kathmandu is great! people, people everywhere. curious glances, or shameless stares, the locals are so nice and friendly. they remind me of thai people - always smiling, always kind, sometimes so eager to help that they give you the wrong information, just to try to help. the streets are like many places in asia: no sidewalks, so people, bicycles, motorbikes, tuktuks, taxis, and cars all share the same narrow roads. in korea, this drove me crazy, maybe because it was part of my everyday experience and i tired of it so easily and quickly. it feels different here. i think that is largely because i've been practicing yoga now so regularly. i just breathe it in (not too deeply- wow the smell of sewage is intoxicating in a less-than-pleasant way), soak it up, and watch. if i get nervous, it doesn't last long. sometimes in korea, in the underground shopping mall in Seomyeon, if i felt overwhelmed, everyone knew it because i would audibly moan "ahhhh" in a pained voice. no more. it's cool to see and feel the difference.
yesterday, upon arriving at my hostel, i met three fun people: Molly from Holland, Borjas from Argentina and Spain ("but I am 90% from argentina"), and Dillon from New Jersey. Molly went off on her own adventure and i hung out mostly with the boys, who seemed realy excited to tell me all about what they've learned in and about Nepal. it was great- i had found tour guides. we walked over Thamel, the touristy area, and then on the outskirts, which was really cool. they seemed so fearless- no qualms about asking questions or approaching locals, trying out new phrases they'd learned, trying out new restaurants. i do wonder how different it is traveling as a female, but it was good to be with two guys, so i felt very comfortable, very safe.
we went to meet Borjas' friend in an area on the other side of the city, to explore an old square called Durbar Square, a preserved ancient/ historical area. instead of taking a $3 taxi, Borjas insisted on the cheaper 20 cent bus ride. what an experience. "bus", of course, is a loosely defined word. they were more like the white vans we are familiar with. we walked about 20 minutes looking for the right one, asking ay and everyone how to find it. once we found it, we hopped in, lucky to get seats facing uncomfortably but kindly smiling locals. meanwhile, we drove along at about 5 mph while the 12-year old boy hung on the the side and shouted our destination for people on the sidewalks. every time he thought he'd finished advertising to that crowd, he hit the side of the van and as it picked up speed, swung the door, almost closing it on himself, and climbed in.
we explored a little, walked around, and met up with some fun Finnish people. they were all so open.. and cheap. it's funny, though, when you say, 'only $3 for a cab?', it is already easy to see how fast money can go. i paid $1 for my hat yesterday (borjas taught me the art of bargaining), and then this morning i paid nearly $10 for my latte and banana pancake at the upscale coffee shop. that compared to the $1.10 i spent yesterday on Dhal Tadkha with rice!
trying to keep it short, i will sign off now... more solo adventures to be had... HAPPY NEW YEAR!