wanderlust


:5/31--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

still on khao san road, ack

i finally bought an internet access card and now i have almost free internet from my hotel room (hence this update). yay! i don't know why i haven't done this before. usually i don't want to spend the time sitting on my ass and munching snacks while i surf when i can be out living life. now however i have some research to do....i think i have maybe decided to go home for the summer. or to NY that is. as much as i totally dread the thought, i have to go back sometime. my friend katie has a room all ready and even if i get only a crappy waitress job i will be making more money there than i can here in asia. maybe i should stock up for the next travelling season. we'll see... meanwhile goodbye may.
:5/30--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

spirit houses in siam center

i finally kicked ot out this morning because i am spending so much money with/on him and doing nothing otherwise. he went to stay with his brother and i went to the internet cafe to research fares and possible jobs. got nowhere so i traipsed to surawong road to STA travels to see what they could do for me in the way of round the world tickets. they informed me that it is actually more expensive to buy a round the world ticket in bangkok than anywhere else if your itinerary includes south america. so i came here for nothing, basically. ugh. still really have no idea where to go, actually. i keep getting psychotic emails from my "friends" in nepal (who apparently misunderstand every email i send them until we have found ourselves in quite the quagmire of ridiculous miscommunication), and between that and the fact that there don't seem to be any volunteer opportunities until next season, i suppose i won't be going back there.

spent the evening missing ot, surprisingly, and chatting with some cute british kids over too many drinks.

:5/29--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

view of houses from canal boat

ditto yesterday. i took otto to see a movie in siam square, which in his entire life in thailand he had never done. he was rather awed by the busy lights and the plush VIP theater. sometimes i forget he's from backwoods isaan. the matrix 2 was rather silly if anyone wants to know. i also dragged him to a bar in nana plaza which i remembered had really good beer on draft. he was embarassed, being a beach boy in the big city. luckily there was a little girl from isaan working at the bar who made him relax a bit while i perused the roomful of attractive pool players.
:5/28--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ot in his tightey whiteys

typical bangkok day with ot, just wandering around and doing absolutely nothing i intended to do. we went book shopping, hung out on the river for a bit, ate thai food, and went to bed early.
:5/27--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

taka from tokyo

spent most of the day with the adorable taka. turns out the thai boy last night stole his cellphone and money as well. we met up so i could give him his camera and ended up drinking and chain smoking for about 5 hours. it's hard to communicate with japanese people, their language is completely alien. luckily he had a little pocket translator so we managed okay. i have a big fat crush on him and for once in my life it is reciprocated. we have plans to meet up again.

ot called me later, on his way to see me. i sort of freaked out because i wasn't ready to get back into the whole ot "thing". i went to wait for him at sawasdee house and got drunk with robin's friend whom i mentioned earlier, and ot showed up carrying his drum and looking crazy. i had told him on the phone he couldn't stay with me and he had to understand that i need my space to hang with other people. he could barely hold back his tears... sigh. after a couple of drinks and lots of desperate weird conversation on the river i couldn't resist the kid and let him stay with me after all. i can't help but love him, a little bit. i just don't want to support him, dammit!

:5/26--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

buddha



wat pho
i had a marvelous day by myself- sort of figured out my itinerary for the next, well, year. it's sort of a big chunk out of my cash flow but if i do end up buying the ticket i had quoted today it will make me very happy- it goes from bangkok back to nepal for 2 months (to volunteer or screw around or whatever), then home to make money, then to south america, and back to southeast asia. i may go back and buy it tomorrow but i am not in any real big hurry. i took a tuk tuk with a friendly chatty driver to wat po and had a nice massage by a cute thai boy with strong hands. snapped a few photos of the reclining buddha for posterity. later i went out and had some somtam (spicy papaya salad) and a few heinekens at khao sarn center. i was sitting there alone and i noticed this drop dead gorgeous guy next to me, also alone. hrmmm. i am not usually aggressive at all but i figured what do i have to lose? so i (rather nervously, in fact in the process i chain-smoked an entire pack of cigarettes--ick!) struck up a conversation with him. turns out he's a model from tokyo (named taka). he's sooooo cute. completely shy. almost to the point where he has no personality but by the end of the night i drew him out a bit. we talked a for awhile together in broken english until the next table of young, drunk europeans invited us to join them, so then we sat there amazed by their uninhibited sexuality and their 3 day alcohol binge, feeling sort of stodgy and prude together. we finally ditched them and walked around. ended up at susie's pub, which is a mostly thai bar-cum-club. i haven't drunk so much in a long time but somehow i managed to not be too inebriated. i danced my ass off though. we met a thai guy and a guy from ecuador. i was happy to practice my spanish with the guy from ecuador (i can actually carry on a semi-lucid conversation!) and the thai guy was just super friendly and fun. we had a great time until the bar closed and kicked us out. somehow i ended up in a cab with the thai guy (hat was his name) and taka, headed for taka's hotel. he was really wasted so i wanted to make sure he got there okay. we went into the hotel, got him into his jammies, checked out his amazing balcony and his cable tv, and hat and i left, having done our good deed for the evening. we headed back to khao san road with dance music blasting, boogeying along with our happy driver. all the sudden hat pulls a camera out of his pocket and starts flipping through the pictures. i realized it was taka's camera which this idiot had stolen. i gave him a look and snatched it out of his hand. he flipped out, tried to tell me his brother gave it to him, tried to hit it out of my hand.... i was really worried i would have a big problem at 3 am in the middle of nowhere, with no one but my no-english speaking driver to defend me. luckily we arrived at khao san before it could blow itself too out of proportion and i jumped out with the camera and a sneer. had to make a run for it so he wouldn't chase me. ran to my reggae friend's shop shaking and completely disgusted. it does give me a reason to have to see taka again (luckily i have his email/phone number) which is quite nice, but yikes, can't people be fucking cool for once?
:5/25--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. this is my head. one minute i am definitely going to eastern europe. but i bought the eastern europe lonely planet and it was completely boring so the next minute i decided to go home now, instead of when i get to the point where i have to or else, and make money to continue travelling with when the good season kicks in. but i looked on monster.com and thought about the grueling, soul killing process of getting a job and was depressed into a plan going straight back to nepal to volunteer during monsoon season. ack. i guess i just have to let things fall into place... (five baht if you guess which one i am leaning towards).

thailand, phew! it's so weird. it's nice to have it to myself. i sat and read in the bangkok post today that sir edmund hillary entered trivandrum airport in kathmandu just as i was leaving. he's there for the everest 50th anniversary. would have been cool to meet him. also robin arrived in pokhara the day after i left, of course. anyhoo back to thailand; i went to siam center to try to see the matrix 2 but it was sold out so i walked around and did nothing. bought an umbrella just in time for the big afternoon rain.

one reason i've always like khao san road (perhaps the hippest neighborhood in the universe) is because you find yourself in such strange random situations with strange random people. later on tonight my psycho magnet did its thing and i ended up chatting to this old australian junkie. the first thing he told me was that he had come to thailand to "use" because it was cheaper, but he'd had bad timing because there's a big drug war on here. yeah sob, poor guy.... that should have been my notice to quit the situation but i didn't. he ended up being pretty interesting. he went on to say he'd just gotten out of prison in bangkok (ack)....we kept finishing each others' sentences so i guess we had something in common though. we went to a bar behind the temple in the only quiet area in this whole vicinity. it was full of thai guys in muscle shirts and big scowls. blues in the background. 2 vicious looking pit bull puppies with tattoos on their bellies and thick chain collars ran around. we played pool with some swedish boys who were so good as to be redundant. a perfectly sculpted ladyboy joined in (i wanted to tell him, er, her that they had done a good job on...it). my guardian angel instincts kicked in as well and i kept snapping at nicola (my friend) to stop nodding off, sit up straight and breathe. it seemingly had never occured to him to try and discipline his mind and control himself and the big toothy monkey on his back... but maybe it's just not that easy. i felt sorry for him because i could tell he'd be a good guy if he wasn't so pathetically dependent on a stupid drug....still, not the kind of friends i want to be making here on my own, so i excused myself to go say a quick hello to my reggae "friends" and grab some grilled chicken and sticky rice before bed in front of cable.

:5/24--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

today was same old same old thailand. sort of soothing in that i don't have to think a whole lot- it's all reflexive by now... but also sort of depressing because i feel like i should not be here(!). i ate noodle soup this morning, spent about 3 hours online trying to decide where to go, and eventually ended up in a cab to STA travels in downtown bangkok where i planned to get some quotes on round the world tix. unfortunately i didn't consider the fact that it was saturday and they were closed, so i sat and had a frappucino at starbucks (how westernized thailand is!) and went right back to khao san. i did a bit of people watching. thailand is a pure hormone fest if i ever saw one, i'll give it that. lots of cute people of both sexes to drool over. khao san road is full of sexy trendy backpackers doing not much of anything worthwhile in their own insulated little brat packs, and the thai people that come here are are pretty hip and really just as bad. there are rasta thais with their dreadlocks and apathy, skinhead thais with shaved heads wearing braces and lace up knee high docs, the label whores wearing gucci and donna karan, the gayboys with tight t-shirts, cute haircuts, and their flaming lisps, the little mod girls in mini skirts, driving vespas, meatheads in muscle shirts with tattoos and motorcycles... hip music, hip clothes, pop culture. every aspect of (western) society has representation here and sometimes it strikes me as totally ridiculous. i might as well be in new york!.... won't get into that all again, i went over it yesterday. (sorry, just realizing that my precious thailand is not "all that".)

i had dinner and my usual mai tai at sawasdee house, predictably ending up next to a friend of my ex-travelmate robin's from holland (koon) that i had met before. we started chatting and he invited me to go dancing with him and some other people, but then i remembered i don't like him at all. previously he had talked badly about me to robin and about robin to me. he's one of those people who talks a lot but has nothing much to say. like i said anyway, i have no interest in anyone western anymore at this point. i dismissed myself promptly and walked around a bit. i ran into a thai friend of otto's (gun) from the reggae bar on ko chang. we went drinking (i got very drunk since my tolerance has lowered a bit with my recent teetotalling), and he made every effort to pin me down before otto could get to me this time. he tried to get me to take him to one of the islands in the south, all expenses paid. i have had quite enough of that manipulative crap lately so i excused myself from him as well.

stopped and bought some grilled liver and corn on the cob from my usual lady and went to my room for the night. exasperated, to tell the truth. not in the mood for "same same" at all. as soon as i decide where to go i am getting the hell out of here.

