27Jan2013

Important Projects in Kathmandu

Kathmandu Shopping

Among my social circle, I am famous for my financial providence, frugality and forward planning, so it will surprise absolutely no one that, when we arrive in Kathmandu, the $700 worth of unspent helicopter fare so kindly spotted me by the White Knight is almost literally burning a hole in my wallet.

Well, it would be, if it even fitted in my wallet.

It’s such a fat wodge that I have to leave some of it in the hotel room and distribute the rest of it in rolls through my camera bag.

I am RICH! I am bloody LOADED!

Sure, I could change this monopoly money into something convertible, like the dollars I need for my Chinese visa, or even Chinese Renmimbi.

But there’s no WAY I can spend all that.

So I’ll just change the change.

And, anyway, it’s in my hand, so its not like I’m taking it out of the bank, or anything.

And, it’s Christmas, virtually. And, what with climbing all the way up to Everest Base Camp and then being stuck in Lukla for four days drifting steadily closer to the edge of reason, there are things the boy and I NEED. We’re in Kathmandu! And that means…. Shopping!

They can wait, even if that does mean I can’t bill them until January and won’t get paid until February. But that doesn’t matter! Because I have a ton of cash!

There are, of course, some work projects I need to complete, but given we escape from Lukla on the day of the Mayan Apocalypse, AKA the day that everyone I work with downs tools for Christmas, they can wait, even if that does mean I can’t bill them until January and won’t get paid until February.

But that doesn’t matter! Because I have a ton of cash, I have money in the bank, and the second we get to China, after fun with our friends in Beijing, we’re going to be sorted in a flat in either Jilin or Harbin paying £250 a month tops, with Zac in Chinese school and me in full-on, focused work mode.

Anywise, I have more important projects to work on in this bustling, thriving metropolis, this world mega-city, this bloody enormous place with totally loads of buildings more than four storeys high, this earthly paradise that is Kathmandu.

Zac’s important projects appear to be: Spend as much time as possible in hotel room in pyjamas gurgling at Memebase, conducting flamewars about Middle Eastern politics and building RPGs on the Armor Games forums.

My important projects are, in roughly this order:

  • * Secure minimum 90-day Chinese visa, x2 – 6 months, if they’ll do it.
  • * Find same day laundry capable of washing and drying 12kg of sharty trekking gear
  • * Get boots mended
  • * Force Zac into shower
  • * Find and drink Negroni
  • * Buy new, non-hobo, non-stinky, seasonally appropriate clothes for me and Zac: jersey dress, opaque tights and black kneeboots pour moi, jeans, trainers and jumper for him
  • * Facial
  • * Manicure
  • * Pedicure
  • * Find and eat blue steak with green salad and vinaigrette dressing
  • * Find and eat bacon, optimally crispy and as part of a Full English, accompanied by recent edition of Herald Trib and coffee refills
  • * Cut my hair
  • * Persuade Zac to let me cut his hair
  • * Treat myself to Botox if available in-market – it is Christmas, after all!
  • * Sort out a fabulous rhino-spotting Christmas with lots of other kids about in Chitwan National Park
  • * Do Christmas shopping
  • * Get laid, optimally with Mr Darcy but more likely with age-appropriate alternative given I probably blew that one already
  • * Give up smoking again

Zac’s projects appear to be:

  • * Soap-dodge
  • * Reunite with his own computer
  • * Game online with friends
  • * Eat momos
  • * Drink tonic water
  • * Eat bacon
  • * Persuade me to stay in Kathmandu for Christmas
  • * Sidestep all and any attempts at education
  • * Spend as much time as possible in hotel room in pyjamas gurgling at Memebase, conducting flamewars about Middle Eastern politics on social media and building RPGs on the Armor Games forums

Our trek to Everest Base Camp has been absolutely wonderful, and will undoubtedly stay with both of us for the rest of our lives, but, after almost three weeks spent in each others’ company 24/7, we are both due a little break. AKA, a holiday from our holiday.

Still, as I trawl the alleys of Thamel fending off vendors of tiger balm, trekking, rickshaws, marijuana, crappy musical instruments or various implausible combinations of the above, I remain optimistic.

