Following a 22 hour journey from Vancouver via Guangzhou, I arrived in Kathmandu late in the evening. Last time I was here, Nepal proudly proclaimed to the world that it was a Himalayan Kingdom. Since then the royal family was elected out - and then killed, under strange circumstances, by the crown prince. As I rode in from the airport, the taxi driver pointed to the Royal Palace and mentioned casually that it was a museum.
Elections are approaching, and transportation-related enterprises are apparently on strike. Violence is brewing amidst the chaos of the Nepali electoral process. Reading the Kathmandu Post this morning, I see articles pertaining to violence in remote mountain villages, grenade attacks, and the possibility of a general strike. The shadow-side of Shangri La.
In addition, as we are getting set to begin a 200 kilometer trek in the remote Manaslu region, I read the following in the warm and pleasant Kathmandu coffee shop where a delicious cup of Himalayan java is unfogging my fuzzy, multiple time zone-induced consciousness: " With mercury plummeting and snowfall starting, thousands of people in the high altitude districts have started fleeing the cold and into the plains." Except a few of us. I picture a scene representative of Tintin and Snowy (Milou) in the Himalayas - Tintin Au Tibet.