It starts as soon as you land in Kathmandu and walk out of the airport. The combination of freshly steamed momos and freshly polluted air. But no hint of freshness to be found. Hundreds of taxis and motorbikes spitting black smoke in your face. The drivers, smiling friendly but still charging fifteen times the amount you should pay to get to the center. I remember to buy toilet paper before checking into Friendship Peace Guesthouse. My last experience taught me well and clear: in Nepal, toilet paper is your best friend. No power so no shower for now, we wait until the water gets warm to wash the dust off our smelly travel bodies. We leave our backpacks in the room, look at each other and laugh. We are here! Nepal, the place we will be calling our home for the next three months.
We use the half priced croissants in the bakery window as our clock: it's 8 pm or later. Live bands blast one cover song after another. All with a Nepalese twist or some in a made up language that sounds a bit like English. Rikshas riding over our toes while flems fly through the air from inside shopkeepers throats to the other side of the street. Colours of bright pink, green, yellow and red on yak wool scarves, books, handmade paper, necklaces and flower dresses in thousands of little stalls. Endless shopping delight. More discounted pastries, motorbikes, clothes, spiritual books visitors love to read. Young travellers walking with their noses in the ultimate tourist bible. Bumping into grey nomads, who used to live in Kathmandu's Freak Street in the sixties, still floating around with their heads in opium clouds. Locals trying to sell tiger balm and in a whispering voice every kind of drug you can imagine. Or they just want to talk and practise their English. Sometimes without teeth. Never without a smile. Namaste! Baap re baap! Every one is busy. But there is always time for tea.