The visa section of the Chinese Embassy has closed for the day, after its daily one and three-quarter hour session, bringing Project Chinese Visa to a standstill for the weekend.

Bugger!

That means we need to spend Christmas Eve morning and, if they call us in for interview as they did in KL, probably Christmas Day morning, at the Chinese Embassy, which means rhino-spotting is now out of the question.

That means, in turn, I need to sort out how the hell we’re going to do Christmas stranded in Kathmandu, a city whose wonderful colours and exotic sensory overload I hugely appreciated last time we were here, but whose air quality leaves one longing for the spring freshness of Beijing on a we-just-broke-the-US-Embassy-smogometer-again-but-China-Daily-says-it’s-fine day.

Christmas isn’t particularly a big deal for us, since my child is an atheist and I’m agnostic at the very best, but it does make scheduling our Skype calls to family rather more challenging, and what Christmas is about, really, is family.

Still, as I trail the alleys of Thamel fending off vendors of tiger balm, trekking, rickshaws, marijuana, crappy musical instruments or various implausible combinations of the above, I remain optimistic that soon I will be able to have a hot shower, dry with a clean towel AND step into genuinely clean clothes.

Hey! The wandering shoeshine man will have my boots fixed inside the hour, too. Project Boots, check!

And every other doorway boasts a sign offering “3-Hour Laundry”.

Oh.

Every other doorway can’t get our laundry back to us until tomorrow evening. That’s 30-hour laundry, which is not the same thing as 3-hour laundry AT ALL, particularly when you’re wearing stinky thermals, crunchy socks, filthy jeans and dirty knickers turned clean-side-in for “hygiene” and NEED TO HAVE A NEGRONI, GODDAMMIT, ideally one with a single, perfect hand-crafted ice sphere, or possibly cube.

The emissions from these blend with the ash from Hindu cremations, the uncombusted petrol from hundreds of thousands of knackered vehicles, the smoke from burning garbage and, of course, the dust, into a rich soup that leaves not just one’s nostrils but one’s ears black with filth.

The reason for this? Well, in the throes of my initial love affair with Kathmandu I believe I forgot to mention the phenomenon known as “load-shedding”.

Most of Nepal runs on hydro- and/or solar power, which sounds like it should be the greenest thing on the planet. Unfortunately, this also means that at the coldest, darkest times of year, when there is most demand for electricity, the water is lowest and there is less sun, so there is less electricity to go around.

“Load-shedding” is a system of scheduled rolling blackouts, particularly prevalent in Kathmandu, that aims to address this.

Posh hotels and some businesses will have a full diesel generator to supply their needs, or at least a car battery wired up to some terrifying fandango of bare wires.

The emissions from these blend with the ash from Hindu cremations, the uncombusted petrol from hundreds of thousands of knackered vehicles, the smoke from burning garbage and, of course, the dust, into a rich soup that leaves not just one’s nostrils but one’s ears black with filth, and quite possibly actually undoes the theoretical environmental benefits of hydropwer.

Anywise, the laundries cannot do our washing until the power comes back on, and then, of course, they need to sun-dry it. So we have to last another 30 hours in our fetid, stinking clothes, or trawl the shops of Kathmandu to find new ones that we can live with for the next few months.

This pleases Zac, who hasn’t washed since we left Kathmandu and has no intention of doing so until positively forced to, but makes me really, really cross. Particularly since, as I’d forgotten about load-shedding, I can’t get any bloody work done as my battery is dead, and our hotel doesn’t even run to a car battery.

We could, of course, change hotels. But that would involve traipsing all round bloody Thamel looking at hotels, and packing up, and, but for the load-shedding, our hotel suits our requirements when it comes to storage, space, en suite, desk, location and budget, not to mention has guarded three plastic bags of our crap for free for the last month.

“I know! But it needs more detail. What… what…” I say, fumbling for the science-y term – process? Attribute? Function? – “What BITS of climate change are making the glaciers retreat?” Zac rolls his eyes.

After lunching on momos, I book a facial, mani and pedi, set Zac the task of researching and choosing where to eat dinner, and float the idea of an essay on the formation of glaciers, their life cycle and why they are in decline in the Himalayas.

“But I know how glaciers are formed!” he says.

“Do you?” I say. “Really? Tell me!”

