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Friday, May 11, 2012

HOW MUCH TO KILL SOMEONE?

THE WHITE WATER RAFTING TRIP

Neither Matt nor I had ever been white water rafting before. I wanted to have at least one activity that he could look back on and say "That was something completely new!"

Since I'd had plenty of time to research, I'd found the right place to go. Lots of safety gear and I spoke to the person (Del) who would actually be in the boat with us. Booking through an agent is stupid - you never know what you'll get nor who you'll be dealing with.

As directed, Matt and I showed up at 5:30AM to the business. Del met us there. In America, when someone's fly is open people feel awkward about pointing it out and make roundabout references to it. Not Del. He grabbed my zipper and zipped me up. I thought Matt would hurt himself laughing. I hoped he would. Del thought it was funny. I was in too much shock to really register it.

Having another guy unexpectedly 'zip you up' is one of those experiences that is tough to write about. Describing it to someone who hasn't experienced it is tricky. I do know that sits on a shelf of "Matt's cherished memories". Wanker.

The rafting itself was a lot of fun. We had two Israeli tourists in the boat we called "King and Mayor". Del guided the boat. Compared to the five of us in the boat other rafts had 6-8 people with no safety boats. We had one other large raft and three kayaks just to keep us from dying. The tourists were outnumbered by the safety team in our raft. Note that the rafting trip we had cost around the same as the competition. We just got a lot more for our money.

The people in kayaks and such weren't duffers either - all of them had won awards for kayaking. Everyone was very polite and hard workers. These guys have great jobs and are paid in money, room and board - so they take their jobs very seriously.

Halfway through the rafting trip, we got served a simple picnic lunch that was pretty tasty and prepared right in front of us on the beach.

I can definitely recommend Adventure Aves Nepal. It is in the NW part of Thamel.

For those who know about rapids, we did several grade 3, 4 and 4+ rapids. Lots of fun though I did fall out of the boat once. It was a bit shocking just how fast Del got me back in. Whether it is zipping up your fly or yanking you out of the water before you've registered the fact you are in the water, he is your guy.

Matt described the rafting as one of the best days of his life. Matt said "White water rafting is like taking out your cock and slapping nature in the face!"

The bus there was pretty standard and pleasant. The bus back was an absolute nightmare for Matt. He had the back hard bench with seats in front of him stuck in the fully reclined position pinning him to the seats. He wasn't a happy camper. Combined with the lever action of the bus causing him to 'catch air', it was miserable.

More on Matt's vacation in the next blog!



NEPALI CUSTOMS - WOMEN

One of the tribal groups of Nepal is the Newa. The women get married three different times. The first marrage is at age 3-4. They get married to some sort of big green fruit called a 'dell' (some call it an 'eyah fruit'). This is not a pickle or bell pepper - it seems to be unique to Nepal and India. I have no clue why this is done. Maybe the eyah fruit is lonely.

Before the girls have their first period, they are kept in a dark room with paintings of devil ghosts for 10-12 days. Only women go there, no males. Sometimes, the girls die within this room. Their bodies are not allowed to be burned. Instead, a hole is cut in the floor around the bed they died in. The entire bed and floor are then lowered to the ground floor. A hole is then dug into the ground directly below where the girl died and the corpse is placed in there. During this time, the body can't use the stairs nor see the sun. If the girl dies angry, she then becomes a ghost called 'barah see'. This is a 'super bad' ghost. The family then must get a witch doctor to deal with it.

If the girl survives two weeks indoors, they are then married to the sun.

The third marriage is to a man.

This is a very old tradition dating from a god (?) known as 'Ram'.



NEPALI CUSTOMS - TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS

If you hit someone with your truck and they are injured you have to pay them some money and then help support them for the rest of their life.

Should you accidentally kill them, you have to pay the widow (etc) between 50-100 Lac. One lac is 100,000 NRS. Hence, should you accidentally kill them you owe half million to a million NRS. Depending on the circumstances, you may do a year or two in jail.

Because of this rule it is common after hitting someone to go back and run them over again to make sure they are dead. It costs a lot less money.

No, I'm not making this up.



NEPALI CUSTOMS - MALLS

If all of the clothing and shoes stores mysteriously vanished from the mall, the building would suffer a cataclysmic structural failure and collapse. Oddly, I never see anyone actually buying anything in these shops so it is a mystery how they stay open.



