The streets of Nepal

There is a disatvantage for having remained independent during the age of European colonization. That is nobody was in Nepal to build a railway or a road network. And since the rough terrain makes building expressways inconvenient, the only way to deliver goods (including bulk items such as fuel, grain and construction materials) is by a network of narrow, poorly maintained and over congested roads. Which, of course, leads to added costs, unreliable flow and high level of pollution.

The smallest hauler is the three wheeler which, unlike it’s counterpart in Indochina, features a steering wheel (not a handlebar) on the rigt side, leaving space for one passenger in the front. In the rear compartment, the capacitiy is limit less.

Then they have Indian Marutis, Tatas and Mahindras, Indian copies after Jeeps (CJ, YJ) or Land Cruisers.

There is only one type of truck in Nepal, that is the Tata truck. I don’t know other features of this truck other than all are gross polluters and they made my journey unpleasant.

Last picture: one of the restaurants on the side of the road, a good place for lunch as long as you can disregard the cooking conditions.

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The Citwan National Park

En route towards East we stopped at the Citawan National Park. We booked a 4 hours safari tour to see the park. We had the chance to see packs of deer, monkeys as well as bears,crocodiles and various birds, but no tigers nor rhinoceros (which were hiding).

Inside the park there was a crocodile breeding center where endangered species of crocodiles were bred and then raised up to 1.5 meters in length before being released in the wild. Then, outside the park, not too far, there was an elephant breeding center. We found there very interesting information about the life of the elephans in captivity.

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We actually visited Kathmandu just after arrival in Nepal, but I couldn’t write about it at that time as there was no reliable internet available (due to many blackouts). We booked a 5 hours private tour with driver and guide.

First we went to the Hindu temples at Pashupatinath (first 3 pictures). The river divides this UNESCO World heritage site in two areas. One is used exclusively by the hindu people for incineration of the dead, while the other side is for tourists and general public. The visit would have been a lot more pleasant if it wouldn’t have been for the trash that was lying everywhere: on the both sides of the river, inside the river and all surrounding areas. Maybe UNESCO should also provide some brooms and trash bins at the time of nominations.

After this the guide took us to the Boudhanath, one of the oldest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu. (picture 4)

Then we went to Swayambhunath temple and stupa area, which offers, at the same time, a nice panoramic view of the city (pictures 5 and 6). This is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Finally we arrived at Durbar Square, a historic location with many buildings dating before the unification of Nepal (pictures 7 and 8). This site is also on the World Heritage list. A common detail on all buildings is the wooden sculptures enclosed in apparent brick walls.

Except for 2 or 3 avenues (no wider than 2 lanes per direction), the city is made of narrow and crooked alleys (last 3 pictures) that have no sidewalks. Pedestrians, animals, bicycles, cars and trucks share this maze causing continuous traffic jams. Add the gross pollution and you get an actual picture of what life is for the ordinary people of Kathmandu. This is the main reason why we decided to leave the city as soon as possible.

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The Nepalese food

Nepalese traditional food is “thali”. Rice with a selection of vegetable sauces and a mutton or chicken dish. Better bring your own fork, or you might have to eat with your bare hands, as the locals do 🙂

Another common food is the “momo”, a kind of meatball inside a dumpling. Very good (but a bit spicy)!

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More electricity problems

Just as I was writing about the energy crisis in Nepal I found myself in a unusual but related situation. I went to the barbershop to get shaved. After the dark fell the barber continued to work undisturbed, even though he had no light. As I felt my life was in jeopardy, I decided to lend him my flashlight.

Soon after we found these fuel dispensers buit to work even without electricity.

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