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Thursday, March 29, 2012

THE ENRAGED AUSSIE

HEALTH AND SAFETY WARNING

When you hear bongo drums in the darkness, load the guns and lock the doors. Hippies are up to something.



DAVI'S FALL AKA DEVI'S FALL

Other tourists had recommended this. I took a look at a guide pamphlet someone had given me. It said "Where the Hindu religion people worship a temple of their great god Mahadev inside the cave." Some amazingly hideous use of the English language there but you get the point. I said "Why not. Matt has expressed an interest in temples and such - this may be something outside the norm. I will check it out."

It was a couple hour walk but I was happy to go stretch my legs.

There was a 100 NRS fee to see the whole thing - temple of this Mahadev guy and beyond it. The temple part was only of nominal interest to me but a couple of kind Canadians had told me that the waterfall itself had dug its way into the earth and you could see the end of it. That sounded pretty cool.

Wrong.

You are not allowed to take pictures of the temple area but even if I had been, I probably would have taken only one to show 'here it is'. It looked pretty grottty to me. I've seen much more interesting things. I've passed more interesting stuff on the streets with just a glance. Because it is in a cave doesn't make it more interesting to me.

The caves themselves are 'wet caves'. For those who aren't familiar with caves, you have wet and dry. Wet caves are made in some way by the action of water. For some geological reason they are less prone to cave in than 'dry' caves. They are also wet in a very literal sense. I recommend bringing some sort of head covering - especially if you wear glasses. Naturally, I'd forgotten my usual cap. I think it was getting a much needed wash.

The caves were absolutely crammed with locals who wanted to yell to other locals. In addition to the adults there were at least three classes of school kids loitering around. I suppose it is better than regular school work. Probably in part because they were a lot shorter than I am and didn't repeatedly get to ram their head against the ceiling. I'd really like a hard hat for visiting these friggin caves. Caves I'd been to in other places were set up like a sort of race track. You go in on one path and out on the other. All traffic flows in one direction. Not here. You get to crawl over people and school kids who are loitering hoping to stretch out a fifteen minute trip into a full day field trip.

In addition, the terminus of the waterfall I would rate as 'lame'. Imagine a dark, big shower. There you go - you've pretty much been there.

If Matt really wants to go I'll take him to the opening and show him where to buy a ticket. "See you in fifteen minutes, mind your head buddy!" I will smoke and wait for him. He won't enjoy himself.



QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Twas for the good of my country that I should be abroad. Anything for the good of ones country." - George Farmer.



THE ENRAGED AUSSIE

[Disclaimer: This is not the typical Australian I've met in traveling. In fact, on a daily basis I gave Pete H. reasons to become enraged with me but he never did.]

Wandering down the street, I espied a strange sight. There was a fat Aussie on a motorcycle. 'Riding bitch' was his large Nepal wife. The Aussie chased down a Nepali man in a car and got him to stop. Because the wife of the Aussie looked unharmed and the Aussie man kept yelling 'You hit my wife!', my assumption is that the guy in the car clipped her. I've been clipped so many times I lost count at close to twenty. A lot of people drive like idiots.

The Nepali guy didn't leave his car for the entire exchange. Since the Aussie's bike was parked right next to his door, he didn't have the option.

The biker had a good 'mad-on' going. He kept screaming "I'll kill you!" over and over again. Whenever someone repeats the same thing it tells me that they are either fixated on it, their emotions are in control instead of logic or they are stupid as hell. I am not sure which it was in this case.

In addition to threatening and ranting at the guy, the guy from Oz also grabbed the car drivers shirt and ripped it. The man just fingered his shirt and gave the biker a hurt "I can't believe you just tore my shirt" look. He was remarkably calm. He wai-ed a couple of times as a way of apologizing.

The enraged man wasn't interested in an apology. He tore off his helmet and used it to bonk the driver. Because of the angle, he couldn't get a good solid hit in, but the man did clutch his nose.

His wife kept trying to calm him down. She looked as though she would die from embarrassment.

During this time a huge crowd of Nepalese people silently gathered. I'm guessing over fifty not including the traffic from both directions which had been stopped by the fracas. Everyone just calmly looked at the enraged Aussie. It was a little eerie. Nobody looked angry or hostile - just watchful.

