Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Travel Advice: Maoist Indefinite Strikes since May 02, 2010

UPDATE 07 May: There was a massive rally in protest of the general strike today by the citizenry. Tens of thousands converged at the heart of the capital, Kathmandu Durbar Square, to pray for the end of this stupidity!

And it seems to have worked. This evening, the general strike of the Maoists has been called off!

At least for now, sense will prevail!

No change on the streets, the protestors are still there, now with live revolution music on stage (though the singers were crap!)

Interestingly, Kathmandu is waking up, and getting fed up of the seige. Tomorrow, there is a huge peace rally planned to oppose this strike. Its starts at Basantapur (Durbar Square Kathmandu) and will go around the city, I guess. It starts at 0900 hours.

Here is a link to the event on facebook: PEACE RALLY MAY 07

ADVICE: No idea how the Maoist will react. However, if you are in Nepal and want to make a statement, be there! But also remember, if you are a foreigner, this is non of your business, and tough you might feel the need to help out, you do not have to. Do not bring yourself in harms way. If one foreigner is hurt, the consequences can be drastic for tourism in general for this country. That would do more damage than good!


UPDATE 05 MAY: Not much of a change in the situation, despite hopes in Kathmandu that the stalemate would end! The protestors are still on the streets... more shops are open in the back alleys, none in the main roads! Its safe... and people are milling around all the time!

Food prices have skyrocketed!

Maoists are heading home too... some rains have come, and its time for the maize fields! I wonder how long this CAN last?

ADVISORY: If you are coming into Kathmandu, flights are the only way in... You will get transport from the aiport, for Rs. 200 to the center of town.. Try choosing a hotel which is good (meaning has a restaurant, so you can get food) settle in and walk out to experience a country changing!

If you are already in Kathmandu, you know exactly what to do! News spreads fast. Yet - a word of caution - listen to locals.. and always ask a local when you step out. We know whats happening, usually better than any tourist!


UPDATE (Apr 29): Took about 45 minutes for the 20 minute ride from Sanepa to my office in Thamel on a mountain bike... there are small batches of the 100,000 maoist cadres who have entered Kathmandu making small routes of demonstrations (mostly just noisy with some slogan shouting and even dancing and singing - a la South Africa?). Heard from other members of the team that parts of the traffic in Chabahil (Always a troubled zone) is closed due to these demonstrations.

btw, all demonstrations as far as we know now, are non-voilent... wonder if Prachanda and BRB are planning a demonstration a la Bangkok.

One good news - Some are even doing sanitation campaigns and cleaning up parts of the city! Whew! never thought it would take maoist cadres to get that done!

Bad news - also hear that a lot of them are children under 18. Gross violation of Child Rights!
Bad news # 2 - Maoists demanding donations and rooms at Sauraha, Chitwan National Park. not good! Looks like they are back to their old ways!

SO Travel Advice?

SAME AS BEFORE... excercise caution, your life is not in danger, consult locals to where to go and where there are no demonstrations... there are always hotspots in the city... avoid them!



and if you want to protest, the DIE NEPAL BANDH DIE page on facebook!!/group.php?gid=60117778340&ref=search&sid=598131944.2239917929..1


Apr28 (wed): Ok, this calls for a advisory update. I was at my office in Thamel and as I walked out, saw hundreds of Maoist cadres who were camped at a party palace (have to do the tourist agency thing here... a party palace is a place which is set up for conducting parties, mainly weddings) which was captured! Hear that they are bringing in over 20,000 cadres a day. Till May 1st, that will amount to over a 100,000 people. Whew! To do what?

Nothing spectacular in fact! Its just a show of power. The Maoists are not in the government so want to show off that they still have the capability to bring people together...

What will probably happen is that on Saturday May 01, they will have some fun, then on Sunday there will be a general strike, which will progressively weaken from Sunday afternoon onwards.. Kathmandu is hot right now, and I mean temperature hot! Do not underestimate the power of heat! Protestors will wilt!

So what does it mean for travel. If I had opportunities to change dates, I would not arrive in Kathmandu saturday or sunday... though you are safe, just bad days to get from airport to Hotel... you can use the government supplied safe transport, which is SAFE, but it still is a hassle.

However, if you cannot change, do not panic... you are safe... but need to take precautions, and need to have all details of hotels agents etc... and a way to reach there on foot, or on rickshaws.

Expect to spend a bit more money than what you anticipated in case you need to travel.

Watch this space... updates will come, if required!

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