Ben raised a very relevant issue in another article in this blog about the US Nepal Travel Advisory being changed and the Church being bombed in Nepal. I am trying to respond here to his post which goes a bit like this:-
talk to someone in Nepal first? how about this:
"This information is current as of today, Mon Jun 01 2009 11:32:04 GMT-0400 (EDT): May 22, 2009
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Nepal and urges caution when traveling in country. The Department of State remains concerned about the security situation in Nepal and urges American citizens to obtain updated security information before they travel and to be prepared to change their plans on short notice. This replaces the Travel Warning for Nepal dated November 21, 2008 and updates safety and security information."
read more here.....
Here is my response.
Ben, you have rightly posted the change of the Nepal Travel Advisory from the US, and the article about the Church bombing is pertinent. But let me give a little local prespective into this.
1. The US changed the advisory as soon as the Maoist (the ones in the terrorism list of the US) stepped OUT of power... I think they were afraid that once they went out of power, they would go back to the jungle. This extortion, strikes, etc, but YCL elements has been going on for some years now. This was completely supported by the Maoists, who were in power, but the US did not worry about the travel advisory then. I guess what I am trying to tell you is that the situation is no different than a year ago, even though the US just changed their travel advisory. The extortion by the YCL is mainly targetted at Nepalese, not tourists, though on trek routes sometimes, they will request "donations" for the "cause"
Travel in Nepal is still safe for tourists, though as I always say, the hassle factor is there. Interestingly, once the Maoists have come down from power, the protests are there but lower in intensity. But this might just be a lull in the action...
2. The Church bombing was not carried out for political reasons.. this was utter stupidity from Hindu extremists (most likely, who am I to know for sure), not connected to the problems in Nepal directly at all... there are elements in Nepal and elsewhere who think that when the King was made to step down and Nepal turned republic, the chances of a Hindu kingdom on earth has been killed forever, rightly so... Nepal was the only Hindu Kingdom in the world, and revered by extremist Hindus for that. The bomb in a church is a testament of their anger, directed at a religion which was banned several years ago.
Hope this clears the air a bit.
So Advisory today would be:
1. Again, hassle factor in Nepal is there, strikes, jams etc are rampant, and come without notice... pad your trip adequately.
2. Try to get out of the city as fast as possible, the countryside is far more hassle free.
3. I will never stop saying this, listen to locals!
See you in the mountains!