"A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees." - Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, December 11, 2009

Seven Thousand Nine Hundred Twenty-Seven Dollars and Ninety-Six Cents

I've got to get out of this town soon.  

Day 1 expenses (1 USD = 74.5 Nepali Rupee or NPR):

30 Day Visa (renewable): 40 USD
Taxi From Airport: 250 NPR
Bottle of Whisky: 320 NPR
Lunch (Tea and Fish): 400 NPR
Map of Kathmandu: 150 NPR
Drink at a Bar:  150 NPR
Drink at another Bar: 165 NPR
Beer from a market stall: 150 NPR
2.5 grams of Hashish: 750 NPR

Kathmandu is a frenetic, colorful feast of the senses.  My accomodations are excellent and many travelers have spoken with envy of my "cheapest in town" find (ok, not many...only two but still...).  Unfortunately, even with bargain basement lodging, it was still an expensive day, and while there's an evil temptation to give myself a pass, (It's the first day!  You practically have to live it up...at least a little!) I'm going to have to go ahead and chastise myself for a couple of those purchases.

My day started in a somewhat foggy eyed state after sitting in the fucked up Delhi airport for 6 hours starting at 3am.  I was barely clear headed enough to pick up my visa and manage not to get hustled by the airport cap drivers.  I checked into my room at 1pm with the idea that I would wander around, meet some backpackers, and see if I can see a few sights, but with my map-reading skills at an all time low, the sightseeing didn't work out too well.  Instead, after 2 hours of wrong turns and swatting away people offering me hash and treks, I overpaid for lunch so I could chat up some cute Australian girls who had been volunteering at a nunnery.  Nice enough girls, but after a drink at Tom & Jerry's, which hosted such a pitiful version of ladies night that I don't know weather to be angry or sad, the vibe was gone and we parted ways.

On my way home, or what I think was my way home, I succumbed to the charms of another pretty volunteer who convinced me to come into a bar which was hosting a performance by local street children for charitable purposes.  The play was almost unbearably depressing, although I thought at the time it was perhaps overdone, a thought that lasted until this morning when I saw 9 year-old street kids lying in piles and using markers and plastic bags to get high.    

I got out of there after a drink and decided I would trust Lonely Planet's advice that hash was safe to purchase in this country. I was in a strange mood I guess.  I don't usually purchase drugs on the street in a foreign country, on account of my desire to stay out of foreign prison, but I do enjoy altering consciousness, so I made a plan to sue LP if I went to jail, gave the shifty looking local standing on the corner a nod, and followed him to a dark and frightening restaurant where he told me to wait.  I was joined almost immediately by a German who, like me, was not in there for the atmosphere.  Having another westerner there made me feel less like I was going to be beaten and robbed and/or fed to the police, so I relaxed, haggled a questionably good deal with the drug dealer when he arrived for 5 grams, which I agreed to split with The German and went back to my fifth-floor balcony with my new friend in tow to smoke our prize.

I've always said: You meet the best people at drug deals.  The German had been living in Yemen, so we exchanged a couple of Arabic phrases.  He was a pursuing a degree in religious studies, so we exchanged some theories about god.  He had been traveling in Nepal for awhile, so he gave me some advice on places to go, particularly a monastery in Lumbini where I may be able to stay for free.

After a somewhat wild first day in Nepal my expenses totaled 31.61 USD (not counting the visa fee).  The whiskey, which will last awhile, was a good purchase.  The hash, which I still have the bulk of, was an excellent purchase in that it lead to pleastant conversation and a road-friendship.  The rest were probably poor choices, but lessons were learned and valuable information was gathered.  Today, I vow to keep expenses under 10 USD to make up for the first-day madness.  Tomorrow, I'm thinking I'll head to Lumbini, where I will continue my faithful reporting. 


  1. One day, and you've already tripled your budget! Get out of there! At least you've had some adventure already, not just sat in a hostel room or something.