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Friday, May 11, 2012

EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH MIDGETS

FOOD POISONING

On the third day Matt was here, I got more ill from food poisoning than I ever had before. It wasn't just the explosive diareah, it was the hot and cold flashes and the shaking while lying in bed praying that I could get sleep yet spring off it quick enough not to soil it in an instant.

Yeah, I went and bought medicines. Imodium and anti-bacterial medicine. I got it from the pharmacy in the tourist area which meant he probably charged me two or four times what the medicine should have cost - but when you are sick as hell you really don't care. Give me my pills and off I go. I should probably get some of those for my bag but I'm thinking it is the first time in a year I've gotten that sick.

For the normal 'oh crap' type of food poisoning, the packets of dust with one liter of water work just fine. The Imodium and anti-bacterials are just for the 'big shit', so to speak.

My buddy Nirgel over at the Maroon restaurant told me that I should go to a witch doctor. He said he would likely throw rice in my face and hit me with a broom. Matt said he'd grab a metal pole and join in with the Logan Beatdown. This may cause the witch doctor to say to mat "Are you studying witch-doctoring too?"



BHAKTAPUR

After I got healed up from whatever horrible crap successfully ambushed me, Matt and I went to Bhaktapur. I wwas a bit wary of it because you get hit up 1100 NRS to go visit the place. For fucking 1100 NRS, it had better be worth it.

Surprisingly, it was.

There were a lot of very nice temples and places to see. The city was pretty clean and less crowded than many areas of Kathmandu. The architecture was appealing although I wouldn't want to lean on anything.

Matt said: "Really nice. If I ever came back here, that's where I'd stay. You're surrounded by nice people and the location is just nicer. Temples and ceremonial gardens float my boat more. Anything you're wanting to do in Kathmandu will set you back 500-700 NRS. It's got it's ups and downs. Less hustle and bustle. I'm done with all these people trying to run me over."

Logan quote: "I think it would cost more to stay there but it might be interesting for a few days."

While we were wandering around, Matt got a blister on his foot. Does this foot look like a hideous shaved apes club foot or is it just me?

Wearing footwear you aren't used to walking miles and miles in. Don't think that the water from the showers will clean the wound.



THE KNIFE SHOP

Matt wanted to pick up some sort of knife so we went into a knife shop. A couple of Chinese girls decided to get my opinions on some kukri knives they were going to purchase for their boyfriends. I was trying to find out the purpose of the knives - ornamental, killing, etc. By their laughter I think they believed I was joking. Although I wouldn't call myself a knife fighting machine, I have had some training so I know what to look for in a knife. Eventually, they made their purchases and left. Matt found a very unusual purchase - a meat cleaver - and got that.

The meat cleaver has a leather sheath.

I don't know about you, but I think anyone who wears a meat cleaver in a sheath is a bit frightening. It's like saying "I don't know when I'm going to need to dismember a couple corpses - I'd better carry this around." It kind of implies that sort of thing happens frequently.Frequently...



GANGSTER RESTAURANT

Normally, we eat all of our breakfasts at the Maroon Restaurant. The food is good, the staff willing to put up with all of the weird bullshit I inflict on them, great people, get the word on the streets - all of that sort of thing. But, Matt said one day he'd like to try a different place for breakfast. OK, fair enough. I took him over to Kavreli.

This turned out to be what I'd call 'a bit of a mistake'. First, the people that usually worked there - the ones that could speak some English - not there. The guy that was there as our waiter spoke more English than the rest of the staff combined. The actual amount - about as much as my Arabic. Not good. And the waiter was slow of mind. Really slow.

When we rolled up, there was another tourist who was just getting up to leave. He asked for, got and paid his bill. After he left, a manager type realized the waiter had undercharged him and gave the waiter a good hard slap.

This was a bit awkward for Matt who was sitting with his back to the room. He heard the slap and later the waiter came and sat right behind Matt in order to have a good cry. This made Matt a bit uncomfortable. The atmosphere in the restaurant was decidedly grim. When eight guys pile in to see one guy get a verbal dressing down then slapped around you begin to wonder 'what's going to happen next'.

