Thursday, September 20, 2007

Travel Advisory - 21 Sep 07

OK, I need to qualify this right that I do not give anyone any wrong impression...

I do not have any secret service or intelligence agencies supplying me with information to fuel this advisory... this advisory is purely based on my understanding of our people and politics, and my experience over the years about how this affects tourism.

Situation: We hear that the Maoists will not reenter the jungle, and I completely believe them. You cannot stay in the jungle for 15 odd years, face all the hardships, come back into the open for over a year, and then go back again... that is too complicated. You got to remember that the hardliners are also getting real old, maybe old enough not to go back into the Jungle. As one of my friends pointed out, I look to be singling out the Maoists...there are other elements too in Nepal in this political mess who are equally to blame...I address the issue with the Maoists as their actions are noticed worldwide and this affects tourism

So, without too much fuss on the situation, here is the advisory

Kathmandu: Expect delays all round. The consumers are really unhappy with the situation with shortages in electricity, fuel and water, and the proverbial Nepali patience is wearing thin right now. There have already been some strikes from consumer groups, some random, some planned and this will affect movement to a certain degree. It does not look like it will resolve soon either.

Action to take: Keep your stay in Kathmandu short. Try to fly out to other locations rather than use land transport. Its going to be more reliable. For this, book well in advance. Its season right now. If you plan on staying in Kathmandu, pad your days, so that you can take time. You do want to see Kathmandu though if you are coming to Nepal. It is a cultural melting pot, polluted, crowded, but full of culture

Safety: Not much danger to travellers. Do not wait to take photographs if you see a situation happening. Specially Lainchaur, close to Thamel is a political keg, and brickbatting with Police is common here specially since there are a few colleges here. Do not hang around when you see this, just move away. You have more chances of getting mugged if you hang around too late at night in Thamel (there are too many druggies around nowadays) than getting hurt in other incidents.

Pokhara and Annapurna Region. Definitely better. Any political activity in Kathmandu gets immediately reflected in Pokhara. But since the tourism district out there is removed fro town at lakeside, you hardly notice anything. If anything, and there is a strike or something, you have a short walk to the Bus Station or a longish walk to the airport. Worst case scenario, you might have to walk it to Phedi or Nayapul, if you are planning Poon Hill treks, if there is a transportation strike or the fuel runs out.

Safety: No danger at all. Avoid stupidity as required in any city...but please drink one for me at the Busy Bee.

Everest Region: (I was about to write Totally but maybe that is too much to write) Cool. No crazy political activity here, except that the Maoists are working on setting rates and systems for porters (actually a pretty good task, except they tend to be a bit rough around the edges). No one will trouble you.

Safety. No problems

Langtang Region: Cool. Expect problems going to Dhunche, if you are planning a trip from here. The fuel shortage is hitting hard, and there might be delays on the road. Nothing too bad though. Also this area is going to be your alternative if everything else does not work during your trip to Nepal. Like no flights to Lukla, or transport problems to Pokhara.... then just take a taxi to Sundarijal, about 45 minutes from Thamel on a good less traffic day, and start trekking from the edge of the valley. Options are 7 days Gosainkunda, 6 days Helambu, 14 - 21 days Gosainkunda and Langtang or add Tamang Heritage Trek. So you will not miss out. Langtang Helambu are saviors.

Chitwan National Park: Look before you leap. The problems with the Terai unrests have not affected Chitwan so far, nor to road that leads to it, but you never know if it will extend here. So be informed before you go to Chitwan. If anything, even though it is not a responsible move, flying will ensure safety for sure. You are collected at Bharatpur by resort staff and whisked off to the Jungle or Sauraha, and you can return the same way. My choice is to go by land and fly back. But be informed before you do this.

Safety. Its safe, no doubts.

The Terai: Not recommended. If you are planning on going to Lumbini, or to Bharatpur or even Bardiya, expect severe delays and restrictions. There is a violent (OK, only sometimes it is voilent) movement going on there, and though you will be safe (all sides agree that tourists are not the target), you will not enjoy your trip.

So overall, in Nepal now, stick to the mountains and like I always say, get away from the cities, the further you are from a city, the better the situation is.

OK, now i am exhausted... so if there is anything specific you want to know, write me.

oh btw, please also keep reading

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