March 29, 2007
Namaste, which means hello. My flight to from Los Angeles to Kathmandu went well, I met my friend Mark Luscher, who I am climbing Mt. Everest with, at the Los Angeles airport. The flight from Los Angeles to Bangkok, Thailand, was 17 hrs. We had a full hour layover in Bangkok and the flight from Bangkok to Kathmandu was 3 hours. Since I had a hard time sleeping in the economy class seat and since no one was in the business class section, I upgraded myself to business class and got some sleep on the flight to Bangkok.
Kathmandu is the capitol of Nepal. It is a very large metropolitan city, much like Los Angeles. It is hot and the air is polluted.
The area we are staying in is Thamel. The ride into Thamel from the airport was wild. The streets are narrow, barely enough for a single car, and not well maintained. Cars, motor bikes, bicycles, buggies, rickshaws, people and animals all compete for space on the narrow streets. Traffic rules and rights of way do not exist. I was in constant fear of a collision on the ride in from the airport. To give you an idea how chaotic it is, if I lived in Kathmandu, I would be considered an above average driver.
I am staying at the Kathmandu Prince Hotel, however I don’t feel much like a prince, I feel more like a pauper. The room charge is $19.00 a night. The mattress and pillow are about as soft as concrete. The room is lit with a single candle until 9 PM when the electricity comes on, but fortunately I’ve been able to sleep pretty well and have not yet suffered from jet lag.
I am thoroughly enjoying my stay in Kathmandu. The streets wind in every which direction and there is no logic to the street pattern and it is very easy to get lost. The streets are lined with small shops and restaurants on each side of the street that are packed close together and open out to the street. The merchants (unintelligible) and every price is negotiable
We have visited numerous Hindu and Buddhist temples and monasteries. Today we visited a Hindu temple and witnessed a Hindu cremation ceremony in which the body was placed on logs in an open area and burned and the ashes were then pushed into the river.
Tomorrow we will have a group meeting to discuss our climb of Mt. Everest and the following day, which will be Saturday, we fly to Lukla. I will deliver another report in the next few days.