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Friday, April 6, 2012

ALTER YOUR PERSONALITY THROUGH PHRENOLOGY!

MONASTERY PART TWO

I went to a second monastery. Again, the Hollywood version of a bunch of wise men in robes sitting around pondering the secrets of the universe and chanting in a melodic fashion is so much cooler than what you really get. They have a lot of kids playing there.

The kids at the monastery I went to (lost brochure) were very cool however. Four of them took it as their personal mission to guide me around. Great kids. They eventually helped me to find some people who showed me the rooms. They were really basic but to my surprise had hot water. 700 NRS per night for the room which could fit two or three people. Meals are also included. It might be a neat thing to go hang out for awhile and teach English at or something. As you'd suspect from a monastery, the diet is pretty monotonous.

Other than teaching kids stuff, again, not a lot to do there.

I had gone to that one because an 'interesting Tibetan village' was suppose to be nearby. I walked to the village next to the monastery. Since I thought 'there is no WAY this is the one they are talking about' I then walked to the next village. These aren't the kind of places that people would bother getting off the bus to see. Not only is it uninteresting but it's small enough you can see it from the bus.

The people are friendly enough though. One old lady who only knew the words 'sit down' pulled out a mat onto a wall to have me sit on when she saw me huffing my way through her village. Very kind of her.

They also had a Potato Festival. I was there on the last day of it and made a video. At the time of typing I've just regained a place that has decent (sub-Cambodian) internet so it will take a bit to get my videos uploaded. It may be in the next edition. Feel the potatoie goodness!

Other than the Potato Festival, the villages didn't really have any sort of unique personality. They were pretty much just tumbledown shacks topped with corrugated steel roofs.



POKHARA WRAP UP

I've been told that when the sky is clear, you can see the big snow capped mountains in the distance. During my week or so there the sky was never clear.

Now, in April, we are moving into the rainy season.

The downside is the torrential rains. The upside is that when they have more water, they can make more electricity and hopefully the mandatory blackouts won't go on as long.

I've been joking with the Nepalese people that the government will decide water and electricity don't mix and turn it off completely during the rainy season. Since they all believe their government is corrupt and inept this gets a big laugh. And then I bang my head on another door frame and they love it.

Due to illness, I spent an extra three days in Pokhara. The internet had gone on the fritz due to lack of skilled labor or general apathy. Or the same internet provider as TJ has in Virginia bought the company and to celebrate, they pulled the plug and destroyed the machines. I spent most of the time lying in bed and trying not to move around much. I knew when I got on the bus, it would be like trying to sit on a trampoline with a couple of kids madly jumping on it.

On the day I eventually left for Tansen, I had to get up at 5AM.

Something people may not know about most guesthouses and such in Nepal is they typically lock their doors and gates after 10PM and re-open them at 6-7AM. This is because there is nothing that qualifies as 'night life' in this country. The staff just go to bed.

Fortunately, I'd told the manager I'd be leaving early in the morning so the gate wasn't chained up. He had asked me if I'd like a cab. "Ho, ho ho!" I thought merrily to myself. I'd have dropped dead of shock had it been there. Since I'm writing this, you know I didn't die.

The distance between the guesthouse and bus station was short. It was early so I was offering triple the price the Nepali pay and double what I was willing to go. I offered 100 NRS to a guy to get me there. He wanted 200 NRS and cautioned me that I would never find anyone ever to do it for 100 NRS.

I felt that not making any obscene hand signs toward him showed quite a lot of self control.

After walking nearly ten meters, I found a guy who was delighted to get 100 NRS.

When I arrived at the bus station, I discovered 'rip Logan off' time had not yet ended. There are several different places you can buy your ticket at the bus station. The ones I saw open that early were located on the north end and south end of the lot. A few days ago, I'd been to the south end one. The taxi had dropped me at the north. The north proprietor quoted me a price of 500 NRS for the bus ticket. 100 NRS over what the south guy had quoted me. He didn't change his price when I told him the south end guy had quoted me 400 NRS. I shrugged and picked up my backpack. "Oh, you can leave that here while you go check." I thanked him and took all of my stuff over to the south end guy.

