
Overpaying for everything. See also: Cheats, Frustration, Visas.
Quirky, “spiritual” travelers. You're not special—you're just under the influence of cheap hash.
Rickshaws. Not quaint. Actually, a pain in the ass when I'm trying to walk from here to there.
Shits, The. See also: Illness.
Thamel. God, especially Thamel. The definition of a tourist ghetto.
Unsympathetic beggars. I see you running down the street. You see me, you start limping and hold out a hand. Do you really think I'm going to give you anything?
Visas. Most expensive one to date. And I'm tired of hearing about how hard it is to get a USA visa.
Water that tastes like blood, metal, dirt, or all three. Also water-borne diseases.
X marks the spot—oh wait, no it doesn't, because the trekking maps here are frustratingly, dangerously inaccurate.
Yaks, because they're impossible to pass on a trail.
Zithro. I've taken it so often in this country that it will never be effective for me again.
|sick as hell|
...Nepalis constantly throwing rocks at stray dogs--does your religion mean nothing to you?
......kids huffing out of bags; leeches; foreigners who idealize Nepal
.........playing Venga Boys on the local bus/ in the bar next door
............hocking up and spitting out phlegm onto the street or trail
...............the grooves worn into the tourist trail between Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Chitwan
..................ostentatious displays of wealth from rich Nepalis
.....................and most of all, anyone who puts their left hand on their ass, and then on my food, without touching a bar of soap in between.
There. That felt better. :-)
By the way, Dave posted a really excellent of his thoughts and experiences over here. I agree with pretty much everything he had to say.