...also in thailand i smoke too much, drink too much, and stuff myself with tons of crap. i feel flabby and withered and listless. got to get to someplace healthy.

:5/23--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

i met a strange australian genius yesterday evening over a plate of bad spaghetti and a couple glasses of wine in kathmandu. he was the man of 1000 names (he explained that when you travel you constantly acquire new names, which is true...he was usually called bill), with long flyaway red hair and startling blue eyes. he was as hippified and freaky as anyone who has spent the last 5 years motorbiking around india must have to be. he was extremely well read and self educated. yet he was dyslexic which caused him to see anagrams left and right in the english language, and he would pinpoint the most obscure associations in any conversational path, usually leading back around to something related to satan and his influence on the world. i believe he was crazy but sometimes it's really interesting and mind opening to meet an intelligent psycho. makes you question your prejudices a bit.

anyway last night i was all set to leave nepal and then checked my email to find a note from a place with a volunteer opportunity right in pokhara teaching internet skills to tibetans for free room and board. perfect. of course the airline ticket office was closed by then so i couldn't put mine off.... this morning i tried to miss my plane but guiltily found myself at the counter staring at a sign saying that it was delayed 3 1/2 hours.... i agonized the whole time waiting over what to do and promised myself at check in i would ask to change the date, but at the last minute chickened out and got on the plane.... had to hold my breath and clench my fists to prevent myself running off before takeoff, and at the last glimpse of the himalayan peaks from the window i felt my heart sink into a murky depression. let me tell you i am already seriously mourning the loss of nepal in my life. i don't know how to explain it, i have never felt like this about a place. yeah, ko chang. but ko chang is a fairly plastic, prepackaged westernized experience in an admittedly gorgeous setting, but compared to nepal it just isn't real, you know?

i sat next to a cute nepali guy on the plane. it was his first time flying and he was nervous and i calmed him down. he innocently squealed at every dip and dive of the turbulent ride, and i fell asleep for a bit to wake up later feeling him clutching my arm. he had 23 hours more to go when i disembarked- he was headed to texas to study. i completely fell in love with him of course, as i do with most nepalis instantly. there is something about the people that i just know. after he left i felt rather irrationally devastated. like he was my last thread to the country.

got to bangkok and went through the whole same same process....got my usual freaking room (#1303) at d&d inn (ack why do they do that to me) & sat on khao san road eating somtam and grilled chicken (have to admit that's a benefit to being here)....looking around i realized how fake thailand can be. the country's motto should really be "rape me" because it gives itself up so freely to western exploitation. it's hardly it's own culture anymore. the people on khao san for example are so ostentatiously dressed and there is so much excess everywhere; music, drinking, partying, spending of money on useless crap. their priorities are different here- it was almost culture shock coming from innocent simplistic nepal. usually i get to bangkok and am relieved to be able to buy snacks and have a choice of shampoos and be able to listen to western music...conveniences & all that... but after nepal where i learned to really live basically it seems almost obscene being here. thai people are so "hip" and friendly and easy going, but they aren't really so sincere. and everything is just too easy. i don't know what i am trying to say but nepal changed me(!), and i think that it may have almost surpassed thailand in my list of favorite countries. i am tempted to get right back on a plane to pokhara and just lose myself in that simplicity and loveliness for some long length of time.

i decided the only way to deal with my confusion was to get completely smashed. i had successfully met this goal with a few mai tais on an empty stomach by about 8p. i was sitting with two stylin' black gals from some place in africa i had never heard of. i liked their attitudes. they invited me to an african dance club on sumkhuwit rd. but i am far too white, too shy, and too uncool to even attempt dancing in a place like that. so they left and i ended up chatting with the manager of khao sarn center. i have been to this place maybe a hundred times and never met him before- his name is peter and he's half black half malaysian. he instantly got himself infatuated with me and invited me to the back to play pool and have free drinks with an english couple. we drank sangsom (another benefit) and i got fairly well fucked considering i had started the evening pretty trashed to begin with. i liked the people but i realized i am just not into the traveller scene anymore. british people especially have to be very witty and snappy, and i am just too straightforward to be funny. i don't get half of what they say, and to be honest i just don't care about western people any longer(!)... they invited me to go to peter's apartment with them tomorrow for a big seafood lunch and some swimming in his pool, but i would rather hole up in my room and analyze and re-analyze what i have learned about life in the past couple of weeks and hope it gets me closer to some kind of plan. thailand is dangerously seductive, a fucking trap, and i don't want to let it get to me this time. the longer i stay here the more i will forget, the easier it will be to get right back into the whole thailand thing (partying with travellers), and right now i just want a little bit of real life.....i don't think i am even going to let otto know i am here.

:5/22--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

bye nepal




it's storming today in kathmandu which leaves me little in the way of options other than to plan in my room. i suppose the monsoon has arrived and thus it's best for me to go. i have a tentative plan to spend one week in bangkok buying a round the world ticket, which will start with summer in eastern europe, include a 3 month pit stop in the US where i will replenish my funds, take me to south america this winter, and back to asia in spring. i hate planning though so i am sure there will be a lot of tooth grinding and hand twisting when it comes to commiting myself to this plan. either way, i hope to make it back to lovely nepal next year for trekking. i miss it already. :(

my plane leaves tomorrow morning at 8:30a for bangkok.

:5/21--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

bye goats



bye momos

now ladies and gentlemen, i am confused. i left pokhara for kathmandu this morning with tears in my eyes that didn't subside until about three hours into my cramped bus trip. there is not a bone in my body which wants to leave nepal (especially if it means returning to thailand, which i have done to death), but if i stay here i am fodder for the nepali vultures which is both redundant and rather expensive. my bus took the same route that bikash and i had traversed several times before on motorbike through the mountains, and the thought that this might be the last time i see these marvelous places for a very long time instills utter panic in my spine. so what to do? i would like to change my ticket and stay and work for an orphanage/school, however knowing nepalis as i do now i am quite certain volunteering would very quickly turn into my financially supporting a child or children or the whole damn school. plus it's almost monsoon season. which means being trapped somewhere most of the days....ack!

i hit kathmandu after a sticky, tedious 8 hour bus trip and got a rather shabby room at hotel the earth for 300r. immediately ran into the gorgeous rafting guide asu with muscles rippling seductively as usual on the street. he's very shy and i managed to halfway secure a very noncommital plan to have drinks before i leave. better than nothing though. i think my last ditch effort will be to find myself a nepali boyfriend. that's the ticket, then i would have to stay right? so many nepali men are absolutely fascinating and gorgeous, completely innocent and corruptible (or should i say enlightenable), and most of them would do just about anything for an american girlfriend. i wouldn't mind having one myself, even if i have to support him a bit. something to work on tomorrow. :) i have one day to implement this questionable plan.

:5/20--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

goodbye expensive bikash





corpse parade (dead grandparents)

i expected that a round the world trip would change my antisocial and distrustful perspective where people are concerned but if anything it has made me significantly more jaded and i like human nature a whole lot less. today that was made especially obvious. i knew from the moment i woke up that i would have to make the decision today to stay in nepal or go back to kathmandu & get on a plane to bangkok on the 23rd. i packed my bags and paid my guesthouse and decided beyond that i wasn't going to do anything else, i'd let fate decide. so i met up with weird karma by the lake, whose mood was strange and impenetrable as usual and who immediately and shamelessly begged me to buy some of his jewelry without so much as a friendly hello. once again i paid him 1000 rupees for something i will never wear. i left him (dodging his greedy tibetan friends who all wanted a piece of the moola action), had some conversations with friends on the waterfront and at the music shop, then headed for bikash's house. bikash moved today actually, into a new room. he told me he couldn't really afford it so stupidly & sympathetically i offered him rent money, which he wasted no time in accepting. he hinted that he couldn't eat this month either but i ignored that. i told him i might be leaving and helped him decorate and we smoked a wee joint and sat chatting nostalgically about all the fun things we had done together. then he mentioned he would like to go to the bazaar (shopping district). i agreed without thinking and we set off in a taxi with two of his friends. i paid for the taxi and we got to the bazaar and we all had a nice huge lunch. paid for that too.

i don't mind helping people, okay, in fact it is in my nature to do so. but there is a point where it goes over the line (isn't there?). we went to a couple of shops and i realized bikash had no money and was waiting for me to volunteer mine. basically he expected me to furnish his new house. we would go into a shop and he would look at something he wanted and say "aww... that's too expensive for me" and look at me with his big innocent eyes. i completely ignored him and hung back with his friends until he'd finally walk out of the shop empty handed... we ended up at an electronics store. bikash's cassette walkman had broken a week ago and he had no music so i had bought him a cheap one from the tourist district. they didn't have any good ones and this particular one didn't even work. i felt bad, apologized and said i would return it and get him a new one... today he held me to that, and in the electronics store he managed to connive me into buying one of the most expensive stereo systems for him. by american standards it was a very old and cheap system and i really did want him to have a nice one, but the fact that he expected it and purposely chose the most pricey one made me sort of mad. i bought it. he didn't even say thank you... i know the kid is dirt poor but it was like he was trying to get as much as he thought he could get out of me before i left (the rent money, free weed, dinners, drinks, extravagant motorcycle trips on me etc. apparently have not been enough for him). when we returned to lakeside i felt bad and just left in a huff without saying anything and avoided him the rest of the day.