Sure, I have 'trust issues' after having been robbed a couple times but leaving my stuff with a guy who had just tried to rip me off didn't seem clever.

On top of that, I've discovered when I reach Tansen it's not really Tansen. It's a town that is a 5KM kilometers from Tansen. I'll need to catch a jeep for 40-50 NRS to get there. [Note, like most of what I read and get told, this was also inaccurate. The actual cost was only 15 NRS but I did get squeezed in like some sort of fish that gets squeezed into things. I don't know what kind because I can't stand the taste or smell of fish.]

I'm starting to feel like I'm back in India.

The trip on all of the buses sucks. A lot. The natives like a bit of music. Some guy will put it on and others will either ignore it or start dancing around a bit. Or singing along with it. I'd personally like to set people on fire who play loud music in the bus and catapult them at other things that irritate me. But nobody lets me have my way. It's very sad.

The trip was 'nightmarish'. This is normal for Nepal and all of Asia that I've been to thus far.



ARRIVAL IN TANSEN

I walked around for a couple hours looking for a place to stay. Although I had the pack on I figured I had the time and should survive. In Tansen, you have two different choices for accommodation. You can either have a decent room which may or may not include such basic things as hot water for a very over priced 800-1500 NRS, or you can have a real shit hole place with no bathroom inside for 300 NRS. Neither choice appealed to me.

There aren't a lot of tourists in Tansen. For some people, that is a huge plus. There is nothing more they hate than running into other tourists because it ruins the 'authenticity' of their 'Nepal experience'. In Tansen, I think I've discovered why that is.

The place is pretty crappy.

While wandering around, I ran into two French ladies and got to talk with them. I asked if they'd been here long. They said they had just arrived but spent yesterday walking around the town.

"Is it all like...this?" I waved my hand vaguely to indicate the dilapidated buildings.

They sadly agreed that yes, it was.

"What is French for 'dump'?" I asked.

They did point out there were unique buildings here as they were very old and made of wood. I'd noticed them in my wanderings but already mentally categorized them as "Tumble down disease ridden shacks which could be vastly improved by the application of fire" and had forgotten about them.

So, rather than spending even one night in a place that looked like a standard Asian dump but with lots of steep hills to puff my fat ass up and down, I decided to get on a bus right away and get to Kathmandu. Yes, I don't think I gave Tansen a 'fair chance' but people feel justified in not giving a lot of things - or people fair chances. It's just a normal 'nothing to see here' town that either had shitty digs or wildly overpriced ones. I'd made inquiries of several people asking where the areas with the nice views or tourist areas were. They kept saying I was at the tourist area. It didn't look or feel like it. GTFO.

Despite feeling emotionally and physically battered after that bus ride (I think I have a callus on my ass - not kidding) I happily signed up for a twelve hour bus ride. I had to wait a few hours for it. The buses to KTM only leave in the morning or evening (6PM, 6:30PM).

I didn't know why at the time but I have come to believe it is because they close some of the mountain roads during certain times of the night. There are probably a lot of people who owe their lives to these closings. Many are the same people who need warning labels for coffee. "Don't drive like an idiot on the twisty mountain roads with the huge drop offs at night in the rain." They don't put these warnings up as they already know they'll be ignored.



TOILET OF DEATH

I was waiting for the rain to cease in a corrugated steel roofed tea shop. Yes, it leaks. I had no idea. The rain let up and I decided to head for a toilet. Naturally, they didn't have one there but directed me a couple doors down the street.

