Bye bye Nepal.
I love the people of Nepal – so friendly, so cultured, politically aware and generous.
I returned to Kathmandu and caught up with my friends there.
My last night with the Gurungs we shared a bottle of wine, laughed and danced. As Rupa, wife of Prem’s brother, said “my family is romantic and funny”. What could be better?
I shed tears to be leaving, and I have a small collection of silk scarves now, to wish me good luck on my travels.
Bangkok could hardly be more different.
Though Nepal has a majority of Hindu, some of who practise animal sacrifice, (apart from cows), it is very easy to be vegetarian. Thailand is ostensibly Buddhist, but vegetarian food is limited. It’s hard to identify the street food and frankly, some of it is quite scary.
Here, the roads are wide and well maintained. Nepal is dusty and polluted. The Thais drive within speed limits and at a reasonable distance from other vehicles, while driving in Nepal is anarchic and chaotic.
Nepal is a country that has scenery that could appropriately be described as awesome. Thailand is pretty.
However, Bangkok is a big city and it is to be expected that there are pros and cons.
I usually cannot walk for more than 2 minutes without the call, “madam, taxi?” This presupposes that
a) I have failed to notice the line of bright pink taxis lining every street, as well as the even more colourful tuk tuks,
b) as a westerner I cannot use my legs
Accidentally I discovered that carrying a post office parcel deflects this, presumably because they know where I’m going and it’s not far enough to warrant a taxi, even for a foreigner.
In fact, the post office was remarkably efficient compared to England.
The underground and sky train are air- conditioned and easy enough to master, while Thai people do not push and shove.
Many people here do not understand English and do not speak it in any recognisable form, so it’s hard to get help when you need it.
Thai people find it hard to multi-task, which can make things difficult in restaurants.
Then there is a stream of middle-aged western men with Thai women in tow, and I saw a fold-up street stall selling Viagra, Cialis and Valium.
I think the people genuinely want to modernise and “develop” but have been overtaken by a foreign value system.
So far I’ve seen the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, which was impressive and also a quietly spiritual experience.