As my mum left Kathmandu, our friend Sean arrived in Kathmandu, though not quite when he intended. He flew with Air India – a very bad idea – and after waiting 3 hours on the plane in Heathrow was told the plane was not going anywhere that night as there had been “technical difficulties” (a problem he also experienced when trying to leave Kathmandu – lesson don’t fly with Air India). So the next day he returned to Heathrow and we met him the same day at Kathmandu airport. While we thought that Sean would pack light, it seemed odd that he had arrived without any bag at all. In turned out that Air India had believed that half an hour was long enough to transfer all the passengers and their bags from one flight to another when they changed in Delhi. However, they had been wrong and so while the passengers had boarded the plane, the bags had not. So the following day, Sean had to go back to the airport to retrieve his bag.

With him and his bag now in Nepal we began to enjoy ourselves – well, as much as possible in Kathmandu. We got into a lengthy chat with some camping shop worker. He told us how when a stupid rich westerner came in and asked if they had any better quality items, they would go into the back of the shop, get exactly the same as what was at the front of the shop in a different colour, and then charge 4 times as much. He wondered how such rich people had become so rich. An age old question. We then chatted about the difference between relative and absolute wealth, while Sean explained how beautiful the mountains are, a subject upon which he had a tendency to wax lyrical when he was in Nepal.

Unfortunately, bad things tend to come in threes and within 48 hours of arriving, Sean had come down with food poisoning which we believe was gained in a Korean restaurant – I would not like to say whether it was from the North or South…

As good friends should do, after giving Sean lots of water and biscuits, we left him to throw-up and headed for Bandipur.

However, getting there proved harder than expected. Given the load of bags we had, we decided to catch a taxi to the bus station.

“Bus station for Bandipur” we told the taxi driver

So after travelling for a couple of minutes our taxi drivers suggests he could take us to Bhaktapur for a friends price.

“Bandipur, not Bhaktapur” we reply.

So we continue for a another few minutes and then the driver again suggests he can take us to Bhaktapur. A problem seems to be developing. So the taxi driver drops us at what he hope is the bus station for Bandipur, but of course, its not, though buses to Bhaktapur do go from here. Luckily, we meet an incredibly helpful local who takes us via foot and bus to the correct bus station and doesn’t even ask for any money (though we still give him some).

We negotiate a price for the bus to Bandipur (no bus prices are fixed) and set off. However, half way through the journey the ticket inspector asks us for 3 times what we agreed to pay. Another unwanted hassle, but to their surprise we don’t budge.

So eventually we arrive in Bandipur and everything looks a lot brighter for us (if not for Sean). Bandipur is a one road Newari village set in the hills between Kathmandu and Pokhara. While the village caters for tourists, it is by no means a tourist town. The guest-house we stay at is a old Newari building that was built by the grandfather of the woman who now runs it. She insists on calling us ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ and tells us to call her mother ‘mother’. When I needed to get the key she instructs me to go downstairs and say “Mother, give me the key”. Amazing!

The view from our window is incredible. As far as the eye can see there are rolling hills, while on the other side of the house there are the mountains – quite different from Kathmandu where we could see a building site, although to be fair there were mountains behind that.

One of the highlights of our time in Bandipur was watching the sunset from the hill just above the town. The sunset was so lovely in fact that we ran straight down the hill (after running up it in fear we would miss the sunset) and emailed Sean informing him that he must come here and watch the sunset the following day, which he did.

Now being with Sean, and Adrian (a Dutchman Sean had met on the top of a jeep), we all headed into the jungle below Bandipur to seek out the caves. In my usual fashion, when we arrived at the caves, I argued with everyone that we didn’t need the guide that was waiting at the entrance. But after making 3 mistakes within 30 seconds of entering the cave I changed my mind. Lucky I did to as these caves were massive and unsurprisingly, very dark. Sean, Adrian and I had never been in proper caves before, so the entire experience was new and fascinating. There were enormous chambers (which we climbed to via a rickety ladder), glistening ceilings, pure white rock formations and bats. I don’t think we would have found our way out very easily or with all our ankles un-sprained without our guide!

We left the caves with an appetite and continued down the hill to the village below for veg chow mein. Not wanting to walk back up the hill to Bandipur we tried to hitch a ride and within a couple of minutes found ourselves on the back of a tractor which was carrying massive chunks of rock for a building site. This wasn’t the most comfortable of rides, but was pretty spectacular. We also got laughed at quite a lot my local people as we slowly drove past.

Having had a brief break from city life, we left the over-whelming beauty of Bandipur and headed off to Pokhara, with Adrian becoming the latest victim to food poisoning.

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