i went to meet karma to say a tentative goodbye (feeling that leaving was inevitable by this time). he looked so cute that i wanted to kidnap him to kathmandu with me, which is something he has been asking me to do anyway. but i thought twice when immediately he started in on how i should buy him something big (a stereo, a jacket) before i leave, if i am his real lifelong friend. i don't understand this mentality. in the US most people would sooner die than ask so blatantly for something. i was rather disgusted, gave him a "you must think i am fucking stupid" look, and left him in my dust with not a backward glance. goodbye poor confused karma. & that was that.

on the way back to my room i was very sad. usually in a couple of weeks' time your relationships with people can be written off as fairly shallow. but when travelling it's a bit different. there is something about freedom and lack of inhibition that makes relationships more precious in a shorter amount of time. i still talk to people i met travelling years ago and only spent a couple of days with.... these nepalis- i honestly love these people. i have had some of the most amazing experiences of my life with them. the past couple of weeks i have been deliriously happy, and i felt that we really connected in a way i don't usually connect with people. you know? i felt like i had some real friends here. but no, it's just the old snag a tourist and milk them for all they're worth trick. happens all the time, all over asia, and i don't know why it surprises me by now that i am being used. i thought back and realized that not a day went by when bikash or karma or any of their friends did not try to convince me to give them all my money, my body, my future, plane tickets to other countries.... it's a game for them. and i am a good, generous, friendly and apparently gullible girl who was taken advantage of, dammit! my first instinct is to say fuck them, they come from a totally ignorant country, and if they can't see me for what i am instead of some idealistic american superheroine icon then it's their loss. i really have helped them even beyond my means (i spent a whole months' budget in a couple of days), the only thing i have bought for myself since arriving in nepal is my drum... but really i feel extremely disillusioned and sad. i have lost friends that i suppose weren't really friends in the first place. nepal is more like india than i thought, just a little bit subtler in it's scheming... i don't understand ulterior motives. i rarely have them.

i ran into the little burned kid who asked me to buy him a mango and some shoes (i gave in on the mango since the fruit cart was right there). ran into my favorite old tibetan lady who begged me to give her my umbrella to use in monsoon season, which i did. gave a dirty sadhu with a dreadlocked beard a pocketful of rupees, bought water from the nice lady at the corner stand who always begs me in her direction, and left a nice tip for the momos restaurant. i'm nice, really!

bikash found me later, i reluctantly agreed to have a goodbye smoke with him and his friends. he mentioned we should have a little party and buy beer. everyone turned out their pockets and no one had any money but me. so i bought my goodbye party beer. his friends begged me to do a free website for them and i agreed to that too. i got a little smashed and walked bikash back to his home where he desperately tried to get some last minute sex. my shoestrap broke and i had no light to walk home with, but again today i was thoroughly disgusted and left my supposed friend in my dust without a backward glance. goodbye bikash.

& that was that. off to kathmandu it is. :(

:5/19--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ciao weird karma

ack. today i had the very first bout of homesickness for new york. nepalis can make you certifiably insane. a young cab driver picked me up today with eminem stickers plastered all over and he turned his sound system (which in nepal is a screechy cassette player and tinny little speakers) up really loud, and all of the sudden i felt horrible because if ever there was a country lacking in american influence i think it is nepal. the poor kid had no idea what eminem was saying, let alone everything that goes along with that. image. commercialism. capitalism. crass patronization of self. sometimes i start to feel like an alien (people certainly treat me as one!), having to interpret a culture that i don't even understand completely to one that is totally opposite. i miss worldly people a bit. people who can understand a good eminem tune (ack not really) :) ... but then again i had to listen to a totally corporate type from texas or somewhere equally embarassing talk about his prepackaged experience in nepal on the phone next to me the other morning. i remembered that americans make me cringe a little bit. they talk to each other like objects, they're full of stupid cliches, they have little evil goals hidden behind most of their conversations. they're much less honest and thus more distrustful...

today i had an exasperatingly weird and at the same time beautiful and memorable (secret) day again with karma. we went to a cave and just hung out in the park next to it... later we of course got caught in a rainstorm on the bus back. i think he threw me into the nostalgic run-for-home mindframe more then the eminem guy simply because a conversation with karma is made up of his reiteration of the same three points, having to do with being happy and living up to buddha and sometimes venturing off into tibetan-nepali borderland which means wild and crazy talk that i don't understand at all. i don't know why i hang out with him, i think it's the same magnetic instinct that attracts me to every psycho in my life. i ignored most of what he said and contentedly played with a hindu baby who was wearing a bindi and charcoal rimmed eyes on the seat in front of me on the way back to lakeside. wished i could have a conversation that made some freaking sense for once.

bikash later caught me all high strung and he was quite opposite and sad so it was a weird night as well. he introduced me to more of his friends including a nice french couple. we watched the nepali guys make dinner and fresh ginger tea. nepalis love to cook and they are very clean. they know how to live simply in very small spaces (one's room is also one's kitchen and living room all in one). sat around smoking and listening to really good nepali pop that sounded a little like the cure or depeche mode! (weird) ...but karma had told me earlier that the whole town thinks i am a prostitute so i had to excuse myself early from the room of guys to avoid creeping guilt... i wonder if there is another girl in this world who has this problem. being completely honest, every single one of my good friends in my adult life have been male. i don't sleep with them all though i do realize that might be their ultimate goal. people literally think that by travelling alone (instead of taking a man with me) that i am actively seeking a man or men. it's not true! with a few notably gorgeous exceptions that never seem to talk to me, i really couldn't care less about these guys' sex lives, i just like hanging with them. it doesn't seem to work here though because girls don't just "hang" with guys, girls are cooking, cleaning, babymaking machines. i am always myself, i have toned down the boob shirts and have become very adamant about where the borders between friendship and otherwise lie, but it's nobody's business anyway, right? ...i wish that was the case.

:5/18--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

motorcycles rule





rainy day tea


this morning i decided against the elephant trek in the chitwan jungle to see rhinos and tigers because frankly i was sick of being dirty and missed my nice home in pokhara. after a semi-decent indian breakfast bikash and i set off on the 3 1/2 hour motorcycle ride back. (ow- my arse!)

the ride was of course amazing (from chitwan to pokhara). in fact i think it is one of the most breathtaking trips on earth. everything is so dramatically beautiful. i definitely recommend a motorcycle as the mode of transport of choice when exploring almost anywhere. it's a perfect way to see things. bikash periodically picks good resting points where we stop and smoke and marvel at the excellence of everything. it's really relaxing, centering, wonderful to be so close to nature and away from anything resembling a rat race (not that much of anything in nepal does that). the only bad thing i can say about it is (like the rest of asia) with no emissions standards enforced here you find yourself choking half to death behind belching buses and overloaded dusty trucks on the highways. when you get home you can take a wet cloth and wipe and see all the black oily grime you sucked in all day long and convince yourself with paranoia that nepal might kill you.

driving through the villages i noticed that a lot of the action centers around the village water pump. there are always a few skinny men standing around in their tightey whitey underwear chatting, pretty women brushing their long black freshly washed hair and wearing towels, babies screaming from underneath cold water buckets, girls filling silver urns. there is usually a hindu altar with burning incense not too far away, that people take a sidetrip to pray to. the mountain people aren't so hung up on appearance and can look quite scraggly and unkempt- especially the kids, who are right out of disney sketches of tattered hillbilly orphans... lots of sheep, chickens, ducks, cows. no matter where you are it is not surprising to see an oblivious, happy water buffalo pop out of nowhere, sniffing the air, flapping his ears, and turning an appreciative head towards the sun as he saunters directly into your path. (i tried buffalo meat today- tough and stringy and totally guilt provoking as i really like the little guys).... also you can be driving out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by quiet, majestic views and thinking you have them all to yourself, when out from the thick jungle brush will trudge an old barefoot man (white skirt(?), blue shirt, pointy polkadot hat) with a bundle of sticks on his back or a stooped wrinkled lady (wrapped in embroidered material, large prominent nose piercings) whacking goats with a stick. people live in (and are stuck in for long periods of time) small simple shacks in the middle of absolutely nowhere, but with unreal natural backdrops... poor but still lucky, i say.

we luckily stopped at a rich married friend of bikash's once we arrived in pokhara. five minutes later there was a huge raging storm, which we sat through with milk tea, a joint, and good conversation in a somewhat leaky rooftop room of his gorgeous house. we watched groups of uniformed little children tentatively forge a stream below us that had flooded until it was more of a river on their way home from school. i was happy to be back in pokhara. when i got to my room i peeled off my soiled clothes and took a long hot shower and languidly stretched and slept like a kitten in my huge clean bed for the rest of the night.

