Made it to Kathmandu after an enjoyable stopover in Hong Kong; one perk of travel to Asia is interesting layovers. A day of preparation before heading into the mountains for the Everest Base Camp Trek has left me little time to take a look around the city. I did get the chance to meet with Sagar from our Kathmandu office and Neel. Neel and I will join Mountain Madness guide Deana Zabaldo and her organization Changing Lives Nepal to deliver five computers to schools and an orphanage outside of Kathmandu.
Neel’s passion to help his community has been instrumental in helping build a temporary shelter and a school where kids’ education was displaced by the earthquake and the destruction of their schools. This effort will keep them in the books for now and learning some computer skills too. Neel tells me with his characteristic chuckle that business is good, “We can still buy dahl bhat, and our homes are ok and we are alive,” but others he notes after a pause, are not so blessed.
I met with Neel in the tourist area of Kathmandu known as Thamel, where he owns a tanka painting shop that many a Mountain Madness trekker has visited. All the usual things are being peddled here in the streets- you can still get prayer flags, singing bowls, masks, tiger’s balm, hashish if you are so inclined, trinkets too numerous to find a place in your home, and a $2 rickshaw ride back to the Yak-n-Yeti where our trekkers and climbers stay. Things seem business as usual with the exception of a few cracks in buildings and some ground-up repairs going on.
Though this was only a glimpse of what Kathmandu looks like after the earthquake, it at least seems things are rolling along just fine in the tourist section of town. More on this all later when I return to the city. In the meantime, happy to be here seeing old friends and preparing to fly to the mountains tomorrow, then connecting with the Madness trekking group in Namche in a few days.
~MM Owner Mark Gunlogson, text and all photos