Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Hetauda to Kathmandu


If you look at the map of Nepal you can see what a good idea it was to get off the bus. It has to go via Bharatpur because the mountain road is closed to buses. A 3-4 hour journey is tripled. We did not however just change modes of transport. This is the home of Krishna Thapa, a chessplayer known to many Sydney-siders and treasurer of the Hetauda chess club. Krishna's mother was kind enough to make us a cup of tea before we retired to comfortable beds. The horror bus rumbled on without us :)

GM Alexandr Fominyh is ready for the next leg.

We slept in to about 9am, my first pleasant sleep in ages. A nice shower was followed by tea and breakfast. We did contemplate going to town at some stage for some shopping but noon arrived before we knew it. The president of the Hetauda chess club wanted to meet us and had said he would pick us up at noon. That's exactly when he arrived!

Martyrs Memorial Park

First on our programme was the Martyrs Memorial Park. While we were on our way to the park Krishna got a call informing him that the bus had just arrived in Kathmandu after several delays. Many strikes blocked the road, protesting loadsharing. All over the country the electricity would go off  for a few hours to reduce the burden on the grid.

The fountain...water loadsharing?

Martyrs rock, sculpted out of a single stone.

Our group 

A famous leader. 

So that's what happened to Superman! 

Pharping Road ?

That's what the map says. There are two ways over the mountains. The other is the Tribhuvan highway and is a bit longer but worth seeing apparently. Next time.

The road up the mountain.

This is apparently the former Kings Monastery. We got this information from two ladies outside. They also casually mentioned that they (women) are not allowed to enter. Provokes a thought. Should one respect "traditions" or religious rules that are clearly discriminatory

The hills are all terraced. Everywhere you can see people ploughing the fields with either Yaks or by pulling ploughs themselves.

The summit at 2400 metres according to locals, the highest point of the ranges between Hetauda and Kathmandu. This is the town of  Kulekhani I think.

Organic vegetables being sold by the roadside. I saw some wild oyster mushrooms and had to have them. The cafe agreed to cook them.

Krishna and the local women offered to clean them first.

While waiting I saw this plantation next to the road. Perhaps a special highland tea?

Alexandr, Krishna and our driver enjoying the mushrooms.

Fried in garlic, onion, chilly and a dash of curry.

By the time we had finished it was late afternoon so we headed straight down the mountain to Kathmandu. We passed the Kulekhani Dam but were not allowed to take pictures in this zone.  The light was not good enough for pictures anymore anyway. 

I was a bit unfair to Kathmandu last time I wrote about it. I take nothing back of my impressions of the bus station area but there are other places. I spent the night in Thamel,  the tourist district, which is a happening place. Accomodation was a bit tricky. The famous Kathmandu Guest House was ridiculously expensive at $US 160 a night and even the special offer was $80. I was so desperate for comfort I nearly took it but reception did not accept my final offer luckily so I walked out, went 50 metres to the left and found the Hotel Northfield which had en-suite, wi-fi and was $13 a night. Much better :) An added bonus was that the attached "4ever Cafe" is run by a chessplayer. Thamel is a happening place with lots of music, bars, restaurants and shopping. Prices vary widely so give yourself plenty of time and ask around before you buy.

All in all Nepal is a very interesting country that is worth seeing despite the annoyances. Chess is becoming more popular and there are many tournaments planned. If/when I receive some information I will let you know. Have a nice day all :) 

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