:5/17--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

elephant bathtime




nepali folkdancing




chitwan national park

woke up at 6am which is painful to one of my unusual slothfulness. hopped bareback on a huge gaseous elephant and trotted to the river to give him his daily bath... all the elephants are brought to the river around the same time in the morning. it's really cute. they like to roll over on their backs and spit water all over their bellies with their trunks. they also like to throw their riders off into the water. fun in the heat.

later in the day i took a canoe down the river with bikash and a reclusive jungle guide as a start of a 4-hour trek. supposedly the river was full of crocodiles but they must be shy or mythical because i saw not a one. ditto with rhinos, sloth bears, and tigers in the jungle. i did see a family of monkeys swinging overhead, a small curious snake, and several interesting insects. i am apparently unlucky with animal sightings though. after a long hot walk through the thick steamy jungle and the tall itchy grasses i was exhausted, but we reached the riverbank to find our boat guy had thoughtfully abandoned us. a storm had moved in and made the very wide river very choppy. to my panicked astonishment our guide made us forge it on foot. i was so scared of leeches and crocodiles, not to mention getting swept away, that i had to close my eyes and hold my breath the entire way, with bikash yanking me along. the water was shallow and the riverbottom muddy though and the worst that happened was my one pair of thick cordouroy pants were soaked completely through for the rest of the day. which was pretty bad actually.

after quick showers bikash and i went to the riverside to watch the sunset and drink a bhang lassi. it was incredible. the wild peacocks mewed mournfully and white flamingos stood on brushed sandy islets in the river. water buffalo trudged through the long grass to the water to drink. nature program material.

later our guide took us to the requisite chitwan cultural program, which was talked down in the guidebooks but i thought was really quite cool. it was a collection of folkdancing performed by the village boys. when the monsoon season comes and there is nothing to do, nepalis hole up in shacks and drink millet wine and dance and sing, trying to keep things cheery despite the sometimes desperate situation. the music is upbeat and nepali drummers are amazing. the boys kept time with thick bamboo sticks, which they would do elaborate dances with. i drooled over a muscle-y dancer which made bikash inexplicably jealous and annoying, and i had to physically fight him off most of the night thereafter (innocent guys sure are aggressive...!?).... sort of put a damper on things. that and the fact that i am spending about $45 a day in nepal, which should theoretically set me back only $10-15. stupid guides and their friendly masks. (i am too nice to people.)

we had to walk through the base camp of either the maoists or the nepali army (not sure which) to get home. it's intimidating because big gruff men in fatigues stop you with spotlights and huge rifles and question your whereabouts before letting you pass. they have built huge bunkers and foxholes with sandbags and plaster and the road is lined with razorwire fences. they seem rather edgy as well. kind of creepy at night when there is no light at all on the dirt paths.

:5/16--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

laundry



sadhu beggars at hindu temple



mountaintop market

for lack of anything better to do i agreed to go with bikash on a short road trip to manakamana gurka. this is a place about 100 km from pokhara in which you can ride a cable car to the top of the canyons to a mystical, smokey hindu temple. we followed the seti river west. the seti is the most beautiful river in the world, i think, because for some reason (mineral deposits perhaps) it is a gorgeous light gray... almost white, filled with large picturesque charcoal colored boulders, and ringed by thick green towering mountains. to me it's unique in that it has a sandy bottom, and is lined with gorgeous untouched silver beaches at the bottom of the mountains. i never saw beaches along a river before. i can not for the life of me get my camera to take a good picture of it (or the views in general), but for anyone coming to nepal i highly recommend this ride. it's mindblowingly gorgeous, if you're into nature & all.

bikash had spent the morning as part of a procession carrying his dying mother in a wicker basket down a mountain from her village to a doctor. he had to borrow the 10,000 rupees (about $125) to pay the doctor from a friend, and was rather depressed and mopey most of the morning. this results in his driving insanely fast along careening mountain roads with my screaming and clutching at him from behind. i made him pull over and relax. we smoked a joint overlooking a gorgeous terraced valley (i still don't know if the terraces are natural or not but they are beautiful) and everything became okay. it was a fabulous day. we rode the cable car up to the mountaintop (crazy views) and found a lovely little touristy town filled with bright markets, squawking animals, and mellow mountain people. bikash being the good guide that he is he found the quietest and least touristed corner of it and we sat and admired the view. we were shyly approached by 5 scraggly children and a happy nepali man with the typical pointy hat. we learned that they were mountain people from a couple of mountains away... they had actually walked from their mountain down and up to the top of this one to visit the temple. it must have taken them about 10 hours to get there. the dirty faced children were wearing holey clothes and were totally naive and awestruck by me and my camera. it was fun showing them something new and being admired. it's also strange how out of touch with the world people are here.

after the cable car bikash convinced me to let him take me an hour and a half further to chitwan national park (which i am sure was his dastardly plan all along), where we had no choice but to stay the night. i had intended on going to chitwan before i left nepal so i agreed, despite the fact that i only had the clothes i was wearing and hadn't notified my guesthouse that i would be gone. chitwan is in the terrai part of the country, which is the open airy fertile plain lined with noisy lush jungle. the people are sort of dirty and simple and live in houses made with thatched grass, mud, and smooshed cow dung. the roads are dirt and rocks and there is not much in the way of conveniences. bikash and i stayed at an okay place run by his friend and surrounded by elephant breeding centers, lush landscaped greenery, and wild marijuana bushes taller than i am. i prefer the mountains in nepal to the jungle (saw a lot of that in thailand), and was a little overwhelmed by the responsibilty of a clingy whiny leechy (though lovely adorable and friendly too) bikash all night, but despite that & my irrational misgivings about being there instead of pokhara (damn my incessant crushes on places) it was all good. we had a nice dinner and too many beers and fell asleep at a reasonable hour.

:5/15--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

himalayan music

the problem with hiring a motorcycle guide for the day is that you have to rely on him to get you anywhere. and if he doesn't feel like taking you home when you want to go home, tough luck. today i got stuck with bikash's stupid horny friend surya all day. he waited all morning by the riverfront to find me, and i couldn't politely wing my way out of it, so we set off to explore the area near baglung (70 km from pokhara). he started the day out by explaining to me the acronym 'fanta'- 'fuck and then never there after'...this, he told me, was what he was after. i immediately wrote him off as an idiot and regretted coming with him. he's a horrible guide- drives recklessly, stops at ridiculous places...i spent most of the day just trying to get him to take me home. very frustrating. we saw some mediocre scenery, made boring smalltalk, and got stuck for two hours in a dark (electricity-less) indian restaurant while there was a deafening ice storm pounding at the windows. we had nothing to say and he managed to get me to pay for his food and the bike in addition to guiding so i was thereafter pretty damn grumpy. i didn't even wait for the rain to let up completely before i made him hop on the motorcycle and ferry me to my hotel. we were soaked by the time i got there but i was home so i didn't care, i left him with only a short nod and ran in and took a hot shower and passed out on my bed feeling drugged at about 6p, and that was it for the night.

surya by the way if you are reading this i do adore you- you're gorgeous, and you're definitely smart too but you need to get a clue when it comes to girls, honey.

oh hey while i am at it, sam from perth do you read this? if so write me!

:5/14--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

scraggly hindu me


the two poorest countries i have been in (cambodia & nepal) have had the most amazing people. i think there's something important in that. today all i basically did is wander around and talk to nepalis. in fact, i realized that i have really spoken to very few westerners since i arrived here. otherwise it's tibetans, nepalis and the occasional indian. this is exactly what i am looking for in my travels. i have learned so much and made some of (what feels like) the most important relationships of my life in a very short amount of time, in a strange, fascinating, novel set of circumstances... nepalis have mastered the art of conversation, sipping tea in dark shops... sometimes a joint is passed, someone brings in heaps of dahl bat, roxie (millet wine) is surreptitiously poured down your throat, someone starts jamming after a bit so you have a nice soundtrack, the girls dance their strange dances and cook and clean in the background, everyone is affectionate and positive and happy and funny. they are utterly lacking in pretensions. there is none of this fake crap that we have in america. no one is out to impress anyone else... just friendly, honest, and open people. i love them!

it was a weird day for relationships though. bikash (who has quickly become my best friend on earth despite his clingy sexual idealism) tiptoed sheepishly through the shadows all day but never said anything to me at all until much much later on in the day when i finally caught him alone and cleared things up with him with a big fat hug. karma was outright evil. he mysteriously avoided me all morning until i trapped him in a corner and asked him what could possibly be up, then he distracted me with his tibetan friend & her backpack shop which he thrust upon me as he ran off, never to be seen again today (freak). bikash's best friend surya completely took advantage of bikash's rejection/heartbreak by me and tricked me into a motorbike ride up to the top of the mountain to a place over the river to talk. (he's super cute so even though i don't trust him at all the eye candy was savored at least).

i had long conversations with the cute batik artist and his family, the music shop kids, a weird kashmiri shop guy, two philosophical medical students from bangladesh, a desperate drooling punjabi man, a nepali guy who lives in and is obsessed by dharamsala in india, his airheaded french girlfriend, the family that runs the momo restaurant i eat at every day, the internet guy, um... bought the little burned kid an egg....phew! a lot of interaction, period. i even learned some nepali in the process. good day.

:5/13--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

lamb



nepali pals

i am torn between staying in pokhara and moving on. i am being totally miserly for one thing and not wanting to taunt the starving dogs that are the lakeside guides with promises of juicy future trips or treks elsewhere. i really have decided to leave the serious trekking for a future trip here. but i am thoroughly enjoying just hanging out in pokhara right now. i never make plans so eventually something will fall into place, and otherwise i am loving life... i am realizing that is all that matters.

i had a long luxurious breakfast and wandered to the river where i chatted with a couple artists in the spectacular sun. no karma, no bikash. read for awhile, napped a bit, ventured out for momos and enjoyed them immensely with a group of impressionable college boys from kathmandu who did magic tricks for me while it stormed wildly...

later on i ran into bikash and we went to his house and had a little smokefest until the wee hours of the morning. the japanese kid, hari the funny guide, his friends, and a super cool nepali girl named maya were there. maya made real dahl bat (so that's what it's supposed to taste like, stupid boys who can't cook). hari entertained. we played cards for a bit. bikash tried to feel me up all night...

my hotel locks the gates after 11:30 or so so i couldn't go home. bikash made a rather musty and allergenic bed on the floor with piles of blankets for me and maya and himself. maya and i passed out quickly, but i woke up again quickly with bikash wrapping himself around me. it triggered something weird in my head and it kind of freaked me out. i yelled at him and told him i didn't want to sleep with him (i absolutely adore him but he's too small, like a little boy, and i honestly just want to be friends, ack), he said okay and i fell back to sleep. woke up with his hands all over me again a few minutes later. ugh. finally i just picked up and left. it was about 5 am and rather cold and i had to wait outside my hotel gate for someone to wake up and let me in. crashed finally into my own lovely clean white bed with a screaming headache.

