Friday, 1 May 2009

Feeling the Vibe in Kathmandu

Today we decided to take it slow! Kathmandu is a great place just to stroll, look, chat and maybe bargain or haggle for amazing Himalayan-style souvenirs. So the day kicked off with a breakfast at The Yak Café. Here the sweet lassi is made from yak yoghurt, which imparts a lip-smackingly sharp tang to the already tasty treat! We also had Tibetan bread, both fried and simply baked, but the highlight of the meal proved to be vegetable momos: these are like spring rolls, but the casing is pasta-like dough, with the whole thing being steamed. We had about ten of these dumplings with THE most amazing brown sauce, which looked like Hoi-Sin, but had the biggest chilli kick of the entire trip!

A walk around the emporia and market stalls of Thamel led us to try out a whole range of things: Jon was able to demonstrate his prowess on the Tibetan trumpet, as well as managing a few notes on a large Sitar! In Thamel there are many small shops selling a whole range of Buddhist artefacts, such as prayer wheels, gongs and carvings, but the most impressive examples of local carving must be the awesome masks of both Hindu and Buddhist-related characters. The entire city is also full of stalls selling textiles, and it would be really impossible for many travellers to leave town without some…

Another feature of the local shops is the bargaining power of the merchants: their sales techniques are second to none. One over-zealous salesman shouted down the street to Simon if he required a pashmina. “No, I don’t want one…” was the slightly sharp reply. “How about two then, my friend?”, shot back the merchant, and everybody in the street laughed! Many similar dialogues have ensued between our pair of explorers and the local people: the vibe here is nicely laid back, so unlike India. About twenty times some shady looking guys have sidled up to us, and without stopping have whispered offers of substances which surely could not be entirely legal around here. Needless to say, they have always received short-shrift. Even the rickshaw-wallahs have a great sense of humour: “Ricksahw, rickshaw!” they often observe, whilst Simon informs them with a pointing action towards the floor: “Ground!”

Jon decided to enquire with a local trekking agent about the time and cost of a climb up to the summit of Everest. Apparently it takes one-and-a-half months and costs $30,000. Maybe next year, then?...

1 comment:

  1. Chillies 4 breakfast AGAIN …. The brown sauce sounds awesome !
    Ha-Ha the rickshaw peeps realise si has FEET !!
    I’m very disappointed in u two.. Id thought ud av done Everest b4 tea ..!