Kathmandu Guest House, not Kingston General Hospital
02.09.2009 - 02.13.2009 18 °C
Written: February 13, 2009
On a cool evening night, I walked out of the Kathmandu Guest House (KGH) into the narrow streets. The Kathmandu Guest House is a central landmark in Thamel and the first hostel in Kathmandu. I walked northbound exploring and soaking up Kathmandu at night. A rickshaw pulled alongside and started following me. I kept looking forward and walked purposely but I was not surprised to hear the driver start talking to me.
Rickshaw Driver: Rickshaw?
I kept walking.
Rickshaw Driver: Hash? Marijuana?
Again, I stayed silent and kept walking.
Rickshaw Driver: Ziggy Ziggy?
That caught my attention. I wondered what he meant by "Ziggy Ziggy" so I kept walking but looked at him directly as I asked, "What's Ziggy Ziggy?" The rickshaw driver was a young man of about 18-20 years of age wearing a cap over his longish dark hair. He smiled sheepishly at my question and answered, "Sex. With Nepali woman!" I laughed realizing I was being solicited for adult services again except this time it was by a service manager (pimp) rather than the front line staff (escort) like the last time in Dubai. I heard stories about the rampant prostitution in Kathmandu but did not expect to be solicited for "Ziggy Ziggy" so quickly. I told the sales representative a lie and said I had a girlfriend waiting for me back in the hotel. For some reason this did not seem like an issue to the pimp even after I explained that such services would not be necessary. His persistence, a required trait in his industry, was commendable and before he finally left me alone he also shared with me the starting rate of $50 US/hour.
I took the tourist bus from Pokhara to Kathmandu (KTM) for 300NRS (6.5 hours) and arrived at 2PM. I checked into Kathmandu Guest House, the first hostel in Kathmandu. The famous band "The Beatles" stayed in KGH. The room rates at KGH were much higher than other guesthouses nearby but the location and big screen TV in the main common room made it worth it.
I spent the first two days in Kathmandu relaxing, walking around getting a feel for the city. I then checked out Kathmandu's Durbar square, an area which includes many temples and palaces. It was a festival day and many Hindus were out making their offerings and prayers. I followed the Lonely Planet's suggested walking tour to get to the Durbar from Thamel and picked out a few sights along the way.
Since my knee was healing very well and I only felt a little pain when going up/down the stairs, I decided I would definitely go on the trek to Everest Base Camp. I booked round-trip flights to Lukla (my starting point for the trek) for $197USD. I also booked tickets from Delhi to Mumbai ($62USD) for March 1 in order to catch my return flight back to Toronto via Dubai. With my return legs figured out, I shopped around the hiking gear stores and equipped myself for the start of my trek on Thursday. I cheated a bit and said I was a poor Chinese student in order to get better prices. After visiting several shops I settled on one where I grabbed a sleeping bag (-20C), 45L mountain backpack, down filled "North Face" jacket, "North Face" fleece top, "Marmot" thermal pants, gloves, neck warmer, head lamp, compass, map and gore-tex pants for $140CAD. Even though the gear was not authentic they were of very high quality and it would be so much more expensive in Canada.
On my last day before the trek, I went to the Monkey Temple which had excellent views of Kathmandu. It wasn't far from Thamel but still required some navigation and a climb up some steep steps. The reason the temple was called the Monkey Temple was due to the fact that the place was overrun with monkeys. In fact, after my visit I rested at the gate to the temple and took out my strawberry jam danish. I saw a monkey approach me carefully eying the danish. I quickly tried to put it away but suddenly it jumped on my back and tried to take it. I dropped the danish and the monkey jumped down, grabbed it and ran away to a nearby rooftop. He took two bites of it before abandoning it. Damn monkey!
Word of advice: Do not bring/eat food at the Monkey Temple!
Leftover danish on the left.