The food we had ordered by pointing at the menu came and it was not only horribly prepared but completely wrong. When I say 'horribly prepared' I mean that we mistook the bacon on the plate for mushrooms. After receiving sunny side up eggs instead of the simple omelet I'd ordered I have to confess I was thinking about slapping the waiter on the way out as well.

In western countries if you get the wrong order you can simply storm out. You don't have to worry about them sending a ravenous pack of armed guys after you to get the money you 'cheated' them out of back. Since we didn't want to eat our breakfasts we just tossed down some money and left.

I've seen the waiter several times since on the street and his face says "I still don't understand why you left without eating." I still want to slap him. My tolerance for the overly stupid has not been enhanced by my experiences traveling. Matt's comment was "Worst restaurant ever." I thought the service was approaching Czech standards (miserable service there is standard) but I've never seen anyone slapped around.

When Matt ordered juice, here is what he got. No, he hasn't drank any...



GANGSTER POOL

Not having enough of 'gangster life' we decided to go play pool at a gangster owned snooker/pool hall. The final score was Matt 4, Logan 3 though I must confess every game I won because Matt screwed up with the eight ball somehow. De-Fault! The two most beautiful words in the English language!

An example of 'Nepali gangster fashion'.



MATT'S SHOPPING SPREE

I'm going to put the costs under here because I want to illustrate just how much money can be saved by learning to barter. Usually, when a merchant gives you a price they will do so psychologically. A bowl might be 1250. The stupid tourist asks for a 'better price' and the guy might go down to 1200 or with what the tourist sees as 'serious persuasion' down to 1000. This is really bad bartering. The actual price is 300-600.

When we were shopping, Matt and I introduced these guys to duo person tactics. Matt would play the 'sort of interested' customer. I was the asshole who was certain he had seen the same thing better and cheaper elsewhere and was trying to extract Matt from the shop.

The merchants were not thrilled with these tactics and would whine we were getting 'Nepali prices'. I think we could have gotten them lower but Matt wasn't interested in spending an extra hour to save a pound or two. (That's British pounds sterling.) So here are the asking price -> selling prices of some of the stuff he bought as gifts.

Singing bowl, 1900 each, -> two for 1600.
Cloth poster, 2500 -> 1000.
Chaugner Faugn type statue, 2200 -> 1300.
Stone elephant, 7000 -> 2500.
Pants, 1800 -> 900.
Three prayer wheels, 1950 -> 1000.
Other pants and tops, 3000 -> 1700.

In short, the original asking price was about 22,250 and he ended up at 10,000 NRS. Not bad for some speed bargaining. I was actually impressed with Matt's bargaining skills.



THE STRIKE

I made some videos on the strike but honestly, it was all fear and rumors with no sign of the actual strikers. A strike pretty much locks up the country. If a group goes on strike, merchants are told to close their store or it will get trashed or burned to the ground. The businesses have large metal shutters they play 'peek a boo' with the strikers. If they think the strikers might be coming, down go the shutters. If they think they are safe for the moment up the go to open the business. It is watching the war between fear and greed.

During a strike, if they capture your vehicle they will torch it.

They also have a lesser strike which I've heard referred to as 'wheel jam' or 'wheel lock' (in Nepali, "chaka jam"). During this, people are allowed to have their stores open but any vehicles are torched if caught moving.

During a strike, the price of taxis triples. Restaurants that choose to brave it can make a lot more money but after the strike the business slumps for the next week or two since all of the tourists flee.

During the strike, naturally I went out to explore. The atmosphere was more subdued than normal but this was to be a brief strike - two days. Yeah, they publish the duration in the newspaper. Not like riots in the rest of the world where they go on until everyone has had their fill of looting and murder. I've heard reports of vehicles being torched and even people being shot but I suspect it was wild exaggeration and heresy. So I wandered around for a few hours.

Didn't see shit.

According to locals I spoke with about it, there are two castes which like to run the government and seem to spend their free time sewing seeds of discord in the other castes. They tell them things like 'every caste should have it's own state within Nepal'. Apparently, they haven't looked at the map. Hundreds of states within a country as small as Nepal, each with autonomous ruling would be rather silly. Since Nepal sold off it's own natural resource to India (water power) and the heavily corrupt government is working on mopping up everything left there just isn't enough money for this sort of thing.

But people still want to believe.