NEPALI CUSTOMS - DEMONSTRATIONS

Within their government, they have 'Maoists'. Lots of red flags with hammers on them advocating becoming communist. Since it worked so well for the USSR. (For foreign readers, that last sentence was sarcasm.)



KATHMANDU AIRPORT

It is remarkably easy to find someone from international flights. All of the passengers are channeled down a single hallway. They are observed from the other side of a glass partition by people waiting for them.

Like many other airports in the world, a taxi from here is more expensive than one off of the street as the taxis have to pay a small surcharge to get in (or out?) of the airport. The charge for the one we took out of the airport was 30 NRS.

If you are paying more than 300 NRS to get to the Thammel district, you're getting horribly ripped off.

As with all airports travelers should ignore everyone in the airport as well as the 'pre paid' taxi stand. It is amazing how many people would jump tourists to funnel them over to that booth or for other crap and the tourists would just go with it.

Remember, only rich or stupid people shop at an airport. [The only exception to this rule I've seen was the 7-11 at the Bangkok airport in Thailand. They charge the same low prices as all of the other 7-11's.]



WITCH DOCTORS

(See costs, below).

The witch doctors of Nepal are not the kind that many westerners think of. They seem to fall into two main categories - astrological and non. The astrology ones will want to know all of the usual crap astrologers want to know and presumably tell you the same kind of crap astrologers tell you.

Despite new planets being discovered and debunked.

The other kind may do things like instruct you to fully sweep your business for an entire year and bring them all of the collected dust from it so they can analyze it.

Female shaman (aka 'witch') is a 'gurma'. A male witch doctor is a 'gruba'.



NEPALI MYSTICISM

Get a black female horse. Take horseshoes from it and cold forge (no fire at all) them into a ring. When worn on the index finger it keeps most supernatural things away from you. The ring is especially powerful on Saturday and Monday, for some reason.



TRAVELER'S TIPS

The hiccups given by the rotten quality of the alcohol in Nepal can be prevented by not drinking it 'neat'. Vodka and sprite isn't bad.


T-shirts with an actual photo on them are crudely glued. Avoid them. The quality was so poor that the middle man actually refunded my money - an unheard of practice in Asian business.



RESTAURANT REVIEW - KOREAN KITCHEN PICNIC

Note, they don't speak Korean there.

The food is excellent and for 300 NRS you get more than either Matt or I could eat. Finding it will be tricky as it is down an alley near the 'Garden of Dreams' on the same street as the restaurant 'Fire and Ice'. I've eaten here several times and the food is consistently good.



RESTAURANT REVIEW - ELECTRIC PAGODA

If you've never eaten proper Mexican food before and only seen it in books, you'll have something in common with the chef here. The portions are large but not very tasty.



MOVIE REVIEW - COWBOYS AND ALIENS

3/10. Wow, this movie sucks. I was bored to death during most of it. I have no idea how they got Harrison Ford to be in it and play such a crappy stereotypical character. Amazingly poor showing.



VIDEOS

Exploring KTM
Light B & E
KTM Conspiracy
Surprise Kingfisher
God Costs Money
Natural Temple
Hidden Temple Crouching Stupa
Stone Rat
He Aint Paying
Peaceful Walk
Hawk Man
Did You Get The Snakes, Billy?
Chaugnar Faugn and the Tcho Tchos
Pungi Pit
Dodge Death
Reaction Shot



COSTS

Everest Steak House Cheeseburger (with chips aka fries), 400 NRS
Ruslan Vodka bottle, 600-750 NRS
Witch doctor, average, 50-100 NRS
Movie, 3d, 320 NRS
Wicker stool, 300 NRS
Lac (unit of measuring money), 100,000 NRS. Note 'lac' is pronounced as 'lack' as in "I lack funds".
Rafting, 3000 NRS/day (after bargaining)

Sewage fixing, 700 NRS per manhole. This funds a crew of four or five guys without appropriate tools to come out and remove stuff people have flushed down their toilets that shouldn't be there. Like plastic bags. What kind of idiot flushes a plastic bag down the toilet?


Cost breakdown of a movie ticket:
Entrance fee, 246.25
Film development board (15%, no idea who they fuck they are or if they actually do anything), 36.94
VAT (13%), 36.81. Total, 320 NRS. The 3d glasses must be returned or you pay 200 NRS more. They do have a personal and bag search when entering the movie theater though they felt awkward about searching my bag so they didn't. Which is good because I had illegal outside drink hidden in it.

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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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