:5/12--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

movie theater



old bazaar, pokhara

why not coconut. no hurry chicken curry. oh la pepsi cola. a few catchy nepali phrases i learned today. i am almost a native... let's see. karma from tibet and i had more weirdness today (it's sort of addictive). i hung out with him on the river a bit. chattered with a mexican guy from LA who had many shiny gadgets with him (ie. a dvd movie camera) that made me feel like i have been in the bush for too long. walked to karma's aunt's tibetan shop. i scrutinized the stacks of luxurious wool rugs and silver jewelry while they in turn both tried their damndest to get me to come to and save tibet (ack). afterwards to a juice place where karma pretended to read my palm just so he could hold my (american) hand and we politely discussed trekking and rafting with a nearby australian chick. standard. yawn.

then i met up with bikesh and he took me to a nepali movie (i asked for it). it was really cool actually. like four hours long but as they say "why not?" in fact, it totally clarified a lot of things for me. like how completely removed from and remarkably un-influenced by western culture this country is! yeesh. the movie theater was ancient, the seats were tin foil or something and it was pitch black. the floor had holes in it to trip over and i could hear rats. little kids were running all over the place with flashlights and screaming. people kept shifting seats until i thought maybe i was missing my turn in musical chairs. bikesh smoked imperiously as he very loudly kept me informed of the plot.... oh my 'god' the plot. first of all it was epic. second of all it was so freaking cheesy and overdramatic. i have never seen anything like it. third of all it was part musical. so lots of dancing. & you know the embarassing guy on the dance floor at teenage proms who is dressed all spiffily and dances jerkily and exaggeratedly like the world is enthralled with him? makes dramatic faces in time with the music? this is what nepalis strive to be like in their cinematic ventures. half the theater was crying by the time the son had betrayed the family for the third time, leaving them with no pot to cook rice in. i was looking around going "is this for real?"... wow....i realized just how dangerous it is to be western and to come here assuming everything you do is ok. for instance, they can't even kiss on screen in movies here but european/japanese gals are picking up the boys off the waterfront, screwing their brains out and discarding them for the next one. happens in every tourist area. these are guys who normally have to marry the first girl they are interested in. it confuses them completely, they don't understand women, they don't understand western ethics. they don't ever hear western music or see western movies. they're in it for the awe factor. but it causes big problems in their traditional culture. they're too innocent to be like us.

later it was getting dark and there was no taxi in sight so bikesh and i went up the hill and smoked a joint overlooking the old bazaar. it's quite a cool area. old dark wood shops with big shutter doors full of dry goods. all nepali. there is a ghetto of sorts on the edge with lots of dirty kids playing with sticks and their parents kind of just weaving crookedly in and out of the scene with wild stary eyes... crack. in nepal. ugh. it's so wrong.

anyway i bought a flute for my friend num in thailand from my friendly neighborhood music shop, and a nepali drum for me, both for less than $20. bikash (might as well start spelling it right now) taught me the basics. it's such a great drum, i plan on having many good jam sessions with it. starting as soon as i wake up tomorrow. :)

:5/11--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

nepali boy




burlesque blur

i had muesli with curd for breakfast this morning (sounds delicious eh) but after i saw how the curd was made i couldn't eat it. i mean i know it (yogurt) is spoiled milk but i don't like to see the process, you know? stupid american. we can just go pick up our prepackaged food at the supermarket without worrying what it went through, we are so sheltered from reality at home!.... i rented a bike from the nice girl at my usual corner shop and took off up the mountain. it's so nice to ride a real bike after months upon months of basic inactivity. i completely felt alive and rode as fast as i could with cows running next to me and my legs screaming for mercy. i stopped at a yoga retreat. had to climb up to the top of the mountain to get to it (more pain for slothgirl) but met some nice nepali people on the way. the yoga place is $86 for 6 days. totally worth it but i don't know if i can remove myself from life for so long because i am loving it! so i pretend it's too expensive, which gains me points all around.

here's the thing about nepal by the way. i have seen poor countries before but nothing like this. it's hard to explain. everyone i meet here blatantly begs (pleads shamelessly with, really) me to help them. buy them food, jackets, help their kid see a doctor, give them a place to sleep.... in places like the US it's kind of annoying to see people like that because you know if they just stop beating their wives and drinking with their ignorant overweight pals or shooting up in dirty toilet rooms everything would be cool for them. people here are such good people. totally simple, not very educated at all, no vices, affectionate and protective of, & generous to others... and they really have no chance at anything. most of them can't even leave their very primitive mountain towns. today on the way down from the yoga shack i ran into a really nice man who was 36 with five kids. his 9 year old daughter had a serious bone disease that had left her crippled. she can't move at all from her bed, even to go to school, she is constantly in pain- he can't afford a doctor so he just has this friend who sells him probably fake medication for her. but he can't pay it. so she is dying or something on this little block of concrete inside a moldy shack. he kept saying "if you could only help". ok, usually i don't let things like this get to me but it's just one after another all day long...i really start to question whether or not it's a good idea to give all of my money away....(!)

i ran into weird karma later on and went with him for tea. i really should know better because to put it quite bluntly the boy is crazy but i am a little bit fascinated by him- the whole weird tibetan "thing". there was another humungous rainstorm and we huddled shivering in a small tea shack with the little burned kid and chatted. he told me a lot about tibet. do i even need to get into how hard it must be to be a tibetan refugee in nepal? competing for work with starving nepalis? it's completely pitiful. plus karma is so naive to begin with... he talked to me a lot about ghosts today (a superstitious freak really), tried to talk politics with me but really knew nothing about them, and so resorted to telling me the life story of buddha, trying to correlate it with why i should sleep with him (innocently)... along the same lines he also pinned me down and kissed me to a point where i was really going to have to call for help (not innocent). i'm not kidding i had to throw him off. i didn't know what to do after that... actually what happens is we fight all day... make up, fight, make up, fight. it's a totally bizarre relationship to have with a complete stranger. he goes from complete psychopath who attacks me constantly to a nice friendly insightful tibetan guy. so i trust him for a bit and then it's back to to a desperate and needy as fuck person who just wants help, love, hope, something, everything right fucking now!... i really wish i could give him one of those things. i have no extra money, i can't sleep with someone else's husband, i am not a ticket to the good life, in fact, i am winging it myself.... ack. it's a lot of pressure (as usual in asia i guess). i took him to lunch though and fed him a ton of food. bought him a bottle of water and some medicine (he has a cold), patted him on the back and sent him home to his refugee camp.

i took a shower (thai people taught me to be really clean and now i can't take enough showers or put on enough powder in a day :)). i found bikesh at the music shop where we smoked up with a cute japanese girl. the japanese love nepal, and nepalis speak japanese better than english sometimes. it's weird, i feel left out... she was funny though. we didn't understand each other at all but we howled at the blossoming moon and danced to the music boy's hypnotic peals together.

afterwards bikesh took me out. i promised to buy him dinner because he feeds me dhal bat all the time and i know he would enjoy a dinner out anyway. he manouvered me towards this place called naasha's. it was so cool. it was like an old 20's supper club with nepali burlesque dancers. they were so beautiful- nepali girls are ridiculously feminine. you don't usually see them in jeans for instance- they make me feel like a boy. they wore glittery sarongs and small knitted tops and did a mystical flirty bellyish dance. sometimes a mountain guy would come dance with them but it got too cheesy then... like bollywood. everything is overdramatic and exaggerated. embarassing to those of my prudish culture. we drank a lot of beer and chatted with our beautiful nepali waitress. bikesh ordered a lot of food (mmm vegetable pakoras) but i don't mind. i perused the roomful of gorgeous boys (not all but quite a few nepali guys are complete knockouts- they are usually just too short or too naive for me). the waitress complained that we didn't tip her enough, actually sat begging over and over until it became ridiculous and embarassing... but we got a little tipsy and left to walk down by the gorgeous moonlit, mountain shrouded lake, have a smoke, and traipse unsteadily on the dark rutted dirt paths back home. i gave bikesh a friendly hug and let him use my flashlight to get back to his house.

:5/10--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

singalong



snakecharmer

i don't know how i am ever going to leave nepal... i can't even manage to leave pokhara long enough to see anything else, but i am falling madly in love with so many of the people here. there's the weird indian guy who every day asks me to stop and chat and every day i say "um- just running up here" and start running... finally today i stopped to chat and had nothing to say. we started giggling to each other like schoolchildren. i have lots of neighborhood dogs to pet and kids to tickle. i taught my internet shop guy intro web design today. there's a kid who is burned all the way up half his body but he's so cool! i let him ride my bike... he had a little bandanna on backwards and made a flag out of my water bottle trash. i saw a snake charmer today... he had a big fat lazy cobra who must have been drugged because i didn't see him try to kill anyone, but he did dance out of the hat and everything. the man (i think he was a sadhu) played this old wooden flute with a big ball on top, sounded a lot like jazz somehow(?). i made movies of it with my camera but i still have no idea how to attach them to my web page. i spent most of the morning luxuriating in my room (you would not believe how completely guilty i should feel in comparing my room to the average nepali's). took a walk and ran into bikesh, who took me to the music shop. there's this gawky kid whom i think just turned 20, with a little cheesy mustache and everything. he is an absolutely genius musician. he's just so intuitive, and nepali music is so tribal and more like jamming. he plays this scratchy homemade violin type thing, it completely melts everything into a happy haze when he plays. and bikesh starts in with a nepali drum (quite cool) and the nepali girls sing in their weird ululating off-key voices and dance like hippies. (i think the hippie thing must have started here, with the flowing mountain skirts and scarves and nose piercings and peace and love). there was a party of sorts, lubricated generously with millet wine passed around in tin cups. it's a very extroverted culture. you're expected to dance and sing loudly and clap your hands and stomp your feet (things i don't do, basically) to their folk music. they look at me weird when i sit quietly in the corner humming and tapping my foot. i don't mind though.

later i followed bikesh to his house where we made dahl bat together in the kitchen along with a rather stiff and strange japanese guy who had hired bikesh for the day. we listened to jimi hendrix... for the first time i took a real look around at where bikesh lives. his kitchen is basically outside, a couple wooden tables and some pots. they have to carry in water and gas to cook with every day. the water comes from the very polluted lake, which they drink from, shower with, cook with- everything. every day they have dahl bat two times. (dahl bat is basically a ton of rice with a thin sauce made of lentils and sometimes steamed vegetables, whatever is around). the bathroom is literally just a hole in the ground, there is a chronic water shortage so they have nothing to wipe with most of the time. bikesh has maybe three outfits that he has to wash over and over by hand. his room is infested with rats and cockroaches but maintains it's repectability with a faint bulb in the corner and some cute american cliche posters (babies kissing puppy dogs, saying "if you like people, they'll like you").... his cassette walkman broke and he was quite depressed. he told me more about his life and if it's true, damn, i don't know, i didn't realize how hard life is for some people. it makes me feel so lucky. by the way, if anyone comes to nepal drop bikesh a line and let him be your guide for a day. he has never taken me to a place that is less than amazing. mail here.

