Friday, February 22, 2008

Hey folks these three pictures took an hour to upload so you can see why I'm not blogging that much.

A quick update. I'm here in Kathmandu waiting for my visa expire so I can renew it for the last trek. This is also the 9th or 10th day of a major "bandh" (business strike and blockage of the roads) which has shut down the Terai (through which all imports like gas and food come) and many areas in the eastern hill districts. As it stands I can't even leave Kathmandu do to road blocks so it's just as well that I'm waiting for my visa to renew.

In addition to the bandhs in the Terai and Kathmandu the power outages continue at 48 hours a week. This coupled with chronic water shortages and dwindling supplies of gas and cooking fuel (due to the Terai bandh) are having the effect of making Kathmandu seam as though it is a city under siege. Which in a sense it is. I have seen people in line for two days waiting to get gas for their cars and lines of people 200+ long queuing to get a few liters of kerosene. An interesting experience in 2008.

All this is nothing compared to what is expected next winter when the daily power outages will stand at 15 hours a day. Sufficient power is not expected until 2013 and additional water supplies some time in 2014, that is if things go as planned... so I wouldn't hold my breath. Despite all this people in Kathmandu are going about their lives without the chaos and violence that would doubtlessly accompany such hardships in the states.

When the bandhs finally end the next trek will start off in Bajura district (after a two day bus ride) and head east to Rara Lake. From Rara I hope to travel south to Jumla and then across a 3400 meter pass to Jajarkot and Rukum districts before entering the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve. From Dhorpatan the trail crosses another high pass and descends to Pokhara where the trip will culminate. If all goes well it should take about 50 days and will pass through some of the most remote and least populated areas of the country. I had to scrap my prior plans to travel through Dolpo due to a change in the regulations surrounding trekking permits into "restricted areas". Oh well, you have to roll with the punches. I'll try and squeeze in one more update before I leave next Tuesday, fingers crossed!

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