He explains. It all sounds very plausible and quite probably right.

“How do you know that?!” I say. “That sounds good. But I think it needs more detail on moraine, and how it’s formed. And why the glaciers are in retreat.”

My son looks at me as though I’m a moron. “Because of climate change!” he says. (One of the great advantages of world travel when it comes to Zac’s science, which has been better than mine for at least two years, is getting to discuss it with people who actually know about it: nuclear physicists, botanists, molecular biologists, geologists and so forth.)

“I know! But it needs more detail. What… what…” I say, fumbling for a science-y term – process? Attribute? Function? – “What BITS of climate change are making the glaciers retreat?”

Zac rolls his eyes. I take that as my cue that my educational responsibilities are over.

“I’m going shopping,” I say maternally, scribbling down my Nepali number. “And then I’m having a facial, a manicure and a pedicure. I’ll be back about 8 and take you for dinner. If you get hungry before then get something small from reception – there’s a wodge of rupees in the medikit if they want money. Are you SURE you don’t want to come and have a massage at the spa?”

“Yes,” he says, gurgling. “Did you see China Daily reprinted the Onion’s story about Kim Jong-Un being People Magazine’s choice for world’s sexiest man?”

There MUST, I figure, be somewhere where the wives and daughters of the nation’s elite go shopping. And, I conclude, as I pace past burning garbage fires on the pavement en route to Kathmandu Mall, that place is most likely Delhi.

With Project Chinese Visa parked till Monday, and Project Facial, Project Manicure and Project Pedicure lined up for 6.30, I head for Kathmandu’s most upscale shopping street, Durbar Marg, to pursue three further subsidiary projects required for the successful completion of Project Negroni, not to mention Project Get Laid: Project Dress, Project Tights and Project Kneeboots.

It does not take me very long to conclude that the term “upscale” is relative.

The chap at the hotel reckons Kathmandu Mall would be a good choice. I figure Civil Mall, which supposedly has the best cinema in Kathmandu, and is where we will be seeing The Hobbit on Christmas, might be better. But, what the hell?

Nepal is a small and very poor country, but it’s corrupt. There MUST, I figure, be somewhere where the wives and daughters of the nation’s elite go shopping.

And, I conclude, as I pace past burning garbage fires on the pavement en route to Kathmandu Mall, that place is most likely Delhi.

It’s not Kathmandu’s fault, of course. But up in the mountains it has turned into Bangkok in my head, or quite possibly New York, and so I am sorely, sorely disappointed.

I visit store after store with evening-wear choices available in either Mid-Priced Indonesian Hooker or Elderly Eastender Dressed for Christmas Bingo with absolutely diddly squat in between.

By 5.45 I have visited well over 20 shoe shops, finally worked out that the reason that most black kneeboots in Kathmandu shops are some vile and flimsy pleather is that Nepal is – like, d’oh! – a Hindu-majority country, and am beginning to despair for Project Kneeboots.

I’m not quite sure what explains the fondness for gilded plastic buckles, pom-poms, sequins and other stripper-esque adornments on what might otherwise be a relatively inoffensive pair of plastic-heeled black pleather kneeboots, insofaras pleather can ever be inoffensive, but, try as I might, I cannot find a pair of plain black kneeboots with no godawful dangly bits.

As I visit store after store with evening-wear choices available in either Mid-Priced Indonesian Hooker or Elderly Eastender Dressed for Christmas Bingo with absolutely diddly squat in between, the grey jersey dress I’d earmarked as a possible in the Zara knockoff store on Durbar Marg is looking more and more appealing by the second.

As the deadline for Project Facial, Project Manicure and Project Pedicure looms, I race back to “Zara”, pick up the jersey dress, explain what tights are, establish where I can find a pair and figure I might be able to get away with the grey Chinese furry boots I trekked in at a push. Ya know, particularly if I leave the down jacket in a cloakroom, or summat.

“Aaaaaah!” says Zac, as we recline on our low cushions with our shoes off and our socks steaming gently. “Civilisation!” “Yeah,” I say. “It’s pretty darn good. Just…” “I know,” he says consolingly. “No Negroni.”

I am irritated to find, on returning from an absolutely excellent facial conducted without the aid of electricity, that Zac has single-handedly derailed Project Steak.