:5/09--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

i am listening to that blur song with the words "he wants to live in magic america/ with all the magic people" & giggling to myself because it's so appropriate to this day. yikes. i haven't had a bad day in pokhara yet but i also haven't yet had one where everyone i spoke to wasn't transparently trying to scam me for everything i am worth. they really think americans shit gold pieces or something. i feel helpless.

bikesh was in a streetfight this morning- his tooth was all bloody and some older guy (in a pointy hat) was pushing him around. i handed him his hat and sunglasses that had been knocked off and that was the last i saw of him today. the nepalis all crowded around and made it a big drama.

then came karma, tripping round my door. karma is a really cute tibetan "guide". but a fucking pain in the ass. we got our boat and got onto the river and found we had nothing to say to each other first thing (couldn't understand each other's language, customs, nuthin'). by the time we reached the opposite bank i was totally bored with him (the lake was beautiful). we climbed halfway up the mountain to a little restaurant overlooking the water. the nepali girls (braids, shiny ribbons, plump, wraparound handwoven skirts) made us humungous plates of dhal bat. the nepali way of eating is to mix everything up with your hands and shove it into your mouth, not stopping to breathe. it's disconcerting, and i picked at my rice and fed most of my fried whole (and i do mean whole) fish to the happy dogs attached to my legs. karma and i made basic conversation.

karma meanwhile dug out a white cloth and spread it out on the table, bringing out necklaces and bracelets to show me, none of which i wanted. then i got the whole sob story about his being a refugee and like, "we don't even have a country to help us, you know? this is the only way we make money".....ugh! i really do understand but if i saved everyone who wanted saving in a day i would need saving myself. i was however guilt tripped into buying two bracelets, paying for lunch, smoking him up, paying the boatman, and giving him 1000 rupees. then i looked at his new clothes and nice shoes, cute new haircut, thought about that fact and got really pissed off. so we had this big loud fight and i accused him of being a member of the cheat-all-tourists club on the lakeside. blah blah blah i decided fuck climbing up to the stupa i am outta here and we fought all the way back down the mountain, he refused to take me into the boat until we rehashed everything ten times and i didn't think he was a cheater anymore (impossible because he was). ack ...finally i gave him his bracelets back, told him to keep most of the money for "guiding" me and that was that. shut up!

we got into the boat and looked at each other and started laughing and from then on we were like best friends all day. he kept saying "karma gave us satisfaction in that moment, nicole". weirdo. when we realized we were both dragon signs he was convinced we were meant to be.

then my wonderful professional guide (heh heh) had a freaking panic attack on me. we were in the middle of the lake and this big storm started blowing in from the mountains. the water rippled a bit and the wind picked up, but i was helping him row and it was nothing unmanageable... nevertheless he lost it. (i am laughing my ass off thinking about it because it was so weird. haha :) ) but he couldn't relax and just help me row so the boat started going in circles, then he started jumping up and down and waving his arms and screaming "help me!!!" at the top of his lungs to the shore. so the boat started tipping dangerously and i briefly had a twinge of wonderment as to whether there should be something to be alarmed about.... another bunch of indian boat guys finally came to rescue us, and karma sat shaking in the bottom of the boat while i helped one of the guys row us back, trying to hide our laughter the whole way. turns out he thought there was a ghost in that part of the lake, since 3 tourists drowned there in a storm. silly buddhists.

ugh then (when i swore i was leaving him and going straight home), then we had chai in the rainstorm with a nice nepali family in their shop (shop consisting of an old mini-refrigerator, a cash register, and an apathetic teenage girl), and when it let up a bit we walked across the terraced fields and up the mountain towards sarangkot. sat for a bit enjoying the view and talking. it was going well, no weirdness, but then suddenly he tried the "ever had a tibetan massage" trick on me. tried to kiss me, tried to make me come with him to the tibetan camp to stay with him (uh, and his wife and child), invited me to tibet itself, all the rest of it. he's so guileless that i almost fall for it but by now i know how it works in asia. everyone's looking for money/sex/love/education/hope-- a savior. and i ain't no jesus christ, you hear me? i got fed up and we had another little spat and we snubbed each other all the way down that mountain, i told him he could in no way think about staying in my room tonight (which i knew he was getting at) and walked him straight to the stop for the bus to his village, knocking his hand off of me every three steps.

he convinced too nice me to wait for his bus with him so we stopped in this tiny hole of a nepali shop (completely dark, made of mud, with meat hanging from the rafters and circling hounds underfoot). the owners were hillbillies, that's the only way i could describe them (nice ones though). the woman was all wrinkled and twisted and kept trying to count on her fingers (one two threee tourists died) over and over but never seemed to get it right in her head. the man smiled at me with a toothless scarecrow smile and kept asking me over and over where i was from. we drank beer. i tried to have a conversation with them but it's increasingly apparent that nepalis know absolutely nothing about the world. if they need anything it's really education. (tibetans too). karma and i chatted again, he started back in on his pitiful life story and his sexual innuendos (i did give him 2 free condoms and told him to go out on the town he'd have no problems) and i finally sighed, threw 500 more rupees at him, told him to shut up and go home, and left shaking my head disgustedly and chuckling without a backward glance.

walked through the town, saw muscle-y asu, nodded at the music shop kids, helped a little boy ride his too big bike, ate momos, pet some scraggly dogs and trudged home to sleep...

i hope i see karma again because he makes me laugh. :) i had a good day foiling most of his tricks. when i think about it it sort of makes me cringe too though because he really does probably need help.

:5/08--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

buddhist painting




laila's bar

i woke up and ran for the tibetan bread at my breakfast joint, and munched it with a nice tibetan boy wanna be guide named karma. tibetans are extremely pushy and desperate in nepal because they all seem to be working illegally as refugees. they carry around backpacks of things to sell and are always calling you to meet them behind trees and have a quick look. i feel sorry for them. but once you get past all that i think they're fascinating people too. they seem really earthy & they have style. anyway the guide made me promise to meet him at 11 tomorrow to take a boat across the lake and go up to the japanese stupa overlooking the city. he says i just have to pay for the boat. we'll see about all that but i am learning to trust my instincts with people- don't know that i will actually show up.

speaking of which i keep finding myself in big groups of foreign guys i met ten minutes ago alone in small dark chillout rooms (yeah stupid girl), but i have never had a bad or threatening experience yet. i think i just know how to handle men, i am so used to them. i have no qualms about telling them exactly what i think about something and that keeps them in line (so far). it's an important skill for girls who travel alone. :)...but every time i meet someone here they do start off on their guide spiel ("you want to go somewhere you come find me, i take you"). i guess it 's good money for them if i am any example of tourist gullibility....but ack talk about something else please just once. (anyone who has been to pokhara must understand this).

anyway i walked back to the tourist district where the bar was last night to have a look around. it is not like the rest of pokhara at all (disgustingly pretentious actually, mostly western) but it has some really cool shops i didn't expect to find. & i ran smack dab into mr. muscles (asu) from last night (whom unfortunately i realized is about a foot shorter than me- didn't notice that in my alcoholic haze) magically on the street corner. he predictably enough invited me in for a smoke at his shop. the shop/house was small, with mud floors of course, and they were wiring their own electricity so that they could play moby on their walkman & a big speaker for me. it was crammed with art- a painting of a grandmother hanging her grandchildren upside down on a clothesline, a digeridoo made out of a thick twisted treetrunk, a couple of brilliant mandala paintings, a lamp thrown together out of an upside down umbrella and basket. handmade everything. the nepali guys rotating in and out of the room were all impossibly handsome, sort of embarrassingly naive and awestruck over america... fun to drool over, chat with, be bewildered by (nepalese), and run away from. which i did.

i tried to eat momos in isolation tonight but bikesh showed up and my order of potato cheese momos was actually curry cabbage or something on the plate. so i had to go to his house and listen to his cute jabbering unhappy-in-arranged-marriage roommate boy and eat another horrible dinner (goat meat and rice). i'm starving. i ran home early to munch ginger snaps.

still thinking about trekking, jungle safari-ing in chitwan, yoga and meditation camp for a week, or just slithering about pokhara talking to nepalis. maybe another few weeks here, why not.

