12th November 2014 – Kathmandu, Nepal
Before the officials in white shirts, sent me shuffling from table to table, Before I gave up, and pursued my choice of becoming a rebel, Before all that craziness got to my head, sending it into puddled waters, There was a little boy, a flock of pigeons, and me. All in a temple spell.
I moved to Bhaktapur last evening, about 20 KMs from Kathmandu. Primarily, because I was tired of the crazy part of Thamel that I was living in.
Bhaktapur is beautiful, but I have not had a chance to explore it yet. I rode back to Kathmandu in the morning, to see the Kathmandu Darbar square, which I couldn’t see before. Very similar to the Patan Darbar Square which I visited yesterday, the one in Kathmandu is like an elder brother from the UNESCO heritage family. And the best thing? I had to pay the same price as a local!
Nepal actively supports the SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Coordination) tourism campaign. So, if you are from a SAARC member-country – which includes India – you pay ticket prices much lower than other foreigners. The Patan Darbar Square was 500 NPR for my Singaporean friend, while I paid only 150. And the Kathmandu Darbar square was 750 NPR for foreigners, while I paid only 200. Who said there are no benefits to having an Indian passport?!
Most of the morning was spent watching a little kid run through a group of pigeons, in front of the square. He cut an idyllic figure into the temple background, before the crowds slowly moved into the frame. At that point, I gave up clicking and went to the Transport office in Patan.
When I crossed the Nepal border, I had to pay a road permit tax of 226 NPR per day. I had paid this amount for 13 days, which is only another 2 more days from today. But, with all the love I am having with this country, I wanted to extend the road permit for a few more days. Hence, the transport office in Patan.
Well, at least it is heartening to know that Nepal has the same bureaucratic issues as India. I was shuttled from table to table in the transport office, half of them not understanding a word I said, and I didn’t understand the remaining half. Finally, one guy – who spoke fluent Hindi and English – gave me a somewhat concise answer. I could get the road permit here, but before that, I had to pay the road tax itself in another building. Something like a tax department or something, which was far away from the transport office. Then, come back, present the payment receipt to a couple of different departmental desks, get their signatures, and I could get my renewed road permit.
Without a road permit, the fine for riding a motorbike in Nepal is 10 USD per day. I decided to take that risk, instead of all this bureaucratic nonsense.