“I want to go to OR2K!” he says. “It’s a vegetarian Israeli place with Middle Eastern food and salads.”

“Yeah,” I say. “Salad is good. But I want STEAK with my salad.”

We bicker childishly, for a bit (well, I bicker childishly), before Zac surrenders, I realise how completely unfair I’ve been, and we head off to the Sagamartha Bazaar.

OR2K’s salads, for the record, are fabulous, the hummus pushes Israel ahead of Lebanon in Zac’s personal chart of best hummus in the Middle East, the moutabel’s damn fine too and, though the mozzarella could be improved, they have a damn fine goat’s cheese. And wine! And tonic!

But no Negronis.

And, neither Campari, nor rosso vermouth.

“Aaaaaah!” says Zac, as we recline on our low cushions with our shoes off and our socks steaming gently. “Civilisation!”

“Yeah,” I say. “It’s pretty darn good. Just…”

“I know,” he says consolingly. “No Negroni.”

When I arrive at our humble abode, the hatchet-faced chap on reception has actually put down the steel shutters, and I have to ring for admittance. One look at his expression as he unfurls them tells me I am not in the running for Kathmandu Mum of the Year.

Later, I put my spawn to bed and venture out into the pumping throb of Thamel by night to find a) a gin and tonic and b) someone who can direct me to some decent bacon for breakfast. I can’t help but notice that the queues for the clubs are almost 100% male.

I enter the Irish Pub. Aha! Familiar faces!

“ESCAPE FROM LUKLA!” I cry, a greeting I’ve been using on every Lukla escapee I’ve met in Thamel.

It’s the Aussie kids we last saw in Namche. Shortly before I unwisely switch from Bombay to Nepali gin (the living, breathing definition of a false economy), they direct me to a place that has bacon and Full English.

That’s Project Bacon sorted! Project Steak will be easy enough. Project Kneeboots, sadly, looks rather trickier.

When I arrive at our humble abode, the hatchet-faced chap on reception has actually put down the steel shutters, and I have to ring for admittance. One look at his expression as he unfurls them tells me I am not in the running for Kathmandu Mum of the Year.

We pore over the menu, debating breakfast combinations in the sort of obsessional detail that can only be fully understood by English people who haven’t had a Full English breakfast for roughly a year and have been up a mountain fantasising about one for the big end of a month.

The Northfield Cafe has not only bacon, but lovely checker-clothed tables on which to consume said substance in the bright, warm sunshine – and mushrooms, as well.

Salivating like Pavlov’s dogs, we pore over the menu, debating breakfast combinations in the sort of obsessional detail that can only be fully understood by English people who haven’t had a Full English breakfast for roughly a year and have been up a mountain fantasising about one for the big end of a month.

The key element that has been missing, obviously, is good quality – non-beef, non-spam – bacon. While you can get decent bacon in Lebanon, Israel and Turkey, the breakfasts were all so yummy that a Full English didn’t even cross my mind.

In the end, I go for a large steak and eggs with a large side order of bacon, another large side order of mushrooms, Nepali style hash browns, toast and butter, and unlimited coffee. Zac eventually opts for a large bacon and eggs with muffins and fried potatoes plus lemon juice with sugar on the side on condition we return tomorrow so he can try the waffles.

As we welly through Project Bacon, we embark on Project Sort Out Christmas.

“You know what?” says Zac, after about an hour of this. “I think we should laugh this off altogether and just get everyone Tiger Balm and musical instruments.” “And rickshaw rides,” I say. “Don’t forget the rickshaws.”

After reviewing the day’s Kathmandu Post for Christmas orphan options, Zac discards all the “family” stuff as “more for little kids, really” and decides that we’ll do a turkey buffet here on Christmas Eve then a turkey lunch at the steakhouse round the corner, which enables me to at least dodge turkey on Christmas.

He refuses a Christmas stocking but eventually consents to having something to open. (Pretty much everything he wants is downloadable, and he’s got most of them already.)

We discuss options for an experiential present, along the lines of his twelfth birthday paragliding in Pokhara. We figure whitewater rafting might be a good option in Kathmandu, though the only reachable river looked pretty darn low when we passed it on the bus.

Then we make a list of people to buy presents for.