:5/07--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

himalayan village



scarecrow daydreams



weed, not mine of course

today was amazing from bottom to top. first i had a delicious breakfast of tibetan bread (grilled with honey mmm) and coffee. had to avoid the psycho trekker man with einstein hair from a country called luxembourg (wtf ?) who actually tracked me down at my hotel and tried to convince me despite loud protestation on my part to find myself in the middle of nowhere with him... no thanks. i have bikesh for that, whom i trust immensely as he has been gentlemanly enough not to protest at the platonic-ness of our four day relationship (an amazing feat for local boys who deal with tourists, let me tell you). plus basically he is my slave since he knows i eventually pay him (way too much, in fact my moola is dwindling) out of guilt for his guiding. i sat at the riverside waiting for him this fine morning, talking to a mellow batik artist named shite i forgot and several tibetan salesgals who wouldn't accept no for an answer ("looking, just looking, little help")... then bikesh showed up and we were off. he is a magnificent guide, an olympic quality motorcycle driver, a knower of the best nepali secrets, and in general the nepal that i have seen so far from him is freaking great. that's all i can say about it... aside from thailand i have never felt so at home in a place. it's impossible to represent to it's fullest in my journal. very visually appealing.

let's see where did we go today--- oh first i made him take me to the ghats (ram ghat to be specific), where the hindu people take their dead to cremate. they lay the bodies on the steps on the riverbank and dress in mourning costume and the body burns brilliantly and the ashes are thrown into the river. or sometimes they just throw the body in the river to eventually pop up on somebody. quite cool. we saw a live (dead) one. then we drove up (and here i might add that the roads ranged from insane to quasi-sane to pseudo-sane to not sane at all) and stopped in a little village where bikesh tried to score some smoke from a scraggly lady in a punjabi. it turns out we were at the village pot man's house. yikes! we walked into this hut with mud floors and clay walls, rats everywhere, hillbilly kids in tattered sweaters coming up and rubbing my (white) skin, a pot boiling on a fire, hay in the corner (or was that?...), a sleazy looking drug dealer guy in a tight racing shirt and mirrored 60's cop shades eyeing us suspiciously, and this 90-year old man wearing one of those weird pointy hats they have here & who was only semi-alive himself directs me in to a huge black garbage bag stuffed full of freshly harvested weed. wow. innocent me. never have i seen anything like it. christmas. worth the climb up.

it's all amazing here. the mountains we panted up. i can't even begin to accurately describe the villages we went through... nepal is totally magical and surreal and there is no other place like it on earth. we walked/biked/hiked through all the himalayan villages surrounding pokhara today, staring aghast at orphan kids with dirty hair and distended bellies, making fun of exhausted moaning trekkers who'd walked up for the day, teaching teething girls in pigtails bits of english, helping move the water buffalo off the road, sitting/smoking on mountaintops with 360 degree impossible views, passing brilliant terraced canyons full of scarecrows and robust smiling beautiful motherly women working in handkerchiefs tied around their braids, hacking with scythes in one hand and with the other gathering potatoes to put in their aprons. racing as fast as we possibly could on a motorcycle on the worst roads i have seen since cambodia. (put the road from poipet going up a cliffside you have nepal). we found ourselves finally back at saranghot, which is a gorgeous little lodge/village at the top of the mountain overlooking pokhara. we had sweet tea there and smoked again with the smiley nepali owner.

on the way down the mountain we ran into a tribal ceremony- the entire village was dressed up, carrying incense, playing native musical instruments (really excellent tweedy strange sounds), and parading solemnly down the road with an ancient painted man being ferried along in a basket on their shoulders. completely random bizzareness. wish like everything else i had pictures.

we also stopped at bikesh's sister's hovel (cement blocks, mud floor, one bed for the entire family, kitchen and living room in same room as bed) and played with her 4 beautiful kids while she fed us...i learned that bikesh ran from his mountain village to pokhara at age 8 and slept starving on the streets until he learned how to survive.

later i ate momos (my new favorite food, sort of like raviolis), met up again with bikesh to play pool at laila's bar which is quite hip for this part of the world, & met a shy muscle-ly nepali rafting guide (asu- oh, bless you) who didn't do much other than stand around looking drop dead gorgeous but that was cool with me. (nepali people have honest eyes and gentle smiles and usually good teeth and thai bodies and gorgeous floppy black hair.) i played pool with him and the energy was so right on i hit ball after ball right directly in, sinking almost all of my balls on the first turn. became sort of famous for the night. felt good about myself as i ended up with a couple persistent silly admirers. (i don't want another man to have to support like a pet though).

went to bed tipsy but completely satisfied with my life. travelling is fun. :) i have been in 3 completely different countries this month.

:5/06--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

out my hotel window

i knew i would have to avoid bikesh (my guide) this morning but i didn't realize to what extent. i slept in late on purpose and then tried to sneak out for breakfast and noticed him sitting across the street from the drive to my guesthouse (where he first picked me up). i pretended not to see him and walked casually down the block to have a coffee and muesli, with him staring at me from fifty feet away the whole time. i hid behind my paper and when a delivery truck pulled up and blocked the view between us i paid quickly and ran in the opposite direction. unfortunately there wasn't much to see in that direction. i ran into his roommate but didn't recognize him until long after i had passed, and realized i had been totally rude. i ended up checking my email and talking to a travel agent about fares from kathmandu for a bit (turns out i probably need to go to bangkok, since it's a hub, and can get cheaper fares from there to e. europe or s. america). i sat by the lake for a bit reading and watching people boat around happily, dodged the increasingly annoying shopkeepers and trudged through the back roads back to my guesthouse. i don't know how many ways i can say "quaint" and "beautiful"... those pretty much sum up nepal in general thus far. or just "wicked cool" will do.

of course i managed to go the whole day without seeing bikesh but as soon as i finished my scrumptious dinner of roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables (damn fine food in this place if you don't give in to the dhal bhat bargains) with a crazy guy from luxembourg who wouldn't stop jabbering, i literally ran smack dab into bikesh on my way home. he invited himself to my room for a smoke, where i promptly informed him he's my friend and friend is all. it went over well and we had a silly time chatting as i flinched at every move he made (paranoid), put makeup on him (i suspect he has a little bit of ladyboy in his blood actually- the overdramatic cockney lisp doesn't help and neither does his fascination with the way his eyes look with mascara), and listened to my music (the cds which aren't all scratched to hell that is). new friends are good friends.

:5/05--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

pokhara valley



magnificent buddhist temple



waterfall pit

i wanted to spend at least ten minutes alone in pokhara before i met up with bikesh to explore, so i went early this morning to have coffee and a croissant at the bakery down the street. five minutes later though bikesh pulled up on his motorbike. we set off a little bit later on a complete whirlwind of a day. it started with a drive up to sarangkot, on the mountain overlooking pokhara. we stopped on the way to buy some hashish from some little old men at the side of the road (cream 100r). the view was absolutely stunning. i could see snow-capped mountains which were in the range of 7-8000 meters high. bigger than i have ever seen and totally impressive. the canyons are as green as ireland must be and are terraced all the way down, which is strange and beautiful. there were eagles circling overhead.

of course as soon as we reached the top we got a flat tire. we sat freaking out for a bit at the top of the mountain but decided the only thing we could do was walk the bike back down. so we did. i took a shortcut through a beautiful little mountain village, filled with mewling goats and naked babies and smiling women carrying baskets and wearing noserings and traditional hindu garb. we got the tire fixed in the city and set off again.

too many places to tell, all amazing and beautiful and i can't do any of them justice. among the places we saw were a strange white river with a beautiful dam, a tibetan refugee camp with a solemn temple, a crazy bat cave that we had to wriggle out of up a tiny dark shaft, a perfect buddhist temple with beautiful paintings and a marvelous view, a viewpoint overlooking a long staircase going down into the very deep canyons and a river at the bottom in which the locals would come to shower (there were some cute boys showering there at the time), an impressive and weird waterfall pit, an insane dirt path around the lake which we drove madly down and which led to a secret restaurant surrounded on all sides by a magnificent view (we ate noodle soup and smoked up with the mellow nepalis), and finally through some small villages and lush fields to to another amazing viewpoint with a gazebo at the top of a cliff....... where again we ended up with a flat tire. ack. this time there was no way we could walk all the way down so we started flagging down passersby. we finally found a nice man and his son who were driving a tractor pulling a flatbed trailer. we managed to get the motorbike up onto the trailer and sat on top to keep it steady. that was a crazy ride down the mountain, with the bike slipping and sliding underneath us and a general feeling of impending death. fun fun. got there alive though & got the tire fixed in another little village where the local children peeked shyly at me around corners and said "namaste". went back to bikesh's house to smoke again and relax, this time eating delicious dhal bhat that bikesh made himself.

now came the confusing part. i was under the impression that bikesh was just being friendly and wanted to show me around. i should have known that nepali people probably have better things to do with their days, and it turns out he was a guide. i asked him if he expected payment and "you can pay me whatever you want" (to which i offered 1000 rupees) turned into "you can pay me 3000 rupees". so that's how it works here, they have a bit of indian in them after all... i felt completely cheated because i happen to know this is ten times more than the average guide makes here, and i had already paid to rent the bike and for our food all day. that added up to what i would spend in a week here. it was a brilliant day though and i didn't know quite how to react so i just paid the boy. then i realized on top of that he is after an american girlfriend (sex) which also i of course should have known. i am not in the least attracted to him though. so after a few awkward moments of his being a little too close for comfort and my being a little too freaked out overall, i ran suddenly for my hotel. he tried to extract a promise from me that i would go spend some time in the mountains with him at no charge but i blew that off, telling him i didn't like to plan.

fell exhausted into bed (still coughing) and slept deliciously deeply.