As with all crowds, eventually a leader emerged and went and politely asked the biker if he had gone crazy. This caused the guy to repeat all of his earlier 'he hit my wife' and 'I'll kill him' threats but he was running out of steam. It takes a lot of energy to keep up a good murderous rage. I'm not sure if he was just out of shape or if he was getting freaked out by the huge silent crowd that was continuing to form and silently watch him. The crowd leader and man's wife managed to calm him down. He relented by telling the driver to 'fuck off' and making the hand gesture to indicate he should drive on.

After some more softer talking, the bike went the other direction.

What impressed me most is how calm and gentle the Nepal people were in the face of rage. Had this been Thailand, I wouldn't have been surprised if the man (and possibly his wife) had been hauled off the bike and given a severe beating for messing with a local.

Thoughts of video taping the entire incident had gone through my head but the Aussie was looking around way too much and I didn't want to become the next target of his rage. I must confess that if I had a kukri unsheathed in one hand and the camera in the other I may have been tempted. Given the situation, I didn't want to make it worse. Well, not if the worse was directed at me in any case.

So, props to the people of Nepal to whom peace and politeness are things they have culturally embraced.



MATT VS THE MONKS OF DOOM

In talking to people from Nepal and other tourists, I've come up with a potential idea for Matt's visit. Yes, I can talk about it here because he is too lazy to read my blog often. He just checks from time to time to see if I'm alive.

How does spending a day and night at a Tibetan Monastery sound? Well, potentially pretty interesting. Unless you're a woman. Sorry but they just don't allow women. I did check for all of my female readers and got a firm no.

Since Matt is interested in religion and so on, I figured this might be something he would enjoy doing. I decided on public transport - naturally. The public transport was 25 NRS as opposed to a taxi which would have been 300-400 NRS. The bus beater (AKA 'yeller') was fun. He spoke an amazing amount of English and added me on Facebook. Cool guy and my first FB friend from Nepal.

For those who don't know, the bus drivers are paid based on the fares they collect. More riders equals more money for them. Every time I thought that the bus was as packed as it could possibly get we would stop and get another half dozen packed in. There were at least four people hanging off the bus at one point. And still we stopped for more. It was an interesting experience. If you are at all claustrophobic, I recommend avoiding this experience as you may upset the other passengers by screaming.

Once I got to the destination, I looked up and yes it was on top of a hill. Christ, there were a lot of stairs. This monastery is called "Kahukhola". It sounds like "Can cu cola". When I first heard the name, I thought they said "Can cola" and thought "This will be bloody easy to remember!"

Matt is counting on me, I thought. It took about four rest breaks to go up a lot of stairs. I am a dedicated smoker and stairs are not my friends. I can do three or four stories but after that I'm huffing and puffing. Flat land, I can go for hours. Stairs suck. Even now, I'm eating Oreo cookies to try to regain any mass I lost on those hellish things. When I was climbing up the stairs I was thinking of all the poor bastards who had to run water up there in the old days. What a shitty job. You feeling traumatized by the stairs yet? Yes? Good - we can move on.

When I got to the top, there were a couple of interesting things. Brightly colored - but modern buildings and a nice city view. I took some pictures. Since I couldn't find anyone around who either spoke English or was in charge I also made a video. Since nobody of authority was around I figured I could get away with a video - why not.

There were some 'no smoking' signs up which I eyed hatefully. Monks don't get to smoke. Irritating.

Eventually, I talked to a non-monk who was a math teacher and a monk who spoke less English who was his boss. I found out that a room there (which has three beds or so) is 400 NRS. Cheap. The room also comes with breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. Nice - free food. That wasn't what really concerned me. I can get food. Anyone who has ever seen a picture of me has no doubt in their mind that I can get food. I was worried about getting bored there. Hot water is possible in bucket form from the kitchen at no additional charge.

I know a bit about monks. They work. They study. They pray. That's about it. On a daily basis they pass up a lot of fun opportunities that anyone else would jump at. For example, zip lines. You live on top of a mountain. What could be more fun than zip lines to go 'weeeee' all the way down?

But you aren't suppose to have 'fun' while seeking after spiritual enlightenment. That wouldn't be proper. If you could they might let you smoke. Or have women stay the night. No, fun is right out.

After spending ten minutes in the monastery I was wondering 'what the hell are we suppose to do while we're here?

