Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Freak on Freak Street

Once upon a time I used to write a comic strip called "Freaks."  A guy I used to date called me that occasionally, which I took as a compliment, since I've always been a little weird.  However much I pride myself on being a black sheep, though, on the Kathmandu "Acceptable Range of Normality," I think I fall well within the mean.
Of the places I've been this summer, Nepal is the least like I expected.  I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it's kind of the black sheep of Himalayan countries: too hot and noisy to fit in with its siblings.  In fact, it's much more like India, but still distinctly different, in a way I can't quite put my finger on.
Well, like calls to like, and Kathmandu is definitely a backpacker town.  Not just run-of-the-mill backpacker, though.  Hippie backpacker.  I've lost count of how many dreadlocked heads I've seen in the five short days I've been here.  Kathmandu's been a hippie stomping grounds since the 60's.  Rooms were cheap, dope was even cheaper, and Freak Street was the center of it all.
In addition to meeting all of my standard requirements (cheap, safe, clean, and convenient, in that order), the Monumental Paradise, where I'm staying, also had its location on Freak Street going for it.  While Thamel has taken over as backpacker central, it's not close to Durbar Square, no matter how many hookah bars it has.  So this is where I've been staying.  For my last two nights I've rented the penthouse ($21 per night!)  As I was tromping up the stairs this morning, I found myself wondering what the HELL I was thinking.  The rooftop is six floors up, and then you have to take another spiral staircase up to the crow's nest, which is where I'm staying.  There's no elevator, so the porter who carried my suitcase sure earned his tip today.
View from the top
On reflection, though...totally worth it.

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