Before I came to Nepal and India, people had told me that the caste system was something from years ago and it really wasn't around these days. What a load of crap. It's in full swing. Anyone who tells you differently either hasn't lived here or has taken a big denial pill.

There are reports of strikes in the western part of the country that have been going on for a couple weeks. The hospitals have run out of lots of vital medicines and things like oxygen cylinders. Lets hope the patents can hold their breath until the strike is over.

Officials within the government have been working on the constitution for the last four years. It is suppose to be done within this month but I'd be happy to bet even money that they will ask for and get yet another extension. This will lead to yet more strikes.

Politically, Nepal is a country with revolution waiting to happen. I'm not sure if it actually will. The Nepali people are pretty chilled out - but all of the elements are there.




WHAT NOW?

Today, I'm going to head to the eastern part of the country. I've heard that not a lot of tourists go there. For some people, that is a plus. They dream of seeing interesting stuff without the press of other tourists. When I hear things like "Not a lot of tourists go there" my first thought is "There is probably a reason for that." But I'm headed toward Darjeeling, India and it's on the way. Plus, it is something 'different'. I'm not sure if they'll have internet and such because 'few tourists go there' but I am hopeful.

After Darjeeling, the plan is head south through India to Sri Lanka but we'll see how that works out.



RESTAURANT REVIEW - THE LAZY GRINGO
No, I don't know what a Nexican is either...

Owned by a nice family from the USA. They've owned this restaurant for a couple years. If you need to get some Mexican food into you, this is the place to go.

Matt described this as the best Mexican food he's had since he lived in America.

The downsides of the restaurant are pretty much summed up as cost items. Everything costs extra - sour cream, etc. If you wanted to go with the 'assemble your own burrito', it will cost you quite a bit more than a steak. They also charge you the 13% VAT and 10% service charge that I loath.

The average meal will set you back 300-500 with a drink (plus the taxi ride there and back). If you are craving Mexican in Kathmandu, this is the place to go.



RESTAURANT REVIEW - FIRE AND ICE
Looks better than it tastes...

Everyone in Kathmandu knows Fire and Ice. Wealthy Nepalis go here to drop big money to impress their girlfriends and such. It was 'meh' pizza. Matt said "OK, but nothing magical." The cost is the same or more as steak dinners from the Everest Steak House.



NEPALI CUSTOMS - SERVICE CHARGE

Whenever you hire eleven or more guys, they form a union. They then demand you tack on an extra 10% service charge which they can then pocket.



WEIRD STUFF

I recently noticed Blog2Print that is to turn your blog into a book. Twenty pages at an extra .35 cents per page thereafter? Holy crap, Logan's Voyage would cost a ton. I have no idea whose blog is only twenty pages out there but I'm guessing they aren't as prolific as I!

They had a 'print your blog' feature you could do for free to see what it looked like. I tried it and got the message "This book exceeds our maximum size for a single volume. Please contact Customer Service to help prepare this book at support@sharedbook.com or 1-888-212-3121."

Fail.



LOGAN AND MATT EXCHANGE

Logan: "I could make a lot of money off of the mentally handicapped of the world."
Matt: "That's not a good comment."



TRAVELER'S TIP - BARGAINING

Throwing in a 5 NRS cigarette to the deal sometimes can get you the 100 NRS off you were looking for.



PHILOSOPHY

If you wank off using sun tan lotion, does it keep your dick from getting burned?


Everything is better with midgets...



VIDEOS

Riot Coming?
Looking for a Riot
Rickshaw Races
The Aftermath of the Riots
Working on the Sewers



COSTS

Taxi to Bhaktapur from Thamel, about 800 NRS.

Room in Bhaktapur at the Siddhi Laxmi Guest House, 800 NRS/night. No idea of the quality etc there.

Kukri, two for 4500 NRS (decent for display).

Meat cleaver, 2000 NRS starting, 1600 NRS bargained down to.

Cheap travel alarm, 450 NRS bargained down to 350 NRS.

Zoo, 250 NRS; pretty horrible zoo. Don't go.

Pool at gangster snooker/pool hall, 120 NRS/hour.

Street tea, 12 NRS.

2 comments:

  1. I tried Blog2Print... too many photos for one volume!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The pizza is so delicious. Will be on my list to travel this year. Thanks for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete

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