I've known Matt for a long time. He has the attention span of a chimp. He'll get bored and set the place on fire within an hour. I have the same attention span. I'd help, possibly while smoking a cigarette.

I'm given to understand that a lot of people use the monastery as a cheap guesthouse. That strips away much of the cool mysticism from staying there.

As I was leaving, I got hit up for a donation to their 'teach monks English' fund. I reminded them I had been carefully probing for the prices. This was done because I am poor. They relented and wished me a good day.

In discussing the place with the proprietor of the Pokhara Guesthouse he told me "That is not a famous monastery." My translation, "Why would you want to stay there?"

The area around the guesthouse was what I call 'grotty standard Asia'. Nothing much to see or do.

The idea is not yet abandoned. Tomorrow - or the day after - I will go to a different monastery a French lady told me about. We were discussing it while her daughters were using me as a 'jungle gym'. This other monastery is next to a Tibetan village where they do a lot of the handicrafts and such by hand. That should be good for at least an hour of cheap entertainment and possibly allow Matt the chance to buy some bric-a-brak to take home and stick in his room.

Women from countries where they are treated closer to equal (though still often making less than men in the same job) may feel outraged at not being able to stay in some monasteries. I've been informed by the French lady that she, her two daughters and husband stayed in the other monastery. If women are not allowed in the monastery you wish to stay at, I would suggest watching Monty Python's "Life of Brian" movie and using the disguise the women therein did. Sixty percent of the time it works ninety percent of the time.

I'm hoping that the next monastery is more interesting. I'd like Matt to go home with some interesting answers to 'what did you do in Nepal'. "We stayed for a night in a Tibetan monastery hanging out with the monks. We went rappelling and white water rafting. And then..." That sounds like a good start.



RETURNING TO THE GUESTHOUSE

Given the choice between riding the public transport home or a three hour walk, I took the walk. I wanted to wander around and explore. And get food.

My bag got yet another repair from a tailor. He did a better job than some of the other people who have repaired bags in the past.

When I was eating a pretty nasty lunch of chicken nuggets with bones in them, I tried to figure out the word for bones from the people. Despite my various hand signs I got the word for 'wings'. So now I can say 'no wings'. Not very helpful. Later, I found out the word for bones.

After picking up some lunch, I played the game of directions in which I ask people for directions as soon as I'm out of sight of the other people I've just gotten directions from so I can get a general consensus of the direction I should travel. It always amazes me how people who have lived their whole lives in a city can't give directions to something basic. Like the only huge lake.

One guy who had given me directions pulled up in his overly big shiny car and offered me a lift part way. My parents always told me "If a stranger offers you a ride, you take it!" so I did. He did a lot of talking about different places he was either taking me or had to go himself. His English wasn't very good. I had no clue what he was going on about but when he dropped me off he indicated the direction I should continue. I resumed my direction game.

Eventually, I landed back in the tourist street along the lake. There, I met the French woman. She is traveling with her husband and two children. I'm not good at guessing the ages of children. I mostly ignore children because they frankly don't have a lot of interesting conversational topics. Since I look at them as - and treat them as - short 'people', kids seem to like me. A lot. They like to climb on me and sit in my lap and talk endlessly to me. Today, it was in French. Telling a kid in French that you don't speak French has no effect. They just ignore you and keep right on. Maybe that is a way for adults to learn other languages - lock them up with kids who will just babble at them till they get it. If I had to guess at the kids ages, I would guess seven and nine.

What made the kids somewhat interesting is that I had heard 'kids need stability'. Same-same, every day. These kids didn't have it. They had been traveling through several different countries for the last two years. They seemed very outgoing and not at all shy. Even allowing for the 'Logan effect' (kids aren't shy around me) these were very outgoing. Despite it being a small 'sample group', I have begun to question just how much 'stability' kids need. Perhaps if the mother and father are both there, love each other, love the kids and you spend lots of 'family time' that is enough. I really don't know. I gave the French lady (no clue what her name is but one of her daughters is named 'Africa' - really) my card. They don't use Facebook but I'm hoping they come around to it someday. It would be interesting to hear how the kids turn out in years to come.



NEPAL AND INDIA NOTES FOR FAT PEOPLE

Get use to testing all chairs before sitting on them. In America if the chair collapses under you in a restaurant and you get a big piece of wood messily jammed into your body you could probably sue the restaurant for damages. In India and Nepal they will simply call you an ambulance. You may get charged for the chair you destroyed as well.