:5/04--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

phewa tal lake, pokhara, nepal



bikesh



rainstorm

it was definitely time to leave kathmandu today though much of it remains to be seen by me. it's not a good place to be sick alone. i caught a bus to pokhara at 6:30 this morning. the tourist buses are supposed to be more comfortable than the local buses, so i would really hate to see those local buses... my bus was made for (very small) nepali people, and i couldn't sit properly in my seat since my legs were too long, so i ended up sitting diagonally most of the way and suffered bad cramps in my back. about ten minutes after i sat down a very cute nepali guy sat down in the seat next to me. we chatted most of the 8 hour trip in broken english. his name was anil, he was 23. his family was well off and he travelled back and forth between kathmandu and pokhara to study engineering. being from america makes me an instant celebrity and he introduced me to the other (rather awed) nepali people on the bus (half of whom were family). he asked for my email address and promised to meet me in pokhara within the week to show me around, but somehow i think it was just a friendly bus ride with a nice (somewhat touchy feely) boy and nothing more.

the drive to pokhara was amazing. i have never been to a country like nepal. everything is just so damned quaint and unearthly and relaxed. in passing the small villages i saw families doing their laundry in the rivers (beating the clothing on rocks), men scraping hides off of hideous torsos of undentified recently killed animals, groups of people sitting in shady doorways drinking tea, lots of animals and bright green terraced fields and canyons.

when we reached pokhara i said goodbye to anil, dodged the fiendish touts at the bus station, and shared a taxi with two friendly mexican amigos i had also met on the bus. we stopped at a group of guesthouses and i got a beautiful room with a balcony overlooking the himalayas and a huge double bed for only 200r. giri guesthouse. quite nice. i took a wonderful cold shower and relaxed overlooking the garden for a bit.

went to walk around the town and see what was to be seen. it's like colorado but everything is bigger, deeper, more breathtaking. and entirely 3rd world. i am staying in the south lakeside district in pokhara which is heavenly. there is a huge green lake surrounded by thick forests and flowering trees. i noticed some nepali men selling their art along the banks so i had a peek and then just sat there in the shade to relax. immediately a nepali boy (bikesh) came to sit with me and talk. he has a strong cockney accent (which i find adorable on asians), is 23, and is surprisingly well travelled for nepalis (just did a tour of the thai islands and some vipassana meditation in india). he invited me to go with him on motorbike and explore the area tomorrow. tonight he took me to his friend's music shop where they custom make jambe drums, guitars, flutes, and traditional nepali instruments. he played some jambe for a bit and then the rest of the shopkids jumped in until it became more or less a party. i like nepali music- it sounds a bit like reggae and is all acoustic. it started to rain and they brought out tea and it was a beautiful cozy afternoon. bikesh and i ran through the rain to another lake to watch it from a gazebo at the edge. gorgeous with the mountains ringed with fog in the background. later he took me to his house where i met his roommate (who told me about his recent arranged marriage at 22 to a girl he had never before seen- quite weird), we listened to music and ate some rather salty and horrible dhal bhat, to the embarassment of the poor nepali boy who cooked and had wanted to impress the american guest.

:5/03--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

kathmandu street

i resolved to do not much at all today in kathmandu due to an overwhelming sense of unreality whenever i leave my room. i don't like not being able to walk down the street without being hassled every third step. some days i deal with it better than others. and i know i will be in kathmandu again later so i gave in to a bewildering depression of sorts (just a culmination of recent tensions) and slept most of the day.

i did head out and see a movie later at a dark bar with a large carlsberg and a cute skater-ish boy (nepali) to flirt with from across the room.

i realized after a morning perusal of the local paper that the strikes of the past week are called "bandhs" and are instigated by the maoist rebels, protesting against the current government. i never paid attention to the state department warnings on nepal before coming here but the bandhs appear to be intermittently a big (sometimes violent) deal in kathmandu. apparently besides smashing up taxis and attacking policemen they hijack tourist buses demanding money. comforting thoughts, these. the tension appears to be mounting right now with a peace talk planned this month.

i looked up working as a hostess in tokyo and it seems to be a big possibly sleazy hassle and you have to be entirely fake- facts which i never took into consideration. i figured you picked a flyer off a billboard and suddenly you had a lap full of money and sexy new clothes. but then i realized hmmm nicole, that would make you a 'ho'stess, wouldn't it.... 'talentless geisha' is what they prefer to call it though... a wind up doll who lights cigarettes for boring gibberish-spouting men and slaps them when they get too close (which they like)... can't be worse than most dates i've had, and can't be as boring as sitting in an office all day...good quick money... but i did read that pretty western girls sometimes disappear into thin air. if anyone knows anything about this scene please fess up. is it seedy or legit? should i teach english or what? i also applied to work at a preschool in bangkok.

another thing i have thought about doing is volunteer work somewhere, as that would put me more in touch with the locals and allow me to relax a bit instead of putting so many demands on myself to keep moving. but in looking up the information on the web i've noticed that volunteering ain't cheap. why is that? not only do you give your free time, but you have to give them money as well? that seems wrong. i am not spending $1000 on hopefully good karma.

:5/02--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

statue in durbar square



colorful shops

still sick & i didn't do anything today but to cower & hide from the word "next?" as if there was a magistrate with his hand out demanding the sum of myself at this exact point. sometimes i feel a lot of pressure to move on to the next place and "see the world", but i have realized that doing a literal round the world trip is almost impossible on my budget in a year or so. so i tried to relax and buy souvenirs or something but i was too shy to stay in the shops with people hovering breathlessly over my shoulder. i tried to redesign my main site but my head was deflated like a helium balloon. i tried to meet people to distract me but the bars/restaurants i went to were either dead empty (except cringing me) or the interesting people were in a big group on the other side of the room.

i did buy a long sleeve shirt from a shop because i liked the flare sleeves and pretty colors. put it on and went out on the town... soon realizing that the shirt had shifted up to sort of a midrift. everyone i passed had their eyes glued with shock to my sparkling navel. somehow that added to my discomfort today. only in eastern countries do things like that matter... maybe americans are sluts. nepal is another country though where if you exchange glances three times you get dragged by a buffalo to the town square and are forced at bugle point into marrying some creep (or something). and he can legally sample others but you get a huge penalty and no divorce. and you have to do his bidding.

...so anyway i have this friend (dressed in mysterious shadows) who wanted to smoke weed because it had been awhile. so when the smiling (pointy hat) rickshaw man offered him smoke he jumped aboard and went for the ride. but the rickshaw man must have misheard him say "marijuana" and he must have misheard the (shifty hasty) rickshaw man say "4200 rupees"... somehow though the friend got confused and counted out the money ($55 dollars worth) without doing the exchange rate in his head, guessing thoughtlessly that must be the going rate. that was my (stupid, sheepish) friend with more hash than he had ever seen in his life stuffed in his hand and a shiny new potential ten year sentence upon his back. the rickshaw man made a quarter year's salary in five minutes and raced off with a wink. my mystified friend doesn't even smoke hash... this taught my friend a big lesson about the first and only attempt he ever made to buy droogs on the street, that of it's being a very stupid and unrepeatable one. he is soon to flush his noxious brick down the toilet and pray to god the sewers don't lead to the local d.e.a. office.

heading for the hills on sunday. tgif.

:5/01--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

nepali family



hindu temple



medicine man

my nepal book says that children in the suburbs run away to kathmandu at ages as young as 5 years old to escape harsh poverty and neglectful parents. i can't remember having even had a sense of identity at 5 years old let alone the resourcefulness to change my situation, but i had a look around the streets of thamel today and realized that it's probably the truth. there are tons of grubby, barefoot little street kids begging for money or food or just someone to be freaking nice to them. one girl (suya) must be about 7. she carries her 3 year old sister in a sling on her back all day. she's super feisty... i have seen her wielding a huge rock & threatening to throw it at a shopkeeper who was harrassing her for being too close to his entrance... she can be very persistent when she wants something too, attaching herself to peoples' arms and not letting go until she gets what she wants. usually though she plays like a child, throwing sticks at other children and playing tag, or giggling mirthfully while being tickled by a passing squinty eyed hippie. i asked her where her parents are and she says she doesn't know. she's a charming, brave, and intelligent little chick and she is fiercely protective of her baby sister. i've seen an israeli guy buying them food and a german kid giving them t-shirts to use as blankets at night (it gets damn cold here), but overall it's pretty much redundant toothgrinding rejection... my book goes on to say that most of the kids die within a couple of years of disease or hunger... i know poverty is endemic to a lot of asia, and i have seen a lot worse cases in cambodia and india, but sometimes reality hits you a little more personally than others. i am starting to realize just how much of the earth's daily reality is incomprehensible suffering... and people wonder why i am agnostic.

nepalis don't seem to go out past 9pm, presumeably because most of them are too poor for drinks and dancing (or they're already strung out on tea), and with the exception of a couple scattered tourist places the streets are completely dead after 11 or so. there's an occasional stumbling shouting drunk (usually tourist), & there are packs of starving dogs that slink through the alleys howling at the top of their lungs, echoing through the dusty dark town. this added to my thrashing insomnia last night. when i finally fell asleep around 4am i had desperate drooling dreams that shook me awake in the very foreign very early morning. i hung around in bed for a couple of hours trying to shake it off, get the bad taste out of my mouth, but eventually had no choice but to get up and submit myself to a cold shower and an early breakfast.

my adventure for the day was a trip to durbar square, which is the central area of kathmandu, filled with towering hindu stupas and terraced temples, as well as little crooked nooks and crannies from which pop strangely dressed men and shiny fresh ladies carrying baskets of colorful wares. lots of rifraff to round things out, all trying to be the least obvious about the fact that they are selling something, and failing. i loved it though. nepalis are so generous and unassuming. 2 out of 3 shopkeepers invite me in for tea. sometimes i decline but i had a couple of conversations, including one with a nice fatherly sherpa man who wants me to hire him as a personal guide for trekking. but unfortunately i don't think i can afford him. or trekking, period. i have decided to just relax and see some of the major cities in nepal but any trekking i do will have to be in the form of short walks on my own, as once you figure in the costs of equipment, clothing, porters, porter's equipment and clothing (yessirree), guides, lodging, etc., especially with just one person to bear the brunt of it, i just can't do it.

i took a little sidetrip to freak street (the famous hippie area which is now rather run down and unremarkable but neighborly) and after a nice foggy rainstorm which made the already aesthetically pleasing town even more unbelievably gorgeous, i went and had my usual solitary dinner and went to bed to catch up on lost sleep.



 

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