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Kathmandu atmosphere


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24 hours ago, I was at 4,500 m (14,760 feet) at the Ganden monastery, which clings precariously to a hillside above the Lhasa valley, surrounded by yaks and very little else. A miraculously clear day offered us breathtaking views of the surrounding hills, a couple of snow-capped peaks, and the distant valley bellow.

Now, I'm ensconced in comfort at the Kathamandu Guest House, where I have Western newspapers, puri and bateta, and a quiet courtyard in which to enjoy these treasures. It was nice to arrive at the airport and unexpectedly meet our travel man Kul, who offered me a ride in his Mercedes back to the city. And when I arrived, my man KC, the rickshaw driver, offered a friendly "wussup", and the guest house employees asked about the trip, and after Ace.

Most of all, I have oxygen. One never would have expected to enjoy the polluted, humid air of Kathmandu, but despite being at 1,337 m (4,380 feet), it is a full two miles below the aforementioned Ganden monastery and therefore offers a relative abundance of O2. I don't envy Ace who has to bed up at 4,500 m tonight, after a meal of Tibetan food.

Tibetan cuisine is, charitably, an acquired taste. The traditional staple consists of Tsampa, a barley meal, mixed with yak-butter tea and salt. Modern Tibetan food has some meat and vegetables, but is rather bland, leading most tourist-oriented restaurants to serve Nepali, Indian or Western food. Last night we had an awful meal which was highlighted by salty potato dumplings (momos) which were pretty much inedible. To make matters even more interesting, in Lhasa we refrained from enjoying icy cold beers with our meal, due to the altitude.

But today I can enjoy the KGH courtyard, surrounded by trekkers and NGO-types conducting meetings regarding development projects, and drink masala chai and plan my afternoon Tandoori meal.


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About me

  • I'm Sunset Shazz
  • Living the dream in Istanbul, Turkey
  • I grew up in the hardscrabble streets of suburban Ottawa, Ontario, committing petty crime, insulting the elderly - basically the classic misspent youth. When I was 19, I moved to West Philly, where I put myself through the Wharton School by dealing crack and hustling. After stints in Paris and London, I eventually graduated and moved to San Francisco, where I put in eight years hard labor working for The Man. But now I pop bottles with models, deciding cracked crab or lobster - who says mobsters don't prosper?
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