I wish I had taken more photos of the streets in Kathmandu.
But the camera couldn’t capture hot and dusty. I could have shown you people wearing masks. All the colours. Of course the smog makes everything look a little hazy.
I took notes at one point of the colours I passed: bricks, dirt, concrete, shops, greenery, flowers, art work, rubbish.
There were slogans spray-painted on walls: “Make bubbles kill germ troubles.” And another: “Women never surrender.”
I shared the road with cars, rickshaws, motorbikes, buses, mini vans, dogs, goats, cattle, people. So many people.
When I went to meet a contact in a different part of the city I wondered how he would recognise me. I had looked up his photo but he might not have done the same. Then I remembered I was white.
I enjoyed walking, it was a better way of experiencing the streets than sitting in traffic.
While there’s always the risk you’ll get run over by one of the aforementioned road users I understand there’s very little crime in Nepal. For what it’s worth, I felt safe.
People ask each other for directions all the time so I didn’t get any funny looks when I went up to strangers asking for help. The locals seemed particularly keen on Kiwis – perhaps I’ve got Sir Edmund Hillary to thank for that.
And no, I didn’t get food poisoning. Even though I forgot to use bottled water to clean my teeth, even though I ate with my hands, even though I patted dogs. (Don’t follow my example, I have a superhuman stomach.)
The food was delicious, healthy, and cheap. Even cheaper considering the heat reduced my appetite.
Oh, the heat. One minute you were drenched in your own sweat and the next drenched in a downpour. The upside to the fickle weather was that the roads would clear – briefly.
The first time this happened I was walking with a friend and we ducked into a shop to shelter. The shopkeeper’s assistant went to fetch a couple of umbrellas to sell to us.
My friend is a good haggler. When she refused to take the umbrellas because he wouldn’t drop the price by the equivalent of 60 cents, I widened my eyes and shook my head and hissed: “I’ll take it!”
“Not yet,” she said. Sure enough, he lowered the price. Later, I worked out the maths: NZ$3 each.
I wish I had taken more photos, and bought more umbrellas.