Thamel should be a brilliant place for present shopping, if it weren’t for the fact that people jump down your neck with the hard sell the second you so much as glance at their Chinese-offcut prayer wheels and godawful child labour artworks and then you have to haggle for aeons even if you do find something you like.

Also, I don’t have the expertise to buy nice stuff like handicrafts and fabrics.

“You know what?” says Zac, after about an hour of this and unlimited coffee refills. “I think we should laugh this off altogether and just get everyone Tiger Balm and musical instruments.”

“And rickshaw rides,” I say. “Don’t forget the rickshaws.”

“I think I might get Dad a bong from the bong shop,” he muses. “Did you notice their sign looks like a crystal meth lab?”

Annapurna appears from Google research to be a mall with a) Botox in Kathmandu and b) by extrapolation from the above, quite possibly some black kneeboots that would work for people who aren’t mid-priced Indonesian hookers or petite Filipino ladyboys.

Our Kathmandu shopping experience begins with an increasingly bad-tempered and, lest we forget, malodorous trawl around Durbar Marg, which starts with a shouty 45 minutes in a trainer shop and goes steadily downhill from there, reaching a particular low point when I realise that “Zara” isn’t where I thought it was and therefore this isn’t actually Durbar Marg but a parallel street.

I wouldn’t be so unwise as to say that we don’t live a consumerist lifestyle. But, after travelling for rising three years, living out of a backpack each, we do not have a lot of stuff.

Which means, when it comes to clothes, that we have to really like what we buy and be sure they’ll work with other things we have, because we will be wearing them over, and over, and over again for months at a time.

Guttingly for Zac, neither Levis nor Quiksilver, both of which appear to be legit, have kids’ sizes. The only jeans that fit Zac in the various kids’ clothes shops we try are blatantly for girls, no matter how much the assistants dispute this.

And, of course, Zac loves shoe-shopping – particularly for an increasingly specific pair of black knee boots which appear to exist only in my head, and if they do exist almost certainly won’t come in my elephantine Western size – as much as any red-blooded male.

After three hours, the sum total of our purchases being a pair of white “Korean” trainers, I locate the Annapurna, which appears from Google research to be a mall with a) Botox in Kathmandu and b) by extrapolation from the above, quite possibly some black kneeboots that would work for people who aren’t mid-priced Indonesian hookers or petite Filipino ladyboys.

It seems to be a hotel. Bugger.

“Hellay,” I say, in my best British Raj tones. “Ay am looking for the shawps.” “S’op?” says the chap in the shop, obviously bewildered as to why this smelly hippie is asking about shops when she is clearly IN a shop. “Cake s’op?” “Yurss,” I say, or, rather, elocute. “Ay can see the cake shawp.”

I march, malodorous, in my dirty jeans, stinking fleece and cheap Egyptian flip-flops – my lovely pedicure now somewhat dirtied by Kathmandu’s mean streets — towing my ratty-haired, mangy, filthy child in his cheap Palestinian sandals, up to what appears to be a five-star hotel with a posh cake shop and some godawful soap store.

Despite being raised in Tooting, I sound, I’m told, well-spoken at the best of times, and, on occasion, quite close to the Queen. So, being a) English and b) almost unembarrassable, I channel Helen Mirren.

“Hellay,” I say, in my best British Raj tones. “Ay am looking for the shawps.”

“S’op?” says the chap in the shop, obviously bewildered as to why this smelly hippie is asking about shops when she is clearly IN a shop. “Cake s’op?”

“Yurss,” I say, or, rather, elocute. “Ay can see the cake shawp. Ay am looking for the shawps.”

“S’ops?” he says. “Ah! Pas’minas!”

No, I think. Not bloody pashminas.

Really, really, not bloody pashminas.

“Mum!” says Zac, tugging at me squalidly. Jesus, I think. I really do have to talk him into a hair cut. I know it’s his hair, and all, but I really do need to persuade him out of this. “CAKE!”

Over coffee and cake, I am pleased to note, Zac’s table manners revert to formal English from our usual rude-in-every-culture hybrid of where-we’re-from, where-we-were-last and where-we-are-now, which goes some way towards compensating for the fact that he now hasn’t washed for 25 days.

