Mamkha the Third

Although the driver got us there in record time, if I could sum up the jeep ride from Kathmandu to Okhaldhunga in a song it would be 'Speed me towards Death' by Rob Dougan. IN hindisght the entire album was a terrible (yet exhilarating) listening choice, including such appropriate titles as 'I'm not Driving Anymore',  'Left me for Dead' and 'Furious Angels'.

Hopping from Okhaldhunga, to Rumjatar to Durali, visiting every 'rest-room' inbetween, and walking to Mamkha in the dark carrying 2 backpacks and vegetables really makes you realise how much of a struggle the lack of effective transport routes creates. Incidentally Durali is not a place, it's a description of the lay of the land that is used instead of a place name, meaning I nearly took Yogina in a jeep to the wrong side of the valley. I should have been on the watch for things like this after seeing another Durali-tar, (tar meaning flat piece of land on a hill) on signposts on the way. Especially considering there is an area in Kathmandu genuinely called Pepsi Cola...because, You Guessed It, Pepsi has a cola factory there.

For reference, if you know what the price should be, and you're halfway up a mountain, in fading light with a very patient but tired volunteer...pay everything in exact cash. It's worth the disappointment in your previously exuberant driver's face when he realises he/'s not going to be able to skim you like all the other 'rich Westerners'. Also, be prepared to not get that cold bottle of Mountain Dew, because A) There's no fridge and B) If you pay high now you'll be paying high again on your way out.

This raises a serious point, although I am constantly frustrated by being perceived as rich, affluent and able to afford it because of the colour of my skin the unpleasant truth is, we are. Just the fact we can fly to Nepal on 1/2 of an average yearly salary for a national tells the story. There is an affluent upper and middle class in Nepal, and many people moving between the two who are doing quite well, BUT there is a huge population who the extra 10, 20 or 50 rupees here and there means pens for their children, or a top up to savings, (it can also mean an extra glass of Rakshi but who am I to judge?). This disparity between what I believe is right - paying the 'Nepali' price and the idea of 'Wealth Distribution' is a never ending dilemma.