Must have gotten the wrong one. The two old ladies that were there didn't speak word one of English but did a belly laugh at my pantomiming going pee. They were still laughing and they directed me upstairs. I dropped my pack and climbed the stairs carefully. Narrow and like a ladder. I didn't want to further amuse them by plunging screaming down the stairs. Their old hearts might not be able to take the strain.

The dwelling was pretty basic. Extremely basic. No walls and they somehow had taken a dirt floor up to the second floor. The bathroom was outside. I bashed my head going through the remarkably low doorway out. Clutching it and cursing I straightened up and bashed it again on the overhanging corrugated steel roof. This caused a lot more pain and I lost my footing on the wet roof and fell over. Had either old lady been there, a heart attack may have taken place but she'd die with a smile on her lips.

The bathroom was naturally too short to stand up in. Rough. Illogically, this made me want to leave Tansen even more. My head is still lumpy.

Eventually I reached Kathmandu. I am happy to have gotten the hell out of Tansen.



NEPAL AND THE WEED

Almost everywhere I've gone access to weed and other drugs exists. I've still got no interest in partaking but feel I should report on it. I was talking to a Nepal gentleman who told me there were three major types of tourist that come to Nepal. Trekkers, people who are wanting to climb Everest and people who want to do drugs.

Interesting.



ALTER YOUR PERSONALITY THROUGH PHRENOLOGY

If I ever see a phrenologist, they will be very concerned when they try to read the bumps on the top of my head. I've bashed my head so many times in Nepal that a phrenologist might think it has radically altered my personality. It may have. I've noticed that whenever I bash my head I tend to get very angry.
In talking to a Nepali guy, he said that the doorways are built low on purpose. The typical layout of a Nepali home is around a courtyard. Within the courtyard they usually have some sort of deity statue. Hence, you get to bow automatically when you go into the courtyard.

The people who do limbo dancing obviously can have a lot of fun with that. I'm not sure how pointing your crotch and shaking it at the deity statue will be received. If it's one of those sexual deities, probably pretty well but watch out for the ones that have something pointy.

I'm guessing that all of the other doors are built that way just out of spite for westerners. Or they just had a lot of low doorways left over from the corridors.



THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES

The other day, I was sitting around wondering where the phrase 'third world country' came from. For those who don't want to read the dull wiki definition, in general it says that capitalist was first world, commie second and the rest - usually poor - were 'third world'. A lot of people found that phase too much of a put down and are now using 'developing country'. I remember a native of a 'developing country' used that phrase to describe her country. I asked 'How long do you give them to 'develop' before you just give up and call it poor? I mean, the countries that have been 'developing' since the end of world war two - lets be real. A lot of them really haven't. They are dirt poor and likely to remain that way.

She hung her head.

I am a bad man.



MEDICINE IN NEPAL

I'm going to have to check on my list of medicines. The pharmacies are telling me that the prices marked on their meds are in Indian rupees. I'm hoping this isn't some new scam to part me from my money but suspect it may be. Fortunately, I kept track of the cost in Indian Rupees.



MAT-WATCH 2012 (TM)

There are two types of travel in Nepal. You can go by a bus - which sucks and is considered 'somewhat dangerous' or you can go by plane - which is expensive and considered 'somewhat dangerous'. Due to the only pieces of level ground being in museums, the runways are rather tricky. Nepali people I've asked about it usually make 'explosion' signs with their fingers when talking about aircraft. I'm not sure why but it is not a good sign.

So, I'm thinking Matt's activities will be confined a bit closer to the Kathmandu area. While I personally don't mind traveling for two days (just did actually) Matt has to get there and back again thus knocking four days off of his vacation.

And I'm thinking the only thing I'm sure he'll want to do is go find some hookers and murder them. And probably stash them in his room. Since the last time I saw any hookers was in Laos, I'm not sure where to find any but I'll keep my eyes open.



MORE LONELY PLANET SLANDER

I was talking to a nice couple named Margo and Reto. They are what I call 'perma travelers'. They've been going for a couple years and have a lot of information about SE Asia and such. They have dubbed Lonely Planet as "Liar Planet" due to the staggering inaccuracies.