I establish from our fellow guests that the Annapurna Mall, and with it, any possibility of Botox in Kathmandu or an immediate completion of Project Kneeboots, are long gone. Bugger.

The Nepali staff clearly love the Christmas season and their festive flashing Santa hats even more than the average service professional in the UK enjoys that time of year, particularly when coupled with a festive flashing Santa hat.

My mood is immeasurably brightened by the successful retrieval of our laundry, a topic which, as I have observed elsewhere, can come to dominate the life of the longterm traveler to a terrifying degree, and only slightly darkened when I realise the laundry has misplaced Zac’s only spare pair of trousers apart from the clown-style down pants we bought for Everest Base Camp.

The grey jersey dress works fine with black leggings over tights, and the grey boots, which the shoeshine man has theoretically cleaned, work alright, although not as well, obviously, as the black kneeboots in my head, which, I now realise, are identical to a pair on which I once spent £250 in Conduit Street.

My makeup skills have never been of the highest, which is unfortunate now I’m at that difficult age, but, as I splodge mascara in the general direction of my lashes and smear lipstick into my cheeks by the light of our emergency lamp, I figure that once I complete Project Kneeboots my legs and Everest-toned butt should do their job of distracting attention from my face.

We toddle round the corner to K-Too, our local steakhouse, debating whether or not they will understand the concept of a blue steak.

And, oh sweet Jesus God! My eye scans over the Nepali staff, who clearly love the Christmas season and their festive flashing Santa hats even more than the average service professional in the UK enjoys that time of year, particularly when coupled with a festive flashing Santa hat, and alights on the bar.

It is pretty darn close to a fully-stocked cocktail bar. It has…. Gin! Campari! Rosso vermouth!

“LOOK, Zac!” I say. “Campari! And Rosso vermouth!”

“Ooh,” says Zac. “They have turkey. AND egg nog!”

He makes it perfectly! “For three weeks in the mountains,” I say. “I have been dreaming of this drink! Thank you!” I bung him 500 rupees, and, leaving him questioning my sanity, rejoin my spawn.

“Can you make me a Negroni?” I ask the bartender, abandoning today’s feeble attempt at giving up smoking again and poncing a fag off a chap at the bar.

“A what?” he says.

“No worries!” I say. “It’s easy! Use a whisky tumbler – like that one. Yes! That one! Do you have good ice?”

They have decent, dry cubes! Wow.

“OK,” I say. “So… You put the ice in the glass. Then you pour one shot of gin – Tanqueray’s good – one shot of Campari and one shot of Martini Rosso. Equal, equal, equal.”

“Shake?” he asks.

“No, no,” I say. “You just pour everything over the ice, and give it a little stir. Not like a martini stir, just a quick stir with a straw.”

I decide not to complicate matters with an orange peel twist.

He makes it perfectly! “For three weeks in the mountains,” I say. “I have been dreaming of this drink! Thank you!”

I bung him 500 rupees, leave him questioning my sanity and rejoin my spawn.

In most cities, you get a good crowd on Sundays and Thursdays, or even Wednesdays, for that matter, I think delusionally, continuing to confuse poor old Kathmandu with London, New York or, at the very least, Melbourne.

K-Too import their meat from India, clearly from somewhere that knows about hanging meat. My Steak Maitre d’ is both blue and delicious, while Zac gets quite ecstatic about his sizzling chicken fajitas.

While not as stellar as Café des Artistes in Ubud, or La Cave des Chateaux in Vientiane, K-Too definitely rates very highly on my list of “Good Steak Joints in Places You Would Not Expect to Have Good Steak”.

And the Negroni’s so nice I have another with my steak. Zac licks the stirrer and pronounces it good.

In fact, I figure, now I only need to go to the Radisson for Project Get Laid, although Project Upscale Negroni is a worthwhile minor project, but for that I need to successfully complete the mother of all projects, Project Kneeboots.

I do like a good project!

Maybe, I think, toying with the idea of a third Negroni or maybe a glass of imported red, maybe I’ll just have a nice quiet night tonight and then get on with Project Work, Project Zac’s Education, Project Christmas and, most importantly, Project Kneeboots tomorrow.

