As I’m laying down to bed I realize I’ve not properly gone to sleep in over 48 hours. It’s not even 9 pm and I’m exhausted. I had planned to just go to bed around 5pm.
Backing up. Bangkok airport was an interesting experience, I’ve never slept in an airport before and though I was tempted on many occasions to hop in a cab and grab a hotel, it ended up not being that bad and I’m glad I stuck it out. Partially because it saved money, and partially because despite the fact that i was absurdly exhausted, I still managed it, which normally isn’t what happens. I suppose it has to do with traveling alone, with no one there to complain to, I just had to suck it up. On the plane I was feeling sad, and mixed with the exhaustion I ended up in tears. The woman next to me was kind and gave me tissues. Little acts of kindness make such a difference. Then after accidentally taking doxy on an empty stomach mixed with turbulence I basically climbed over her to run to the bathroom. It was not my best flight. So by the time I made it to Delhi and transferred to Kathmandu I was in a special form of travel exhausted hell that could only be cured by sleep.
The guesthouse I’m staying at offers free pickups from the airport. On the ride, I meet Margo, from Lithuania. Though the idea of sleep was beyond alluring I decided to instead wander the city with a new friend. I had been worried I would spend 5 days alone, and although that wouldn’t be terrible, and I actually do want to try and be OK with being alone, it was quite relieving to have made a friend straight away. She’s been on the road for three months, with three to go. Exceptionally well traveled, she exudes a calm confidence and care free attitude that I hope one day I will exude. She has a very, very little backpack.
Kathmandu, as I imagined is a giant, bustling dirty city. To know a city is to smell it, and I was pleasantly surprised on the mild nature of the city smell, though it has the distinct “developing city” smell it was not accosting in anyway, and comforting in its familiarity. The two of us set off with just a map and wandered, allowing to get lost and trust those around us for directions. The streets are narrow with worn, crumbling buildings extending in every direction, the roads wind about one another, making it exceptionally easy to get lost. We passed ubiquitous fruit and vegetable stands, women hunched over giant tarps filled with produce as they smoked while bagging and exchanging money, expelling smoke from their noses directly into the bag. Kids ran around playing soccer in makeshift concrete fields. Young monks gathered together in crimson robes, prayer flags hang from almost every stoop. There is trash, everywhere. And yet, it is a beautiful city in its decrepitude, there is a feeling of age and transparency, a spiritual place to be sure. Though one must be careful not to be run over, by motor bike, car or pedal bike it is farless hectic than I imagined it would be. Though certainly, I’ll be excited to venture out of the capital where it is a bit more calm.
After wandering for a few hours it got dark, signaling dinner time. The guesthouse is conveniently located in Thamel, so restaurants are abundant. After wandering and reading menus we stumbled on a Tibetan place that looked promising, there was only one empty table amongst locals and foreigners. We ordered an Everest beer and toasted the first night. Dinner was vegetarian mo mo’s-or dumplings. Delicious steamed and ridiculously spicy. I could live on these. And at about ten cents a dumpling, I could live very well indeed. Dinner for two ended up being a pricey $5. Though it is always bustling in the city it is even more so at night, music blares from rooftop bars, westerners and locals meander about, we were offered drugs almost instantly. Instead, we opted for a German bakery Margo had heard about that offers their daily selections for half off after eight pm. We loaded up on scones and Danishes for the next morning, to the tune of 50 cents. I could get used to this.
This morning I woke up at 6am. Unable to sleep. Though the city is alive and quite loud in the morning, its no more so than New York. I felt a bit panicked, thinking I needed to make a plan for the next four days here. I’m finding it exceptionally hard to relax and just do nothing, or not worry. I think I fear that if I stop moving I’ll get sad, perpetual motion alleviates the need to feel too much. But as I sit with my morning tea and scone, I’m feeling better about just being. And though it will certainly take time to get used to being alone, I know I can do this. I don’t know what today holds, and I’m OK with that. Perhaps even, I’ll opt for the great luxury of an afternoon nap.