Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A few more Nepal Stories


Some more left over stories that don't fit anywhere else.

Traffic

Here is the worst section of things coming from every direction in Kathmandu. I've got video of riding through Kathmandu twice which I'll edit down a bit later.

So far here is what I can figure out about Nepali Traffic:


  • Trucks are usually the best drivers. Small tourist vans and motorcycles are the worst
  • Indicators mean "Pass on that side", not "I'm turning this direction, so don't pass"... Very confusing.
  • Three toots of the horn means I'm about to pass. One toot means look out for me.
  • Flash of the headlights means I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, if you get in the way that's your fault. This is usually the follow up of using the horn.
  • A few flashes of the headlights means... I'm not sure, but I saw one person doing it in oncoming traffic and they stopped, but also the person in front of me stopped because of it.. No pulling off to the side of the road either, just stop on the road.
  • Most people leave you enough room on the road (except for tourist vans) even when two trucks are overtaking. On the mountain roads I've seen one bus trying over overtake a truck, they saw me then the bus pulled in behind the truck. I do not expect that to happen in India.
  • Buses will stop anywhere to pick up people. Mid corner, middle of the road, it doesn't matter.
  • People don't look when they merge. I think it's up to the moving traffic to use the horn to let them know they're about to hit you.
  • Don't wait for a gap, just nudge forward until someone gives in.
  • Watch for people throwing chickens/goats/kids in your way. This hasn't happened to me, but I've heard it happening. Same thing happens in Laos.
  • Headlights in extremely bad visibility (ie: a storm or night time) are optional.
  • Overtaking a bus in the right lane, while going around a left corner is acceptable and not risky, as long as you use your horn.
  • Cows have right of way, but also get killed on the road (how much negative karma does killing nandi get you?). Be ready to avoid dead cows.
  • Ambulance sirens are quieter than car horns.
  • Anyone who says the roads are bad in Nepal hasn't been to Laos.

Gas Bottles

Gas bottles are delivered to businesses by tractors towing a trailer. In Sauraha I watched them unload the bottles by throwing them over the side of the trailer onto the rocks or previously thrown out bottles. This of course dented them all, some of them around the valve. I remembered the gas bottle I saw which was rusting in the shower and wondered just how weak all these bottles are now.

The stupidest part of watching this was that after he was done unloading-by-throwing, he then moved the remaining bottles from the back of the trailer to the front... Why not just unload from the back?


Spitting

There is SO much spitting in Thamel. Constant spitting, everywhere. Sometimes you have to dodge people spitting out doorways who didn't see you walking past (maybe they did). I followed one guy who was spitting at least every 5 seconds, surely he must be dehydrated. In other towns it's not such a constant rain of spit. Pokhara for example is much better, but it's still there.


Garbage

Garbage just gets thrown on the street in towns. I watched a shop owner just throw his rubbish out the front of the shop onto the street. The rivers in Kathmandu are just garbage dumps because after rain this is where it ends up. The river in the north west of the city was just mountains of trash with some water running through it. I'm actually not sure that the people realise this is why the rivers are full of crap. Australians do this to of course but there's an army of people to clean up after the messy ones there. I've seen people cleaning out all the garbage from the drains on the side of the road but I think the task was "clean the drain" and not "clean up the rubbish".


Begging

In Pame Bazar I had two kids watch me while I was at a shop, there was a short discussion between them and then they came up to me and said "give me 1000!". I laughed and asked how often that actually works. I was met by blank stares as I quickly learnt the extent of their English skills, just enough to ask for money and nothing more. And also 1000? That's a huge amount! It's like someone asking for $50 in Australia (1000Rs gets you about the same as what $50 in Australia would). In Thamel there's a lot of it, hasn't happened to me in Pokhara yet but I've seen a lot of other tourists giving money to them. I was told by someone that people buy/rent kids to beg from tourists because they can make so much money that way. This person also told me that they purposely injure the kids by cutting of an arm because it gets more money, but I'm not sure I believe that. But it all works of course (not on me! I'm on to your scams!).


Touching Game

I'm not sure what this is. I've seen kids run up to tourists and try to touch them with one finger. I assume it's a game and I'm not sure of the rules. It happened to me in Tatopani where two kids were racing to try and touch me first (I think). I've seen it happen here in Pokhara but mostly to female tourists.


Bonus one line story: The 'Hero Honda' is a type of motorbike here, 'Hero' is the brand, 'Honda' is the model (it's not a Honda, in case that's confusing). I was told a lie!

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