When we arrived in Kathmandu it was immediately apparent that it was a place for shrewd travelers only. Well, if we didn’t want to get ripped off anyway.
We made our way to the hotel fairly uneventfully before deciding to head out to find some dinner. This is when the fun began.
We got into the first taxi that showed up and began to haggle.
“How much to The Yak and Yeti?”
“No way. Maximum 400 rupees.”
“It is night time and festival. 1000 rupees.”
“Let’s get out of the car.”
The next taxi rolls up.
“How much to The Yak and Yeti?”
“We’ll call another cab.”
Ok 400 rupees.
“No seat belts.”
“Do you know where The Yak and Yeti is?”
The cab turns right out of the hotel parking lot and hangs another right, careening down a dirt alleyway. Where the heck is he taking us? [Are we going to get robbed?]
I can honestly say that this was the first time in my life that I have ever been convinced that my cabbie was taking me to a bad place to rob me.
A few minutes later, we emerge into a reasonable looking neighborhood and everything seemed better…until we realized that we were going in circles.
“Where are you taking us?”
“No. Yak and Yeti.”
“Who is going to Sana? We are going to The Yak and Yeti.”
“You drove us all over town and you don’t know where you’re going. We’re getting out of the car.”
We exit left and begin booking it towards a nice looking hotel that we saw a block back. Our cabbie pulls a u-turn and begins following us down the empty street as he and Chris shout back and forth. I pick up my pace further and finally reach the nice looking hotel. The Yak and Yeti Hotel.
As we went in, I mumbled something about, how on earth were we going to get back to our hotel, but, without responding, Chris handed me the camera and was headed back out into the street, down an alley to where the cabbie was waiting. I know that it upsets Chris a lot to be taken advantage of, but this did not seem like the time or place to do anything about it. [Insert many expletives running through my mind here.]
I headed outside, near one of the hotel security guards, so I could at least see if something happened to Chris. By the time he made it back to the taxi, a large crowd had gathered. At times I could not even see Chris within the mass of people shouting in a mix of English and Nepali. I was very worried that Chris was going to land himself in a Nepali hospital or jail. Why now? Seriously, why?
Finally, I decided to take some pictures. I’m not sure why I did it, but it seemed like a good idea.
More cabs pulled up. Shop owners began pouring out of their shops into the crowd in the street. More yelling ensued.
Suddenly, Chris was walking back towards The Yeti. A huge sense of relief washed over me.
“Chris, what happened over there? I was so worried?”
“Nothing. I went back to pay the guy because I didn’t want to get in trouble in Nepal, but I made sure to lecture him about how his economy depends on tourists and that he should not rip them off.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that you were going to pay him?”
“I don’t know.”
“What about all of the people out there?”
“They were yelling at him too. Their businesses depend on tourists and they want people to say good things about Nepal.”
It makes sense in some ways, but doesn’t change the fact that I was terrified about what was going to happen to Chris. My heart was racing for a few minutes after he returned.
After dinner we had the pleasure of making the return trip to our hotel. As soon as we got in the cab, the driver asked, “What happened with your last driver?”
News sure spreads fast. Thankfully, we made it ‘home’ with no further incident.