NAME THAT MOVIE

"If Da Vinci was alive today, he'd be eating microwave sushi, naked, in the back of a Cadillac with the both of us."



WHAT DO I THINK OF NEPAL THUS FAR?

After India it was nice to come to a place where the people are friendlier and it doesn't look as though they live in a city dump. That was nice. But I don't think I've really had any 'moments' here yet. Times when I think "This is Nepal - I'm happy I came." Right now, it is just another place to live.

I'm sure it would be great if I was into trekking and had a $100 per day budget to blow through.



FUTURE PLANS

If I go to the south of India, it won't be for very long. Probably get a visa for a month or two and just extend it if I really like it. However, I've heard that it is expensive.

Right now, my plans could go one of two different directions. It's all totally fueled by a balance of money and wanting to take in some new countries. If I get to my target savings goal (not likely) I'll head west back toward Europe and possibly northern Africa. If my money is still in the 'well, shit' category I go back to the east. The only country I'm interested in hitting within the ones I've been to previously would be Cambodia. But if I end up flying direct to Malaysia (I'm scared of Singapore pricing and yes, I've seen big modern cities before) and from there go to Philippines, Indonesia and Paupa New Guinea.

Mind you, I'm going to research the hell out of them first.

Unless I miraculously save up a whole bunch of money, Australia and New Zealand are going to be out of my budget. Otherwise, I would become a kangaroo boxer. A bad one.

For now, I'm sticking with my original plan of research in Nepal for when Matt arrives, then hunker down here somewhere for awhile. Or continue to slowly explore it. Who knows.



TRAVELER'S TIPS

Unless you are on some sort of expensive package tour or are paying an outrageous price never believe anyone who tells you they'll have a taxi waiting for you at some early hour. It simply doesn't happen in Nepal, India or SE Asia. Fortunately, there are some early risers - you may get lucky. Otherwise, be prepared to walk.

Anything you are told by any drivers of taxis or tuk tuks is suspect information. Check it with other people out of sight of them. They lie like rugs.


For every four hours of a bus trip, add one hour to the actual time it will take over what you've been told. Add more if you have connecting transportation. Add more if that is a flight.


If you are on a bus that isn't packed, chances are good it will be later in the trip. If you have stuff in the aisle, chances are excellent it will be tripped over, stepped on, sat on, kicked and so forth by mistake. Do not pack your fine china.



VIDEOS

Fishtail Lodge. This is the kind of place you could go for a honeymoon. But, at $200 per night, you'd better have some money saved up!

Pokhara Guest House



COSTS

Shave and a haircut. The wishful poster on the wall said the price is 450 NRS. This is a lie. Bargained down to 250 NRS. Then went and bought a 240 NRS beer. What a world.

Upper Mustang (closer to Everest) permit is $50/day. It is a 'semi-restricted' area needing a special expensive permit to get to - meaning the government has found another way to extract big money from tourists.

Dreadfully overcrowded short bus from Pokhara to the horrible town of Tansen, 400 NRS.

Dreadfully overcrowded bigger bus from Tansen to Kathmandu, 550 NRS.

Bus station tea, 20-40 NRS (short glass, tall glass)

Bus station Snicker's bar (safe food), 80 NRS (10 NRS over usual price).

Crappy spaghetti, 290 NRS

Cigarettes, 100 NRS (Surya Lights)

3 comments:

  1. When's Matt coming over? I thought you said April.

    BTW, I was just thinking about 'Hudson Hawk'. I love that movie...

    ReplyDelete
  2. No, it's on May Day. He wants to dance around the maypole and a bit of casual murder.

    Such good villains in Hudson Hawk...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great reports Logan'

    Hey I will be in the Philippines in July, if you are there then the beer is my shout.

    ReplyDelete

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 | England: Slough - Lancaster

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