In most cities, you get a good crowd on Sundays and Thursdays, or even Wednesdays, for that matter, I think delusionally, continuing to confuse poor old Kathmandu with London, New York or, at the very least, Melbourne.

And then… My resolutely silent phone, which I have placed on the table in no way in the manner of a woman obsessed but just to keep me from taking it out of my pocket every five minutes to see if I’ve missed anything, buzzes.

Ooh!

Mr Darcy, enjoying less success in the fleshpots of Thamel than anticipated  demonstrating the famous Gurkha ability to make do with limited resources  not having noticed I am old enough to be his bloody mother  too drunk to care fascinated by my sophisticated charm and sparkling personality, has broken his silence.

Things, I think, are looking up!

13 Comments

  1. Catherine Hartmann says:

    Were you really only in Lukla for four days? Seemed a lot longer reading this blog and I imagine it seemed a lot longer in reality too.
    So I am unclear from this entry….. did Zac shower yet? The whole being dirty in dirty clothes is pretty unbearable at this point, well for you I imagine (and for me the reader) even if Zac seems immune.
    Keep it coming :-)

    • Theodora says:

      We arrived on lunchtime on the 17th and flew out on the 21st, so it was actually five days, but only four full days. Oh dear god, time sure didn’t fly there.

      I forgot to mention the shower! I will pick that up in the next instalment. He did remarkably well on his soap-dodging.

  2. Hilarious. I hope you turn this into a book. Because seriously, I want to dog ear some corners of the funniest bits.

  3. Anne-Marie says:

    One of the funniest pieces ever – I laughed as much as at the Trip advisor rant, your open letter to the touts of Egypt, and other high spots. I do hope we get the next instalment soon. – like tomorrow, please!

  4. Yvette says:

    I am rather fascinated in how many restaurants we have both been to sometimes. :)

    My story w Kathmandu power outages is I had to do my interview for grad school from there via Skype. Seeing as I’m now in grad school it obviously worked out, but that was stressful as hell at the time!

    • Theodora says:

      I like to think we both have excellent taste. In restaurants, at least…

      • Yvette says:

        Totally ;)

        Btw if you want leverage from the resident astronomer of your comments thread, tell Zac that in science/engineering it doesn’t matter if you’re a genius who understands everything, if you can’t write it down/ communicate it well no one gives a crap. I know many a scientist who is good at research but you’d never know it because their papers are awful and they lose their audience at conferences.

        • Theodora says:

          It’s the science that I’m worried about, to be honest with you, Yvette. As you know, from having assisted with the maths, this really isn’t my strong suit… I think he’ll probably have to unlearn a lot of bad habits at some point.

          • Yvette says:

            …yeah that ain’t good. I hope it’s not too bad, maybe there’ll be someone to run it by if he goes to school a few months? (even if it’s for Chinese, there has to be a maths teacher there of course)

            I mean if you guys ever come to Amsterdam I could try to gauge things but I’m not a complete expert either.

  5. Oh My! This is sooo good! You really have to make a book out of those stories! They are simply delicious and I cannot wait to read more!

    Also, it might be considered unsolicited advice and I am sorry if you find this inapropriate, but I just wanted to say, as a hardcore unschooling mom traveling with 3 girls (8 yo twins and a 7 yo) that Zac has the most amazing life learning experience one can wish for and that I agree with him: he doesn’t need to write any kind of essay. He is an amazingly smart little soul (I love to read his blog!) and you have provided him with the best education one can ever get. And gaming is an amazing way to learn so many things (there actually was a great Ted talk circulating lately on the subject…). So, yes, you can relax about the whole education thing, he is doing amazing!! Just keep living this amazing life of yours and be happy together!!

    • Theodora says:

      Really?! I’ll have to look up the TED talk — I love TED! Or, of course, I could get Zac to look it up…

      He IS a super-smart little soul. But until we started this lifestyle he was very unwilling to write anything, so we have a deal that he has to write from time to time in different genres. He’s also technically within the UK homeschooling framework, so it’s good to have something to show if anyone asks (though, to be honest, the guy at the LEA SO totally gets it).

      And he’s also ambitious. He’d like to go to Harvard, Yale, Oxford or Cambridge, so chucking the odd bit of formal writing into the unschooling mix will help, particularly with British universities: hence the odd essay from time to time.

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