Test the tables. It is very odd to me but not all of the tops are actually attached to the rest of the table. It is just a piece of wood lying on top, often covered with a cloth. Many fat people like to use the table to lever their bulk out of the chair. This will have humorous effects. Additionally, you will probably be charged for any dishes broken and possibly for 'destroying' the table as well.

Yes, you will still have to pay for uneaten meals catapulted onto other diners.

No, these things have not happened to me yet. I am a fairly paranoid and cautious person. Having no travel insurance will do that to you. But I always keep my eye out for other fat people doing them and hope to be recording when they do.



MORE MONEY

What would Logan do if he had more money and a camera crew following him? Well, one thing would be to dress as a stereotypical Native American and go to India. I would go to visit other 'Indians'. Oh, I would catch some hate mail for that! "How!"



INTERNET IN NEPAL

Here, the ISP providers pull the same crap as in the states. It's not us - reset your connection. It's your computer. It's your router. After all of the other possibilities have been exhausted, OK, it's us. No appology for the run around and numerous incorrect diagnosis. After a few days of being constantly wrong they will work on it. Maybe.

In the states, all of the ISP providers I ever gave someone on the phone twenty four hours a day. Here, it's normal work hours - nine to five. After that, well there is just nobody home.



MOST POPULAR POST

With over 500 hits, Africa and the Dead Hooker Problem is the most popular post. I'm thinking it is the name of it more than what is actually in it.

I'm now wondering what sort of wild, inflammatory post titles to use.



COMING SOON

I was talking to a French gentleman. He said it was 'very American' that I wanted constant access to the internet. That may be but I didn't come to Nepal to trek around and go site seeing. Basically, I just came here to live for awhile. Big difference. If I was on vacation for a couple weeks or a month with no access to internet but I knew I would be returning to the World of Broadband - yeah, I could cope. But that's not my situation. I didn't say anything about it to him. People look at the world as they expect to see it. When they are trekkers, they assume other people are as well. Hell, I don't really have that much interest in beautiful scenery after a couple days of it. It would have been nice to see the big mountain ranges but not for the kind of money the Nepal government wants to shake down tourists for.

Thus far, my 'live in a cooler climate during the summer' plan has been a huge failure but the summer isn't over. The people who said Nepal was cheaper than India - wrong. Same or possibly (in the tourist areas where I can find wifi) a bit more expensive.

Right now, I am debating going to a couple small towns vs a different large one. I honestly haven't decided which to do. I'm feeling a bit unmotivated in making up my mind. Maybe I will figure it out tomorrow. Getting to another big town is easy - the small towns are trickier due to where the buses are.

I'd like to hit some place with good internet so that I can get back to downloading a bunch of movies and such to watch. If I can't get internet - and assuming I can get some electricity - I will have to charge up the kindle and work on my reading. It's still a bit dicey with my eye being a little messed up for the reading. But I can alter the text size to "I'm old".

As far as my overall plan, I am still thinking about heading back to India and going way south. Every tourist I've talked to - and many of the Indians themselves - have said that the south has nicer people and is a nicer place overall than the north. Sri Lanka is possible afterward. Due to India's odd visa policy though I would have to either spend two months outside of India in Sri Lanka or fly from Sri Lanka to my next destination. I'm just not sure which.

Everything hinges on money. If it didn't, I'd probably be in the area of Poland for the summer as I've not hit that before. I think I will need to spend more time in exile within Asia before I can build back up my money to tackle Europe or Africa.



PRICES

Happy hour special - San Migiel beer and a small plate of food, 250 NRS.

Half tandori chicken, 600 NRS.

Fanta, 500 ml, 60 NRS.

Boat - 1 hour, 300 NRS. I tried to negotiate with them but they wouldn't lower the price at all. Oddly, few of their boats were actually out at the time. And the words 'safety gear' are not in their vocabulary. No life vests and such.

Minor repairs to bag, 100 NRS (I didn't bargain, I took his price because I wanted him to do a good job rather than a sulky one).

Chicken nuggets with bones in them, 150 NRS. Sauce was good but bones in chicken nuggets are just wrong.

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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois | Colorado |

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